Google+ YA Romantics: May 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing May 31-June 6

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.

NEW JUNE giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

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

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Art of Being Normal City of Spies Lies I Live By Without Annette
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson (FSG)
City of Spies by Nina Berry (Harlequin)
Lies I Live By by Lauren Sabel (Katherine Tegen)
Without Annette by Jane B. Mason (Scholastic)

Every Exquisite Thing Beware That Girl Frannie and Tru
Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick (Little, Brown)
Beware that Girl by Teresa Toten (Random House) 
Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup (Harper)

Meet Me Here Inside of Out Language of Stars
Meet Me Here by Bryan Bliss (Greenwillow)
The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thomas (Dial)
The Language of Stars by Louise Howes (Margaret McElderry)

Resurgence Savage NIL on Fire Sing
Resurgence by Kerry Wilkinson (St. Martins)
Savage by Thomas E. Sniegoski (Simon Pulse)
NIL on Fire by Lynn Matson (Henry Holt)
Sing by Vivi Grace (Harper)

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Freebie Friday: Summer Reading Kickoff!

Happy Friday!

Can you believe that it's Memorial Day weekend? Here in the US, that's sort of the start of summer. I have a big stack of ARCs that I'd love to pass on for your summer reading. Tell me which book you are most interested in and I will pick multiple winners! Open to US/Canada.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal
by Lisa Williamson

To be published on May 31, 2016
by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he's gay. The school bully thinks he's a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl. As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means. 
My take:  This is the second book I've read this month that featured transgender characters. (You can read my review of If I Was Your Girl here.) While that book was more of a classic YA romance, The Art of Being Normal felt more to me like a coming of age story.

David can barely bring himself to say the words: I wish I were a girl. He examines his body in secret, distressed as it becomes more and more masculine as the months go by. His parents know that he's struggling with some kind of identity issue, but he fears that if he tells them the truth, they won't understand or be supportive. Leo is further along in his transition, but as he starts a new school, begins a relationship with a beautiful fellow student and keeps trying to find the father who abandoned him, will he be able to find acceptance and love?

I loved the writing in this book - it was really engaging and easy to read. I thought it was interesting that the book featured two characters at different points in their transition process. As I said in my review of If I Was Your Girl, I think stories like these that feature themes of self-discovery and the search for love and self-acceptance can really resonate with a broad range of YA readers while also offering perspectives and characters that aren't typically featured in YA.

I enjoyed this one a lot - be sure to check it out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releases May 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 buy in the week to come.

LAST CHANGE to enter the May giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

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

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Last Star Safest Lies Cures for Heartbreak Breaker
The Last Star (5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey (Putnam)
The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda (Crown)
Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb (Delacorte)
Breaker by Kat Ellis (Running Press)

Outrun the Moon Please Don't Tell The Hunt
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (Putnam)
Please Don't Tell by Laura Tims (Harper)
The Hunt (The Cage #2) by Megan Shepherd (Balzer + Bray)

Incriminated Exile for Dreamers 26 Kisses
Incriminated (Emancipated #2) by M.G. Reyes (Katherine Tegen)
Exile for Dreamers (Stranje House #2) by Kathleen Baldwin (Tor)
26 Kisses by Anna Michels (Simon Pulse)

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Just Finished Reading ...Beware That Girl

Beware That Girl
by Teresa Toten

To be published by Delacorte BFYR
on May 31, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O’Brian appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of—some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. Oh, and she’s also a masterful liar. As the scholarship student at the Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ladder and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls—specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had. When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he immediately charms his way into the faculty’s and students’ lives—becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she’s intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal—and can’t afford to ignore. How close can Kate and Olivia get to Mark without having to share their dark pasts?
My take: The synopsis compares this book to We Were Liars, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl, but as I was reading, I just got a HUGE Gossip Girl vibe. First, I'll sum up my reaction, and then for you fellow Gossip Girl fans, I will point out all the similarities.

As the synopsis suggests, Kate O'Brien has conned herself into the exclusive Waverly School, where she picks out the perfect girl to befriend: beautiful, troubled Olivia Sumner. In the end, both characters were sort of a conglomeration of stereotypes in search of a plot. Kate was a pathological liar: ambitious, conniving, and trying to get on the inside of the in-crowd. Kate is good at manipulation, but I didn't really understand what her end game was, except to pretend she was something she's not.  Olivia is just as much of an enigma. She has looks and money and daddy issues, plus some big psychological problems. Throw in an attractive young school administrator with a penchant for attractive blondes, and you've got a trio of trouble....

Beware That Girl was definitely entertaining while I was reading it, but all the characters were pretty unlikeable and unrelatable. There was a "shocking" development near the end that wasn't really all that shocking.  The book never made it clear what all the characters were up to beyond just being messed up connivers who get in one another's way. I hoped this would have more psychological complexity beyond Kate's obsessive reading of the DSM manual, but in the end this became a mildly entertaining story with no real point.

For those of you who are Gossip Girl fans:

Kate O'Brien = Juliet Sharp + Ivy Dickens
pic name pic name
Take Juliet Sharp's creepy obsession with Serena and add Ivy Dickens' wrong-side-of-the-tracks background and conniving opportunism, and you have Kate O'Brien.

Olivia Sumner = Blair Waldorf + Serena van der Woodsen
pic name pic name
 Olivia has Blair's Ivy obsession, Serena's horrible taste in men, and both girls' daddy issues...

Beware that Girl also features:

 A Polish housekeeper-slash-confidante


Obsession with Yale

Sad/Unconventional Thanksgiving

Creepy/Age-Inappropriate Relationship
pic name pic name

If all this sounds like your speed, I'd recommend binge-watching Gossip Girl this summer. Things got a little off-track in Season Three, but then they got right back on track again. 

If you liked Gossip Girl, Beware That Girl might give you a bit of a fix. For me, Beware That Girl's characters and plot just weren't as compelling...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Blog Tour Review!

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
With stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith

Published by St. Martins Griffin
on May 17, 2016

Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

My take: First off, how cute it it that this cover is the same pond that was featured on My True Love Gave to Me, Perkins' winter-themed anthology? And that now that it's summer, the pond is thawed and everyone is swimming instead of skating? (Okay, maybe it's just me, but I was excited....)
Most of the stories evoked my own experience of summer: camping, amusement parks and carnivals, national park visits, day camp, movie theaters, the beach...  What could be more magical than a summer romance?

I think short stories are perfect for summer. In summer I'm either a) really busy, so a quick read between all my running around is perfect or b) relaxing and I don't want to read anything that's too mentally taxing...

Here's my take on a few of the stories.  Each had its own strengths and there is a little something for everyone, but I starred my three absolute favorites!

Heads, Scales, Tongues, Tail (Leigh Bardugo)
Though the topic and genre of this (spoiler) mermaids and magical realism (spoiler) were not my favorites, I always enjoy her writing.

The End of Love (Nina Labour)
I liked the overall idea of this -- a girl whose parents are divorcing feels completely adrift and tries to find balance between the security of continuity and the scariness of change -- but I felt like this plot needed more time to breathe and might have worked better as a novel.

Last Stand at the Cinegor (Libba Bray)
This story featured many Libba Bray trademarks, like humor and snappy dialogue and truly scary moments. But like some of her books (Beauty Queens) this got a little out-there for me...

Sick Pleasure (Francesca Lia Block)
I'd never read anything by this author and not sure if this is her typical style. Loved the 1980s California setting a lot, but the plot was a little too drift-y for my taste.

**In Ninety Minutes, Turn North (Steph Perkins)
Adorable! I loved revisiting this couple from the prior anthology. I smiled all the way through. And come on ... a funicular??

**Souvenirs (Tim Federle)
Really loved the writing in this one! I will be checking out his new book.

Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron)
This one is set in a resort and I was hoping for a retro Dirty Dancing vibe, but got more of a really retro, Jane-Austen-period-novel-translated-to-2016 vibe. There were a lot of characters (guests, employees, meddling mothers) and a lot of goings on.

**Good Luck and Farewell (Brandy Colbert)
I really enjoyed this one - set in Chicago and featuring more non-traditional family relationships and a sweet in-one-night romance. I hope she's writing a new book!

All in all, a fun selection of stories. Let me know in comments if you've read this or plan to!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free advance copy of this book for me to review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guest Post by John Corey Whaley, author of Highly Illogical Behavior

I'm happy to be part of the Highly Illogical Behavior Blog Tour and am excited to welcome Printz Winner and National Book Award finalist John Corey Whaley to the blog as a guest poster.  He's writing about his main inspirations as a writer and how they contributed to Highly Illogical Behavior:

I think about inspiration a lot, actually.  I think about it when I’m not inspired or when I am.  And I often talk about it with other artists—whether they are painters or musicians.  What I’ve learned about inspiration is that it’s much more about the time and place in your life when you’re exposed to something than it is anything else, at least that’s the case for me. 

I’ve written a lot in the past about how inspired I was when I read both The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of being a Wallflower as a teenager.  These books introduced an idea to me, really—the idea that maybe I could write something that would speak to someone like these books had spoken to me.  There’s a combination of skill, manipulation, and magic when it comes to writing a story that can really connect to a reader on a personal level.  And that’s what I always go for in my writing: to tell a story that, no matter what or who it’s about, taps into some universal understanding in my readers.  

In terms of my one or two biggest inspirations as a writer, I think they go beyond other works I’ve read and fit more into the overall category of Existing.  I write to stay sane and to understand the world—so my greatest inspiration, in the weirdest way possible, is the frustration and pain I feel from the very confusing world around us.  And I used to be scared of that, I think.  I was scared it made me a pessimist.  But, I think it’s the opposite, actually.  I think my way of coping with the world is to dissect it and find the common, personal things that connect us to one another.  Once I find those, whether it’s through a story about a missing kid, a body transplant, or an agoraphobic, the process starts to more clearly define itself and the story starts to take a more permanent shape, both in my head and on the page. What I hope is that these stories explore enough of the human condition, through darkness or absurdity or both, to tap into the same emotions in my readers that I’m trying to understand in myself.  Which, to my understanding, is the whole point of fiction in the first place.  I want to entertain, sure, but I also want my readers to think about more than just the story when they put the book down.  And that is asking a lot, and therefore takes a lot of time and hard work to earn.  And a very good editor. 

So, fear of the world inspires me. Haha.  What else?  Hmm…I think I’d have to go with my partner-in-crime, Scott.  I set Highly Illogical Behavior in my boyfriend Scott’s hometown of Upland, California, and there’s more than a few similarities between Solomon’s home and his too.  There are also some not-so-secret aspects of Clark’s personality that were heavily inspired by Scott.  The thing is, I get to share my life with the most kind, empathetic person I’ve ever met.  Patient to a fault sometimes, and always honest, sincere, and thoughtful.  Not to mention hilarious and super fun.  And it’s inspiring to be around that kind of person every day.  How could it not be?  Highly Illogical Behavior was very much written for him, and for many more reasons than just the few above.  This is, after all, my first book that focuses on a gay character, and in having Scott in my life, it was even more important to me that I portray that character with honesty and nuance.  

Thanks to John Corey Whaley -- you can read my review of Highly Illogical Behavior here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing May 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 buy in the week to come.

May giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

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

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Problem With Forever Summer Days and Summer Nights Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Girl Against the Universe
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Harlequin)
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (St. Martins)
The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson (St. Martins)
Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes (Harper)

Crowns Game Devil and the Bluebird Silence is Goldfish
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye (Harper)
Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (Amulet)
Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher (Little, Brown)

Gena/Finn 100 Days of Cake Breakfast With Neruda
Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Hegelson (Chronicle)
100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen (Atheneum)
Breakfast with Neruda by Laura Moe (Merit)

Spark Iron Phoenix This is the Part Where You Laugh
Spark by Holly Schindler (Harper)
The Iron Phoenix by Rebecca Harwell (Bold Strokes)
This is the Part Where You Laugh by Peter Brown Hoffmeister (Knopf)

Draw the Line Love Charms and Other Catastrophes It Wasn't Always Like This
Draw the Line by Laurent Linn (Margaret McElderry)
Love Charms and Catastrophes by Kimberly Karalius (Swoon)
It Wasn't Always Like This by Joy Preble (Soho)

Circle of Jinn Places No One Knows Marked
Circle of Jinn (Becoming Jinn #2) by Lori Goldstein (Harper)
Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff (Delacorte)
Marked (Tracked #2) by Jenny Martin (Dial)

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