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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Out This Week (December 7-13)

There are some amazing titles coming out this week in the YA world. Take a look... 
 12.9.14 For Real by Alison Cherry
12.9.14 Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
 12.9.14 Little White Lies by Katie Dale
12.9.14 Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
 12.9.14 King Dork Approximately by Frank Portman
12.9.14 Suspicion by Alexandra Monir
12.9.14 Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdom #3) by Morgan Rhodes
12.9.14 Zodiac by Romina Russell

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You
Author: Claudia Gray
ISBN: 9780062278968
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: November 04, 2014
Series: Firebird #1
Page #: 357
Source: My own copy

"Marguerite Caine grew up surrounded by cutting-edge scientific theories, thanks to her brilliant physicist parents. Yet nothing is more astounding than her mother's latest invention - a device called the Firebird, which allows people to leap into alternate dimensions.

When Marguerite's father is murdered, all the evidence points to one person - Paul, her parents' enigmatic star student. Before the law can touch him, Paul escapes into another dimension, having committed what seems like the perfect crime. But he didn't count on Marguerite. She doesn't know if she can kill a man, but she's going to find out.

With the help of another physics student, Theo, Marguerite chases Paul through various dimensions. In each new world Marguerite leaps to, she meets another version of Paul that has her doubting his guilt and questioning her heart. Is she doomed to repeat the same betrayal?

As Marguerite races through these wildly different lives - a grand duchess in a Tsarist Russia, a club-hopping orphan in a futuristic London, a refugee from worldwide flooding on a station in the heart of the ocean - she is swept into an epic love affair as dangerous as it is irresistible."
First Lines:

"My hand shakes as I brace myself against the brick wall. Rain falls cold and sharp against my skin, from a sky I've never seen before. It's hard to catch my breath, to get any sense of where I am. All I know is that the Firebird worked."
Page 1

Dimension jumping to find your dad's murderer? Could you get anything more intense??

Marguerite's parents are scientists. Physicists, to be exact. She's always lived in a home with big thinkers... students of life... and some actual students of her parents. Her mother has found a way to allow a person to jump dimensions, but it's been used for evil. Marguerite's father was just murdered and the man responsible has stolen one of the dimension jumping devices (a Firebird) and he's lost to them now. She teams up with one of her parent's students set out to see if they can find him and bring him to justice.

Everything about this book blew my mind. In the best possible way. The whole concept of alternate dimensions that play out every other possible decision you've made (and everyone else in the world), is just completely mind blowing. There are dimensions where you didn't forgive that one friend and it changed the course of things. There are dimensions where your parents didn't meet - you can't visit those, you don't exist. There are dimensions where your ancestor didn't make it to America, so you're welcome to visit their lives in Russia. I mean, ANYTHING! It's crazy and the possibilities are endless. I think that's what makes this idea really cool for a book - they could literally go anywhere.

In that vein, this book is set in so many places, it was probably really fun to write. An extremely tech savvy London. An extremely backwards Russia. A legit water world. And even one dimension that was so close to her own, Marguerite had some trouble identifying the differences. Can you imagine all of those things happening simultaneously and all you need is one little device to visit them all? It doesn't hurt that her parents are brilliant and they have the ability to open up these possibilities for her.

But it's not just about jumping around to see what's happening. She's searching for the man who murdered her father. A man she trusted. A man her parents trusted. A man that she becomes less and less convinced is guilty. In each new world, they have to find each other to figure things out. There's a larger tech organization that is involved in this whole scandal as well, but how deeply? As soon as one mystery is figured out, another one pops up. This book definitely kept me on my toes.

I'm not sure if this is going to become a series. This book wrapped up nicely and everything was figured out. No real cliffhangers here - which I highly appreciate. But it makes me wonder if there will be more about the Firebird. More about the possibilities. I've seen a few places that this is listed as #1, so I am hoping for more. I honestly think this is the best thing that has been written by Claudia Gray. I'm definitely up for another installment if there is going to be one. I'm highly recommending this one as it is.
Other Blog Reviews:

That's Normal
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Alice Marvels
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The Y.A. Bookworm Blogger
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Out This Week (Nov 23-29)

There's not a ton of titles coming out this week, but these look amazing. 
 11.25.14 Caught Up by Amir Abrams
11.25.14 Captive (Blackcoat Rebellion #2) by Aimee Carter
 11.25.14 On the Edge by Allison van Diepen
11.25.14 Anomaly by Tonya Kuper
11.24.14 House of Robots by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
11.25.14 Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Monday, November 17, 2014

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Title: Talon
Author: Julie Kagawa
ISBN: 9780373211395
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Released: October 28, 2014
Series: Talon #1
Page #: 449
Source: My own copy

"Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragonslayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey - and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the order has ingrained in him - and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons."
First Lines:

"'Ember, when did your parents die, and what was the cause of death?'
I stifled a groan and tore my gaze from the car window, where the bright, sunny town of Crescent Beach shimmered beyond the tinted glass."
Page 11

Undercover dragons living among humans - researching humans - trying to go undetected? I'm totally in.

Ember and Dante have been given the opportunity to live among humans and learn as much as they can until they are given their official assignments. They've been extremely sheltered until now, so this is a huge change for them. Ember greets the challenge head-on. She makes friends, meets a guy, learns to surf... until she meets a mysterious stranger who seems to know all about her. Not to mention she is trying to avoid being detected by their nemesis - the Order of St. George.

While I know the bones of this story are a little silly... this book was awesome. It's the perfect mix of light-hearted fun and surfing, but serious danger and training. The whole concept of undercover dragons is a total new one for me and I love it. There are some pretty epic battle scenes that will make this book very appealing to action lovers, and I think there's plenty of relationship stuff that will appeal to the romance lovers. Shall we say that this book has something for everyone? Maybe. :)

You get hints about where Ember and Dante have come from, but there's never a clear picture of their home. Their training. Did they have friends there? Did they have family? You get the feeling that they have come from a scientific lab... that they have never interacted with anyone. But I also find their relationship very interesting - especially if they come from that sort of background. They're very protective of each other, as twins often are. But That's not something they were taught and not something their parent organization (Talon) is a fan of. So I found them to be very interesting. I get the feeling that we'll get a lot more of Dante's side of things in the next book.

As you can imagine, there is a definite love triangle going on here. The guys could not be more opposite - one is a rogue dragon that he denounced anything Talon-related and wants Ember to join him, the other is a dragon hunter who doesn't really know who she is, but has his suspicions! I mean, how much more emotionally charged can you get? Why couldn't she just find some cute surfer boy? Alas!

Seriously, though... I totally bought into the story. I wanna know what's going to happen next. I want to see where all of the characters end up. I feel pretty invested. I will say that I don't think this is Kagawa's best book to date. I mean, can you ever live up to the Iron Fey series? I think not. :) But honestly, I think it's an original story that people will love. Especially those fans of paranormal romance. You don't get much more paranormal than dragons, right?
Other Blog Reviews:

Star-Crossed Book Blog
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Breathe, Annie, Breathe
Author: Miranda Kenneally
ISBN: 9781402284793
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Released: July 15, 2014
Page #: 307
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can't escape the guilt that if she hadn't broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to run.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she's at war with her body, her mind - and her heart. With every mile that her training partner, Jeremiah, cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms... and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line."
First Lines: (Quoted from the galley - see final copy for edits)

"As a kid, I had the worse mile time ever. 
Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I'd huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground."
Page 3

It's not very often that a book is set in and around Nashville. So, of course, I had to give this one a shot.

After her boyfriend dies, Annie decides that she has to finish the marathon that he was training for. She's not a runner, though, so she has to go through a fairly grueling training process to even think about finishing the marathon. Along the way, she meets lots of amazing people who have their own demons. Not to mention there's a guy she doesn't expect... and he starts some feeling she's not sure she is ready for. It's all a mess and she's worried that she doesn't even have the strength to finish the race.

I'm always a fan of stories about mental toughness overcoming physical pain and heartbreak. Annie has all of this. She's dealing with the death of her long-term boyfriend - a death that she's convinced she could have prevented. As she finished up high school, there are lots of things she never thought she would have to do on her own. She gets stronger both mentally and physically throughout the course of the book - and it's not without its bumps and hurtles.

Of course, I loved all of the Nashville area markers. It's kind of fun to read about a place I know so well. For me, that was almost worth reading the book altogether. There were a few places that I'd never heard of, so I wonder if they were made up for the purpose of the book. But it worked well and I could easily imagine those trails and the places they stopped... This probably just means there need to be more books set here.

The story spans several months because you start with Annie's first training sessions. Throughout that time, she graduates high school and starts college with some unlikely friends. I appreciate that the author didn't cut any corners because of the timing. I imagine training for a marathon takes at least that long. But you do wonder if there are some things missing because you're only getting the highlights from those months. On the other hand, it allows you to imagine what her life is like other times - which is probably pretty normal.

Because the book spans so much time, that really makes it a lot easier to believe the romance that blooms throughout. It's not fast. Annie wants to take it slow because of her past - and because of who the guy is. It's just really sweet and shows what it can be like when two people are totally falling for each other. With it branching into college, you can imagine she's dealing a little bit with more adult situations of living on her own, but it's well done.

I also enjoy that Annie doesn't come from some amazing background or privilege. She has to work for everything she wants - quite literally. She has to spend her time as a waitress so that she can earn enough money for her training sessions and books for college. I really liked reading about someone who has goals and is willing to work hard for them. And I feel like there might be a lot of kids in that sort of situation who might benefit from hearing her voice.

I would recommend this book for upper YA readers because of all the college stuff. It's sort of a sports book with all of the running and extreme sports. And it would probably be more for wanna-be athletes rather than people who are already good at it. :) But it's a good story and I had a fun time reading it. I think some teens will have the same experience.
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