Google+ YA Romantics

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cover Chat: Double Trouble! Doing a Double Take at Some Lookalike YA Covers

Welcome to Cover Chat, a periodic feature in which we chat about .... you guessed it: book covers. I'm always amused and confused by lookalike covers. Are the publishers trying to copy a popular cover to capitalize off its success? Are they trying to confuse me? Or do great minds just sometimes think alike?

Can covers look too much alike? I think they can. Here are some covers to upcoming books that reminded me a lot of other covers...

Headphones and a cord in a heart:
In Real Life Encore to an Empty Room
In Real Life by Jessica Love (St. Martins, March 2016)
Encore to an Empty Room by Kevin Emerson (Katherine Tegen, April 2015)

Motel signs:
Run Kissing In America I'll Meet You There
Run by Kody Kiplinger (Scholastic, June 2016)
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (Harper, May 2015)
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (Henry Holt, Feb 2015)

Silhouette of a Girl Walking Behind Some Tall Text:
Take the Fall The Fixer
Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth (Balzer + Bray, February 2016)
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Bloomsbury, July 2015)

Bold Cursive Font:
The Love That Split the World The Last Place on Earth
The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry (Razorbill, January 2016)
The Last Place on Earth by Carol Snow (Henry Holt, February 2016)

How do you feel about lookalike covers? Tell me in comments!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing Feb 9-15

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!

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

New month and NEW February Giveaway!

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Slow week this week but did I miss anything? If so, please let me know! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

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

Glass Sword These Vicious Masks Blackhearts Where Futures End
The Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard (Harper)
These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zetas and Tarun Shanker (Simon)
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (Simon Pulse)
Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse (Kathy Dawson Books)

The Bargaining Reign of Shadows Peas and Carrots
The Bargaining by Carly Anne West (Simon Pulse)
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan (Harper)
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis (Knopf)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 8, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth

Take the Fall
by Emily Hainsworth

To be published by Balzer + Bray
on February 16, 2016

Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information … could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer? At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?
My take:  At first, I was completely loving Take The Fall. It started off with a cool Veronica Mars kind of vibe -- a girl whose best friend is killed and who feels romantically drawn to one of the suspects (the victim's ex-boyfriend) in her murder.  Like Veronica, Sonia decides to figure out who killed her friend.

Sadly, I felt that the Veronica Mars comparison ended there. A well-crafted mystery should lead the reader on a journey in which they are allowed to size up all the possible suspects and are kept constantly guessing as to which one is the guilty party. After the initial set-up, I felt that the plot of Take The Fall just went around and around and around from suspect to suspect again and again -- the victim's boyfriend, sister, frenemy, secret boyfriend -- without really deepening my understanding of the crime, the victim or the suspects.

Then there was the ending. It is an ending some readers may enjoy, but I found it annoying. Click the button for my SPOILER-Y THOUGHTS on the book's resolution.

I think that an unreliable narrator in the first person is very hard to pull off unless the narrator is suffering from amnesia or memory loss. And I would call Sonia unreliable. She tells us one thing (that she wants to solve the murder) when that's not really true. While I wasn't entirely surprised by the twist -- because none of the other suspects were that compelling, my mind did begin to go in that direction - I really didn't love the lack of resolution at the end.

While this wasn't really the perfect fit for me, I'd recommend Take the Fall to readers who a) love unexpected endings and b)don't require romance in their books - at first it seemed this might have romance, but things didn't end up going that way, and I think that keeping romance out of this was the wisest choice.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Just a Few Inches

Just a Few Inches
by Tara St. Pierre
Published by CreateSpace
on May 31, 2015

Source: Thanks to the author for providing a copy for review after she won My Indie Inbox!

Synopsis from Goodreads: All Carrie Roberts wants is to be a little bit smaller. To fit into the perfect dress for the Valentine’s Day Dance. To look beautiful for her boyfriend, the school’s star basketball player. To keep his jealous ex-girlfriend, a rival cheerleader, away from him. And to be noticed by her classmates. Exercising and dieting don’t work, but an advertisement for weight loss pills promises a quicker solution to her problem. As time runs out, she takes more than the recommended dose until she’s just a few inches slimmer. Heads turn when she arrives at the dance, and the wonderful night with her boyfriend is beyond what she dreamed it would be. Days later, Carrie discovers that her body is changing in ways that should be impossible. While her doctor searches for a cure, she desperately turns to her friends and family for support. Everyone is noticing her now whether she likes it or not, and even the media is intrigued by her incredible story. Getting everything she once wanted has created new problems—problems that are growing more terrifying every day. Because Carrie Roberts is shrinking.

My take: Have you ever wanted to be just a few inches thinner? Wished there were a magic pill that would help you do that without sweating or deprivation? If your answer is yes, you'll relate to Carrie. She's a popular high school cheerleader with a doting boyfriend, but the problem with being a girl in the in-crowd is that you have to work very hard to stay there. Carrie wishes she were just a little thinner, especially since her boyfriend's ex is so very gorgeous and seems to be waiting for Carrie to slip up so she can get the chance to win him back. Carrie buys diet pills and, because the school dance is coming up and her new gown is a bit snug, takes more than the recommended dose. The pills help her fit into her red dress, but as the days go by, things start getting weirder and weirder...

At first, Just a Few Inches reminded me of the "what-if" paranormal-ish stories I loved growing up, wacky stories like Freebie Friday or Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. The premise of Just a Few Inches seems comic at first, but as the story develops, the book takes a more serious turn and doesn't shy away from the horrifying consequences of an impulsive mistake. I loved that - if you're going to do a plot like this, I think you really have to go for it. Carrie is a sympathetic, relatable character and her boyfriend and friends are supportive. I loved that her experience made her come to appreciate another character with whom she probably didn't think she had much in common before the whole diet-pill-fiasco. And I cheered the themes of positive body image and self-acceptance.

My only constructive criticism is that at times the main plotline didn't feel like quite enough. For me, the book could have used something else going on besides Carrie's reaction to the pills. Something else that the book was "about" on a deeper level. Freaky Friday, for example, is ostensibly about the body switch but, on a deeper level, about the strained relationship between Annabel and her mother (and the 2003 movie, which I think is actually even better than the original book, takes the relationship strain to another level by having her mother about to be remarried. It's a great movie about mother/daughter relationships if you haven't seen it.) So for me, Just a Few Inches could have used something like a mother-about-to-be-remarried subplot. Yes, it did have Carrie's insecurities and the ex-girlfriend lurking around, but I wanted just a tiny bit more.

Overall, this was a good read (and also a beautifully formatted and produced e-book) and I'll definitely keep an eye out for what Tara St. Pierre writes next!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Romance is in the Air Blog Hop and Giveaway (INT)

Valentine's Day is coming and who couldn't use a little romance in their life? In honor of that, welcome to my stop on the Romance is in the Air Blog Hop, hosted by BookHounds.

My winner can pick any romantic (or non-romantic) book that can be ordered with $15 USD on either Amazon or The Book Depository.

So whether you like your romance sweet and cute, or triangle-y and deceptive, or with masked balls, you can choose!

The Distance from A to Z Glass Sword These Vicious Masks

a Rafflecopter giveaway <!-- end LinkyTools script –>

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing Feb 2-Feb 8

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!

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

New month and NEW February Giveaway! 

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!

Remembrance Assassin's Heart Raging Sea
Remembrance (Mediator #7) by Meg Cabot (William Morrow)
Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahlers (Harper)
Raging Sea (Undertow #2) by Michael Buckley (HMH)

Stars Above Burning Midnight Unhooked
Stars Above (Lunar Chronicles Story Collection) by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel and Friends)
Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh (Delacorte)
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell (Simon Pulse)

Salt to the Sea Symptoms of Being Human Starlight
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (Philomela)
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (Balzer + Bray)

Almost Midnight The Truth Revenge and the Wild
Almost Midnight (Shadow Falls: After Dark 3.5) by C. C. Hunter (St Martins)
The Truth by Jeffry W. Johnston (Sourcebooks)
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto (Balzer + Bray)

Banished Darkness Fair Games Wizards Play
Banished (Forbidden #2) by Kimberley Griffiths Little (Harper)
Darkness Fair (Dark Cycle #2) by Rachel A. Marks (Skyscape)
Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane (HMH)

Abyss Surrounds Us Secret to Letting Go Greta and the Lost Army
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (Flux)
The Secret to Letting Go by Katherine Fleet (Entangled)
Greta and the Lost Army (Mylena Chronicles #3) by Chloe Jacobs

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 1, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... These Vicious Masks

These Vicious Masks
by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

To be published by Swoon Reads
on February 9, 2015

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London. England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared. 

My take:  First, a confession: I'm the weird person who, when I see the phrase "X-Men meets whatever," says no thanks. I'm not really crazy about superhero or superpower books. I guess I'd rather read about what people do with their regular human powers.

That said, I love historical romance and did enjoy this book. To me it read more like a paranormal historical, like the Great and Terrible Beauty series. Yes, the special powers were a very important part of the plot, but there was other stuff to balance it out, like balls and witty banter and sisterly loyalty.

Evelyn was a great character -- brave and sharp-tongued. Bored with the tedium of her life of social events and suitors, she finds more adventure than she bargains for when her sister Rose disappears. Defying her parents, Evelyn races to London to find Rose. The Victorian setting is fun and well-drawn.

What could have been a little better for me was the romance. I didn't mind that it was complicated -- kind of a love rectangle between Evelyn, two guys, and another woman -- but there wasn't much swoony-ness to be had. (Possibly because Evelyn was busy racing around London, getting herself into scrapes, and possibly because I didn't find either of the two guys to be 100% compelling.) The plot was brisk, but as said, mostly consisted of Evelyn running around London chasing down clues. The ending was ... unexpected. I didn't realize this was the first book in a series, and I think I probably would have preferred this as a standalone with a defined ending -- maybe with some companion books featuring crossover characters, like the Starboard series.

But all in all, this was a fun and engaging read. If you're a fan of historical fiction or of superpower books, give it a try and see what you think!
Blog design by Imagination Designs