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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Compare and Contrast Two Guy Narrators: Liars Inc and Boys Don't Knit

I love guy narrators and recently read two great -- though very different -- books featuring guy protagonists.

Boys Don't Knit
by T. S. Easton
Published by Feiwel and Friends
on March 24, 2015

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: After an incident regarding a crossing guard and a bottle of Martini & Rossi (and his bonehead friends), 17-year-old worrier Ben Fletcher must develop his sense of social alignment, take up a hobby, and do some community service to avoid any further probation. He takes a knitting class (it was that or his father’s mechanic class) under the impression that it's taught by the hot teacher all the boys like. Turns out, it’s not. Perfect. Regardless, he sticks with it and comes to find that he’s a natural knitter, maybe even great. It even helps ease his anxiety and worrying. The only challenge now is to keep it hidden from his friends, his crush, and his soccer-obsessed father. What a tangled web Ben has weaved . . . or knitted. 

My take: I feel like the cover and title are a little misleading. Boys Don't Knit is Lad Lit, which is a favorite genre of mine. Think Adrian Mole, Nick Hornby, or The Inbetweeners. Think awkward British adolescent boys trying to navigate the confusing world of high school. That's What She Said Jokes (or in poor Ben's case, his parents' creepy double entrendres). I'm also a huge Anglophile -- I love British slang and characters who have friends with names (or nicknames) like Gex and Joz.

For me, Boys Don't Knit started out strong, with some laugh-out-loud moments and a crazy set-up that leads to Ben being enrolled in a knitting class. My interest in the story flagged in the middle a bit, and the ending was a predictable, movie script sort of ending. But overall, I did really enjoy this one. If you're a fan of Lad Lit or funny male narrators, definitely give this one a try!

Liars, Inc
by Paula Stokes
Published by Harper Collins
on March 24, 2015

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative? When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
My take: I love thrillers and am always on the lookout for good ones. As I said above, I'm also happy to find a great, relatable male narrator. Liars, Inc. combined the two in a way that made for a fast-paced story with a twist that I didn't (completely) guess.

Liars, Inc. starts with a bang, as Max is being stalked by two FBI agents. Max makes a break for it and runs, then backs up six weeks to tell us how he got into such an unusual situation: his friend is dead and he's being fingered as the culprit. The story then follows Max and his girlfriend Parvati as they try to stay one step ahead of the Feds -- and the killer. Parvati was a great character, so much more than the usual female thriller sidekick. She's the daughter of a Navy Seal and has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. Max is also a classic thriller protagonist, a sort of everyman who finds himself in trouble and has to improvise.

Liars, Inc. is fun and fast-paced and will really keep you guessing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing March 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. 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 March 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 March YA reviews or by commenting on other people's linked reviews.

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 the book's Goodreads page!

Liars Inc Walls Around Us Tightrope Walkers Haunting of Sunshine Girl
Liars Inc by Paula Stokes (Harper)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin)
The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond (Candlewick)
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel (Weinstein)

Guardians Half Wild Boys Don't Knit
Guardians (Wasteland #3) by Susan Kim and Laurence Klaven (Harper)
Half Wild (Half Bad #2) by Sally Green
Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton (Feiwel and Friends)

Door in the Moon Things I'll Never Say Catalyst
Door in the Moon (Chronoptika #3) by Catherine Fisher (Dial)
Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick)
Catalyst (Control #2) by Lydia Kang (Harper)

In the Time of Dragon Moon Me Being Me Finding Mr. Brightside Written in the Stars
In the Time of Dragon Moon (Wilde Island Chronicles #3) by Janet Lee Carey (Kathy Dawson)
Me Being me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak Lowy (Simon Pulse)
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark (Henry Holt)
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Just Finished Reading .... The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

The Start of Me and You
by Emery Lord
To be published on March 31, 2015
by Bloomsbury

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
My take: I put off reading this book for a couple of reasons. I was afraid it would be really sad. Also, I really liked Open Road Summer and was afraid I wouldn't like this quite as much.

The Start of Me and You is not a sad book. Which for me was a good thing. Yes, Paige's boyfriend died in an accident, but the two of them hadn't been together more than a couple of months before the accident happened. That created an interesting situation in which Paige has been thrust into an almost widow-like role. Paige has been the Girl Whose Boyfriend Died for two years and, as the book opens, she's ready to resume a "normal" life.

The Start of Me and You has a sweeter, quieter feel than Open Road Summer. The characters in Open Road Summer felt larger than life to me and these characters seem more like regular people. There's a point near the beginning of the story where Max and Paige argue about Pride and Prejudice. He makes a case for the loyal, even-tempered Janes and Bingleys of the world over the hard-headed, outspoken Elizabeths and Darcys. I loved this. Max and Paige are definitely more Jane and Bingley. They're both a little introverted, hanging out in bookstores and competing on the Quiz Bowl team. (Paige is also a grammar freak who's obsessed with the correct use of pronouns, which makes the title kind of an inside joke.)

Like Open Road Summer, this book has great female friendships. I liked that Paige had a big group of friends, though Tessa was the only one I felt I got to know well. Still, I loved the sense that Paige had this supportive group of young women who always had her back. It made a nice change from the roving gangs of mean girls in many YA books.

I liked that romance took a bit of a back seat in this book. Yes, there was a romance, but this is really the story of Paige's journey back into the world -- facing her fears, saying goodbye to Aaron, figuring out who she is and who she wants to be.

While Open Road Summer was the classic summer read, I'd say The Start of Me and You is a great spring book -- filled with new beginnings.  I'll be giving away an ARC this week on Freebie Friday, so be sure to stop by!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Extra! Extra! Four Great Giveaways!

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. 

I have FOUR great giveaways running right now!

 Feeling lucky? Well, you can enter the Lucky Leprechaun Hop. It's open internationally and you can find it here!

Also for international entrants? Hot Off The Presses, which you can find here.

I have two US only giveaways you can enter:

The Spring Cleaning giveaway hop -- enter here!

And a publisher-sponsored giveaway for The Winner's Crime:

Have a great weekend of reading -- or whatever else you're up to :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winner's Crime Blog Tour and Giveaway!

I'm so excited to participate in the What's Your Winner's Curse? Blog Tour and Giveaway.

First off, I really love the Winner's Curse series and highly recommend that you check the books out if you haven't already. If you missed my review of the Winner's Curse, you can read it here. My review of the Winner's Crime is here.

For this tour, Macmillan has asked bloggers to write about the following:

The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price. 

My Curse was a vacation. I got what (I thought) I wanted and the price was (too) high, but I did learn something valuable about myself in the process.

Some of my most vivid memories of childhood are the times I was able to convince my babysitter to let me stay up past my bedtime and watch inappropriate television. I'm a child of the 80s, so for me one of the shows my parents did NOT approve of was the Love Boat. The show made cruising seem so glamorous -- celebrities I'd never heard of -- like Barbi Benton and Charo -- strolled onto the ship and met Julie McCoy, the perky cruise director. There were dinners at the Captain's Table and romantic nights under the stars...

So when I was planning a special, one-of-a-kind vacation, I thought of a cruise. Everyone I talked to raved about them. My sister did pull me aside and whisper an alternate cruise story, a horror of missed flights and lost luggage and having to outfit herself with dowdy, overpriced clothes from the gift shop, but I shrugged that off.

As I stood in the airport among all the other cruise passengers in our embarkment city, I wrenched my suitcase out of the hands of some guy who was trying to take it by mistake. This trip was going to be perfect. Nothing was going to spoil it. 

No, it wasn't THAT bad!
Except the weather. Which was tragically cold and overcast. For excitement, we donned our waterproof jackets and ventured out onto the cold, windy decks to access a ping-pong table that was partially protected under an awning. Because of the weather, we'd also brought all the wrong clothes, and I spent a huge part of the trip in a tiny, overheated cruise ship laundry room, washing our few sets of warm clothes. We were luckier than some -- a lot of our fellow passengers were seasick. Many of the excursions were cancelled. All there was to do was eat, and even that got boring after a while.
Except that it was our most expensive trip ever, and the worst trip ever.

Yes, the weather was most of the problem, but I also realized that I do not thrive on structure while on vacation. To me, being on a cruise ship felt a little bit like being a kid on a school field trip: endless schedules, rules, procedures and lines.

Like Madeline, I wanted to run away and have an adventure.

For shore excursions, we had to line up obediently to be taken to a port city that was, we soon discovered, filled with shops that were owned or paid to be promoted by the cruise ship company. As I wandered listlessly from generic store to generic store, all I could think of was how much this vacation had cost and how little I was enjoying it.

Maybe my cruise experience was just random bad luck. Or maybe, given my sister's bad experience, my I am living under a Cruise Curse. But I also think that a large part of being happy in life is knowing yourself.  I'm not sure cruises are for me. For our next vacation, I rented a tiny apartment and we spent our time wandering, trying to navigate the grocery store in an unfamiliar city in a language we didn't speak. To some people, that vacation might seem like a nightmare, but to me it was like reading an amazing book, having the opportunity to imagine living someone else's life, if only for a week.

I wish I'd had a copy of the amazing Winner's Crime on board -- that might have saved my trip. To enter to win a copy, thanks to the generosity of Macmillan, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

And please be sure to  check out all the other tour posts -- it's nearly the end of the tour, but each posts has a different blogger's Curse story and some of them may still have giveaways running!

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop!

My bookshelves now look just like that ^. Well, not exactly, but I did do a huge book clean-out recently. I donated a cartful of books to a book drive for underfunded schools in my community, but I still have a few books to offer up for this giveaway.

Here's the preliminary stack -- but MORE books may be added for my winner to choose from!

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

This is a US only giveaway due to shipping costs. However, if you don't fall into that category, I still have TWO fantastic giveaways you can enter to win a book of your choice. And US residents can and should enter too!

This is a no-strings giveaway, so you can just click and run.  But before you do, check out my two other great giveaways and the list of all the blogs participating in the Spring Cleaning Hop.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feeling lucky? Well, you can enter the Lucky Leprechaun Hop. You can find it here!

Also Hot Off The Presses, which you can enter here. You could win a book of your choice up to $15!

Finally, if you're a US resident, you can enter a giveaway for The Winner's Crime here. May all the luck of the leprechauns be with you :)

Trending Thursday: BEA Buzz Books 2015

Welcome to Trending Thursday, a periodic Thursday post in which I choose and we discuss some sort of YA trend.

Today I'd like to look at the recently announced Book Expo America 2015 YA Buzz Books and see how they fit into -- or stand out from -- some current YA trends. Some of these don't yet have covers on Goodreads, so if there isn't one, that's why.

Dream Things True 
by Marie Marquardt
St. Martin’s Griffin
September 1, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.

Jen's Trend notes:  I'm excited about this one. Of course, there's the whole "ripped from the headlines" aspect as America debates issues surrounding undocumented immigrants. This book also draws on the whole "Romeo and Juliet from different side of the tracks" trope that's popular in YA romantic contemporaries by authors like Simone Elkeles and Katie McGarry. Immigration issues have also been tackled on a more serious note in YA contemporaries like Illegal by Bettina Restrepo or The Vow by Jessica Martinez.

Everything, Everything 
by Nicola Yoon
September 1, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I'm allergic to the world. I don't leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He's tall, lean and wearing all black--black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can't predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It's almost certainly going to be a disaster. 
Jen's Trend Notes: So of course this book taps into the whole YA Illness Trend, something that's already loomed large in 2015 and that I've discussed on Trending Thursday before. I love this cover and this seems very voice-y to me which makes me excited.

by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
October 13, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: On Marin’s island, sunrise doesn’t come every twenty-four hours--it comes every twenty-eight years. Each sunset, the townspeople sail to the south, where they wait out the long Night. None of the adults will tell Marin, Kana, or their friend Line exactly what happens when they leave the island, but when the three are accidentally left behind in the gathering dusk, they learn the truth: at Night, their town belongs to others, and those others want them gone. Fleeing through the now-alien landscape that used to be their home, the three confront shocking transformations and uncomfortable truths about themselves.  They are challenged to trust one another or perish. Marin, Kana, and Line must find their way off the island . . . before the Night finds them. 
Jen's Trend Notes: Horror meets post-apocalyptic thriller? Yes, please! While this could be too scary for me, I think books like this appeal to a lot of readers. With the popularity of shows like The Walking Dead and The 100, this could make a welcome addition to the YA landscape. And I did a previous Trending Thursday post about how island books are always delightfully creepy.

The Death And Life Of Zebulon Finch, Volume 1: At The Edge Of Empire 
by Daniel Kraus
Simon & Schuster
October 25, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: May 7, 1896. Dusk. A swaggering seventeen-year-old gangster named Zebulon Finch is gunned down on the shores of Lake Michigan. But after mere minutes in the void, he is mysteriously resurrected. His second life will be nothing like his first. Zebulon's new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there, he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares—and from poverty—in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood.
Love, hate, hope, and horror—Zebulon finds them. But will he ever find redemption?

Jen's Trend Notes: Wow -- this one sounds like a big hybrid -- historical fiction meets sci-fi meets horror. Like a YA The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, perhaps?

This Raging Light 
by Estelle Laure
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
January 5, 2016 

Synopsis from Goodreads: A teenager and her younger sister try to deal with their mother’s sudden disappearance. Things become further complicated when older sister Lucille falls for her best friend’s brother. 

Jen's Trend Notes: There's not a lot of information to go on yet. There's a Missing Person, which has been a popular trend in 2015.  I always love a good sister story. And this cover is part of the Rainbow Bright cover trend I discussed last week.

What do you think about these? Which are you excited about?
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