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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing May 5-11

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!

Happy, happy May! There are so many great books this month to read and win :) 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 reviews of YA books that release in May 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 each book's Goodreads page!


Court of Thorns and Roses Some Kind of Normal Fill In Boyfriend
Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury)
Some Kind of Normal by Juliana Stone (Sourcebooks)
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West (Harper)


The Summer After You and Me Wild Hearts Until the Beginning
The Summer after You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (Sourcebooks)
Wild Hearts by Jessica Burkhart (Bloomsbury)
Until the Beginning (After the End #2) by Amy Plum (Harper)


Seriously Wicked Dust to Dust Swept Away
Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly (Tor)
Dust to Dust (Ashes to Ashes #2) by Melissa Walker (Harper)
Swept Away (Sixteenth Summer #4) by Michelle Dalton (Simon Pulse)


Crimson Bound Ice Kissed Galgorithm
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (Balzer + Bray)
Ice Kissed (The Kanin Chronicles #2) by Amanda Hocking (St. Martin's)
Algorithm by Aaron Karo (Simon Pulse)


The Heir Overtaken Saint Anything
The Heir (Selection #2) by Kiera Cass (Harper)
Overtaken by Mark Kruger (Simon & Schuster)
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (Viking)


Halfway Perfect Last Leaves Falling Novice
Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross & Mark Perini (Sourcebooks)
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (Simon & Schuster)
The Novice (Summoner #1) by Taran Matharu (Feiwel and Friends)

Chantress Fury Revenge Ice Cream Undertow
Chantress Fury (Chantress #3) by Amy Butler Greenfield (Margaret McElderry)
Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold (Broken Hearts #2) by Katie Finn (Feiwel and Friends)
Undertow by Michael Buckley (HMH)


Lola Carlyle What Remains The Clouded Sky Material Girls
Lola Carlyle's 12-Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman (Entangled)
What Remains by Helene Dunbar (Flux)
The Clouded Sky by Megan Crewe (Skyscape)
Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos (HMH)


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Monday, May 4, 2015

Just Finished Reading: Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Court of Thorns and Roses
by Sarah J. Maas
To be published on May 5, 2015
by Bloomsbury Children's

Source: ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

My take:  I feel dumb for putting off reading this book. I had reasons -- which include a terrible cold over the past ten days that made my eyeballs throb.

But the main reason I put off reading A Court of Thorns and Roses was that it is a Fae book. I know I've blogged before about my Fae-averseness. To me, Fae are pointy-eared, sneaky creatures, and in my experience Fae plots typically involve lots of wandering around in forests, which is not my favorite thing to read about.

But I am happy to report that, Fae and all, I really liked this book. A Court of Thorns and Roses is somewhat of a Beauty and the Beast retelling (some have compared it to East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which has a similar plotline.) In any case, the book features a financially ruined merchant with three daughters, the youngest one a plucky girl who, while hunting to feed her family, ends up killing a wolf. When a Beast-like creature comes seeking retribution for the wolf's death, the girl is forced to leave her family.

I thought all the main elements of A Court of Thorns and Roses -- the writing, world-building and plotting -- were excellent. Like many Fae books, this story world features multiple courts (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Dawn, Day and Night) that promise to offer rich opportunities for future world-building. The second half of the book featured one of my favorite plot elements: Riddle of the Sphinx (though in this case the Sphinx is an evil villainess wearing jewelry made of body parts -- eeuwww...)

As I was reading this book, I was thinking about why Beauty and the Beast is the superior Disney fairy tale. Unlike Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, which feature insta-love and women being rescued by men, Beauty and the Beast has more intriguing story elements: 1) a slow burn romance, 2) a main character who falls in love with a man despite his outward appearance and 3) a heroine who has to save the guy, instead of the other way around.

A Court of Thorns and Roses has all these elements and more. Feyre is a prisoner in the Fae/Beast's estate, but she's determined and resourceful. The love story is definitely of the slow burn variety. My friend Lauren of Love is Not a Triangle (and a person who can't bear even the suggestion of a triangle) wrote a very thoughtful Goodreads review on why she felt she had to put this book down. So let's take a minute to discus the romance. On the one hand, I understand how Lauren feels. At one point in the story I definitely felt the possibility of a triangle, but after finishing the book, I don't see the story going that way. Then again, Sarah J. Maas' other series, the Throne of Glass books, have developed a very complicated love geometry, a triangle that exploded into a pentagon or maybe even something with more sides than that. So I can't say where this series is going, but I'm definitely going along with it.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is compulsively readable and highly enjoyable. I highly recommend it, even if, like me, you're not the biggest fan of Fae. (And if you are, you should definitely read it ASAP.)


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Just Finished Reading ... Awoken by Sarah Noffke

As you may (or may not) remember, I started a new feature in March, My Indie Inbox. I collected all the emails from indie authors who'd asked me to read and review their books, asked them if they wanted to participate, then let my blog readers vote on which book I should read.  The winner?

Awoken
by Sarah Noffke
Published on November 24, 2014
by One-Twenty Six Press

Source: ARC from the author for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Around the world humans are hallucinating after sleepless nights. In a sterile, underground institute the forecasters keep reporting the same events. And in the backwoods of Texas, a sixteen-year-old girl is about to be caught up in a fierce, ethereal battle. Meet Roya Stark. She drowns every night in her dreams, spends her hours reading classic literature to avoid her family’s ridicule, and is prone to premonitions—which are becoming more frequent. And now her dreams are filled with strangers offering to reveal what she has always wanted to know: Who is she? That’s the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. But will Roya live to regret learning the truth?
My take: I love that My Indie Inbox got me to try a book that I wouldn't normally pick for myself. Though I do read paranormals from time to time, I tend to gravitate toward contemporaries and thrillers. 

I'd call Awoken a paranormal-slash-sci-fi story. Sixteen year-old Roya Stark has always felt a little out of place in her family. When the dreams and premonitions she's always had start to alarm her, she agrees to join the Lucidites at their underwater institute and accept their guidance and protection. But soon she learns that she's a Dream Traveler who can create dreams and travel through them. If that isn't enough to absorb, Roya may also be the challenger, the only person who can stop Zhuang, a villain who is thought to be causing a worldwide sickness. At the institute, Roya and other teenagers with paranormal abilities will hone their talents and train to stop Zhuang. The science fiction comes in through a variety of gadgets that allow these Dream Travelers to get their bodies in the same place as their roaming minds.

World building can one of the toughest challenges for a writer, who must carefully guide the reader through an imagined world, giving just the right amount of information at the right time. Too little information, and the reader is lost. Too much, and they're buried under the infamous info dump. I'll admit to being a little confused at the beginning of this book. There was a lot I didn't understand and a bunch of characters. (Then again, I'm not very patient.) But as the book went on, I understood more and more about what was going on. The main part of the story is a familiar "hero answers the call" then "hero meets mentors and undergoes training sequence" at the "Extranormal Institute." (Who doesn't love an Extranormal Institute, I ask you?)  Once the training got going and the plot took a few interesting turns, I felt much more invested in Roya's story and her eventual showdown with Zhuang.

Would I call Awoken a paranormal romance? Not exactly. This book isn't exactly short on guys: hunky guys with beautiful eyes, guys with accents, guys with attitudes. But the story focuses more on Roya and her personal journey and the romance comes more at the very end. I can't say I minded this, because on the one hand, it often annoys me when characters with important work to do spend too much time flirting with guys. On the other hand, I'd have liked the romance to be a little better developed. Was there a triangle? Not exactly, but there is the potential for one to develop in the next book. The writing is smooth, though I think the first half of the book could have been streamlined a little to smooth out the pace, as the second half is where all the action happens. 

It's hard for me to come up with too many comp titles, because I don't read a ton of paranormals. But I'd recommend Awoken to fans who enjoy books like the Shade-Shift-Shine series by Jeri Smith-Ready or the Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep. Both of those feature strong female characters with paranormal abilities who can fight evil and flirt at the same time.

Stay tuned for the voting in my second My Indie Inbox. Can't wait to see what you pick for me next!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Freebie Friday: April ARCs



Happy Friday -- and happy May!



Today's winner can choose from a pile of new ARCS:

Rook by Sharon Cameron
I Am Her Revenge by Meredith Moore
The Secrets We Keep by Tricia Leaver
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre

Sorry that this is US only -- if you haven't entered the April Hot Off the Presses, be sure to do that, because it ends in two days, and is open internationally.


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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Just Finished Reading... Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos

Material Girls
by Elaine Dimopoulos
To be published on May 5, 2015
by HMH Books for Young Readers

Source: eARC for review from publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves. Both girls are pawns in a calculated but seductive system of corporate control, and both begin to question their world’s aggressive levels of consumption. Will their new “eco-chic” trend subversively resist and overturn the industry that controls every part of their lives?

My take: There were things I liked about Material Girls. Overall it reminded me of Bumped by Megan McCafferty. I'd describe both books as sort of "dystopian light" -- futuristic, with a breezy, often satirical writing style that offers a chance for political commentary on where our world could be headed. Plus a huge amount of made-up slang and brands.

Material Girls starts off strong as a Cinderella story. In this future world, your career is decided in seventh grade. After that, there's nowhere to go but ... down. Trendy, judgy teens rule and if you're labeled an "Adequate," you have to endure the tedium of being a doctor or lawyer. Poor you! (That said, that aspect of the book was a shrewd commentary on our cultural obsession with youth and trendiness.)

Marla is a girl who gets tapped to work for a fashion house as a trend-vetter but suddenly learns that, as Heidi famously says: "in fashion one day you're in and the next day ... you're out." After Marla's taste is deemed too quirky, she's demoted and assigned to a dreary workroom where she sketches designs to be judged by her former colleagues. Though I would have preferred the workroom to Marla's former job, I found Marla and her story very relatable.

I also liked the way the book looked at the environmental impact of the fashion industry -- not just the way clothing is made. I've been textile recycling for years and was happy that the author tried to draw attention to the fact that our current worship of cheap, trendy clothing has led to huge amounts of clothes and shoes ending up in landfills rather than being donated or recycled.

But there were also things I didn't love about Material Girls. At times, the prose felt a little flat to me, like reading a movie treatment.  There were two narrators, Marla, mentioned above, and Ivy, who was tapped to be a pop star. Terrified of losing relevance, Ivy's hoping that the right clothes can help her stay on top. I didn't mind Ivy as a character, but for me, having her POV didn't add much to the story.

While I did appreciate that this book tried to raise issues -- the fashion industry's impact on worker and the environment, the tyranny of trends, our cultural worship of youth  --  I also felt that by the middle of the book, the story lost focus. If you like your YA books with romance, you're not going to find much here. And the ending was ... odd. But if you enjoy dystopians on the lighter side and/or are interested in fashion, this book could be a great fit for you.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing April 28-May 4

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 chance to join the April giveaway and link-up! 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 reviews of YA books that release in April 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 each book's Goodreads page!

In a World Just Right Game of Love and Death The Girl at Midnight
In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks (Simon & Schuster)
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Arthur A. Levine)
The Girl of Midnight by Melissa Grey (Delacorte)


Lois Lane: Fallout Rogue Magonia
Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Brooks (Switch)
Rogue (Talon #2) by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin)
Magnolia by Maria Dahvana Headley (Harper)

Rook The Replaced Boyfriend Project
Rook by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic)
The Replaced (The Taking #2) by Kimberly Derting (Harper)
The Boyfriend Project by Rachel Hawthorne (Harper)


Ember in the Ashes Be Not Afraid Cold Burn of Magic
Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill)
Be Not Afraid by Cecelia Galante (Random House)
Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep (K-Teen)


Lying Out Loud Trouble From the Start None of the Above
Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger (Scholastic)
Trouble From the Start by Rachel Hawthorne (Harper)
None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio (Balzer + Bray)


Flirty Dancing The Secrets We Keep Invincible
Flirty Dancing (Ladybirds #1) by Jenny McLachlan (Bloomsbury)
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver (FSG)
Invincible by Amy Reed (Katherine Tegen)


Diva Rules Secrets of Attraction Deception's Pawn Encore
Diva Rules by Amir Abrams (K-Teen)
The Secrets of Attraction by Robin Constantine (Balzer + Bray)
Deception's Pawn (Deception's Princess #2) by Esther Friesner (Random House)
Encore to an Empty Room (Exile #2) by Kevin Emerson



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