Google+ YA Romantics: November 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

Review and Freebie Friday: Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally

Racing Savannah
by Miranda Kenneally
To be published on December 3, 2013
by Sourcebooks Fire

Source: Around the World ARC Tours and NetGalley.

Connect with the author: website | Twitter | Facebook.

Summary of book from author's website: They’re from two different worlds. He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries. With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…
My take:  I'm a huge fan of Miranda Kenneally. I love that her books are so funny and touching and thought-provoking. I love the way that my favorite characters from her books make appearances in subsequent books -- that way, I never have to say goodbye! And I love that she isn't afraid to take on big issues. In Catching Jordan, she looked at women in sports. Stealing Parker and Things I Can't Forget both involved questions of faith and morality.

Racing Savannah tackles the issue of class and socioeconomic status-- something that isn't always portrayed in YA books in a thoughtful and interesting way. Savannah is the daughter of a horse trainer and the step-daughter of a maid. No one in Savannah's family has gone to college. She's more comfortable around horses than books.

When Savannah and her family move to Tennessee, she meets Jack, the son of the rich family  that hired her father to help with their horses. Jack is pretty oblivious about his relative privilege. He's had everything he ever wanted, and it doesn't even occur to him that other people might not have had all the same advantages. When Savannah lands a job exercising horses, she's working for Jack. This becomes a problem, because they're drawn to each other. Does this rich boy/poor girl couple have a chance to make it?

There were a lot of things I adored about this story. I loved Savannah. She was funny and down to earth, but also determined and confident and full of plans and dreams. I loved the horses. I'm a huge animal lover, and I could almost smell the hay (and manure!) and feel the wind in my hair as Savannah rode. Rory, a secondary character and aspiring screenwriter, was hilarious. And I loved the way that the book really showed the obstacles that many working class kids face when thinking about going to college.

I was a little uncertain about Jack. While I was pleased that he wasn't unrealistically perfect, I wasn't always crazy about him and I wasn't always feeling that he was the right person for Savannah. And I felt that this book didn't have the same wrenching emotional journey that the main characters in the Hundred Oaks books usually undertake.

But overall,  I really enjoyed Racing Savannah. Fans of prior books will be SO excited at the special cameo appearances by their favorite characters, who just might include Jordan, Sam, Matt, Kate,  Parker, Will…  Some former characters have younger siblings that we get to know in Racing Savannah, which was also exciting.

I'm giving an ARC of Racing Savannah away for Freebie Friday! Open internationally, but if winner is international I will order them a paperback from The Book Depository when it releases internationally on December 16.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the US -- time for roasting turkeys, watching the parade and football, and just enjoying time around the table with family and friends.

I'll be taking the day off today to cook and eat and relax, but will be back tomorrow with a review and a giveaway!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Just Finished Reading … The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)
by Richelle Mead
Published by Razorbill
on November 18, 2013

Source: bought

Summary excerpted from Goodreads: As Alchemist Sydney Sage navigates the aftermath of her life-changing decision, she still finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her sister Zoe has arrived, and while Sydney longs to grow closer to her, there's still so much she must keep secret. Working with Marcus has changed the way she views the Alchemists, and Sydney must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney struggles to keep her secret life under wraps as the threat of exposure—and re-education—looms larger than ever.

My SPOILER FREE take: I'm loving this series!  I'm really enjoying the way that Richelle Mead is taking the story world she created in the Vampire Academy books and looking at a new aspect of it: the Alchemists, and the uneasy relationship they have with the vampires they are duty-bound to hide and protect.

In case you haven't started this series at all or you haven't read all four books, I'll just tell you some of my favorite things about this series and The Fiery Heart in particular.

Sydney Sage
I know it's taken some readers time to warm up to Sydney, but if this book doesn't make you love her, nothing will. Okay, Sydney isn't Rose. Rose is dramatic and headstrong and larger than life, which makes her a very entertaining character, but what you see with Rose is what you get. In contrast, Sydney has layers. She's cautious, she's principled, she's smart, and she's incredibly loyal. I've really enjoyed watching her begin to question some of the Alchemist philosophies she grew up with.  Like Sydney, Adrian has layers to his personality. On the surface, he's brash and funny and outrageous. But underneath, he's troubled and vulnerable.  Seeing these two slooowwly work their way toward each other has been pretty fun. Seeing them together as a (secret) couple is even better.

Alchemists and Vampires
I'm also really enjoying the way that Richelle Mead has taken two groups with a long and interesting history in mythology, history and fiction, and put them together. If you've forgotten your Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone lore, Alchemists have actually tried to turn metal into gold and create an elixir of life. In this series, they also guard vampires and protect their secrets. But in this series they are also forbidden from becoming involved with vampires. As the series progressed, Sydney becomes a person at war with  herself. She's a scholar, she believes the Alchemist principles she's been taught, and yet … she begins to question them. In an earlier book, Syd begins to wonder if she holds the power to stop vampires from turning into evil Strigoi.

Series writing the way I like it
I'm a fan of series, but I'm getting weary of series books that seem like chopped up stories -- the partly-explained world building, the partial plot arcs, the "this doesn't make sense, but it will be explained in the next book." Richelle Mead writes the kind of series I like: each of her books has a plot line, and then there is an overarching series plot line. I get the feeling that there is a Plan. In series writing, I think there needs to be one.

Family Drama
What's more wrenching and relatable than family drama? I recently wrote a review complaining about Gratuitous Family Drama as a plot device, but in this series the family drama is at the heart of the series. In Bloodlines, the very first book, we get a glimpse at Syd's family dynamics. She has a cold, controlling father, a mother we don't get much of a sense of, plus two sisters: a traumatized older one and and eager-to-please-her-father younger one, both of whom Sydney is determined to protect. Sydney's family didn't have a big role in the first three books, but they come back into the picture in The Fiery Heart. Let's just say that most of our own Thanksgiving-induced family dramas have nothing on what the Sage family is about to go through.

Humor, Meatloaf, etc.
You probably don't remember my 2012 St Vladimir's Summer School review of Shadow Kiss, but I wrote about Christian -- one of my favorite characters -- and how Steph @ The Fake Steph tweeted me about his meatloaf-making ways. Now I like to picture him in a frilly apron. So I was cracking up when the meatloaf made a reappearance in this book. I love the way that Richelle Mead incorporates these wacky things to lighten the drama -- Jet Steele, the Ivashkinator, Malachi Wolfe, and that meatloaf.  I need to know what Christian is making for Thanksgiving!

Have you read this? Are you going to? What do you think about the cover and title of the next book, which releases July 29?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing November 26-December 2

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 November 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 this month.
LAST WEEK of my November giveaway! The 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, commenting on linked reviews, or tweeting :)  
Note: some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry Pawn by Aimee Carter Angel Fever Another Little Piece of My Heart

Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3) by Katie McGarry (Harlequin Teen)
Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter (Harlequin Teen)
Angel Fever (Angel #3) by L. A. Weatherly (Candlewick)
Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin (Harlequin Teen)

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Monday, November 25, 2013

These Broken Stars: My Thoughts, a Fun Fact and a Blog Tour Giveaway

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner
To be published on December 10, 2013
by Disney-Hyperion

Source: Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for approving me for an e-ARC on Netgalley. My full FTC disclosure is on the right sidebar.

Summary provided by authors: It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.
My (brief) thoughts, to be expanded upon on Goodreads soon:  Based on the cover and synopsis, this book was not at all what I expected. I mean, this might be the most gorgeous YA cover of 2013 -- the stars, the billowy dress and hair, the fingers just about to touch….

Whoops, wrong sci-fi fingers. But I will come back to the cover AND the correct fingers later; just bear with me...

So, given the cover and the equally awesome names of the main characters, I went in expecting a swooningly romantic, high drama story with tons of glamour. For the first few chapters, it seemed like that's where the book was going: rich girl and regular-guy-made-good, both aboard this gigantic spaceship, noticing each other. As other bloggers have mentioned, at first the book had a Titanic In Space kind of feel. But then the spaceship crashes, and Lilac and Tarver escape.

The next 200+ pages of the book are a survival story -- Lilac and Tarver tramp around a new planet, looking for food, supplies, and other survivors. This part of the story was interesting, but survival stories aren't my favorite, and the glamour I was imagining was gone, and I became a little skeptical as to where things were headed. (Note: Lilac does do much of the tramping around wearing aforementioned billowy dress, so this cover is not one of those annoying "slap a pretty dress on the front so girls will read it" YA covers.) At this point, the story was reminding me a lot of Under the Never Sky -- the pampered girl/tougher guy relationship dynamic and all the roaming.

Then Lilac starts hearing voices. Tarver tells her this is probably because she hit her head. But a very spooky vibe starts to develop and then something pretty surprising happens. So surprising that … wow… I felt even more skeptical, because … what??? But then, as the story continued, that very surprising plot twist made the book work for me. And the fingers, which I now can't stop staring at, took on a new significance. 

It's rare that a book can really surprise me, but this one did!  I also love the fact that These Broken Stars will be part of a set of companion books, each featuring a different couple.

As part of the These Broken Stars Promo, here's my Fun Fact from authors Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner:

"We did a lot of research on survival skills for this book, and we were particularly freaked out to discover just how many nasty bacteria can be lurking in that crystal clear mountain stream that looks so safe! Despite the common idea that ‘spring water’ is just scooped up from some gorgeous, tinkling stream winding its way through the mountains and poured straight into a bottle for you, it turns out purification is definitely required! We realized this would be a common problem for soldiers on new planets. We didn’t think it would be feasible for them all to stop and continually boil water for twenty minutes each time, and the problem with purification tablets is you can run out of them. This was the reason we built a water filter straight into Tarver’s canteen--and this is technology that’s available today. That’s just one of the tiny details that go into world building!"

Tour Schedule
Visit each stop of the tour for more exclusive content and additional chances to win prizes, including an Grand Prize of one autographed/annotated ARC + limited edition necklace + swag! 

For a full list of tour stops, go to this post @ The Midnight Garden!

To enter on my stop, just fill out the Rafflecopter below :)

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Extra! Extra! Catching Fire and More!

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 or to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 


Catching Fire opened yesterday -- I'm excited! I haven't seen it -- yet.

 I set up a little Catching Fire party and you are invited:

My centerpiece includes a fiery cape -- an old Katniss Halloween costume, plus some peppermints, sugar cubes and bloody roses. Can you figure out the significance of the items? Oh, and I have these flower cookies too..

Have you seen the movie? If so tell me what you thought!


Those are the prizes for a US winner. International winner has different choices described in the post.


Fun Fact about These Broken Stars
A very, very small Hot Off the Presses
Review of The Fiery Heart
Review of Racing Savannah with a Freebie Friday giveaway!

What's new with you? Let me know in comments and leave me a link so I can visit you back!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Freebie Friday: My Angst-Giving Giveaway

Happy Friday!  Congrats to last week's Freebie Friday winner, Chiara!

In honor of Thanksgiving (which is next week in the U.S.) I'm offering a US winner this angst-filled book package:

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry (paperback ARC)
Dare You To by Katie McGarry (finished hardcover)
Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles (paperback ARC)

If my winner resides in the US, they can choose one, two or all three! 

Since angst also has no borders, I will offer an international winner a choice of ONE of the following: paperback copy of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, or Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction, Leaving Paradise or Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles.

Enter in the Rafflecopter :)  And for those of you who miss Freebie Friday discussion topics, I promise they'll be back soon!

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just Finished Reading : Pawn by Aimée Carter

Pawn (Blackcoat Rebellion #1)
by Aimée Carter
To be published by Harlequin Teen
on November 25, 2013

Source: thanks to Harlequin for providing me an e-ARC via NetGalley

Connect with the author: website | Twitter | Facebook.
Summary from Goodreads: You can be a VII. If you give up everything. For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter. There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.
My thoughts:  Despite my extreme dystopian burn-out, I still managed to muster up a surprising amount of enthusiasm for Pawn. Twisty and well-plotted, it kept my interest from the first page to the last.

Perhaps because I've read so many dystopians in the past four or five years, Pawn felt to me like a mash-up of many familiar dystopian tropes: numeric tattoos out of XVI by Julia Karr, the forced abandonment of a loyal boyfriend from The Selection, doppelgänger action out of Linked by Imogen Howson, Dualed by Elsie Chapman, Tandem by Anna Jarzab, and Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna; and murder for sport out of The Hunger Games. 

But a good mash-up can be a very good thing, and Pawn does a fine job of mashing and re-mixing. And despite the very familiar tropes, the book featured plenty of plot twists and turns that kept me guessing. There's a ton of scheming by some truly evil characters that seemed straight out of a nighttime TV drama like Revenge or House of Cards. 

Kitty is a very appealing main character, though I found Benjy, her love interest, kind of bland. The book's world-building is pretty hand-wavy, not really explaining how the United States ended up with both a caste system and a prime minister. And by the end of the book, there was so much double-crossing and triple-crossing that my head began to spin -- to me, there was too much stuff backloaded into the last few chapters. I think this kind of story (the kind where most of the characters are either amoral or downright evil) needs at least one character to serve as a moral compass. In Pawn, there was only one character that filled this role for me, and it wasn't Kitty!

But Pawn was definitely an enjoyable read. If you're also burned out by dystopians, you still might enjoy this. And if you are still loving the dystopian genre, you should definitely check Pawn out!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Boys Like You

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

What am I waiting on this week? Oh, so many things :) But here's one…

Boys Like You
by Juliana Stone
To be published by Sourcebooks
in May 2014

Sixteen-year-old Monroe Blackwell is sent from New York to spend the summer at her grandmother’s in the sleepy town of Twin Oaks, Louisiana. She’s trying to find her way back to where she was before–back to before Malcolm. Back to before her world fell apart.  At seventeen, Nathan Everets has learned that one mistake can change everything. Two months ago, he was on top of the world, and now he’s spending the summer working for his uncle–a court-appointed job, while his best friend is struggling to live. And all of that is his fault. Nathan is the reason his best friend, Trevor, is in a coma.
As these two teens are thrown together, they each slowly begin to heal–they fall in love–and for both Monroe and Nathan, getting back to good, means facing their past and hopefully, finding their future.
My take: I love "city girl goes to the country" stories, and I'm really in the mood for some romantic stories -- maybe it's the colder weather….

What are you waiting for this week?  Let me know in comments and leave a link so I can visit you back :) 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing November 19-25

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 November 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 this month.
The winner of my November 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 :)  
Note: some titles may have different release dates outside the US.
This is a light week for releases, and wait until you see next week!

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead World After by Susan Ee Horizon by Alyson Noel

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4) by Richelle Mead (Razorbill)
World After (Penryn and the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee (Skyscape)
Horizon (Soul Seekers #4) by Alyson Noel (St. Martins)
Captive Maiden (Fairy Tales #4) by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan)
He Said She Said by Kwame Alexander (Amistad)
Whisper Falls by Elizabeth Langston (Spencer Hill Press)

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Just Finished Reading … Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)
by Katie McGarry
To be published by Harlequin Teen
on November 25, 2013

Source: e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley

Connect with the author: website  | Facebook | Twitter.
Summary of the book from Goodreads: The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind. Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look. But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other.
My take: Crash Into You and I had as many emotional ups and downs as a YA love triangle. Overall, I did enjoy the book, but to use a car metaphor, some of it was a bit of a bumpy ride for me.

Katie McGarry tells the kinds of stories that many, many teen and adult readers of YA are clamoring for--unflinching and emotionally intense. I applaud her for tackling issues of social class that many other YA books handle in a much more superficial way.  Some of her characters endure things that no one should have to -- abusive parents, foster care, bullying, and neglect. In my review of Pushing the Limits, I said that book "teeters on the edge of melodrama." To me, these books always seem to walk a fine line between intense and overwrought, and part of my enjoyment of reading these stores is watching them go to the very, very edge of believability without falling over that edge.

I love Isaiah -- he's my favorite character out  of all three books -- and I was very excited to read his story. I had mixed feelings about Rachel.  The "poor little rich girl" character is a definitely much trickier to create than the underdog characters that Katie McGarry writes so well. Rachel is given some problems -- a dead sister and a serious case of anxiety -- but those pale in comparison to those of characters like Echo, Noah and Isaiah. Rachel is also saddled with rich, clueless parents and overprotective brothers -- all of whom came off as flat and predictable.

As Rachel and Isaiah bonded over their love of cars, I grew to like Rachel more. I don't know what a carburetor does, but I do love a book that teaches me something new through characters who are passionate about something. The car talk and the racing were, for me, some of the strongest aspects of the book. I also really liked the character of Abby --  a brash yet vulnerable drug dealer and friend of Isaiah.

Toward the middle of the book, I went through a phase of finding Rachel irritating, mostly because I had to hear her say over and over and over that she was "weak." I do understand that her anxiety disorder makes her feel "weak," but I used my kindle's search function to count. She said it a minimum of eighteen times, and I'd had enough. I thought her condition -- and her complicated feelings about her dead sister -- could have been incorporated into the story in a more subtle and interesting way.

By the last quarter of the book, I had fallen in love with the story again. Those last few races and then a bit of no-no-no-after-all this-am-I-going-to-get-an-Allegiant-style-ending anxiety got me emotionally invested.  This is why people -- including me -- enjoy these books. Yes, they can be a bit over the top, but in the end, I think most YA fans would rather read a book that makes them feel something than one that just leave them completely unmoved.  If you loved Pushing the Limits and Going Too Far, I think you'll also like Crash Into You. There are cameos from all your favorite past characters and Isaiah is still one of my favorites. I really, really wish the next book in the series was going to be about Abby, but it looks like I will have to be patient for that!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Extra! Extra! Sydrian and the Winner's Curse

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 or to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 


Yay -- almost time for The Fiery Heart, the latest installment in the forbidden romance between Alchemist Sydney Sage and Moroi Adrian Ivashkov. I'm giving away a copy when it releases on Tuesday, November 19. Enter here!

Then, don't forget Hot Off the Presses -- new month, new giveaway!


Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher -- what did I think of this story told in letters written by a guilty young girl to a serial killer?

Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin -- amnesia and memory loss have been well-used in YA as both a premise and a plot device. Did I find this book memorable or forgettable?


I didn't think I had anything new to report until this NetGalley invite widget popped up in my in-box. Hooray -- I've been dying to try this. Huge thanks to Macmillan for making my week!

That's it for me. What's new with you? Tell me in comments and leave a link so I can visit you back!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Freebie Friday: It's (Almost) Time for the Fiery Heart

Happy Friday!

Finally, finally it's time to count down the release date for The Fiery Heart, which comes out on November 19.  I'm excited!

Are you ready to read on Tuesday? If you need to refresh your memory, here are two trivia quizzes, one on Bloodlines and one on The Golden Lily. 

Want to dress like Sydney for the day? No problem….

If you'd like to enter to win a copy, which will be ordered for the winner on Tuesday, just enter in the Rafflecopter. Open internationally -- Sydrian knows no borders. a Rafflecopter giveaway Follow on Bloglovin follow us in feedly

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just Finished Reading: Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin

Loud Awake and Lost
by Adele Griffin
Published by Knopf BFYR
on November 12, 2013

Connect with the author: website | Facebook | Twitter

Summary from Goodreads: LOUD. There was an accident. Ember knows at least that much. She was driving. The car was totaled. She suffered back injuries and brain trauma. But she is alive. That's the only thing left she can cling to. AWAKE. Eight months later, Ember feels broken. The pieces of her former self no longer fit together. She can't even remember the six weeks of her life leading up to the accident. Where was she going? Who was she with? And what happened during those six weeks that her friends and family won't talk about? LOST. One by one, Ember discovers the answers to these questions, like a twisted game of dominos. And little by little, the person she used to be slips further and further away.

My take: Once in a while, I imagine people far in the future reading today's YA and drawing conclusions about us. One of the things I think they might assume about life in the 2000s is that a huge number of teenagers were wandering around with amnesia.

I've read a lot of YA in 2013 in which amnesia and/or memory loss play a big part -- Slated by Teri Terry, MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza, Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike, Unremembered by Jessica Brody, Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn,  Just One Year by Gayle Forman, Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst, and Hysteria by Megan Miranda.

If my memory serves, I also read these YA amnesia books prior to 2013: One Moment by Kristina McBride, Mystic City by Theo Lawrence, Miracle by Elizabeth Scott, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, Forget You by Jennifer Echols, Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolfe, Rosebush by Michele Jaffe, and the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.  Whew -- and that list doesn't even include the books that use the memory wipe as a plot device. I can think of five or six of those, but since that plot element is often a spoiler, I won't list them.

Let's just say that before reading any more amnesia books, I could use a memory wipe myself so that they'll seem fresh and new again. So why did I read Loud Awake and Lost, you ask? Well, Adele Griffin can really write and I always find her books a pleasure to read. I liked the way the amnesia was handled. In some of the above books, the amnesia has an logical explanation and in others, the explanation is sketchy. I prefer category A. I liked the fact that Ember's amnesia had a physical and medical basis and that Loud Awake and Lost spent a fair amount of time discussing the medical and psychological aspects of TBIs (traumatic brain injuries.) Plus, I really enjoyed the hip Brooklyn setting and liked Ember as a character.

There were also things l liked a bit less. If you've read any of my other reviews of amnesia books, you might remember my complaints about them. First off, characters with amnesia are easy to sympathize with but hard to connect with as a reader. Plus, the whole "I can't remember" thing can get tedious. The plot twist in Loud Awake and Lost was not as surprising at the one in Griffin's book Tighter. And a few times I felt like the plot relied too heavily on coincidence, having characters just happen to run into each other, as if Brooklyn were a one-stoplight town.

As a reader of YA, I wish I could forget about amnesia for a while. But despite that, I enjoyed Loud Awake and Lost. It had a cool vibe, an appealing main character, and made amnesia more than just a plot device.

Have you read this? Have an opinion on amnesia books? Tell me in comments :)
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