Google+ YA Romantics: August 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Extra! Extra! Where Did Summer Go?

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. 


Thanks SO much to Scholastic and Random House for these first two :)

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Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
For Real by Alison Cherry
Sealed With a Lie by Kat Carlton


On Monday, I reviewed Heir of Fire and explained why, though it's a super-amazing, incredibly well-written book, I feel like this series and I might need to part ways :(

On Thursday, I discussed Liar books -- their history in YA and why I think they've exploded over the past few years. And WHAT was with that PLL finale?!?!


An "in defense" review of Starry Night by Isabel Gillies

My kickoff to my super-mysterious red notebook for the #FallIntoBelzhar campaign...

My (sad) thoughts about potentially kickass YA girls who get sidetracked by pretty boys and pretty dresses...

What are you doing for the end of summer? (In the northern hemisphere at least...)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Freebie Friday: Liars!

Happy Friday!  

Yesterday I posted about Liar Books, so today I thought I'd have a liar themed Freebie Friday.

If winner is a US resident, she or he can choose one of the following ARCs. Click on the covers to find out more!

Big Little Lies We Were Liars

Signed ARC of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
ARC of We Were Liars by e. lockhart

If my winner lives outside the US, s/he will receive a paperback copy of We Were Liars.  (US residents can choose this option, but their book will come from the Book Depository.)

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Trending Thursday: Liars

Welcome to Trending Thursday, my sometimes-weekly post in which I pick a YA trend that we can discuss.  Today's topic is in honor of this week's Pretty Little Liars finale.

But first I will just take the briefest moment to say: what was that PLL cliffie? I'm not buying it!

Okay, back to LIARS. I have to believe that the current popularity of YA books about lies and liars is a direct result of the success of Alloy Entertainment's Pretty Little Liars, with books written by Sara Shepard and published starting in 2006, and an ABC Family show which premiered in June 2010.

In general, liar fiction can draw on the timeless trope of the Unreliable Narrator.  However, the PLL concept also has ties to the Group Tied Together by a Dark Secret trope, which may have entered the YA sphere with I Know What You Did Last Summer (the 1973 book was by Lois Duncan, and the movie adaptation released in 1996).  Pretty Little Liars (the show) also incorporates some other popular YA tropes: high school cliques, mean girls, not-quite-dead, teacher-student romancepolice are useless, and seriously-this-is-still-going on?

There have been plenty of recent YA books inspired by the sneaking and backstabbing of PLL. But let's take a look at some recent YA books that specifically reference liars:

Liar Lying Game Liar Soceity Two Lies and a Spy
Perfect Lies We Were Liars Liars Inc Trust Me, I'm Lying

Liar by Justine Larbalestier (2009)
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard (2010)
Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker (2011)
Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton (2013)
Perfect Lies (Mind Games #2) by Kiersten White (2014)
We Were Liars by e. lockhart (2014)
Liars, Inc by Paula Stokes (2015)
Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer (2015)

What do you think of this liars trend? A fad, or just an iteration of a timeless trope? Do you like books about unreliable or amoral characters?

Tomorrow's Freebie Friday will be Liar Inspired -- be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing August 26-Sept 1

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 week to enter the August 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 reviews, commenting on other people's linked reviews, or tweeting :)  

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. Please let me know about books I might have missed. Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Whoa -- the Fall book season has clearly started...

Maid of Deception Amity Undead with Benefits A Little Something Different
Maids of Deception (Maids #2) by Jennifer McGowan (Simon & Schuster)
Amity by Micol Ostow (Egmont)
Undead With Benefits (Eat Brains Love #2) by Jeff Hart (Katherine Tegen)
A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall (Swoon)

Into the Grey Chasing Before Feral
Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan (Candlewick)
Chasing Before (Memory Chronicles #2) by Lenore Appelhans (Simon & Schuster)
Feral by Holly Schindler (Harper)

Play Me Backwards Rumble Deliverance
Play Me Backwards by Adam Selzer (Simon & Schuster)
Rumble by Ellen Hopkins (Simon & Schuster)
Deliverance (Defiance #3) by C.J. Redwine (Balzer + Bray)

Far Dawn Beauty of Broken Don't Let Go
Far Dawn (Atlanteans #3) by Kevin Emerson (Katherine Tegen)
Beauty of the Broken by Tawni Walters (Simon Pulse)
Don't Let Go (PERSEFoNE #3) by Michelle Gagnon (Harper)

Sanctum Six Feet Over It Faces of the Dead
Sanctum (Asylum #2) by Madeleine Roux (Harper)
Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo (Random House)
Faces of the Dead by Suzanne Weyn (Scholastic)

Revenge of Seven Rule of Thoughts Can't Look Away
The Revenge of Seven (Lorien #5) by Pittacus Lore (Harper)
The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctrine #2) by James Dashner (Delacorte)
Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner (Scholastic)

Astray If You're Reading This Island of Excess Love
Astray (Gated #2) by Amy Christine Parker (Random House)
If You're Reading This by Trent Reedy (Arthur A. Levine)
The Island of Excess Love (Love in the Time of Global Warming #2) by Francesca Lia Blocl

How To Fall Rebels Zomburbia yolo
How To Fall (Jess Tennant #1) by Jane Casey (St. Martins)
Rebels (Safe Lands #3) by Jill Williamson (Blink)
Zomburbia by Adam Gallardo (KTeen)
yolo by Lauren Myracle (Amulet)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Just Finished Reading .... Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)
by Sarah J. Maas
To be published on September 2, 2014
by Bloomsbury

Source: ARC from the publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.  While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?
My take:  I'm not the most enthusiastic fantasy reader, though thanks to my friend Steph of, I actually listened to all 33 hours of Game of Thrones: Song of Fire and Ice on audio. And while I could appreciate George R.R. Martin's immense talent as a writer and worldbuilder, I stopped after that one book. A high-fantasy that's really, really dark isn't the kind of story I wholeheartedly enjoy.

So when Throne of Glass, book one in this series, was pitched as a sort of YA Game of Thrones, I was a bit intimidated. I didn't need to be.  Throne of Glass had more to do with palace intrigue, romance and friendship than with bloody action scenes. Throne of Glass also traced Celaena's journey from murderous assassin to trusted warrior and loyal friend.  Then came Crown of Midnight. That book seemed a bit darker and more grounded in fantasy, but was still within my comfort zone as a reader.

I knew from the ending of Crown of Midnight that the action of Heir of Fire would be moving away from the kingdom of Ardalan and to a new setting. What I guess I didn't think about was that all these books are part of a six book story arc. And what I didn't expect was that Heir of Fire would also be moving more firmly into high fantasy territory. Three new POV characters were added -- a witch, a healer, and a Fae -- for a total of six, if I'm counting correctly. New plotlines were started. The romantic situation got waaay more complicated. And this book is long -- over 500 pages.

I should also add that this book was very impressive. The writing and the plotting and the character development in this installment have become really top-notch. If I were giving stars, I'd give it five.

But still .... as a not-so-enthusiastic-fantasy reader, I struggled. Struggled with the fact that a lot of this story was made up of training sequences -- not my favorite. Struggled with the new characters, the new relationships, the new creatures, the new settings, and the Fae elements, which I had known were coming but have never been my favorite aspect of fantasy. (On the plus side, the love triangle that was developing in the first two books seems to have been blown into a love shape that is something I can't even describe.)

I was fortunate that my friend Sabrina of IHeartYAFiction was reading this book at the same time, and she cheered me on. By the middle of the book, I felt like I had reached the top of a mountain, that I could see where I was going, and that I was ready to race down and finish the story. The last half of the book was definitely a wild ride -- gripping and emotional.

So, here's the weird part of this review: as a reviewer, I can wholeheartedly say that this book is excellent -- the best in the series so far -- and highly recommend both this book and the series to YA fantasy fans. As an individual reader, I'm wondering if this series is still for me.  Can I handle another 1500 plus pages, or is it time to say goodbye? I'm still not sure. I may try the next book on audio, as that worked well for me with Game of Thrones. I have to say, I'm really torn.

Has this ever happened to any of you? Did you ever read a book that was objectively fantastic, but just not your kind of book?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Freebie Friday: The Jewel

Happy Friday!  

This week, I am (finally) taking some vacation time with my family. So this Freebie Friday and last week's will be open for entries through Monday, August 25.

This week, I'm giving away one of the books I'll be reading on vacation. Since I'm reading it on my kindle, I have an ARC to give away!

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And you can still enter last week's Freebie Friday giveaway:

Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins

This Isla giveaway is open internationally. If winner lives in the US, they'll receive a hardcover. If winner lives outside the US, they'll receive a paperback ordered from The Book Depository.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

Trial by Fire (Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
by Josephine Angelini
To be published on September 2, 2014
by Feiwel and Friends

Source: ARC sent by the publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear. Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian -- Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences. Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected. But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

My take:  I really enjoyed Josie Angelini's first trilogy -- the Starcrossed series published by Harper Teen. While the first book in that series opened with some very familiar PNR (paranormal romance) tropes -- an awkward girl encounters a mysterious boy who seems to violently hate her; he has a large, equally mysterious family; and the two learn that they absolutely can't be together -- as the trilogy moved away from this familiar set-up, I came to appreciate its imaginative, mythology-based story world and unexpected humor.

As I read the opening chapters of Trial by Fire, I must confess to feeling a bit of PNR deja-vu. Lily Proctor is -- wait for it! -- awkward and out of place. Her severe allergies make it hard for her to live a normal life.  When she attends her first high school party, trouble ensues and she wakes up in a strange version of her hometown of Salem -- one she doesn't recognize -- and is faced by, among other people, a young man who looks at her with unadulterated hatred.

At that point I thought the book would be time travel, with Lily sent back to seventeenth-century Salem.  (I hadn't read the synopsis before starting.) But no-- the story is far more interesting and unexpected. As the synopsis above indicates, this is an alternate universe(s) book. Lily has been sent to an alternate Salem, where she meets her alternate self in that universe. (I'm not an expert on quantum physics, but I think I remember from Back to the Future that doing this makes the world explode or something, though Doctor Who seems to have no problem with it...)

As I kept reading, I really fell in love with Trial by Fire. While many first books in trilogies choose action over world-building, this book features some of the most imaginative and interesting worldbuilding I've read in YA in 2014. I also loved the way that the magic in the book is grounded in science. (I'm no scientist, so I can't attest to the workability of the magic, but I was impressed by its creativity and thoroughness.) Finally, I was charmed by the book's humor. The Starcrossed series showed me that Angelini has a wacky and unexpected sense of humor, and that shines through in this book. Yes, Lily is in danger much of the time, but her attempts to explain her world to the residents of alternate Salem resulted in some truly funny moments.

The one thing about this book that made me a little uneasy was the romance. The love triangle was my least favorite part of the Starcrossed trilogy, and alt-universe books always open up the possibility of some very messy romantic situations. That's the case here. With two Lilys, a love interest who only exists in alt-Salem, and tqo versions of guy friend-who-could-be-more, there's the potential for a lot of romantic angst. (Then again, there are also enough people to get most everyone paired off.)

Overall, I loved Trial by Fire, which has gone on my list of Favorites of 2014. It has a little something for everyone: romance, danger, science, humor. It's a book that I had a hard time putting down, and I book that I highly recommend picking up!

Have you read this one or are you excited to? I'm on vacation this week, so if you leave a comment, I will do my best to respond and return it when I'm back :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Clear Your Shelves Giveaway Hop!

Welcome to my stop on the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop, a giveaway in which I can clear off my shelves and clutter up yours...  Sorry/notsorry :)

Since I am giving away books that I own, this giveaway is US only. But if you are international, you can enter Hot Off the Presses!   Also, US and international residents can enter to win a copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After here, through August 25!

Here are the books that my Clear the Shelves winner can choose from. I tried to pick a little of everything: fantasy, realistic YA,  and historical fiction. I've read and enjoyed all these!

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Brazen by Katherine Longshore
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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