Google+ YA Romantics: June 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

The Safest Lies
by Megan Miranda

Published on May 24, 2016
By Crown Books for Young Readers

Source: library

Synopsis from Goodreads: Kelsey was raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with Kelsey growing inside her. Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile for their own protection, but that plan is shattered when she drives off a cliff and is rescued by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker. A few days later, she arrives home to face her greatest fear: her mother is missing. She and her mother have drilled for all contingencies—except this one. Luckily, Ryan is as skilled at emergency rescues as Kelsey is at escape and evasion. To have a chance at a future, Kelsey will have to face all her darkest fears. Because someone is coming for her. And the truth about the past may end up being the most dangerous thing of all.
My take: I've enjoyed Megan Miranda's books before, especially Soulprint, so I really wanted to read this. I really like the way Miranda weaves scientific and psychological theory into her stories.

The main character of The Safest Lies, Kelsey, has grown up in an environment of fear - Kelsey's mom was abducted as a teenager and then later found, four months pregnant with Kelsey. Now the two of them live in a fortified house with a panic room. Kelsey's mom is afraid to leave the house, and she manages this, until Kelsey is involved in an accident that sends her to the hospital. When the accident is written up in the local paper, Kelsey's mom suddenly disappears and Kelsey is left to figure out what to do.

There was something about this book that didn't quite work for me and I'm not sure I've yet put my finger on exactly what it was. I'll try.

What I liked: the suspense that The Safest Lies is able to generate and the way it kept me guessing. I had some theories about what was actually going on with Kelsey and her mom ... but I wasn't right.

I also liked that the story poses the question as to whether fear can be inherited - an interesting idea, given Kelsey's history. I kept thinking this idea was going to be used to make the reader wonder if Kelsey is rational or just having a huge irrational panic attack caused by her inherited fear. But that didn't feel like the case to me - I felt that Kelsey came off as a pretty levelheaded character. So I ended up feeling like the inherited fear thing didn't really go anywhere.

I had more issue with the fact that, for me, this book didn't connect all the dots by the end. Without going into spoilers, I'll just say that a) I assumed that the inciting incident of the book would tie in better to the story. Also b) I'm not sure that certain things about Kelsey's mom's past were entirely credible. And, finally, d) though the romance in this was promising, it didn't really come together for me. I liked Ryan (the love interest) until this big revelation toward the end that seemed kind of disturbing.

Even though this was a bit of a miss for me, a lot of people in my Goodreads feed really enjoyed it, so don't let my opinion dissuade you. I remain a fan of this author -- I bought All the Missing Girls, her recently released adult book and look forward to trying that!

Have you read this? If so, let me know what you thought!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing June 28- July 4

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

LAST CHANCE TO ENTER THE JUNE 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!

Darkest Magic Chasing Impossible Winning
The Darkest Magic (Book of Spirits and Thieves #2) by Morgan Rhodes (Razorbill)
Chasing Impossible (Pushing the Limits #5) by Katie McGarry (Harlequin)
Winning by Lara Deloza (Harper)

And I Darken A Season for Fireflies Before We Go Extinct
And I Darken by Kiersten White (Delacorte)
A Season for Fireflies by Rebecca Maizel (Harper)
Before We Go Extinct by Karen Rivers (FSG)

Empire of Dust Run Never Missing Never Found
Empire of Dust (Blood of Gods and Royals #2) by Eleanor Herman (Harlequin)
Run by Kody Kiplinger (Scholastic)
Never Missing Never Found by Amanda Panitch (Random House)

Darkest Lie Sunny Side Up Secret Life of a Dream Girl
The Darkest Lie by Pintip Dunn (Kensington)
Sunny Side Up (Geek Girl Special #2) by Holly Smale (Harper)
The Secret Life of a Dream Girl (Creative Hearts #4) by Tracy Deebs (Entangled)

Which of these have you read or are you going to read?

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Freebie Friday: ARC Grab Bag AND a Miss Peregrine Tote

Happy Friday!

The winner of this week's FF can choose any ARC from my grab bag (this includes a bunch of May and June releases) and will also win...

This fun Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children tote bag (pictured here is the front and back of the bag). Thanks to Quirk Books for the bag, and if you're a fan of the series, be sure to check out the contest that Quirk is running here - you can win other fun Miss Peregrine stuff!

Update: Since Quirk was kind enough to send two bags I'm giving away a SECOND BAG on Instagram - just like the photo to enter - link to my Insta account is on the right sidebar!

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... With Malice by Eileen Cook

With Malice
by Eileen Cook
Published on June 7, 2016
by HMH

Source: bought

Synopsis from Goodreads: Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened?

My take: I wasn't planning on reading this. I'd tried another book by this author and it wasn't a good fit for me. But I love thrillers and when I saw a bunch of positive reviews for this, I decided to give it a try.

I'm glad I did. With Malice was a page-turning read that used one of my least favorite YA plot devices (amnesia) to good effect. Jill wakes up in the hospital with only hazy memories of how she ended up there. The story slowly fills in the facts on two different fronts, which I thought worked really well. First, Jill has therapy at a rehab center, and second, the book incorporates epistolary elements (blog posts, police interviews, etc.) that offer various viewpoints. Like Dangerous Girls, this seemed loosely inspired by the Amanda Knox case.

Two minor quibbles. This cover is lovely and I kind of wish that some of the book was set there, instead of in a hospital. Also, I had an idea of where the book was headed, and I was (pretty much) right. But those things didn't diminish my enjoyment of this story!

Two things for those who've already read this book. First, did you see that a real-life version of this story recently played out in the tabloids? How weird is that? And second, there's Guilt,  new TV show that also seems to be inspired by the Amanda Knox case?  

Have you read the book or watched Guilt? Let me know in comments!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just Finished Reading .... The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware

To be published on July 19, 2016
by Gallery/Scout Press

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Summary from Goodreads: In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

My take:  I love psychological thrillers and really enjoyed this one. I think I liked it even more than  In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ware's debut book.

The Woman in Cabin 10 has a lot of the elements that I like in a good psychological thriller. Lo is a travel writer who is asked by her boss to join the maiden voyage of a new luxury cruise ship. Claustrophobic setting? Check! This isn't a giant Princess cruise ship, but a small vessel with only a dozen cabins total. Slightly off-balance heroine? Check! Lo had a break-in at her flat right before she set sail and her nerves are a little jangled. Limited cast of characters? Yep, all the characters are trapped together on their voyage of DOOOM.....

There were a few things that weren't perfect. As with When Lo finds a very important clue (and knows it!) she doesn't hang onto this item, but leaves it sitting around in her cabin ... where it promptly disappears. And the killer writes threatening messages to Lo in fogged bathroom mirrors, which seems like something that belongs in a Lifetime TV movie.

But overall there was a lot here to like - I found Lo to be an appealing and sympathetic protagonist. While I don't always like the inclusion of emails and texts in a story, I loved the way that this book intensified the suspense by including the increasingly worried texts and social media postings of Lo's friends and significant other, who are back in the UK wondering why she isn't answering their messages. The story does a good job of setting up clues - I was close to figuring out what was going on...

Even though this takes place in the frigid waters of the North Sea, I recommend this as a great summer beach read - I got the chills a few times!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing June 21-27

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.

Don't forget to enter the JUNE 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. Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

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

It's a very quiet week this week! Did I miss anything?

Vanishing Throne Summer in the Invisible City Never Ever
The Vanishing Throne (Falconer #2) by Elizabeth May (Chronicle)
Summer in the Invisible City by Juliana Romano (Harper)
Never Ever by Sara Saedi (Viking)

Mirror in the Sky Unplugged
Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana ( Razorbill)
Unplugged by Donna Freitas (Harper)

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Learning to Swear in America

Learning to Swear in America
by Katie Kennedy

To be published on July 5, 2016
by Bloomsbury Kids

Source: ARC sent by publisher for review

Summary from Goodreads: An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

My take: There were things I really enjoyed about this book, and others I wasn't crazy about.

Starting with the positive, Learning to Swear in America is a fish out of water tale. I adore those kinds of stories and thought this aspect of the story was charming. Yuri, a seventeen year-old science genius, is brought to the US from Russia to help save the world from an asteroid. He's put up in a hotel in Pasadena, and when he's not in the lab, kind of wanders around in a daze like the character in Lost In Translation.  That part of the book I liked a lot.

I also liked the fact that this was an unexpected sort-of pre apocalyptic story. Believe it or not, this book is at least the fourth recent YA book I can think of that featured an asteroid on a collision course with earth. (Remember We All Looked Up, Tumble and Fall, and Life as We Knew It?)

There were aspects of Learning to Swear in America that were smart and funny and quirky in a way that made me happy. (A math teacher who makes his students feed a hamster to a snake if they get a math problem wrong??!! That's so wrong that it's right.) But, like so many quirky books, this for me went a bit too far at times. The story featured a romance I wasn't crazy about at all. I mean, yes, I understand that a main point of the book is that Yuri is book-smart but not life-smart, and that he needs to learn how to shut off his brain, act his age, and have fun. But ... hello?  The entire fate of the world is at also stake and he's sneaking out to hook up with some random girl. But, hey, glad he's getting some action while the rest of the world prepares to die.

Dovie, Yuri's love interest, was a bit too Manic Pixie Dream Girl for my taste. That may not be her fault: her family was also very heavy on the quirk, with hippie throwback parents that seemed to have arrived straight from the 1960s in Austin Powers' time machine and a brother in a wheelchair named Lennon (at least it wasn't Lenin...)

Those issues aside, I did find Learning to Swear in America an unexpected and enjoyable read. If you like books that are on the quirky side, you should definitely give this a try!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Freebie Friday: The Long Game

Happy Friday!

Today I have a great summer read up for grabs. This FF is open to US/Canada mailing addresses.

Hope you all have a great weekend of reading - or whatever else you are up to!

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer of DNF

Because I'm not a compulsive book finisher, I thought I had no problem with the DNF. However,  I also realized that I regularly find myself slogging through books that I'm just not that crazy about.

So I have declared this The Summer of DNF. Between June 15 and August 31, I am not going to read any book that I don't like. 

That may mean that I have to work harder to find books that I DO like, but so be it. 

I don't regularly post reviews about my DNFs - but I do mark them on Goodreads. Here's a list of recent books that I put on my "setting aside" shelf.  This summer I will be posting here about the books I DNF. Since one person's DNF can be another's 5-star read, I am including why I didn't love the book and why YOU might!

If you want to make a case for me picking a book back up, I'm happy to hear it!

Maybe the cover change should have been a sign - I read the first few chapters and just wasn't hooked.

Why it might be for you: It seems to be a YA Thelma and Louise. Which is all kinds of awesome.

I love thrillers, but this one had a lot of narrators, some of whom spoke in prose that swirled around the page and ... I just don't think I'm up for that.

Why it might be for you: My Goodreads friends who like creative typography have enjoyed this.

I think I'm just weary of YA mean girls stories. I read about 50 pages of this book about a cutthroat competition for homecoming queen and realized ... I didn't care who won.

Why it might be for you: As mean girls stories go, it's fast-paced and well-written.

I'm a big fan of Sittenfeld's and I have to say this was the wittiest Pride and Prejudice retelling I've read. In the 100 or so pages I read, I delighted in the way this classic was updated. But then I realized that I also knew exactly how everything was going to play out... 

Why it might be for you: Seriously, the retelling choices were so apt and amusing. I think Jane would approve!

Should I give any of these a second chance? What book have you set aside recently?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Just Finished Reading .... Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Defending Taylor
by Miranda Kenneally

To be published on July 5, 2016
by Sourcebooks Fire

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Summary from Goodreads: Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High. Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
My take:  I'm a big Miranda Kenneally fan. Her teen characters always feel authentic to me, and I've always thought she has an ear (and a soft spot) for characters who could easily be judged and misunderstood. She lets her characters make huge mistakes and lets us watch them deal with the consequences, whether it's a character who abandons a friend or flirts with a teacher, or in Defending Taylor, who makes a noble gesture that has all kinds of repercussions.

Taylor isn't a character who's initially easy to relate to - she's a privileged daughter of a senator, a girl who has had every possible advantage. When she impulsively decides to lie to protect her boyfriend (a guy who, as the book quickly reveals, isn't really worthy of her sacrifice) she gets kicked out of school, throws her famous family into the spotlight, and pretty much blows her comfortable life to smithereens.

I was surprised, then, that Taylor has the strength of character to tough it out and suck up the consequences of what she's done. I liked the fact that the story directly addresses the tremendous pressure that today's high school students are under to perform -- at school, in sports and extracurriculars, and in college admissions. (Thank you, Miranda Kenneally, for doing research into the college admissions process. The mistakes that many authors make are obvious to teen readers!)

I was also really touched by Kenneally's afterword, in which she talks about her own (past) workaholic and perfectionist tendencies and how she worked to conquer them. This is an issue that not enough girls and women discuss openly - the pressure to look picture-perfect (and perpetually popular) on Instagram and never break a sweat while balancing work, school, friends, and family.

Defending Taylor is a great addition to the Hundred Oaks companion books. This is a total standalone, but readers of prior books will find fun cameos by some favorite past characters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing June 14-20

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 JUNE 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!

Red Velvet Crush Tell Us Something True Escape From Asylum
Red Velvet Crush by Christina Meredith (Greenwillow)
Tell Us Something True by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books)
Escape From Asylum (Asylum 0.5) by Madeleine Roux (Harper)

We Were Never Here Local Girl Swept Away Transatlantic Conspiracy
We Were Never Here by Jennifer Gilmore (Harper)
Local Girl Swept Away by Ellen Wittlinger (Merit)
The Transatlantic Conspiracy by G.D. Falksen (Soho)

Steeplejack Geeks Guide to Unrequited Love King Slayer
Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley (Tor Teen)
The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash (Simon & Schuster)
The King Slayer (Witch Hunter #2) by Virginia Boecker (Little, Brown)

Look Both Ways Change Places With Me How to Disappear
Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry (Delacorte)
Change Places With Me by Lois Metzler (Balzer + Bray)
How to Disappear by Anne Redisch Stampler (Simon Pulse)

Cure for the Common Universe Gifted Autofocus
Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker (Simon & Schuster)
Gifted by H. A. Swain (Feiwel and Friends)
Auto Focus by Lauren Gibaldi (Harper)

How It Feels to Fly Losing Gabriel Read Me Like a Book
How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes (Harper)
Losing Gabriel by Lurlene McDaniel (Delacorte)
Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler (Candlewick)

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