Google+ YA Romantics: October 2014

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween: Dystopian Giveaway Hop - INT

Welcome to my stop on the Dystopian Giveaway Hop, Hosted by My Shelf Confessions and I am A Reader, Not a Writer.

First, Happy Halloween. So go off and dress up and enjoy yourself. But tomorrow, you'll be left with a pile of candy and you'll need something to read:

My winner can choose one of these dystopian-ish books OR any book of their choice up to $15 USD from either Amazon or the Book Depository.

Young Elites Walled City
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dress Like a YA Character for Halloween Part III

Yay -- Halloween is tomorrow :)  Stop back then for my stop on the Dystopian Giveaway Hop!

Every year for the past two years, I've offered up last-minute, scrounge-around-the-house plans for how to dress as a YA Character.

If you are scrambling for a last-minute costume, check out my ideas from the last two years:

Tris from Divergent (Katherine Tegen)

Dressing like Tris is easy: dress all in black, and put some faux bird tattoos on your collarbone. Done.

Photo from

Just don't tell anyone how the trilogy ends!

Part I of the Mockingjay movie comes out in November, so what better time to dress as:

Katniss from Catching Fire (Scholastic)

Option one: girl on fire jumpsuit. Dress in black fitted clothing and use fabric paint to make it look glowing orange and red.

Option two: wedding dress. Head to the thrift shop or borrow an old wedding gown or white prom dress from a friend. Pile on the pearls. If you're really ambitious, you can make the white gown breakaway like in the book and have a slinky black one underneath….

Did you see the dress from the movie?

My 2012 Ideas:

Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series (Razorbill)

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

1. Throw on khaki pants or skirt with a plain white blouse. Sydney's known for being an understated dresser.
2. Use gold face paint and a brush... paint this design on your cheek:

Golden lily tattoo
Tattoo pattern from VA Wikia

Then carry a can of Diet Coke or a Starbucks cup around. Done!  Optional but highly recommended: blond wig and a hot, dark-haired guy with green eyes to follow you around and make snarky comments.

Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Tor)

Find a long white (or light colored) dress that you don't mind splattering with red paint or fake blood 

Use purple eyeliner to make "purply veins" all over your face, neck and arms. Then put on some black lipstick. 

Buy fake blood to splatter the dress with or make your own here with corn syrup, food coloring, and chocolate syrup. Yum!

Don't forget those crazy eyes!

Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown BYR)

Buy a blue wig or use temporary blue hair paint. Once your hair's all blue, you can twist it up and stick a paintbrush into it. Or make a braid. 

Tie a wishbone on a cord around your neck. Eat the chicken first, or make your own wishbone out of Model Magic.

Make yourself some hamsa tattoos. You can find a temporary tattoo tutorial here.

Carry around a sketchpad and pencil. You can also tote around a little bag of teeth. Raid your kids' tooth fairy pillow, or get out that Model Magic!

Sexy Steampunk from the Infernal Devices series:

Dress in Victorian-inspired clothing -- think high heeled lace-up boots paired with a black skirt, plus a corset or a lacy blouse or cami. Don't sweat the outfit, because we'll dazzle them with gadgetry!

Raid your junk drawer, craft drawer, jewelry box, toolbox, and garage. (Or just hit the hardware store.) Here's what you're looking for: gears, washers, brooches and pins -- any old costume jewelry you can take apart, fake gems, metallic buttons -- any interesting little bits of shiny stuff. Think like a magpie!

Superglue all your finds into a fabulous necklace and spray the whole thing with gold or silver spray paint.  You'll get something like this:

Or this:

There are some great tutorials at, which is where I got the photo above.

Warning: it is entirely possible that people won't "get" who you're dressed as.  Just see it as a chance to talk up your favorite book.

Have fun, don't take candy from strangers and don't forget to email me a picture!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Compulsion by Martina Boone

Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island #1)
by Martina Boone
To be published by Simon Pulse
on October 28, 2014

Source: ARC borrowed from Around the World ARC Tours

Synopsis from Goodreads: All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
My take: At first glance, Compulsion seemed like the perfect book for me. I love Southern Gothic fiction -- the crumbling old mansions, the eccentric characters, the (sometimes) pararnormal elements. But for me as a reader, everything in this book could have been cranked up a few notches.

Barrie has been sent to live with her aunt in Watson Island, South Carolina after the death of her mother. (Barrie's father died years before in a fire that left her mother scarred and veiled. Okay, now this is perfect Southern Gothic material, but because she's dead, we never get to see Barrie's Miss Havisham-like mother except in other characters' memories.) Barrie arrives at Watson's Landing and meets her aunt -- her mother's twin sister -- and we also learn that Barrie has some kind of psychic ability that runs in her family, the ability to find lost objects.

I was all on board up to this point, but then everyone had long, involved stories to tell. There were three main families of Watson Island -- the Colesworths, the Watsons and the Beauforts -- and each family has different special powers and different dark secrets and I quickly got confused as to who loves whom and who married whom and who betrayed whom and had to repeatedly consult this geneaological chart that wasn't in the front of the book like it should have been, but just randomly stuck into page 59 of the ARC for some reason and I could never find it when I needed it and..... argh.

The romance was a bit ... sudden. I don't want to use the dreaded i-word to describe it, but within minutes of arriving, Barrie's crushing on a boy named Eight and a short time later the two of them are meandering all over town, exchanging flirty glances and shooting the breeze with the locals.  I wanted more creepiness. More suspense. More shocking revelations.  Maybe it's my let's-get-a-move-on-here Yankee disposition, but for most of this book, I was dying for a faster pace and more excitement. I knew going in that this was a series, so I guess I expected a more dramatic ending. (I was predicting a BIG twist like in The Thirteenth Tale, another gothic suspense novel that also featured twins and a fire. But that never really came to pass.)

While I liked this book, I can't say that I loved it. But I can see that a lot of my Goodreads friends have really enjoyed it, so I could just be the odd man out here. If you've read and loved this, let me know why in comments!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing October 28-Nov 3

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 buy 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!
Last week to enter the October giveaway! 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 or commenting on other people's linked reviews. 

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. Please let me know about books I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Talon In the Afterlight Earth and Sky Eternal
Talon (Talon #1) by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen)
In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken (Disney-Hyperion)
Earth & Sky by Megan Crewe (Skyscape)
Eternal (Shadow Falls After Dark #2) by C.C. Hunter (St Martin's Griffin)

Get Happy Shadowboxer Resisting Ruby Rose
Get Happy by Mary Amato (Egmont)
Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan (Ravenstone)
Resisting Ruby Rose (Ruby Rose #2) by Jessie Humphries (Skycape)

Diamonds in the Rough Compulsion Wanted
Diamonds in the Rough (Secret Diamond Sisters #2) by Michelle Madow (Harlequin)
Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island) by Martina Boone (Simon Pulse)
The Wanted by Lauren Nicolle Taylor (Clean Teen)

Catalyst Atlantia Waterfall
Catalyst (Insignia #3) by S. J. Kincaid (Katherine Tegen)
Atlantia by Ally Condie (Dutton)
Waterfall (Teardrop #2) by Lauren Kate

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3)
by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Scholastic 
on October 21, 2014

Source: eARC from Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads: There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up. Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.  Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel.
My take: Ahhhh. My love for this series cannot be overstated.  Beautiful writing. Complex and realistic characters. A plot that's like a crazy, multi-level puzzle.  These books have everything I love in a book. They make me think and they make me feel. What could be better?

Here's my (spoiler-free) review of Dream Thieves, if you're interested.

And if you're getting ready to read this and need some refreshing on details, be sure to read the Recaptains recap, written by Maggie Stiefvater herself. And hilariously funny.

So... it's hard to review the third book in a multi-book series without spoilers. And this book has not been released worldwide yet, so I want to avoid spoilers at all costs.  So I will speak in generalities.

Each book thus far has seemed to be focused more heavily on one character and, based on the title and cover, I think it will not surprise you if I say that this book focuses a lot on Blue. Fierce, funny, quirky Blue with her multitude of hair clips and her crazy extended family of women with paranormal abilities. But Blue isn't just a Quirky Chick, she also has a lot of depth. I was having a great email chat about the book with two of my favorite blogger friends, Lauren from Love is Not a Triangle and Heather from Flyleaf Review, and we were discussing the fact that in this book, Blue thinks a lot about things she wants but doesn't have and feels she can never have. To say more would be spoilery, but I can say that in this book, Blue is dealing with some family stuff, the result of something that happened in book two. She's having a tough time with that, and also with the fact that she feels like she's stuck on a different life path than the Raven Boys, with their fancy school and their tight friendship. Does she really belong in their group? Yes, of course she does. She has a unique connection to each of the boys, and I love the way that this installment developed -- and complicated --  the friendships between Blue and each one of them.

Much to my dismay as a claustrophobic, some of the action in the story moved to a dark, dank, closed-in sort of place. So I felt like I had to read parts of this with my eyes half-closed. But it was cool when I could get past my sweaty palms and jaw clenching.  There were also new characters. There was Malory, who we've seen as a presence on the phone, and his hilarious dog. Then there was annoying yoga pants-wearing woman and her husband (not a fan of them and I don't think I was supposed to be) and a GUY WHO TALKS LIKE THIS. Huh. Plus there was a heartbreaking revelation about one of my favorite characters. No, not the revelation that if Blue kisses her true love, he will die. We knew that all from page one of the first book :(

I can't wait for the next installment. Will it be Gansey's book? I'm scared if it is.....

If you read this, or can't wait to read it, tell me about it in comments but NO SPOILERS please. You can email me if you want to talk spoilers.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Extra! Extra! Halloween Week Preview

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 and/or to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 


Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark (March 2015, Henry Holt)


if you live outside the US, you can enter Hot Off the Presses  AND the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!

And US Residents can enter to win a pick from my ARC grab bag. If you live within the US, just fill out the Rafflecopter below:


In the week to come,  I'm featuring a review of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, my usual peek at new releases and my traditional Halloween week post. Hope you can find time to stop by!

Leave me a comment and tell me what's new with you!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Freebie Friday: Fall ARC Grab Bag 2

Happy Friday! 

Today's giveaway is for the winner's choice of fall ARCs. There's a New Adult, a historical/paranormal, a couple contemporaries...

Due to shipping costs, this is US only, but if you live outside the US, you can enter Hot Off the Presses  AND the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop!

US/Canada residents can enter the Halloween Thrills and Chills Giveaway here!

And for the ARC grab bag, please live within the US and fill out the Rafflecopter below:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just Finished Reading .... Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon (Talon #1)
by Julie Kagawa
To be published on October 28, 2014
by Harlequin Teen

Source: ARC giveaway at BEA

Synopsis from Goodreads: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

My take:  Talon was not at all what I expected. For some reason, I had the idea that the book would be a YA fantasy, rich with dragon lore. Instead, I thought that Talon read like a straight-up paranormal romance and was surprised that the dragon-y stuff stayed mostly on the back burner. However, this turn of events was not entirely disappointing; I'm not a big fantasy reader and dragons as protagonists aren't really that compelling to me.

After thinking about it, I decided that Talon felt a little reminiscent of a Vampire Academy or a Bloodlines. Talon features a contemporary American story world in which paranormal creatures live alongside humans. Twins Dante and Ember are dragons disguised in human form who are sent by an organization called Talon to live undercover in a Southern California town called Crescent Beach. There, the twins discover members of the Soldiers of St. George, who are dragon hunters, and also encounter rogue dragons who've fled Talon. So, a bit like the dhampir hunt the strigoi and Sydney is sent undercover to Palm Springs, Talon features paranormal creatures who can pass as human; several different factions in opposition, including one group that hunts another; characters who then begin to question their orders, and forbidden love that develops between various members of these groups. All these things made the VA and Bloodlines compelling to me, so while I was surprised, I was definitely on board for this kind of book.

I did miss the amazing worldbuilding that Julie Kagawa pulled off in the Immortal Rules -- the world in Talon seemed a lot less dark and a bit more pedestrian, though I'm sure more details will be added in fiture books. Then there's the matter of the romance. That aspect of the story started off strong, but then about three quarters of the way through the book, a love triangle developed. I wasn't thrilled about that, as I'd been hoping for a book without that particular brand of angst.

All in all, I enjoyed Talon. If you go in expecting rich, fantasy-style worldbuilding or a lot of dragon lore and dragon action, you may be disappointed. But there is a lot there to enjoy. Even given that love triangle, I'm intrigued enough that I'm willing to read at least one more installment of this series to see what develops.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Interview: Atia Abawi, author of The Secret Sky + a Giveaway!

Today I'm thrilled to welcome Atia Abawi, author of The Secret Sky, to the blog. If you're looking for diverse settings, cultures and characters in your YA reading, this is a great book for you! It's a story that's sad and heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful.

First, here's a little about the book and about Atia, and then we'll get to my questions.

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi
Published by Philomel on September 2, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads: Set in present-day Afghanistan, this is the story of two teenagers, one Pashtun and one Hazara, who must fight against their culture, their tradition, their families, and the Taliban to stay together. Told in three rotating perspectives—the two teens and another boy in the village who turns them in to the local Taliban—this novel depicts both the violent realities of living in Afghanistan, as well as the beauty of the land and the cultures there. And it shows that love can bloom in even the darkest of places.

About the author: Atia Abawi spent almost five years as a foreign correspondent in Kabul and based these characters and this story on people she met during her work there. Born to Afghan parents in West Germany and raised in the United States, Atia currently lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Conor Powell.  You can follow her on Twitter @AtiaAbawi.

Atia has made several YouTube videos on young love in Afghanistan, her personal connection to The Secret Sky, and the message of The Secret Sky.

Jen:  Hi Atia -- welcome to the blog! Thanks so much for agreeing to answer a few questions about your work and your book.

Atia: Thanks for having me!

Jen: You travel around the world as a foreign correspondent for NBC News. What prompted you to write a novel, and how did you find time to do that?

Atia:  It has always been a dream of mine to write a novel and when I had the chance I ran with it. I’ll admit it was difficult to transition from reporting news to using my imagination but it was an amazing experience.

Finding the time was not easy. I could not write while I was working, my brain could not handle a transition from news to novel. The book was written during vacation time. There were times my husband would make me sit at the hotel desk and type for two-hours before I could enjoy the time away from a war zone. 

Jen: You were raised in the United States by Afghan parents. What were some of your favorite books when you were a teenager?

Atia: As a pre-teen I loved R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. And I still love the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – admittedly that followed me through young adulthood. 

I also read pretty much anything that Oprah recommended in her book club ☺

Jen: In your introduction to The Secret Sky, you explain that you based Fatima and Sami’s village on a real place that you visited in 2005. Can you tell us a little about Ajristan and its residents?

Photo from Atia Abawi's Facebook
Atia: Ajristan is one of the most beautiful places I had ever laid my eyes on. The landscape is breathtaking but it was the people that really captured my heart. The kindness I witnessed there was like nothing I had experienced before. I was shocked at how open and honest they were in sharing their hopes, fears, and dreams to a complete stranger from a different world. They always insisted on feeding me when they barely had enough to feed their own families. 

Photo from

The kindness and love I witnessed from all made it so hard to say goodbye. I knew deep down, I would likely never see them again. I even cried when I was hugging the women goodbye. That’s when I noticed that my emotions caused even the men to turn their gaze – because my tears were apparently contagious. The same men who many in the world would judge by the appearance of their turbans and beards – were some of the softest and kindest ones I had met in all my travels. 

Another thing I cannot forget about Ajristan is the water from the shallow river and streams they have there. I touched on it in the book. It was this cold sweet water that really drove my taste buds to dance. It’s hard to explain how water can be delicious – but it was the most delicious water I have ever had in my entire life. 

Photo from
Jen: As a parent, I found Fatima’s mother to be such a sad and complicated character. Can you talk a little about writing her character, and about the challenges involved in being a woman in Afghanistan?

Atia: I wish I could say that it was hard writing her character but it was not. Mainly because in my time in Afghanistan as a journalist I witnessed far too many injustices – primarily directed at women and children, and often by family members. The country is still considered the most dangerous place to be a woman. A United Nations statistic says that 90% of women suffer some sort of domestic abuse – most women’s shelters will tell you that figure is too low. 

To be born female in Afghanistan today is to be dealt a very challenging card. The world really is against you there. It is a place where a woman can be raped and then killed by her family for the shame and dishonor it brings them. Honor killings are common practice and with some families the slightest offense is seen as dishonorable.

And it is not just men who are behind the abuse. Often times you will see women torturing women. I witnessed this myself and it was infuriating. In fact, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was little help during my time in Afghanistan. I heard story after story of women going there for help only to be beaten by female employees that worked there and told to go home to their families and stop complaining.  

Jen: The ending of The Secret Sky is fairly resolved, yet I saw a few people on Goodreads asking about a sequel. Will there be one, or are you working on anything else?

Atia: It is always a possibility ☺ I am not currently working on another book at the moment but I would love to in the near future. I am now living and working in Jerusalem and always looking at the complexities of life here.

Jen: Wow -- Jerusalem sounds like a fascinating setting for a future book! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Atia: Thank you!

Thanks to Atia's publisher, Philomel, I have a copy of the book to give away to a US resident. Enter below:

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hot Off the Presses! New YA Releasing October 21-27

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 buy 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!
Enter the October giveaway! 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 or commenting on other people's linked reviews. 

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. Please let me know about books I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Time's Edge Ticker Stone Cold Touch
Time's Edge (Chronos File #2) by Rysa Walker  (Skyscape)
Ticker by Lisa Mantchev (Skyscape)
Stone Cold Touch (Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Scholastic)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Ice Dragon pic name
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
The Ice Dragon by George RR Martin (Tor)
Famous in Love by Rebecca Searle (Poppy)

Loop pic name Follow Me Through Darkness
Loop by Karen Atkins (St Martin's Griffin)
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (Henry Holt)
Follow Me Through Darkness by Danielle Ellison (Spencer Hill)

Beware the Wild By Way of Accident Sorcerer Heir
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Harper)
By Way of Accident by Laura Miller 
Sorcerer's Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (Disney-Hyperion)

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