Google+ YA Romantics: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Perfect Scoundrels
by Ally Carter
To be published by Disney-Hyperion
on February 5, 2012

Source: bought

My summary: Kat and Hale are always too busy with their Robin Hood heisting to actually do couple stuff. Like go on a date. Or have the Relationship Talk. Or discuss all their differences: she's from a long line of con men and women, while he's from the upper crust. But these two talented swindlers are forced to come to terms with their feelings for one another after Hale's beloved grandmother Hazel dies and the Hale family closes rank. Kat gets tipped off that Hazel's will is a fraud, and she and the rest of her motley crew spring into action. Will her interference help Hale, or will it just destroy the brand-new love that's been developing between them?

My take: I love this series so much. It's just pure book candy -- addictive and delicious. I've always loved stories about heists, and both The Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals are just full of clever plots, double-crosses and reversals. Kat and her gang -- sharp-tongued, loyal Gabrielle, wisecracking Angus and Hamish, computer nerd Simon, smooth-talking Uncle Eddie and the enigmatic Nick -- are all back in this story.

So far, I've had no complaints about these books, including the fact that Hale and Kat's relationship has moved at an excruciatingly slow pace. Excruciatingly. I kind of loved that because a) they're only fifteen and b)  there's too much going on in these books for Kat and Hale stop and talk about their feelings. But I've been waiting. Patiently. For. Something. To. Happen.

In Perfect Scoundrels, something does. Hale's beloved grandmother dies and, shockingly, he's her heir. Good. Well, not exactly. Because a trusted family retainer clues Kat in: the will is a fake and someone's up to no good. Kat's ready to help, except she can't get to Hale, who's separated from her by his rich, overprotective family and his grief.

I was so frustrated watching these two hard-headed people try to connect. There were a bunch of conversations that went something like this:
Kat: "Hale, I'm here to--"
Hale: "Not, now, Kat."
Rinse and repeat.

Kat's frustrated too. But she's no pushover. She's not even the type to get all jealous about this other girl who's always hanging around Hale. Well, maybe a little. Kat, being Kat, butts in and tries to fix things. Which makes everything way more complicated. I loved the way that Kat drew strength from her family and realized that she and Hale have that in common. And, while I can't tell you exactly what happens at the end of Perfect Scoundrels, I can tell you that, as usual, there are plots and schemes and back-up plans and nail-biting moments. And some romantic moments. And one no no no no moment that had me very nervous.

Loved this one. I was definitely ready for little less heist and a little more Hale!

The New YA Love Geometry

YA Romantics Love Geometry

I never got that fired up over the whole YA Love Triangle Issue. Until recently, when a bookish love triangle got me really aggravated. 

I found the perfect person to vent to: my blogger friend Lauren from Love Is Not a Triangle.
She and I decided to do posts about the issue. You can find Lauren's post, A Peek Inside the Love Triangle Rule Book, here.

My post is going to look at a New YA Love Geometry.

Maybe it's time to figure out some other geometric shapes that don't cause so much angst to either the readers or the characters. I mean, my friend Jen from The Starry Eyed Revue makes a great point about love triangles: they put too much power into the hands of one character. And often, that character abuses that power by a) toying with the emotions of the other two or b) bouncing from one person to another or c) just being annoying by complaining about how hard it is to have two people in love with you. How confusing.

Yes, a literary love triangle is suspenseful ... until it's resolved. Then about half of the readers end up heartbroken and angry. 

If we can't just have a couple in love with each other, here is another possibility:

The good thing about a love rectangle is that there are four people involved, so theoretically everyone could get paired up. 

 Take this Love Rectangle from the Juliet Immortal and Romeo Redeemed books by Stacey Jay:

Romeo and Juliet were together, then they broke up. Badly. Romeo wanted to make things right, but Juliet fell in love with Ben. When she was in Ariel's body. But in theory, there were four people, if that pesky body sharing thing can be worked out.  But you can see how symmetrical the flow of power is in this formation.

Here's another example, from Vampire Academy.

In the Vampire Academy books, this looked like a love triangle, with Rose in love with Dimitri and Adrian in love with Rose. Then something terrible happens to Dimitri and it looks like Rose might be with Adrian.  But wait ... a fourth character is lurking in the sidelines. Nicely played, Richelle Mead!You can see that this one has more of a potential for trouble as most of the power flows to and from Rose.

Here's a third example from The Diviners by Libba Bray.

I don't think this one is going to end as well. There's a slight romantic spoiler if you haven't read the book, but this rectangle is still unresolved.

Evie, our main character has a best friend Mabel, who adores Jericho from afar. Sam seems to adore Evie from afar. Evie knows that Mabel is crazy about Jericho and appears to be falling for him. Not cool, Evie! In this rectangle, most of the power flows to and from Evie.

In science fiction, we get all kinds of love geometry possibilities:

In What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang, we have two girls in the same body. So, yeah, a complicated love life right there! Addie and Eva share a body (that's what my = sign indicates) and Ryan and Devon also share a body. Eva is attracted to Ryan.   This could get messy! Or, it could work out great. We'll see...

Tell me, what do you think about Love Geometry? Are you a fan of these tortured multi-person relationships? Lauren and I hope to do more posts on the issue!

It's a busy month -- I'm reviewing Perfect Scoundrels later this morning!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... Prodigy by Marie Lu

by Marie Lu
Published by Putnam Books
on January 29, 2013

Source: ARC giveaway at BEA (Book Expo America)

Summary (from Goodreads): June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector. It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.
But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?
Spoiler free for Prodigy. One Legend spoiler -- sorry!

My take: Fourteen months passed between the time I read Legend and the day I started Prodigy.  I had just started reviewing when Legend came out, and I didn't review the book, and didn't take notes. So it was a bit of a problem for me that there's almost no recap in Prodigy. I mean, I don't want a huge info-dump, but I'm in the middle of a LOT of series,** so little memory-jogging is always appreciated.

All I really remembered about Legend was that June is some kind of child prodigy (ooh -- lightbulb moment on that title!) and darling of the Republic, while Day is a scrappy outsider. Then Day is accused of murdering June's beloved brother Mathias, and becomes the Republic's Most Wanted. But June realizes that Day is innocent. No spoilers there -- that's all pretty much in Legend's blurb.

Prodigy takes up right where Legend left off. June and Day are hiding on a train headed to Las Vegas, and Day has a badly injured leg. They are trying to make contact with the Patriots, a rebel group, and find Day's brother.

Like Legend, Prodigy's story alternates from June and Day's points of view, with June's in black text and Day's in blue. Usually in dual POV stories I prefer one point of view, and this time it was June's. I'm not sure if that was because I found Day's typeface a little harder on the eyes, or because his storyline dealt mostly with his medical problems, Patriot tactical strategy and arguing with Tess, a girl he grew up with, about why he shouldn't trust June.

Middle books in trilogies often either separate a couple or create circumstances in which their love is tested, and Prodigy is no exception, using the latter to great effect. I'd forgotten how ridiculously young these two are and what a short time they've known each other. At one point, Tess says to Day, "You think you're in love with a girl you've known for less than a month, a girl who's responsible for your mother's death." Me: Yes, exactly. And... what was that last part? I'd forgotten everything about Day's family from the first book and still am pretty much in the dark in that department. So I have to take Day's word that June is not technically responsible for his mother's death. But kind of.

June -- as the blurb indicates -- gets assigned to assassinate someone. She also throws knives, takes lie detector tests, plays dress-up, and generally does all this great Mata Hari stuff, which was a lot of fun. Needless to say, I loved her chapters.

Some people have said that a love rectangle develops in Prodigy, but I can't quite agree. Day's affection for Tess seems brotherly to me, and while June comes to admire Anden, the Elector-to-be, I thinks she's a straight-arrow of a girl who will at least figure out where she stands with Day before taking up with some other guy. The two do have a huge, nicely-written, wow-they-really-do-seem-like-a-real-couple kind of argument. Then there's a fantastic series of events around the assassination attempt that force Day to decide whether or not to trust June, the girl who he's known for a month who (kind of) killed his mother. Good stuff!

I won't tell you what Day decides. But right after he makes up his mind, there's a big "whoa" moment -- a shocking revelation. Interesting. Let's just hope this Romeo and Juliet-inspired dystopian tale doesn't wrap up as tragically as the original.

**So I always complain how many series I'm in the middle of, and this weekend I decided to put my money where my mouth was and count them. Here's the list. I stopped counting when I hit 75. That does NOT even count multiple books in the same series. And I don't think I'm that unusual.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Jan 29-Feb 4

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses! Every Tuesday, I tell you about all the great YA books releasing and then give you a chance to win a new release. If you're a blogger, you can also link your reviews up for more traffic!

What new YA is coming up the week of January 29? Click the covers to get to Goodreads.

Asterisked books may have a later release date on The Book Depository

What am I giving away? U.S. winner will receive a signed ARC of Prodigy and -- because I wished for more recap in that one -- also a hardcover of Legend. International winner can choose either Prodigy or Legend sent from TBD.

Prodigy by Marie Lu The Prey by Andrew Fukuda Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu (Putnam)
The Prey (The Hunt #2) by Andrew Fukuda (St. Martins)
*Breaking Point (Article 5 #2) by Kristen Simmons (Tor Teen)

Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard Life's a Spell by Brittany Geragotelis Nobody but Us by Kristen Halbrook

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (Balzer + Bray)
What the Spell by Brittany Geragotelis (Simon & Schuster)
Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook (HarperTeen)

Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton Hooked by Liz Fichera Asunder by Jodi Meadows

Shadows in the Silence (Angelfire #3) by Courtney Allison Moulton (Katherine Tegen Books)
Hooked by Liz Fichera (Harlequin Teen)
Asunder (Incarnate #2) by Jodi Meadows (Katherine Tegen)


'Til the World Ends (a trio of novellas) by Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall (Harlequin Teen)

A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso (Month9 Books)

Unbroken: A Ruined Novel by Paula Morris (Point)

*The Look by Sophia Bennett (Chicken House)

Stolen Nights by Rebecca Maizel (St. Martins)
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to my stop on the Young Adult Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Book Love 101!

What am I giving away? 

The winner's choice of one of these new YA paperbacks. All are first books in amazing series.

If you think angel books are heavenly, you'll love Unearthly by Cynthia Hand.

Crazy about mythology? Try Everneath by Brodi Ashton.

Do you love books about superpowers with a side of swoon? Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

I'm sorry that this giveaway is US only, but if you are international you can enter my drawing for a finished copy of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer right here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway Please check out all the great blogs participating:

Just Finished Reading ... The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepard

The Madman's Daughter
by Megan Shepard
To be published by Balzer + Bray
on January 29, 2013

Source: ARC giveaway from the publisher at KidLitCon

My summary: After Juliet's father, a doctor, is publicly disgraced for allegedly carrying out bizarre and cruel medical experiments, he disappears. Then Juliet's mother dies, leaving her alone and penniless, working on a cleaning crew. But when Juliet finds evidence that her father might be alive, she tracks him down to a remote island, where she'll finally have to face the truth.

My take:  Okay, so the title should have given me a clue that this book is not for the faint of heart! I didn't remember the details of the H. G. Wells story that inspired The Madman's Daughter, but I LOVE historical fiction and gothic fiction. Based on the cover, was expecting mild spookiness but got something closer to horror.  If you're down with that, The Madman's Daughter is quite a thrill ride!

I don't think the character of Juliet exists in the H. G. Wells original, and she's a brilliant addition to the story. Juliet is first shamed by the discovery of her father's experiments, then orphaned, and falls further and further in society. But when she discovers evidence that her father may actually be alive, Juliet is determined to find him.

The Madman's Daughter is beautifully written and flawlessly plotted. The book doles out clues until the reader -- or at least this reader -- figures out two of the big twists and is squirming in suspense.  I loved Juliet's narrative voice. It was utterly compelling while still seeming true to the book's time period. The setting is phenomenally creepy -- I absolutely love books where a group of characters is trapped in an isolated location. The bad guy -- Dr. Moreau -- is the most intriguing kind of villain, the sort of person who's half-genius, half-madman. The book raises a lot of interesting moral and ethical issues.

In the love and romance department, there was a sort-of love triangle. Juliet feels very close to her father's assistant, Montgomery, whom she's known since childhood, and also to Edward, a handsome shipwreck survivor that she and Montgomery rescue as they sail to her father's island together. At first, I was surprised as the otherwise level-headed Juliet lurched from one guy to the other like a person on the deck of a boat in a storm. I finally realized that these relationships were necessary to the plot, but they never quite felt convincing as romances.

The book's ending was pitch-perfect, with a few last twists that were both wrenching and completely true to the story. But the ending also felt ... final, which got me a little confused, because the back of my ARC said that this The Madman's Daughter is part of a trilogy. Then I saw on Goodreads that book two will be based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and the third book on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I'm so on board for those!

Small warning: if you are extremely squeamish and/or bothered by descriptions of animal cruelty, you might want to tread carefully. There was a point early in the story where I almost stopped reading. I'm really glad I didn't. I highly recommend The Madman's Daughter  to fans of horror and suspense, as well as those who love gritty historical fiction.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Extra! Extra! 41

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is my weekly post featuring any and all exciting blog news.

I'm linking up to Sunday Post hosted by the lovely Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer


What happened on the blog this past week? Well, first I have two great giveaways that are wrapping up soon, so be sure you're entered:

Hot Off the Presses!
Win your choice of Boundless, Everbound, Shades of Earth, Slated or Level 2

Scarlet! finished copy giveaway of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer!

Things you need to know:

Earlier this morning I posted a how-to on changing your Goodreads settings and notifications. Making these few small changes was SO helpful to me -- check it out here.


This past week I reviewed:

Everbound by Brodi Ashton
Why did I think this second book in a trilogy was a marked departure from the first?

Slated by Teri Terry
Why did I cause trouble by trying to pair two characters together who can't be a couple?!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
In which I cause more trouble by suggesting that yes, there is mad chemistry between Cinder and this new dude!

Nobody but Us by Kristin Halbrook
This dark contemporary was kind of like a road trip to a place I wasn't sure I wanted to go, and yet I still enjoyed the ride.

New books -- click on the covers to add to Goodreads.

Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston The Reece Malcolm List Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for approving me for Rules For Disappearing!

Thanks to Entangled for approving me for The Reece Malcolm List!

And thanks to fate and my bookstore for uniting me with a slightly dented up but still totally readable copy of Perfect Scoundrels. SO excited about that one!

Last week's winners:

Tressa, aka commenter number 63, won the January 18 Freebie Friday!

What's Up for Next Week? So glad you asked.
Reviews of The Madman's Daughter, Prodigy, and Perfect Scoundrels, plus I'm a stop on a YA Hop. Hope you'll drop by!

What's new with you? Tell me in comments or leave me a link!

Be a Better Blogger: Manage Those Goodreads Notifications

I love Goodreads. It's a fantastic way to keep track of the books I've read, post and read reviews and meet other readers.

But what do you do if your Goodreads notifications are driving you nuts? It's easy to fix!  Say you really don't want to get another one of these event notifications in your email:

You can set your account so that you receive NO invitations in your email at all. Here's how:

First, go to your profile tab. It's on the far right of the screen when you're logged in to Goodreads:

Now select "edit profile."

Then you'll get a set of tabs that look like this. Select "emails."

Then you can go in and customize the emails you want to receive.

Here's another great tip: you can filter your timeline, so you see only updates from the people you choose.  I swear this will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

For optimal results, you may want to make sure that you have the people you want to hear from selected as "top friends." You can read all the way through the post and decide.

Goodreads is sneaky and "top friends" is the default setting. So if you haven't already, you need to pick your Goodreads BFFs.  

First, go to your friends page.  You'll find that on the Goodreads home page in the middle of the right sidebar. I would click on "725 friends," as seen below.

Then you'll see this. Just click on edit friends in bold green:

And you'll get page after page of friends. If you have no idea who someone is, or they are that person with 4000 friends and one book, uncheck their "top friend" box. According to Goodreads, they will never know that you demoted them, so be brutal. 
Yes, this is time consuming, depending on how many friends you have. But I swear it is life-changing.  
You can watch some TV while you do it. If you can't bear to do it, you can also filter the timeline so it shows only people whose reviews you are following. I'll explain that below.

Helpful tip: the next time you accept a Goodreads friend request, be sure to decide if that person is a "top friend" or not. If not, uncheck that box when you accept the friend request.

Whew, you're done? Awesome. Time to filter your timeline. Go back to your home page. So you see on the right where it says "showing: top friends" with a little downward arrow? Click that and ...

You'll see something that looks like this:

You can choose what shows up in your timeline. I need to change that setting to "top friends and following" probably, but you can experiment. Now my timeline shows updates and reviews from people I know and trust. I don't have to filter through a bunch of updates from ... "who IS that, anyway?"

Try it out and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just Finished Reading ... Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook

Nobody But Us
by Kristin Halbrook
To be published by HarperTeen
on January 29, 2013

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

My summary: Zoe is the fifteen year-old daughter of an angry alcoholic. Will is a eighteen year-old foster child who's been bounced from home to home.  They're in love, so they decide to run away together to Las Vegas. These two have big dreams, but dreams won't pay the bills, keep the cops at bay, or erase their troubled pasts.

My take: This book definitely had strong points. The narrative alternated between Will's and Zoe's viewpoints, and it was never a problem to know whose head you were in. Zoe's sections were wordier and more reflective, while Will's were more staccato and peppered with "aint's," which, admittedly, did grate on my nerves after a while. The setting was well-drawn -- as these two trekked cross-counry, I felt I was right with them in the convenience stores and cheap motels.

I also liked the fact that Nobody But Us doesn't try to romanticize the couple's terrible choices. In fact, I give the author credit for not being afraid to offer up two very flawed characters. Will has serious anger management issues, using his fists or a weapon when things don't go his way. He's also jealous, alternating between professing his love to Zoe and lashing out violently at others. Zoe is the brains of the operation, but she's clearly still a child, seriously lacking in any kind of practicality or common sense. Deep down, she seems to know that Will is a bad bet. If the guy you think you love has to keep telling you that he's not going to hit you, at some point he probably will.

Both of these two have gone through a lot. Zoe tells us -- twice within a few pages -- about her mother's gruesome (accidental?) death. I wasn't sure if this repetition was deliberate or an editing error in the e-ARC I read. Will has languished in the foster care system. While it would be hard not to feel sympathy for the all hardships these two have endured in their short lives, it was also hard for me to get attached to them when I felt they were doomed.

Watching the two of them drive cross-country became an exercise in dread. I clicked through the pages, wondering what kind of bad outcome I was going to get. Zoe, fifteen and pregnant? Zoe, murdered by Will? Neither of those things happened and, in fact, some of Zoe's actions at the end did surprise me. But I think if I had seen any small glimmer of hope, I would have found the book far more poignant.

If you love gritty contemporaries, you should definitely try Nobody But Us. If you like your stories to have some sense of happily ever after, this won't be the book for you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review and GIVEAWAY ... Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Freebie Friday will be back next week and it's RAK week -- a whole stack of books to give away and multiple winners!
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2)
by Marissa Meyer
To be published by Feiwel and Friends
on February 5, 2013

Source: Around the World ARC Tours

My summary: Scarlet Benoit is delivering fresh-picked vegetables from her farm in the French countryside while trying not to worry about her grand-mere'smysterious disappearance. On a routine delivery to a tavern, she meets ... you guessed it: Wolf. He's a tough street-fighter, but soon Scarlet has reason to believe he might be able to help her.  Meanwhile, cyborg Cinder is trying to break out of prison and stop evil Queen Levana from taking over earth. When these two space-age fairytale heroines finally cross paths, they learn that they have something in common: they each have a piece to the puzzle of a missing Lunar princess, a girl who could disrupt the evil Queen's plans and save the universe.

My take: I like fairytale retellings, and really enjoyed Cinder, book one in this four-part series. You can read my review of Cinder here. Scarlet is part two of this inventive series, and the action moves from New Beijing to the French countryside, where the fiery-haired Scarlet delivers vegetables by spaceship for a living. As she does, she meets a hungry wolf, whom she's convinced can help her find her missing grandmother. Or is he just big and bad?

Scarlet's story alternates with that of Kai's and Cinder's. Kai is still trying to deal with the fallout of the whole Cinder at the ball fiasco. Cinder, after her disruptive appearance at Prince Kai's royal ball, has been imprisoned. With the help of Captain Carswell Thorne, a feckless fellow prisoner, Cinder stages a jailbreak and soon the pair are combing New Beijing for Thorne's missing spaceship.  The two of them made a compelling couple -- verbally sparring in a rapid-fire fashion that brought to mind the crackling sexual tension between Princess Leia and Han Solo in the Star Wars movies. I am definitely rooting for Thorne in this particular love triangle.** Like many classic fairytale heroes, Prince Kai strikes me as a little on the bland side. After Cinder escapes, poor Kai has to manage Queen Levana's fury, but he still isn't given much of interest to do in this book. As far as I'm concerned, Cinder gets to do all the cool stuff. I was also delighted that among her accomplishments is managing to bring back Iko, her beloved cyborg-servant, at least in a manner of speaking. Iko provided additional comic relief as Cinder and Thorne tried to evade capture by the Queen's minions.

While I enjoyed reading about Scarlet and Wolf, I also felt that theirs was also a peripheral plot stream to Cinder's. Scarlet isn't really a sequel to Cinder or a companion book -- it's more like a merging of story lines. Scarlet's grandmother has information that the evil Queen Levana needs, but Scarlet isn't really central to the series' main plot. Wolf is an enigmatic and compelling character -- I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers -- and I hope he and Scarlet will continue to be part of the series. But there are still two more fairytale characters -- Rapunzel and Snow White -- who also need to be brought into the mix, and things could get crowded.

Scarlet, like Cinder, is a lively, imaginative book that seems to be one-third fairy tale, one-third sci-fi, and one-third comic book adventure. The series, which features strong female heroines and a great blend of action and romance, is one I highly recommend!

** Okay, not everyone agrees with me that this is a love triangle, and it probably isn't, but a girl can hope...  I'm always rooting for the underdog.

Interested? I have this to give away...

This giveaway will be open internationally, but if you are outside the US, I will have to order the book when it is released. If winner is U.S., I'll mail the book as soon as I receive the winner's address!

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