Google+ YA Romantics: April 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

Freebie Friday: April ARC Grab Bag

Happy Friday!

Today I have another ARC Grab Bag featuring great April titles. US/Canada only! Check out my Instagram for a sneak peek of what's up for grabs -- link to my account in on the right sidebar :)

Wishing you a very happy weekend -- tell me what you're reading in comments!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 28, 2016

When Preorders Go Wrong

Here is my one of my guilty secrets: I hate to preorder.  Yes, I understand why preorders are so important to authors: preorders get counted toward a book's first week of sales, giving that book a stronger chance of making a bestseller list.

But I hesitate to preorder because I've been burned by them SO many times. 

To me, a preorder is a statement about how someone feels about a book. Namely, they're really really excited about it. They want to read it as soon as possible. They have handed over their credit card information for it before it even comes out.

What I don't understand is how preorders go wrong for me so much of the time. If I preorder, I'd hope to get the book on its release day. Okay, maybe the very next day. But I don't preorder expecting to wait much longer than that. And I don't understand how a vendor runs out of that book if I've preordered. Um, there's a PRE in preorder.  "Pre" means “prior to.” “In advance of.” “Beforehand."

As in, "I knew there was a huge demand for this book prior to its release. In advance of its release. Before its release."

I can't believe the publishers are at fault. If a vendor were to call a publisher months before a book was released and say "hey there, we have huge demand for this title and want to be sure we can fill all our preorders," then I have to believe the publisher would be like "awesome - let us print some more copies so that you can sell as many of those babies as you can."

Here's what happened with my latest preorder:

1. I preordered The Raven King.

2. Amazon (ominously) never gave me an expected shipping or delivery date, even by noon on the day of the book's release. For future reference, that's a BAD sign.

Note:  I'm not suggesting that Amazon is the only vendor who does this. I've had similarly bad experiences with Barnes and Noble preorders...

3. Concerned, I went to Barnes and Noble on the book's release date. Around 11:30 am. The store opened at 9 am. Plenty of time to get those shelves stocked with lovely new books!

4. Not a single copy of The Raven King anywhere to be found.  Seriously?

5. I went on my phone to the B and N website and saw that my Barnes and Noble claimed to have copies. Where? Boxed up in the back? Do they not understand that there is a LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION INVOLVING GANSEY?  So I used my phone to request an in store pick-up and went across the street to Staples to buy some packing tape.

6. While at Staples, I got a text that Barnes and Noble was holding a copy for me! Hooray!

7. I went to pick it up and because I'm weird like that, re-checked the shelves. Five copies of The Raven King had suddenly appeared next to a few paperbacks of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Under a sign that said "Teen Romance." Um ... really?

8. Canceled the Amazon order. 

9. Felt happy that there was apparently such demand for The Raven King, but incredibly frustrated that the bookselling industry can't manage to GET POPULAR BOOKS IN PEOPLE'S HANDS in a timely fashion. I think there must be a complete disconnect between what booksellers think that preorder means ("we will take your credit card number and then send you the book when we get around to it") and what consumers think a preorder means ( "I am REALLY interested in this book. I am telling you this weeks or even months early so I am sure to get a copy as soon as it comes out.")

Do I just have bad preorder karma or do you have stories of preorders gone wrong? Tell me in comments!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Review Round-Up: Keeping Secrets -- If I Was Your Girl and Suffer Love

Yes, we all have secrets. But secret-keeping is not always one of my favorite plot devices. I recently read two books, each of which had a main character keeping a BIG secret from a potential love interest. In one book, I though the secret-keeping was completely justified. In the other, I was a little skeptical  -- but overall it worked.

If I Was Your Girl
by Meredith Russo

To be published by Flatiron Books
on May 3, 2016

Source: bought

Synopsis from Goodreads:Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone. But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

My take: An important book that tries to do a lot - this is an identity story, a love story, a family story, a friendship story, and an emotional journey. Amanda's secret is one that previously put her in danger, so I was actually on board with her secret-keeping. I wanted her to be safe. I worried the entire time I read If I Was Your Girl - just hoping that things would turn out okay for Amanda and that she would be all right, both physically and emotionally.

I learned a lot from reading this book. And I loved the way it was something very different from the typical YA and yet somehow felt completely relatable and familiar. New girl in a small town with a big secret. Parents who don't understand. Uncertainty about whom to trust. The whole "you won't love me if I show you the 'real' me" is a universal fear that all of us can relate to, and I think that aspect of the book will resonate with just about every reader.

Suffer Love
by Ashley Herring Blake

To be published on May 3, 2016
by HMH Books

Source: ARC from the publisher for review.

Synopsis: Hadley St. Clair's life changed the day she came home to a front door covered in slips of paper, each of them revealing the ugly truth about her father. Now as her family falls apart in the wake of his year-long affair, Hadley wants everyone-her dad most of all-to leave her alone. Then she meets Sam Bennett, a cute new boy who inexplicably "feels like home" to Hadley. Hadley and Sam's connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret about his family that could ruin everything.
My take:  At first, I worried this book would just be a non-stop cheese-fest. And yes, it does have a cheesy (and fairly implausible) premise that reminded me a bit of a New Adult storyline. Suffer Love draws on a couple of the oldest romance tropes out there - the Couple Who Cannot Be Together and The Big Secret. I'm a huge sucker for the first. While I hate the idea of a relationship developing under the cloud of secret keeping, the way this book handled this trope still felt plausible to me.

In the end, Suffer Love really won me over. Yes, this book had cheesy aspects. And some fairly implausible aspects. But it still managed to be a gripping and moving read. Unlike a lot of books about infidelity, this one really shows the emotional fallout that cheating creates. And I loved that this book was NOT just an angst-fest, but a well-rounded romantic contemporary, with characters who have friendships and family relationships and hobbies (like boys who bake...) I still had to push aside my disbelief that this relationship could survive in the long haul, but I'm going to let the romantic in me win out!

Tell me in comments: how do you feel about books where one character keeps a HUGE secret from another?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing April 26- May 2

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.

LAST CHANCE to enter the April giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

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!

This week's book covers feature a lot of blue. Some vibrant pink and purple. And a fairly disturbing number of people floating in space! I'm still trying to decide if I should read the end of the Raven King first...

Raven King Last Boy and Girl in the World One Silver Summer Star-Touched Queen
The Raven King (Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian (Simon & Schuster)
One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman (Scholastic)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (St Martins Griffin)

Rose and the Dagger Soldier Double Down
The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdien (Putnam)
Soldier (Talon #3) by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin)
Double Down (Lois Lane #2) by Gwendy Bond (Swift)

Let the Wind Rise Art of Not Breathing Heir to the Sky
Let the Wind Rise (Sky Fall #3) by Shannon Messinger (Simon Pulse)
The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander (HMH)
Heir to the Sky by Amanda Sun (Harlequin)

Love Bomb Down With the Shine Incident on the Bridge
Love Bomb (Ladybirds #2) by Jenny McLachlan (Feiwel and Friends)
Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn (Harper)
The Incident on the Bridge by Laura McNeal (Knopf)

Bright Blaze of Magic Keep Me in Mind Redemption
Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep (Kensington)
Keep Me in Mind by Jaime Reed (Point)
Redemption (MILA #3) by Debra Driza (Katherine Tegen)

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... My Mad Fat Diary

My Mad Fat Diary
by Rae Earl

Published on April 19, 2016
by St Martin's Griffin

Source: finished copy from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: It's 1989 and Rae Earl is a fat, boy-mad 17-year-old girl, living in Stamford, Lincolnshire with her mum and their deaf white cat in a council house with a mint green bathroom and a refrigerator Rae can't keep away from. She’s also just been released from a psychiatric ward.  
My take: Overall, I'm not a huge fan of books in diary format, but I've had good luck with British diaries-as-books. Remember The Adrian Mole Diaries? I read those years ago. And of course, there's always Bridget Jones's Diary, which I loved. And the movie. But the sequel was crap.

My Mad Fat Diary was, at times, both entertaining and touching. It is (according to the blurb) the author's actual teenage diary, which was published in the UK in 2007, and then made into a British TV show that's now available on Hulu in the U.S.

As the synopsis indicated, Rae has just been released from a stint in a psychiatric hospital and is trying to sort out her life. She's desperate to lose weight, desperate to have a boyfriend, and isn't having a ton of luck with either.

While I liked this well enough, I wasn't completely gripped by it. It got a little repetitive for me. Rae hangs out at the local pub with the usual suspects (her friend Bethany and some cryptically named guys called Haddock and Battered Sausage). She lusts after guys who rarely reciprocate her interest. She bickers with her mother. She starts yet another diet. She bemoans the fact that "being thin and pretty is the best thing a woman can be." (I do think that seems to be true when you're a girl in high school.)

Many friends on my Goodreads feed seem to say that they've enjoyed the TV show more than the book. While I can't deal with setting up yet another trial account on Hulu, I might check the show out over the summer. And if you've watched it, let me know what you think in comments!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Freebie Friday: The Glittering Court

Happy Friday!

Hope you enjoyed this week's series on Runaway Royal Brides. If you missed my review of The Star-Touched Queen and The Glittering Court, scroll down and read them!

Today I'm giving away a finished hardcover of:

This is open to US/Canada residents. Hope you enjoy the weekend and have time to read something great!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Runaway Royal Brides Part II: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

This is part two of my Runaway Royal Brides series. On Monday, I reviewed A Star-Touched Queen and today I'm talking about The Glittering Court. Watch for my Runaway Royal Brides giveaway on Friday...

The Glittering Court
by Richelle Mead

Published by Razorbill
on April 5, 2016

Source: bought

Synopsis from Goodreads: Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court. When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor. But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

My take: In my opinion, a reader picking this up should erase his or her mind of all preconceptions of what a Richelle Mead story will be. The Glittering Court isn't really anything like the Vampire Academy books. It's not paranormal romance, more like an alt-historical romance that takes place in an England-like country called Osfrid and a colonial America-ish place called Adoria. (Okay, there is an academy of sorts, but it's nowhere near as cool as St. Vladimir's Academy.)

I'd say that The Glittering Court felt like The Prince and the Pauper crossed with The Selection. Elizabeth Witmore, Countess of Rothford, is desperate to get out of her arranged marriage and spies her opportunity when one of her servants is offered a place in a finishing school called the Glittering Court that trains lowborn women to prepare for life as the wife of one of the men the New World of Adoria. (The women are polished up and then auctioned off to the highest bidder.) You can see where this is going, right? Elizabeth takes Adelaide's place and enters the so-called "Glittering Court," ready to be trained and auctioned off. Of course, it would seem that she's only postponing the inevitable of another arranged marriage, but this doesn't really seem to dawn on Elizabeth/Adelaide, who's downright smug about the way she outwitted that whole forced marriage thing by joining a quasi-brothel.

I wanted to like E/A more than I did. Competent heroines should be a positive thing, but E/A was effortlessly perfect in a way that grated on me a little. (She reminded me a bit of Sydney Sage, but without the quirks that make Syd relatable.)

My favorite part of the book was the alt-history aspect- I love alt-hisroty and thought the idea was cleverly executed. I could have done with less Selection-y stuff, like talk of gowns and ranking the girls into tiers named after jewels.  I also thought that the secret that Cedric (the love interest) was keeping was an interesting one. No, it's not really scandalous from a 2016 perspective, but I thought it worked well in the story.

No, this isn't VA and Adelaide isn't Sydney enough for me and Cedric is certainly no Adrian. But if I try to take this book on its own merits, it definitely had enough there to hold my interest. The books to follow will reportedly be companion books featuring different girls from the Glittering Court.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

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

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.

Enter the April giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

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.

This week -- dark titles, historical fiction and a touch of humor and swoon -- dive in!

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Epidemic Darkest Corners Lie Tree Land of 10,000 Madonnas
The Epidemic (The Program 0.6) by Suzanne Young (Simon Pulse)
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas (Delacorte)
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Amulet)
The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer (Knopf)

Love, Lies and Spies Girl About Town Saving Montgomery Sole
Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey (Swoom)
Girl About Town by Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan (Atheneum)
Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki (Roaring Brook)

Mr. Fahrenheit No Love Allowed My Mad Fat Diary Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here
Mr. Fahrenheit by T. Michael Martin (Balzer + Bray)
No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista (Swoon)
My Mad Fat Diary by Rae Earl (St. Martins)
Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw (Razorbill)

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Monday, April 18, 2016

Runaway Royal Brides Part I: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

This week I'm doing reviews featuring runaway royal brides: The Star-Touched Queen by Rouhani Chokshi today,  The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead on Wednesday, and a Runaway Royal Freebie Friday!

The Star-Touched Queen
by Roshani Chokshi

To be published by St. Martins Griffin
on April 26, 2016

Source: ARC sent by publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire. But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

My takeThe Star-Touched Queen features hypnotically beautiful writing, fairy tale romance and world building that's an interesting blend of Western and non-Western mythologies. Going in, I thought I'd read somewhere that this was partly inspired by the myth of Hades and Persephone. I could see the parallels but as I read I was also reminded of classic fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast or Bluebeard in which a young girl must live with a man who might or might not be dangerous.

The story's action and intrigue starts from the very first pages as Maya, a princess who was born with an inauspicious horoscope, sneaks around her father's harem. Feared and disliked by most of the women there, she spends her time chasing off her tutors or hiding in an alcove, listening to her father plot military strategy. When her father tells her she's about to be betrothed, she's distraught, until a mysterious, cloaked man arrives at her wedding to whisk her off to his even more mysterious kingdom. Maya's new home is unfamiliar and her new husband is at turns indulgent and stern. He seems to care for her, yet keeps her at a distance. Bit by bit, she unravels the mystery ... but when she finally does, will she wish she hadn't!?

I was immediately drawn in by the hypnotic, poetic prose of the story and by Maya's plight. I loved the nods to Greek and Roman mythology -- one scene near the end reminded me a lot of a scene from the Aeneid -- but I was even more taken with the Indian influences that are woven into the story. I must admit to being a little weary of YA books that are inspired by familiar French and German fairy tales. I mean, hey, there's a whole world out there of interesting stories, so I hope that books like this with non-Western inspirations become more of a trend.

I wasn't quite sure what I thought of Amar, the mystery man, but I think that was deliberate. His relationship with Maya was an interesting one that kept me guessing. Was he a prince in disguise, as in Beauty and the Beast? A killer in disguise, as in Bluebeard? Or something in-between?

Definitely check this out if you've enjoyed creative YA fairy tale retellings like Cruel Beauty or Of Beast and Beauty.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Freebie Friday: Better Late Than Never!

Happy Friday!
Yes, this post is late. I got a little distracted. But ... it's still Friday where I live...

As an apology for my lateness, I will offer up TWO books. Two giveaways and you can enter either or both (or neither!)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend of reading!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Trending Thursday: It's Not Easy Being a Green Cover

So ... as I've been doing reviews and checking out books, I noticed something.  A lot of green. Which I put on a "maybe I'll do a Trending Thursday post" about this.

Then I learned something interesting. Traditionally, in book and magazine publishing, green covers have been considered a bad idea.  Slate did an article about it a few years back. John Gall, a VP and art director for a major publisher, talked about it in an interview. 

Well, who knew? But when I thought about it, I decided I hadn't seen a ton of green covers in YA. And if there were green covers, they were typically used for later books in popular series. Like these:

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I haven't done a scientific study, but it also seems to me that there have been more green covers since this VERY green book came out:

Since then, we've seen these:

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What's your take on green covers? 

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