Google+ YA Romantics: June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... On the Fence by Kasie West

On the Fence
by Kasie West
To be published on July 1, 2014
by Harper Teen

Source: Thanks to Harper for allowing me to read an e-galley.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
My take:  I'm a big fan of Kasie West, and this book did not disappoint! However, I think the synopsis (above) makes this book sound way more breezy and superficial than it actually is. Yes, part of the story includes a sweet romance, a "friends become more than friends" kind of thing, and Charlie's secret job.  But at the core of On the Fence is a moving story about a girl who has been trying to come to terms with something really sad and difficult, and how she works through that to become a stronger person. (Since the synopsis doesn't mention what this is, I won't either, but I thought it was really well done and added a lot of emotional depth to the story.)

Like another of my favorite YA contemporary writers, Sarah Dessen, Kasie West does a great job at portraying family dynamics in a realistic way. Charlie is a tomboy, the only girl in a family of brothers. If you've spent any time around real teenage guys, you'll see that Charlie's brothers are really true to life -- loud, gross, obnoxious, competitive, but underneath it all, kind of endearing and sometime surprisingly sensitive.  Charlie also has a great relationship with her dad, which I loved.

Charlie's a tomboy, and one part of the plot of On the Fence deals with her having to pay a speeding ticket by working at a boutique. In doing so, she makes some friends who are girls and learns that, while it's great to be a tomboy and an athlete, part of the fun of being a girl can also be trying out some makeup or -- gasp! -- a shirt with flowers on it.

Okay, to the romance. It was a little more slow-paced and subtle than I expected, but really sweet. I loved watching Charlie try to sort out her feelings for not one but two guys. What I think I loved most about Charlie is that she was open to trying new things but managed to stay true to herself. Yes, she might have put on a little mascara now and then, but she didn't change who she was for a boss or a guy or anyone.

If you're already a Kasie West fan, I think you'll enjoy this. And if you haven't tried one of her books, and you love authors like Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins and Huntley Fitzpatrick -- what are you waiting for??

Friday, June 27, 2014

Extra! Extra! A Day Early

Extra! Extra!

Freebie Friday is on hiatus this week because I'm away, so I thought I'd start the weekend early!

Extra! Extra! is my weekend post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as a summary of what's new on the blog.

This weekend I'm linking to Stacking the Shelves @ Tynga's Reviews or to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 


I have two new books that I just snapped up on Edelweiss:

The Fall Illusions of Fate

The Fall by Bethany Griffin -- a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher!
Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White REVIEWS:

On the blog, I reviewed Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn. Highly recommend this one if you're a fan of psychological thrillers.

On Goodreads, I reviewed:

The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor, a bleak book about a girl with a bunch of bad relationships.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern, a book I'd given up on until my friend Karen from FWIW Reviews urged me to give it a second chance...

Talon by Julie Kagawa, which wasn't the dragon fantasy I was expecting, but still something I enjoyed.


Half Life of Molly Pearce On The Fence Kiss of Deception Vanishing Season

What are you reading this weekend?  I'm almost caught up on comments, so leave me one!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Trending Thursday: Dreams and Nightmares

Trending Thursday went on hiatus for a bit, but it's back this week. As part of JASOP (Jen's Awesome Summer Organization Plan) I was sorting some ARCs and came across this one:

Vault of Dreamers
by Caragh O'Brien

At first I decided to do a Trending Thursday about eyeball covers, because there are a lot of them and they really creep me out. (And I now have a list of YA eyeball covers, so that could still happen...) But then I decided to change course and do a post on YA books that feature dreams and/or nightmares.

Dream and nightmare books have been a pretty steady trend, with one or two showing up consistently every year. I feel like these kinds of books come with possible pitfalls. Sleeping isn't inherently very active and, as a result, isn't the most exciting thing to read about. And even if scary things happen in a character's dreams, you know that it's not real, so that automatically cuts the tension.  (Though I did love Inception.)

Below are the dream and nightmare books I could think of. Some of them I've read and some I've not. 

The Jason Segel book was originally announced as YA, but it looks like it's now a middle grade book. And this touches on another YA trend: celebrity-written books. While I'm sure there are famous people out there who are able to write publishable fiction in their spare time, according to the New York Times, that's the exception rather than the rule. So kudos to Jason Segel for a) being upfront about the fact that he's doing the book in conjunction with an experienced writer and b) crediting that person, who happens to be none other than the awesome Kirsten Miller, author of both YA books (The Eternal Ones and How To Lead a Life of Crime) and middle grade books (the Kiki Strike series.) I look forward to seeing what they come up with!

Wake Wake Unto Me Nevermore
Blue is for Nightmares Nightmare Affair Nightmares

How do you feel about dream/nightmare books and can you think of any to add to my list?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Winterkill by Kate Boorman

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Today I'm joining Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Here's my pick:

by Kate Boorman
To be published on September 9, 2014
by Abrams/Amulet

Emmeline knows the woods outside her settlement are forbidden. The mysterious enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother's insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent. When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it's a rare opportunity to wash the family stain clean--even if she has eyes for another. But before she is forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her out to the woods, where she finds a path she can't help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the settlement will kill to protect. Her grandmother went down that path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn't careful, she will be next.

I'm not really sure what genre Winterkill is, or when or where it takes place. But it sounds like a Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I loved -- even if there were zombies. And what is down the path??Abrams/Amulet puts out some really interesting books, and I'm excited to try this one!

Thanks for stopping by -- if you have a WoW, please leave me a link!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing June 24-30

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can grab in the week to come. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing in the current month so we can all check them out!

This month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.) Enter by linking your reviews, commenting on other people's linked reviews, or tweeting :)  

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. You are also welcome to link your reviews of YA books that were self-pubbed this month. Some titles may have different release dates outside the US. Remember, if you want to find Little, Brown BFYR titles you will have to order from Barnes and Noble or the Book Depository -- or support you local independent bookstore if you have one!
Complicit Defector In the End
Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (St. Martin's Griffin)
Defector (Variants #2) by Susanne Winnacker (Razorbill)
In the End by Demitria Lunetta (Harper)

Awkwardly Ever After Behind the Scenes License to Spill Wickedpedia
Awkwardly Ever After by Marni Bates (K-Teen)
Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler (Spencer Hill)
License to Spill by Lisi Harrison (Poppy)
Wickedpedia by Chris von Etten (Scholastic Point)

Garden of Darkness Things You Kiss Goodbye Garden of Darkness Garden of Darkness
Summer of the Vanities (The Innocents #3) by Lili Peloquin (Razorbill)
The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor (Katherine Tegen)
Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall (Ravenstone)
The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett (Harlequin Teen)

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

by Stephanie Kuehn
To be published by St. Martin's Press
on June 23, 2014

Source: Thanks to St. Martin's for allowing me to read an advance copy through NetGalley

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

My take: Eeeeeeep. I just re-read that synopsis and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Full disclosure: I edited the synopsis and kept it on a need-to-know basis, because when you're reading a psychological thrillers the less about the book you know going in the better. In the course of my review, I promise to keep you in the dark as much as possible -- mwah-ha-ha....

If you read Stephanie Kuehn's debut novel, Charm and Strange, you know that she's a talented writer who is a master at creating a creepy and suspenseful mood and keeping readers guessing until the very last page.  Like like Charm and Strange, Complicit is narrated by a teenage boy who has some stuff to deal with, for lack of a better explanation.  Jamie is still suffering the consequences of his tough childhood. He's since been adopted by a well-off and well-meaning couple whose own children died. Jamie's a shaky, vulnerable mess, barely holding it together and just trying to get through every day. Then he gets the news: his scary sister Cate is baaaaaack.

Jamie was such a sympathetic character -- he struggles so much to control all his fears and anxieties. Anxiety is an exhausting thing, and I really felt his inner struggle. He's like a wobbly little baby bird, trying to fly and then you see this dark shadow looming overhead -- a hungry bird of prey -- ahhhh!!!

That's all I want to say about the plot. In order to preserve suspense, I'll just turn to the general things I love about the book.

The writing
I love Stephanie Kuehn's writing. You read the first few sentences of her books and just know that you can relax, that you're in talented and confident hands. She does the whole "teenage guy against the world" POV that I've loved from Holden Caulfield on and does it really, really well.

The suspense
To me, good suspense writing is all about understatement, and this book is a fantastic example of that.   The best writers do the minimum and cleverly get you to scare yourself. As I was reading, I was just wriggling in my chair, not even knowing what to be afraid of -- I just knew that I was scared...

The twists and turns
I did guess some of these, but I wasn't sure if I was right or not, right up until the end.

If you love suspenseful books, books that mess with your mind and make you question what you think is going on, definitely put Complicit on your list!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Extra! Extra! New Books and my Ruin and Rising playlist

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is my weekend post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as a summary of what's new on the blog.

This weekend I'm linking to Stacking the Shelves @ Tynga's Reviews or to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 


pic name pic name pic name

I got these three from Netgalley. You can click on the covers to get to that book's Goodreads page.

Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis -- after the fabulousness that is the Lunar Chronicles, I'm up for more fairy tale-themed stories.

Being Audrey Hepburn by Mitchell Kriegman -- I took a  bit of a flyer on this one. I'm obsessed with Breakfast at Tiffany -- both the book and the movie, so I'm excited to try this.

Killer Instinct (Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes -- I really enjoyed the Naturals, so I can't wait to see what happens next. Love triangle be damned, I'm going back in...

In my mailbox was this unexpected surprise:

yolo by Lauren Myracle

I'm a little too old to have read the whole ttyl series and ... srsly? ALL these books written in texts and emojis?  

One of my teen readers said she read and enjoyed Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen when she was younger, so I'm going to see if she's interested in checking this one out....

Huge thanks to Amulet, Disney, and St. Martin's for my new books!


Earlier this week, my blogger friend Patrick from the Bookshelves emailed to ask if I'd create a playlist for my current read for his feature Booking Through Music.  I said sure. Then I realized I was reading Ruin and Rising and felt at a bit of a loss.  I mean, this is the kind of book that needs a composer to write its soundtrack.

So ... since there's no such thing as Ravkan music -- though for all I know, Leigh Bardugo wrote some! -- I decided to do research on Russian music --  choral music, classical music, pop, alternative music, rap -- and came up with this out-of-the-box playlist.  Here's the playlist, and in his post, Patrick includes my rationale for choosing each song...
Happy weekend! I'm almost caught up on returning comments, so feel free to leave one and I WILL visit you back :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Freebie Friday: Witches and Zombies!

Happy Friday!  

I was commenting on another blog the other day and said something about how I like reading scary books in the summer -- it makes them less terrifying.

These two aren't super-scary, but one is about witches, and the other about necromancy and zombies. And it's open internationally! U.S. winner can take either or both of the books below.  International winner can have a paperback of Hexed or any other book that's the same price or less (up to $10) on The Book Depository.

The books are:

 Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

Hexed by Michelle Krys
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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Ruing and Rising/The Grisha Trilogy

Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3)
by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt
on June 17, 2014

Source: bought

Synopsis from Goodreads: The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.   Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
This review - and the synopsis above - may contain minor spoilers for the first two books. But NO SPOILERS for Ruin and Rising here...

My take:  I've enjoyed these books so much. I'm sad to see this story end, but I thought Ruin and Rising was a fitting ending to a really excellent YA trilogy.  Some of my predictions came to pass, one major one did not, there were a few BIG surprises and some smaller ones, but overall I was pretty happy.

Now I will (cagily, to avoid spoilers) discuss some of my favorite parts of the trilogy:

The Story World
High fantasy and I are not always BFFs. Some fantasy books are too quest-y for me, and I am not into reading about fairies and goblins and elves. But the Slavic-inspired story world here was a revelation to me. Gone were the medieval trappings of fantasies I've read in the past. This world, seemingly inspired by Russia (with nods to neighboring countries that seem vaguely Finnish and Chinese) has a unique language. Customs. Food. Folklore. It feels both fresh and completely real.

The Characters
Yes, there are some familiar character types here: the orphan, the mentor, the world-weary villain. But all the characters in the story, even the minor ones, are three-dimensional and believable. When characters from prior books popped up, I was like, "Hey, old friend..."

The Humor
I love books that can seamlessly blend the serious with the comical, the sublime with the ridiculous. Each time I've read a book in this trilogy, I've been surprised by how many funny moments there are.

The Romance
This is a topic upon which reasonable minds can differ. I mean, when you've got the Darkling, Sturmhond and Mal, there's going to be some disagreement among readers. And that's all I better say about that.

The Twists
Each of these books has had a gasp-worthy moment for me. In Shadow and Bone, it happened on page 303-304. In Siege and Storm, it was on 143.  In Ruin and Rising, it has to be a tie between page 242 and page 377. Whoa... I was not expecting either of those things, but they both really worked. In a shocking kind of way. And page 377 was exactly like that time when ... *zips lips*

I do have a couple of questions which cannot be asked or answered here. If you've read the book and want to chat, email me!

Please, no spoilers in comments, or I will have to send a flesh-eating volcra after you....

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: I'm Always Waiting for THE Rebecca Retelling

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I love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Yes, there are aspects of the book that feel a bit dated, but there's just something about the story of the young wife who's haunted by the dead ex-wife. It's creepy, it's Gothic, it's just really a great premise.

None of the YA Rebecca retellings I've read have completely hit the mark for me, but I never give up hope. Here's a new one:

by Alexander Monir
to be published on December 9, 2014
by Delacorte

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor. Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess. All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into? Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

In case you're interested, here's a list of other Rebecca-inspired YA, with links to my reviews.

New Girl by Paige Harbison (Harlequin Teen 2012)

The Dead and the Buried by Kim Harrington (Scholastic Point 2013)

Thorn Abby by Nancy Ohlin (Simon Pulse 2013)

Here's another YA one I haven't read:

Frost by Marianna Baer (Balzer + Bray 2011)

And I heard about this one (adult, not YA) and just couldn't even...

Alena by Rachel Pastan (Riverhead 2014)

Have you read Rebecca? Do you know of any retellings I haven't tried? If you're not up for the book, try the movie this summer -- Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine -- it's really good!
And if you have a WoW please link me up so I can check it out :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hot off the Presses: New YA Releasing June 17-23

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can grab in the week to come. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing in the current month so we can all check them out!

This month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.) Enter by linking your reviews, commenting on other people's linked reviews, or tweeting :)  

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. You are also welcome to link your reviews of YA books that were self-pubbed this month. Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Ruin and Rising #scandal Fan Art Fan Art
Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone #3) by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt)
#scandal by Sarah Ockler (Simon Pulse)
Fan Art by Sarah Tregay (Katherine Tegen)
No Dawn Without Darkness (Safetly in Numbers #3) by Dayna Lorentz (Kathy Dawson)

Summer of Yesterday Dark Metropolis Body in the Woods
Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana (Simon Pulse)
Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore (Disney-Hyperion)
The Body in the Woods by April Henry (Henry Holt)

17 First Kisses Blazed I Am the Mission Graduation Day
17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (Harper)
Blazed by Jason Myers (Simon Pulse)
I Am the Mission (The Unknown Assassin #2) by Allen Zadoff (Little, Brown)
Graduation Day (The Testing #3) by Joelle Charbonneau (HMH)

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