Google+ YA Romantics: July 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Dead Girls Don't Lie

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

As soon as I'm back from vacation, I want to to a trends post. But I'll say here that I'm beyond thrilled at all the new YA mysteries that are coming out in the fall of 2013!  Here's one I can't wait for -- I was very impressed by Breaking Beautiful, the debut book by Jennifer Shaw Wolfe. 

I've been stalking NetGalley like a fiend….

Dead Girls Don't Lie
by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
To be published by Walker Children's Books
on September 17, 2013

Rachel died at two a.m . . . Three hours after Skyler kissed me for the first time. Forty-five minutes after she sent me her last text.  Jaycee and Rachel were best friends. But that was before. . .before that terrible night at the old house. Before Rachel shut Jaycee out. Before Jaycee chose Skyler over Rachel. Then Rachel is found dead. The police blame a growing gang problem in their small town, but Jaycee is sure it has to do with that night at the old house. Rachel’s text is the first clue—starting Jaycee on a search that leads to a shocking secret. Rachel’s death was no random crime, and Jaycee must figure out who to trust before she can expose the truth. 

What book are you not-so-patiently waiting for? Tell me in comments and leave a link so I can visit you back!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing July 30-August 6

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  A new August giveaway starts today!

Below are all the great new YA books you can grab 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 August  so we can all check them out!

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA -- if I missed something, please let me know in comments. You are also welcome to link your reviews of YA books that were self-pubbed in July!

The winner of my new August giveaway can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.) Enter by linking reviews, commenting on linked reviews, or tweeting :) 
If I missed anything, let me know in comments!

*Asterisked titles may have a different international release date.

Brother, Brother by Clay Carmichael Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gainsworth
Brother, Brother by Clay Carmichael (Roaring Brook)
Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike (Razorbill)
If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (Arthur Levine)

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry Seven Minutes in Heaven by Sara Shepard Bubble World by Carol Snow
All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry (St. Martin's)
Seven Minutes in Heaven (Lying Game #6) by Sara Shepard (HarperTeen)
Bubble World by Carol Snow (Henry Holt)

Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford Love Disguised by Lisa Klein
*Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy #5) by Jennifer Estep (K-Teen)
The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (Scholastic)
Love Disguised by Lisa Klein (Bloomsbury)

Torn by David Massey Indelible by Dawn Metcalf Indelible by Dawn Metcalf
Torn by David Massey (Chicken House)
Indelible by Dawn Metcalf (Harlequin Teen)
Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor (St. Martin's)

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock
by Matthew Quick
To be published by Little, Brown BFYR
on August 13, 2013

Source: e-ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my full FTC statement on right sidebar.

Summary from Goodreads: Today is Leonard Peacock's birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather's P-38 pistol. But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school's class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.
My take:  At times funny, suspenseful, and heart wrenching, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is about faith and friendship, about how hard it can be to ask for and receive help, about the importance of human connection.

Leonard wakes up on his birthday with a plan: he's going to use his grandfather's WWII pistol to kill  some guy named Asher Beal and then himself. But before that, he has a few gifts to drop off, gifts to four people who have made some sort of difference in his life.

Leonard is the kind of narrator I adore: smart and sarcastic, with an unpredictability that kept me a little off-balance. Because Leonard is not entirely comfortable in his world, he's a keen observer, a vulnerable smart-ass. He also curses a lot. My problem with him was that he narrates with a lot of footnotes. I am not a fan of footnotes and they are incredibly annoying to read on a Kindle, because you have to click out of the main page to read them. So I did not read every single one, and I hope Leonard can forgive me :)

Leonard reveals his murder-suicide plan right off, and then the reader spends the book trying to figure out a) if and b) why Leonard is going to carry it out. Leonard doesn't reveal his motivations for some time. He's going around handing out his gifts, he's interacting with the teachers who have noticed his unusual behavior, he's following random commuters around, trying to figure out if what adults promise is true: do things get better after high school? The book also includes "letters from the future" to Leonard, an aspect of the book that had me a little puzzled initially.

This whole book is a puzzle. I kept trying to figure Leonard out. Was he suicidal? Suffering from depression? Did he have some kind of revenge fantasy against kids who had wronged him? He definitely had one of the most self-absorbed, negligent parents I've seen in YA. But there are also a lot of other adults in the book who care about him, whether Leonard notices this or not.

I think that the structure of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock made this book more of an intellectual read than an emotional one for me. Leonard remained such an enigma for so long that I can't say I ever connected with him fully.  But Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is definitely a gripping and original book, one that I'd recommend to fans of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher or Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Series Challenge!

"The Summer Series Challenge is a three-month-long opportunity to complete unfinished series you've already started. Or read through series that are now finished, but you have yet to begin. Even better, consider reading a series or two in its entirety, back to back -- this is something I particularly enjoy, especially series with 4 or more books in it."

I signed up for this challenge but knew that I wasn't going to get any series reading done until I was on vacation. Which I am! Two straight days of rain has dampened my spirits but allowed me to read, read, read...

What I've Done So Far:

In the car on the way to the beach, I read the Curseworkers series by Holly Black.

I love this series so much -- it's possible that I stopped reading because I didn't want the story to end. But I had to find out what happened. And .. it was amazing. I think I want to read these books back to back. Maybe next summer….

Last week, I finished up the Lumatere Chronicles by reading Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn.   I LOVE Melina Marchetta, but I'm not the biggest fantasy reader.  Last summer, I finally read Finnikin of the Rock, and was completely blown away by how amazing it was. And, of course, the whole series is amazing. I still think that the first book is my favorite, but this series has an amazing cast of characters, wonderful themes of warfare and enmity, love and loyalty, and heartbreak and hope!

This week, I am finishing the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty. I read one or two of these books years and years ago, and it's been interesting to re-read them. Here's my quick take:

  • Jessica and Marcus are less endearing than I remember. Maybe because I'm that much older?  I love her whole smart-girl-stuck-in-the-suburbs thing and can relate to that. I don't remember Marcus' whole go-meditate-in-the-desert thing. If any guy said, "our relationship is what we let it be" to me, I'd throw something at his head.
  • I can see the strong influence of 80s teen movies on this series, and then, looking forward, I can also see the influence of this series on popular culture of the 2010s. I'd bet that Lena Dunham read these books!
  • Revisiting the early 2000s is pretty funny. References to Britney and K-Fed (remember him?) and The Facebook (a place for college students to find dates) had me chuckling.

Have you read any of these series?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Extra! Extra! 56

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.

I'm on vacation, so I am not linking to Stacking the Shelves @ Tynga's Reviews and to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 

Stacking the Shelves pic name

But if you leave a comment, I'll come check out your post...


It's the last weekend of the July Hot Off the Presses Giveaway! Win a book of your choice up to $15 USD. 

Freebie Friday -- win a finished copy of Earthbound!

Summer of Love Giveaway Hop -- win one of four great new YA books. Enter through Sunday!
And if you are a blogger, don't forget to sign up for Starry Eyed Jen's Road Trip Hop and Candace's Last Hurrah Hop!

This Week's Reviews

Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike -- was this new supernatural trilogy a hit or a miss for me?

My first ever Mini-Reviews of Boy on the Bridge and If He Had Been With Me.

New Books!   

 Even though I'm on vacation, I got a few amazing e-ARCS:

Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin Jessica Darling's It List

Thanks so much to Little Brown and Macmillan!

I am the hugest fan of the Curseworker series and can't wait to try Holly Black's new book.
I'm hosting Gabrielle Zevin as part of Authors Are Rock Stars -- so this is perfect timing :)
And I'm reading the Jessica Darling series this summer -- more perfect timing!

What have you been up to? Let me know in comments, and leave a link so I can visit you back.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Freebie Friday: Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike

Happy Friday! 

Yesterday I reviewed Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike, and I'd love to share my copy with one of you! You can read my review here.

I'm still on vacation (yay!) and so making this a one-step Rafflecopter entry again.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike

by Aprilynne Pike
To be published by Razorbill
on July 30, 2013

Source: bought

Connect with the author: website | Facebook | Twitter.

Summary from Goodreads: Tavia Michaels is the sole survivor of the plane crash that killed her parents. When she starts to see strange visions of a boy she’s never spoken with in real life, she begins to suspect that there’s much about her past that she isn’t being told. Tavia will soon discover that she’s an Earthbound—someone with the ability to create matter out of nothing—and that she alone holds the key to stopping the Reduciata, an evil society that manipulates global events for its own shadowy purposes. Tavia will ultimately have to make a choice: to come into her powers and save the world from the evil Reduciata or to choose free will and a love of her own.
My take: Earthbound had pros and cons for me. On the plus side, it was engaging and easy to read. Tavia, who has just lost her parents in a plane crash, was a character I immediately felt empathy towards. I especially loved the dynamic between Tavia and Benson, the cute, slightly nerdy librarian she befriends after moving in with her aunt and uncle. They had a nice friends-with-chemistry vibe that I enjoyed.

When Tavia starts having visions of a mysterious boy from the past, I was intrigued. She and Benson begin to investigate, realize she's in danger, and are soon on the run. I have limited patience for "on the run" plots, but this one actually kept my interest … to a point. There was a lot of "mysterious this" and "mysterious that" and being chased. After about 250 pages, the reader is clued in to what's going on. But because the book is almost over, the explanation for all the supernatural stuff is pretty basic, mostly limited to what's in the blurb: there are some good guys and some bad guys and that they've been locked in combat for centuries, and the bad guys "manipulate global events for shadowy purposes". These "shadowy purposes" remained both vague and hyperbolic, like a movie trailer voiceover. At one point, a character actually tells Tavia, "You are humankind's last hope." Then there's the love triangle. It wasn't a huge issue for me in this installment, but those readers who have had it up to here with love triangles may disagree. And I'm guess things will get more triangle-y in future books...

So while I wasn't wildly in love with Earthbound, I'll remain cautiously optimistic. I'll try to read the second book in the hopes that it will offer a more than a hand wave-y explanation of Tavia's powers and the two factions and what it all means. I'm also hopeful that the love triangle won't become a problem. I'm offering up my copy for Freebie Friday tomorrow. Be sure to stop by!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Boy on the Bridge, Broken Forest and If He Had Been With Me

I've seen mini-reviews on other blogs and love the idea! I'm on vacation, so I'm trying to get a lot of reading done...

The Boy on the Bridge
by Natalie Standiford
To be published by Scholastic
on August 1, 2013
Source: bought

My (mini) take: What I loved most about this book was the setting. Laura Reid is a college student participating in an exchange program in Leningrad in 1982, spending a semester working on her Russian and soaking up the culture.I loved reading about pre-Glasnost Russia -- food shortages, strict rules banning fraternization between Soviets and foreigners, and a high level of paranoia. I also loved the way the book depicted the foreign exchange experience in general -- the constraints that come with living with other American students while trying to experience a foreign country.

When Laura meets a guy named Aloysha on a bridge, she escapes her bubble and gets a glimpse of real Russian life. But in this case, there's a catch: Laura is repeatedly warned by her chaperones and fellow students that many Russians feign romantic attachment to Americans as a means of entering a sham marriage and getting out of the country. Of course, Laura falls in love. 

If you are a reader who needs closure, you may take issue with what, to me, seemed like a frustratingly ambiguous ending. Is this a bittersweet coming of age story about a girl who is duped? A romantic story about love against the odds? I don't mind books that don't tie everything up in a neat little bow, but in this case it felt to me that at a certain point, all the events of the book were dumped in my lap for me to sort out. I think the book would have packed more of an emotional punch for me if more had been definitively resolved. You can read more of my thoughts under spoiler protection in my Goodreads review.

Broken Forest
by Eliza Tilton
Published by Curiosity Quills Press
on May 1, 2012
Source: gifted from author

Synopsis from Goodreads: Hopeless he'll never be more than the boy who didn't save his brother, 17-year-old Avikar accepts his life as the family stable boy, trying to forget the past. But when his sister, Jeslyn, is kidnapped, the thought of losing another sibling catapults him on a desperate quest. With his best friend by his side, and using the tracking skills he learned from his father, he discovers Jeslyn has been taken, kidnapped by one Lucino, the young lord of Daath, a mystical place thought only to exist in fables. And Lucino has plans for Jeslyn. His shape-shifting brethren feed off the auras of humans, and Jeslyn's golden hue is exactly what Lucino needs to increase his power. The longer it takes Avikar to reach her, the more entranced she becomes with Lucino's world, and the harder it will be for Avikar to set her free. He failed his family once. He won't fail again...
Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the author, Eliza Tilton. She is a fellow blogger and I think she's great. It's always tricky when a friend asks you to read their book, because if their book is not your kind of thing, that can be awkward.  Luckily, I really liked Broken Forest -- and check out the beautiful new cover :)

Broken Forest is light YA fantasy offers up a great blend of romance, action and suspense. Multiple POV is something that's not easy to pull off, but I really liked the way that the chapters alternated between Avikar's, Jeslyn's and Lucino's POVs. The switch-offs in POV added a lot suspense to the story, gave the reader insight into what each character was thinking and feeling and really propelled the plot along. Often, in multiple POV stories, I have a strong preference for one narrator, but in the case of Broken Forest, I thought all three were equally compelling. Jeslyn is kidnapped at the opening of the story, and her brother Avikar and his friend set out to rescue her. The action moved smoothly, with the guys facing challenges and picking up a few allies (and some enemies) on the way. 

Avikar was definitely my favorite character. He's one of those "weight of the world on his shoulders" characters that I love. He holds himself responsible for a family tragedy and this experience adds more psychological depth to his character and more urgency to his quest to save his sister. Lucino is a very intriguing villain -- I think including the POV of the villain is a great way to make his character much more three-dimensional -- and scary! Jeslyn is probably the least developed character, or maybe it's more fair to say that she's the hardest character to figure out. She gets put into the "damsel in distress" role at the outset of the story, but by the end of the story, she's … well, even more in distress…

I'd definitely recommend Broken Forest to fans of light/fairytale fantasy. 

If He Had Been With Me
by Laura Nowlin
To be published by Sourcebooks
on April 1, 2013
Source: won on I Heart YA Fiction!

Mini-synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last two years. But she's always wondered what if… The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy.

My (mini) take: I read a great review of this book on another blog, and decided it was just the kind of heart-wrenching contemporary I usually love. And, after reading If He Had Been With Me, I can say that there are a lot of things about the book I enjoyed. First, I love (and also kind of hate) those books that begin with a spoiler, telling you that something terrible will definitely happen. In this case, you even know what it is. I wouldn't want every book to work that way, but in this case it did create an undercurrent of sadness that ran beneath the entire story.

Laura Nowlin does a great job of observing and portraying social and emotional nuances -- the way that a sentence, a gesture, a decision can have huge impact on our relationships and our lives. I loved that she brought the issue of depression into the book -- two characters in the story suffer from serious depression and I thought the topic was handled in a empathetic and responsible way.

If He Had Been With Me is perfect for people who enjoy books with a lot of psychological depth, and, well … tearjerkers. This is a sad story!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing July 23-29

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!

Every Tuesday, I tell you about all the great new YA books you can grab 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 July so we can all check them out!

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA -- if I missed something, please let me know in comments. You are also welcome to link your reviews of YA books that were self-pubbed in July!

Can you believe it's the last week of July??? The winner of my July giveaway can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.) Enter by linking reviews, commenting on linked reviews, or tweeting :) 
If I missed anything, let me know in comments!

Asterisked titles have a different international release date.

Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay (Delacorte)
*The Fury by Alexander Gordon Smith (FSG)
A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin (Egmont)

A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard Shadows of Glass by Kassy Tayler Starglass by Phoebe North
A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard (Harper)
Shadows of Glass by Kassy Tayler (St Martin's Griffin)
Starglass by Phoebe North (Simon & Schuster)

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford Wong by L Tam Holland Extremities by David Lubar
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (Simon Pulse)
The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford Wong by L. Tam Holland (Simon & Schuster)
Extremities by David Lubar (Tor Teen)

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell (Harper)

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