Google+ YA Romantics: April 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Fling Blog Hop!

Welcome to my stop on the Spring Fling Blog Hop, hosted by Eve's Fan Garden and I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

What am I giving away?

Clash, Crash AND Crush by Nicole Williams
Published 2012-2013 by HarperCollins

Note: these are YA/NA and are recommended by the publisher for readers 16 and up.

You can have any or all of them. If you've already started this series and are dying for Crush, no problem. If you want to have a little reading fling and binge read all of them, I'm fine with that.

I'm offering a lot of ways to enter, so do whatever works for you….

This is US only (since I have to pay shipping for three books) but if you live outside the US, you can enter to win a book here!

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 Now, be sure to check out all the other great blogs on this hop:

Hot Off the Presses: New YA April 30-May 6

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses! Every Tuesday, I tell you about all the great new YA books releasing that week. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing this month so we can all check them out!

The new releases are really rolling in -- maybe in anticipation of all that summer reading we'll be doing soon? Asterisked books may have a different international release date :(

Since there will be SO many new releases over the next month, I'll let the winner pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)
Congratulations to my April winner -- Redheaded Bookworm :)

Click the covers to get to the Goodreads page!

Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce The Ward by Jordana Frankel

The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin)
Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce (Bloomsbury)
The Ward by Jordana Frankel (Katherine Tegen)

Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins Nobody's Secret How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler

*Sweet Peril (Sweet Series #2) by Wendy Higgins (Harper)
Nobody's Secret by Michaela McColl (Chronicle)
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler (Sourcebooks)

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike The Program by Suzanne Young Broken Forest by Eliza Tilton

Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike
The Program by Suzanne Young
*Broken Forest by Eliza Tilton

pic name The Loop by Shandy Lawson The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise

Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg (Razorbill)
The Loop by Shandy Lawson (Hyperion)
The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise (Balzer + Bray)

Also Releasing:

*Rumor Central by Reshonda Tate Billingsley (Kensington)
Belonging (Temptation #2) by Karen Ann Hopkins (Harlequin)
Last Academy by Anne Applegate (Scholastic/Point)
Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick (Scholastic)
Defriended by Ruth Baron (Scholastic/Point)
Identity Theft by Anna Davies (Scholastic/Point)
Sketchy by Olivia Samms (Amazon)


Breathless (Elementals #2.5 ) by Brigid Kemmerer (Kensington Teen)

I try to include every YA, small pubs or big, so if you think I missed something, please let me know in comments.

The Rafflecopter is now set up so you can input up to five reviews per day. Thanks, Sarah Elizabeth for the suggestion :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Finished Reading … The Lucy Variations

Review of The Lucy Variations
by Sara Zarr
To be published by Little, Brown BFYR
on May 7, 2012

Source: e-ARC from the publisher

Connect with the author: website : Twitter.

Summary (from Goodreads:) Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain. That was all before she turned fourteen. Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death and a betrayal led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano -- on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?
My take: I've read and enjoyed all of Sara Zarr's books, but this one might just be my favorite. The Lucy Variations is a beautifully crafted coming of age story, but also a deeply moving exploration on joy and its connection to the creative process.

Lucy Beck-Moreau is definitely very different from the characters Sara Zarr usually writes about. The protagonists I remember from her earlier books -- Jennifer in Sweethearts, Sam in Once Was Lost, Deanna from Story of a Girl -- were underdogs and small town outcasts. In contrast, Lucy is a girl who seems to have it all: a musical prodigy who's also (as Jane Austen described Emma) "handsome, clever and rich." But Lucy is also guilty, confused and miserable about the circumstances that led her to walk away from her promising future as a concert pianist.

Those circumstances are slowly revealed over the course of the story, and I don't want to say exactly what they were, but it becomes clear that Lucy has lost someone who offered her something that the rest of her impressive family doesn't: unconditional love. That loss, combined with her fallout over her decision to quit playing, has left her completely adrift. Lucy soon realizes that there is something she misses more than playing the piano:

"It has been too long since she had that thought, that feeling. Of joy and things being right or at least okay."

With subtlety and sometimes even humor, The Lucy Variations explores so many fascinating themes -- families and the way they both support and undermine us, grief and loss, success and failure, trust and betrayal. I thought that one of the most interesting parts of The Lucy Variations was the way that it raised the issue of happiness and its relation to achievement and the creative process. Do we do something that we love only in the hopes of achieving public acclaim and recognition? What do we do when we lose faith in our abilities, or when others have lost faith in us?

Lucy is trying to answer all these questions, and she's feeling lost. She's not used to feeling ordinary rather than special. Her unusual childhood has rendered her somewhat unfit to live as a regular sixteen year-old. She's spent much more time among adults than kids her own age, and mostly keeps to herself at school. This aspect of Lucy's life led to a plot development that had me worried that the story was going to veer in a direction that struck me as both predictable and disappointing. I put the book down. I fretted. I almost peeked at the ending. I shouldn't have been worried. My experience with Sara Zarr's writing is that she always chooses the subtle over the obvious, the unexpected over the predictable, and she did not let me down.

As a piece of writing, The Lucy Variations is very impressive. Every scene, every character, every subplot worked to enhance the whole. Even though I am the most un-musical person on earth, I found Lucy's struggles to reclaim her life and her sense of joy about the world incredibly moving. I have held off on the music puns for all this time, but here I go: The Lucy Variations did not strike a single wrong note.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Extra! Extra! 53

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


New books! Click on the covers to check them out on Goodreads!

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Genevieve Tucholke If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan 45 Pounds by K.A. Barson

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Genevieve Tucholke (Dial, August 2013)

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (Algonquin, August 2013)

45 Pounds by K.A. Barson (Viking, Jul 2013)

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon (Algonquin, September 2013)

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne (Sourcebooks, July 2013)

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney (Little, Brown BFYR June 2013)

 Thanks SO much to Penguin, Little, Brown BFYR and Sourcebooks for letting me read these great books!

Reviews and book discussions you might have missed:

The Originals by Cat Patrick -- find out why I called this book about sister clones "Sci Fi Little Women!"

What Really Happened in Peru by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan -- I listened to this on audio and give you the scoop on the whole series of novellas.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau -- did this new dystopian pass my test?

Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin -- I'm a huge fan of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca. Did this retelling thrill or disappoint?

And check out my author interview with Jodi Lamm, author of Chemistry, a retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame!  We talk about goats. Really!

Coming up next week:
Reviews (I hope) of The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

On Thursday, I'm hosting a Choose Your Own Adventure Blog Hop for a longtime blog reader -- and soon-to-be-published-writer, Eliza Tilton. 

Her debut YA novel,  Broken Forest, will be published on Wednesday from Curiosity Quills Press. I'm so excited for her and can't wait to choose my own adventure!  Remember those books??

So … what's new with you? Tell me in comments and leave me a link so I can visit you back!

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Just Finished Reading: Thorn Abbey by Nancy Ohlin

Review of Thorn Abbey
by Nancy Ohlin
To be published by Simon Pulse
on May 7, 2013

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss. Please see my full FTC disclosure on the right sidebar.

Connect with the author: website : Twitter.

Summary (from author's website:) Gone but not forgotten ...
Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey.  But Becca’s dead.  And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss. Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy and insecure—everything that Becca wasn’t.  And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max. Now Max finally has a reason to move on.  Except, it won’t be easy. Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go….
My take: I'm a big fan of Rebecca, a 1938 novel by Daphne duMaurier, so I'm always up for checking out a new interpretation of the story.

In January 2012, I reviewed New Girl by Paige Harbison, another YA retelling of Rebecca. In that review, I summarize the main plot of the original story. In short, Rebecca is a gothic romance that features a brooding hero, a heroine who is insecure in love, an atmospheric old house, and the sinister presence of another woman.

To me, one of the challenges that comes with retelling Rebecca is that many elements of the original story are also things that drive modern YA readers crazy: a female narrator who is mousy and unconfident, a male love interest who runs extremely hot and cold, either declaring his love to the heroine or pushing her away, a strong dose of insta-love, and a plot that builds suspense very slowly. On the positive side of things, Rebecca offers a spooky supernatural vibe and a couple of truly sinister female villains.

Thorn Abbey uses a very similar premise to that of New Girl: a new girl arrives at a fancy boarding school to find that she's assigned to the room of a dead student, Rebecca. I was glad that Thorn Abbey didn't make the main character completely meek, just out of her element. Tess is a scholarship student in a school full of rich kids. She doesn't understand their language -- peppered with talk about Killington and Klonies -- and they treat her with cheerful disdain.

Max, the love interest, was a bit of another story. In the original book, the heroine spends the majority of the book feeling that she can never live up to the beauty and talent of her husband Max's dead wife, Rebecca. In Thorn Abbey, Tess is trying to develop a relationship with fellow student Max while worrying that he still carries a torch for his dead girlfriend.  Max came off to me as mopey rather than brooding and I never really felt any connection between the two of them.

Another challenge in updating Rebecca is that the original book relies on two shocking plot revelations that don't occur until well into the story: (highlight to read spoiler) first, that Max actually loathed Rebecca, and second, that he was responsible for her death. (end spoiler.) As a result, some readers I've pushed Rebecca on have found the pace too slow. The book holds the reader's interest through the heroine's feelings of inadequacy and the way they are intensified by the evil machinations of her husband's creepy housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. In Thorn Abbey, Mrs. Danvers is re-cast as Tess's roommate, Devon, who came off as more ditzy than demented.

But then, Thorn Abbey took a bold and intriguing supernatural turn: (highlight to read spoiler) namely, killing Devon and having her possessed by the spirit of the dead Rebecca. (end spoiler.) I really wish that this had happened earlier in the story, as I think it would have ramped up the tension in the first half of the book. After this revelation, the book really picks up in suspense. The ending is also a bit of a shocker, a spooky departure from the original. On the downside, the ending is very abrupt.

As a die-hard fan of Rebecca, I did enjoy Thorn Abbey.  I also appreciated the little in-jokes, like the characters' obsession with the movie To Catch a Thief and the new role played by Frank Crawley. Readers who are completely unfamiliar with the original book should keep in mind that a little patience is in order, as like the original Rebecca, Thorn Abbey backloads all the exciting stuff into the last quarter of the story.

Have you read Rebecca or seen Alfred Hitchcock's movie based on the book?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Author Interview: Jodi Lamm

Interview with Jodi Lamm
author of Chemistry
YA Contemporary/Retelling
published October 29, 2012

Connect with the author: website : Twitter.

Jodi is offering Chemistry for free today and tomorrow (April 26-27) on Amazon. Yes, free!

The backstory: In March, Jodi emailed me and asked me if I'd be interested in reading her recently published book, Chemistry, which is a contemporary retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Here's the blurb she sent me:

You don't want to read this book. I'm warning you. This isn't a heartwarming, boy-meets-girl, high school romance. I wish it were—God, do I ever. No, if you read this, you're going to be angry… with me, mostly. You'll probably yell at me, if you're the type of person who yells at books. You'll tell me not to be so stupid, but I won't listen. I'll be exactly as stupid as I need to be to destroy everything I love because that's who I am: a walking, talking tragedy. That's who I've always been. But if you're determined to read on despite my warning, I may as well introduce myself. My name is Claude Frollo, I'm nineteen going on ninety, and this is my story. It isn't pretty, but it's honest. And it's the only story I have left to tell.
Why was I drawn to this blurb? First, the very strong narrative voice. I love that in a book. I also love retellings, although I've never read The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And I liked the fact that this was a contemporary YA.  Now that I've finished the book, I see that Claude was right. Chemistry isn't a heartwarming romance. This is an intense story of love, jealousy, betrayal --  a story full of complex characters and some very dramatic moments.

So here are my questions for Jodi and what she had to say:

Jen:  I learned from your website that you used to write books on stapled-together pieces of paper. Me too!  Can you tell me a little bit about your journey as a writer from Dragon to Chemistry?

Jodi's early work, Dragon.

Jodi: I started writing stories pretty much as soon as I learned how to write. At first, it was to record some of my stranger dreams. Then I read a book called DRAGON OF THE LOST SEA by Laurence Yep. There was one scene that brought me close to tears for the villain. The villain! I was shocked. I was just a child and only accustomed to evil villains of the Disney variety. Bad is bad, you know? But this villain had a reason and a painful history to go with it. That was what made me realize how complex stories could really be and what made me want to be a writer. After reading Laurence Yep's novel, I folded my notebook paper, stapled it, and composed DRAGON. And writing just became this amazingly bad habit of mine. I loved it. I have boxes of old manuscripts that will never see the light of day. It's interesting to me that the idea behind CHEMISTRY (as an attempt to acknowledge the humanity of the villain) kind of recalls that early experience.

Jen: Chemistry is a retelling of  Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I've never read. Can you give us a short summary of the book and explain why you decided to use it as your inspiration?

Jodi: Summarizing that book is going to be so tricky. It follows a number of primary characters (Claude Frollo, Quasimodo, Pierre Gringoire, and Esmeralda) and even several secondary characters. Each character's story becomes irreversibly tangled in the others, in much the same way they do in ROMEO AND JULIET. In short, it's a tragedy about a priest, a bell ringer, and a soldier, who all fall for a Gypsy girl in their own special ways. For Claude, it's deeply passionate, obsessive, crazy love.

What I adore about the original is how human every character is. Quasimodo is a kind-hearted person, but he has a violent, dangerous temper. Phoebus is a handsome, fun-loving guy, who's also a selfish jerk. Esmeralda is lovely and sweet, but she's also intolerably stupid. Pierre is a genius except when it comes to interpersonal relationships. And Claude has such high expectations of himself and others, he drives himself utterly insane with them. I wanted to read a retelling that preserved the things about the original I loved most, but I couldn't find it, so I wrote it.

Jen: Claude, the narrator of Chemistry, is a pretty complicated character. He's an orphan, he's intelligent and funny, and yet he's also a little ... unhinged. Do you see him as insane? As a villain? As someone driven mad by love?

Jodi: I don't think he's an outright villain. I see him as someone who has high expectations, for himself and others. Unfortunately, those expectations are impossible to meet, and when people—including himself—fail him, the consequences he creates are terrible. I think he's also someone with a dangerous obsession, a painful history, and an inability to interact with others in a healthy way. And while he works so hard to be a kind of parent to the people he cares about, he has no one to help him through his own troubles.

Jen: As much as I questioned the choice while reading, I love that you kept Esmeralda's pet goat and didn't make him into a Yorkiepoo. Can you tell us a little more about some of the elements of the original book that you either decided to keep or decided to change?

Jodi: Ha! You have no idea how much I worried about the goat. Then I remembered that some people keep pygmy goats as pets… and they are so cute! So I stuck with a goat, only smaller. I know it's kind of surreal, but the whole book is pretty surreal, in my opinion. I kept as much of the original story as I could. In fact, the chapters even correspond, which is why one of them is out of order. I wanted to keep the tragedy as a tragedy, but modern justice systems don't work the same way, so the justice had to be vigilante. Most of the main characters are orphans in the original; that stayed the same. The only thing I really couldn't find a way to fit into the modern story was the switched-at-birth plot, which I left it out, but I included a hint of it in the little pendant Esmeralda wears.

Jen: Claude is nineteen, and he -- and the book -- have some dark moments.  Do you think that Chemistry skews a little more toward New Adult than YA, or do you think YA is trending toward darker, more complex stories?

Jodi: That's a tough question. I chose to call it YA because the setting is high school. I do think YA is just as dark and complex as NA, and these age-categories are mostly about relatability. You're just dealing with a completely different world in high school than you are in college.

Jen: Thanks so much for answering my questions, Jodi. I wish you much success with your writing!

Jodi: Thank you for the opportunity.

You can read my review of Chemistry on Goodreads here. And don't forget, if you want to give Chemistry a try you can download it free here through April 27.

If you have questions for Jodi about goats, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, being a writer, or anything else, just leave them in comments and I'll ask her to stop by and answer them :)

Freebie Friday 40: ARC Giveaway III

Happy Friday!

I have a big stack of spring 2013 ARCs and I'd love to pass them on. 

Congratulations to last week's winner: Fran of Bella's Bookshelf!

Here's what's on the pile:

Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan
Rotten by Michael Northrop
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Look by Sophia Bennett
Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein
Fifteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton
Mind Games by Kiersten White
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Notes From Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
Pulse by Patrick Carman
Period 8 by Chris Crutcher

This will be simple -- just fill out the Rafflecopter and tell me which ARC you'd most like to win. There will be multiple winners. Due to mailing costs, this will be US only, unless you are willing to pay for postage. But international winners can enter Hot Off the Presses  and win their book of choice up to $15!

These are review copies, and if you win, I'm sure that the publisher and author would really appreciate it if you'd post your thoughts about the book on a blog, Goodreads or Amazon. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just Finished Reading … the Testing

The Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau
To be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
on June 2, 2013

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.

Find out more on the book's website.

Watch the trailer here. 

Download the free prequel here.

Summary (from Goodreads:) Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?  The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.  Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one. But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

My take:  I'm suffering from a full-blown case of dystopian fatigue. As a result, I approach new books in this genre with the hope that they will offer up some kind of a fresh spin on things.  The Testing didn't meet that test for me. Still, if you feel the way about dystopian fiction that I feel about contemporary/realistic YA -- namely, that you're a tireless and devoted reader of the genre -- I think you'll enjoy this book. 

The Testing opens with Cia, the main character, getting all dressed up for a big ceremony. All the residents of her colony are gathering in the town square to find out which of Cia's classmates will be chosen for the Testing, a chance to compete to attend their country's University.

Cia wasn't the kind of character who had me rooting for her. To me, she came off as calm and detached. I tend to connect more with characters who show either greater vulnerability or more of an snarky edge. Or both. Cia wasn't a bad narrator, she just struck me as bland.

Of course, Cia is chosen to be tested. She and three of her classmates are taken to Tosu City to undergo a series of tests. They're assigned a mentor. They meet their competitors. Then -- and I have to admire the gutsiness of this storytelling move -- for the first round of competition they actually take tests. They sit at desks and take tests with paper with pencils. (For teen readers who are in full exam panic mode, this scenario might actually elicit a cold sweat.)  Fortunately, in subsequent rounds, the candidates get to do other stuff. Like test plants and soil. And then - finally - get down to the real-world leadership and decision-making tests.When the testing moves into its final stages, the book shifts to survival in the wilderness sort of stuff. Just like in the Hunger Games, Cia will have to battle injury and the elements and decide which of her competitors she can trust. This was definitely the strongest part of the book.

As in other dystopian books which feature plots that put groups of kids in deadly competition with one another, that part of the premise didn't entirely hold together for me. In the Hunger Games, the Reaping served as a cruel means by which the government punishes and controls its citizens. In this book, it didn't really add up. Yes, I understand that the United Commonwealth wants their best and the brightest to attend the university, but what is the logic behind such callous disregard for the almost-best-and-brightest, many of whom seem to end up dead?

Will you be surprised if I tell you there are two guys Cia finds herself drawn to, one of whom may not be trustworthy? However, as Cia learns in the beginning of the book, her memory will be erased if she survives the testing, so even if she figures out which guy she likes, she's not going to remember.

Here's a little test for you to take: are you dying for new dystopian books to read? Does the idea of a group of kids pitted against one another still makes your heart beat a little faster? Then you should definitely put The Testing on your to-read list.

How are you feeling about dystopian fiction? Are you still loving it? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just Finished Listening To … What Really Happened in Peru: Bane Chronicles 1

What Really Happened in Peru: The Bane Chronicles 1
by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
Read by: Jesse Williams
Length: 1 hour, 13 minutes
Produced by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: April 16, 2013

Also available as an e-book.

Source: received audio download for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.

Summary from There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’s Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.

My take:  Magnus Bane is one of my very favorite characters in the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. He's witty, he's enigmatic, and he has a sort of brooding melancholy about him that I find strangely appealing.

What Really Happened in Peru is a standalone story, a quirky, funny tale of Magnus's Peruvian travels with Ragnor and Catarina. I've never been to Peru (or anywhere in South America) and I enjoyed walking around the city with the group.  I also walk (the dog) while I listen to audiobooks, and as I walked and listened, I was laughing and typing notes in my phone -- things to look up later, like:

chicha de molle?
charango - armadillo?

Warning: my spelling may be off.  I'm not going to say more, as I want you to be able to enjoy all the surprises in this tragicomic travelogue to their fullest, but I can tell you that one of those things is consumed by Magnus, one he uses to torture others, and one is part of a messy, comic misadventure. There's one line that's still cracking me up: "the quinoa has no flavor." I'm not sure why I find that so funny. But it is.

What Really Happened in Peru was entertaining and fun and I was happy to see both Magnus's sense of humor and melancholy come into play. I thought Jesse Williams did a great job on the narration, though some of the accents he did made me giggle.

What I didn't realize is that What Really Happened in Peru is part of a series of ten standalone stories featuring Magnus. He's lived a long time -- somewhere from 300 to 800 years, and he's always changing the number -- and these stories will give us a look into some of the places he's been and the things that have happened to him over the centuries. I love that idea!

According to Cassie Clare's website, each story will first be released in e-book and audio form, and then a bound volume of all the stories will be released in print. Here are the stories that she's planning, as per her website:

2. The Runaway Queen (May 21, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Magnus Bane has a royal role in the French Revolution—if the angry mobs don’t spoil his spells. While in France, immortal warlock Magnus Bane finds himself attempting to rescue the royal family from the horrors of the French Revolution—after being roped into this mess by a most attractive count. Naturally, the daring escape calls for invisible air balloons.

3. Vampires, Scones and Edmund Herondale (June 18, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

Magnus Bane leverages his alliances with Downworlders and Shadowhunters on a venture to Victorian London.  When immortal warlock Magnus Bane attends preliminary peace talks between the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders in Victorian London, he is charmed by two very different people: the vampire Camille Belcourt and the young Shadowhunter, Edmund Herondale. Will winning hearts mean choosing sides?

4. The Rise of the Hotel Dumont (July 16, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

In 1920s Manhattan, Magnus Bane hobnobs with the elite at a glamorous Jazz Age hotspot. The immortal Magnus Bane is making the most of his time in the Roaring Twenties: He’s settled into New York society and is thriving among the fashionable jazz set. And there is nowhere better to see and be seen than the glamorous Hotel Dumont, a glittering new addition to the Manhattan landscape. But a different type of glamour may be at play…

5. The Fall of the Hotel Dumort (August 20, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Magnus Bane watches the once-glamorous Hotel Dumont become something else altogether in 1970s New York City. Fifty years after the Jazz Age rise of the Hotel Dumont, immortal warlock Magnus Bane knows the Manhattan landmark is on the decline. The once-beautiful Hotel Dumont has fallen into a decayed thing, a ruin, as dead as a place can be. But the vampires don’t mind…

6. Saving Raphael Santiago (September 17, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

One of the more interesting jobs Magnus has ever been involved in… A distraught mother in 1950s New York hires Magnus to find her son, Raphael, but when Magnus finds him young Raphael is already beyond saving. Or is he?

7. No Immortal Can Keep a Secret (October 15, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Magnus at the turn of the 20th century decides to try this new “psychoanalysis” with Dr. Freud. But clearly the doctor has no experience to help deal with a centuries-old warlock with a very complicated dating history and some very unusual father issues.

8. The Course of True Love [And First Dates] (November 19, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare

Magnus and Alec’s first date.

9. What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (December 17, 2013)

By Sarah Rees Brennan and Cassandra Clare

What To Buy The Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway.) Set between City of Ashes and City of Glass. Magnus has to find the perfect birthday present, deal with the demon he’s conjured up for a very irritating client, and work out what’s going on between him and Alec, anyway.

10. The Letter (December 31, 2013)

By Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan

No description. Very mysterious!

I'm definitely excited to listen to (or read) more of these. Also, it's fun to see the collaboration between the authors. I can't wait to see what Cassie Clare and Maureen Johnson have come up with!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Showers of Books Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to my stop on the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop, hosted by Books a la Mode, and I Am A Reader, Not a Writer.

I like giveaways with themes, and I've been wracking my brain trying to think of books that fit this one. Books about water? About rain? Books that take place in April?

So I decided to offer up a choice between two YA books with my favorite water-themed covers:

The winner can choose EITHER a paperback of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin OR a hardcover of The Evolution of Mara Dyer, also by Michelle Hodkin. Just click on those title links to get to the book's Goodreads summary.

If you haven't met Noah Shaw, the book's resident hot bad boy, you might want to get on that sooner rather than later. Okay, Noah's a little full of himself, but he's fun to read about and he's got a LOT of fans out there.

If you need to start (or get caught up on) this series, now is the time -- The Retribution of Mara Dyer comes out in October 2013!  

Want to enter? Cool. Just fill out the Rafflecopter below. If you are international, you can't enter this, but you can enter to win any book of your choice up to $15 by clicking here.  You can also just scroll down one post if that's easier. Of course US residents can enter that giveaway too :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hot Off the Presses: New YA April 23-29

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses! Every Tuesday, I tell you about all the great new YA books releasing that week. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing this week so we can all check them out!

There's also a giveaway -- you can link ANY April YA review below and have a chance to win your choice of book up to $15 US from Amazon or The Book Depository. Winner will be drawn and notified on April 30.

So … what's releasing in the coming week? A lot! Asterisked titles have different international release dates.

The Silver Dream by Michael Reaves and Neil Gaiman Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers

The Silver Dream (Interworld #2) by Michael Reaves, Neil Gaiman and Mallory Reaves (Harper)
*Quintana of Charyn (Lumiere #3) by Melina Marchetta (Candlewick)
Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers (Amistad)

Exile (Mercy #2) by Rebecca Lim Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris The Rules by Stacey Kade

*Exile (Mercy #2) by Rebecca Lim (Hyperion)
Unbreakable (Unraveling #2) by Elizabeth Norris (Balzer + Bray)
The Rules (Project Paper Doll #1) by Stacey Kade (Disney-Hyperion)

The Elite by Kiera Cass Manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen Crush by Nicole Williams

The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass (Harper)
manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen (Random House)
Crush (Crash #3) by Nicole Williams (Harper)

How Zoe Made Her Dreams Mostly Come True by Sarah Strphmeyer Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer Chosen At Nightfall by CC Hunter

*How Zoe Made her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer (Balzer + Bray)
Natural Born Angel (Immortal City #2) by Scott Speer (Razorbill)
Arclight by Josin L. McQuein (Greenwillow)

Also releasing:

*Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher (Dial)
Truth or Dare (Capitol Girls #3) by Ella Monroe (St Martins)
Chosen at Nightfall by CC Hunter (St Martin's)
Spirit's Chosen (Spirit's Princess #2) by Esther Friesner

Did I miss anything? If so, please let me know in comments! a Rafflecopter giveaway
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