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Friday, August 30, 2013

The F- It List by Julie Halpern

Title: The F- It List
Author: Julie Halpern
ISBN: 9781250025654
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Released: November 12, 2013
Page #: 248
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Alex and Becca have always been the best of friends. But when Becca does something nearly unforgivable at Alex's dad's funeral, Alex cuts ties with her and focuses on her grieving family.

Time passes, and Alex finally decides to forgive Becca. Then she's hit with another shocker: Becca has cancer. It also turns out Becca has a bucket list, one she doesn't know she'll be able to finish now. That's where Alex comes in, along with a mysterious and guarded boy who may just help Alex check a few items off her own bucket list.

Julie Halpern writes about illness, loss, love, and friendship with candor and compassion. Here is an unforgettable book about living fully, living authentically, and just... living."
First Lines:

"The only thing worse than having my best friend sleep with my boyfriend the night of my father's funeral would be if she killed my dad herself. Becca didn't, which was the one thing that redeemed her."
Page 1

I honestly wish this book had a different title. This book was really, really good and I wish I could buy it for every high school... but alas. We'll see if I can sell anyone on it. Straight up, this book was fabulous.

It's the story of Alex and Becca - best friends forever. After an insane summer, Becca finds out that she has cancer. This throws both of their lives into a tailspin. Alex wants to do anything to help Becca and only thing they come up with is to help Becca complete her bucket list that she had been making since she was nine. Some of the stuff on the list is super silly and easy, other stuff is a bit more risque. But Alex wants to help out and is willing to do anything.

I really appreciated that this book was written from the perspective of Alex. Sometimes I worry that teen stories about things like cancer will be really heavy and intense and sad. That truly does not describe this book. Alex is the perfect leading lady and she has an outlook on life that is unstoppable. She would probably be the perfect friend to have around when something like this happens. She's hilarious and understanding and loving... a recipe for a fabulous friend.

While there are parts of this book that are a little more edgy, I really think that the life lessons and situations will speak to anyone in high school. And I really did worry that the title was an indication of major f-bomb usage in the story. But it really is only used in normal contexts. There are some books I have started that I couldn't get through because of the intense amount of language - which is not the way anyone speaks. This book felt real and honest when it comes to the way people actually talk. I very much appreciated that.

I also thought it was cool the way Alex treated her life after finding out about Becca. Like anyone, she wondered about how shallow she was when thinking about stupid stuff while Becca was dealing with a huge issue. She knew how she was supposed to feel and had a hard time putting her own needs aside. Which really is how I think most people feel in those types of situations. The author just did a great job putting a lot of reality into this story.

You've also got a pretty awesome love story to top things off - which helps Alex complete some of the more risque items on Becca's bucket list. It's not all butterflies and rainbows, either. Real stuff happens and they deal with it the way many people would. And there's an adorable relationship that starts up with Becca and her next door neighbor. Which is super sweet and makes you want to meet a guy like him.

I haven't read anything by this author before, but I really think she does an amazing job with realistic fiction. Things feel authentic and everything rings true. I may have to go back and pick up some of her other stuff now. If you can get past this title, I really think lovers of realistic fiction will be all about this book.
Other Blog Reviews:

The Reading Addict
The Bookaholic Blurbs
Reading Junky's Reading Roost
Istyria Book Blog
Page Turners Blog

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
ISBN: 9780312642969
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Released: February 5, 2013
Page #: 452
Series: The Lunar Chronicles #2
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison - even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother of the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, and her prisoner."
First Lines: (Quote from the ARC, subject to change.)

"Scarlet was descending toward the alley behind the Rieux Tavern when her portscreen chimed from the passenger seat, followed by an automated voice: 'Comm received for Mademoiselle Scarlet Benoit from the Toulouse Law Enforcement Department of Missing Persons.'"
Page 3

It took me forever to get to this arc... but I have a reason. I absolutely loved Cinder! I knew that when I received Scarlet, it was still months before it actually would come out. And then I'd have to wait even LONGER for the next book! So I put it on the backburner and made everyone else I know read it first. Now I'm in the same boat with the third book. We'll see when I get to that.

So, this second book focuses on Scarlet's life. She lives on a farm with her grandmother who has recently disappeared. At the same time, a mysterious stranger came to town - named Wolf. He pledges to help her find her grandmother and even has some information about where she might be. They go on a quest to find her and things end up even more messy than before.

I was honestly a little worried about this second book. I loved Cinder so much that I wondered how good a book would be without her as the main character. But the author really pulled it out. Scarlet is much more human, much more emotional, and much more driven than Cinder. She has to find her grandmother and knows that nothing will be right until she does. She even trusts a stranger when no one else steps forward to help her. I will say that I wished Scarlet would stand up for herself much more than she did, but it's understandable in the situations she found herself in.

Even though this was Scarlet's story, Cinder and the Eastern Commonwealth is still very much present in this book. You still see Kai and his struggle against the Lunar Queen. Cinder is exactly where we left her at the end of the first book and you see what becomes of her. It's really brilliant the way the author weaves these stories together. In the first half of the book, it was a little difficult to go back and forth between the two or three story lines, but the ending made it totally worth it.

I sort of loved Wolf's character. He's got that whole damaged, dark, mysterious vibe. We all know that's super appealing. And he plays into it perfectly. I was really worried about his loyalties - I mean, come on... he's the big, bad wolf. But I think he's written very well because you start to really think he's a good guy. And someone Scarlet should trust - even though he basically tells her not to. It's an epic love story!

Marissa Meyer's ability to twist a fairy tale is truly magical. It's seamless. The original story is still really there and obvious, but it's taken to a whole new level. I really think her books should be studied in classes that look at fairy tales. She's truly a master and I am excited to read Cress. If you're still waiting to read Cinder, I suggest you get on that immediately.
Other Blog Reviews:

Mermaid Vision Books
Melissa's Bookshelf
Snuggly Oranges
Red Reader Reviews
Geek Girl's Book Blog
Reading for Sanity
Helen's Book Blog
Blog of a Bookaholic
The Reading Fish
Istyria Book Blog

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Out This Week (August 25-31)

YA Publishing is really starting to ramp up for the fall! Take a look at some of the titles coming out this week...
  •  8.27.13 Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
  • 8.27.13 Confessions of a Hater by Caprice Crane
  •  8.27.13 Taste Test by Kelly Fiore
  • 8.27.13 Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott
  •  8.27.13 Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  • 8.27.13 Descendant (Starling #2) by Lesley Livingston
  •  8.27.13 The Fall of Five (I am Number Four #4) by Pittacus Lore
  • 8.27.13 Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  •  8.27.13 The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
  • 8.27.13 Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
  •  8.27.13 The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
  • 8.27.13 The Liberator (Dante Walker #2) by Victoria Scott

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Title: The Infinite Moment of Us 
Author: Lauren Myracle
ISBN: 9781419707933
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: August 27, 2013
Page #: 318
Source: ARC from the publisher

"For eighteen years Wren Gray has been the model daughter, which in her family means all As, zero boyfriends, and early acceptance into a pre-med program. But as high school graduation nears, so does an uncomfortable realization. Pleasing her parents once overlapped with pleasing herself, but now... not so much. Wren needs to honor her own desires, but how can she if she doesn't even know what they are?

Charlie Parker, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants. A gentle boy with a troubled past, Charlie has loved Wren since the day he first saw her. But a girl like Wren would never fall for a guy like Charlie - at least not the sort of guy Charlie believes himself to be.

And yet certain things are written in the stars. And in the summer after high school, Wren's and Charlie's souls will collide. But souls are complicated, as are the bodies that house them...

Deeply sexy and achingly romantic, this gorgeous novel, from one of young adult literature's most distinctive voices, explores that time between high school and college when life seems to be just beginning, and everything - including true love - is possible."
First Lines: (Quote from the ARC, subject to change)

"It was all ending: High School.
It was all beginning: everything that came next. 
This was true for every senior at Atlanta's Southview High School, not just Wren."
Page 1

I got way more than I bargained for with this book. I should have read the whole description, probably... as it mentions how sexy it is. So there's that... but it was really a good read.

Wren has always done what her parents told her to do... until now. They want her to go to college at Emory and she wants to go help people in Guatemala. She's never done anything against them, including getting involved with guys. And then Charlie Parker happens right after graduation. He's sweet and really cares about her and they fall in love. Quickly. They are so in love that they really question their decisions about what to do after high school. Do they want to make a forever commitment right now?

I really do think that this is a realistic portrait of a post high school relationship. There's the intense love portion, the questioning each other, the worrying about each other's past, the wondering about the future, the immediate connections... It just feels very real.

One thing that I sort of didn't understand was Wren's compliance with her parents throughout high school. I guess it's possible that the whole teen angst thing didn't come up for her. But didn't we all question things our parents said throughout that time? Wasn't that exactly when you started rebelling? I just can't imagine Wren waiting until after high school to start doing something. Especially considering how her parents treated her...

I just need to mention the sexier parts of this book. I only feel the need to talk about it because of the age-range many of the vendors and review sources have put on it. I have seen a few that say this book is appropriate for grades 7 and up. Honestly... I would say more like grades 10 and up. It's pretty specific about sexual situations. I know that it's true to life and all that... but I feel like the emotional stuff and the ... yeah, it's just for way older teens.

There are definite things in this book that are great life-lessons regarding sex. Things like protection, getting tested, it being with someone you love deeply and all of that. So it's not a bad message at all. And I think it's well done. I just wasn't prepared for some of the terminology and I worry that it might be seen as too racy by some librarians/parents. But the love story is sweet and well thought out.

I do think that girls who love romance will be all about this story. Charlie is exactly the kind of guy that we all hope for, I think. :) So this book will definitely find an audience. Not to mention the author has a great following. I have read some of her stuff in the past and loved it. It's a quick, full-of-feeling love story that will strike a chord with many girls.
Other Blog Reviews:

Sarah Reads Too Much
Rather Be Reading
The Book Belles
Bewitched Bookworms
The Reader's Den
Writer of Wrongs
The Reading Vixens
Alexa Loves Books
Readers in Wonderland
Queen of Contemporary

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
ISBN: 9781619630628
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: August 27, 2013
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Page #: 417
Source: ARC from the publisher

"From the throne of glass rules a king with an iron fist and a soul black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown - a secret she hides from even those closest to her. Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult as Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, and she struggles to tell friend from foe. It seems even the Crown Prince, the Captain of the Guard, and her best friend - a foreign princess with a rebel heart - are not above questioning her allegiance. Then, one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to a tragedy that shatters everything."
First Lines: (Quote from the ARC, subject to change)

"The shutters swinging in the storm winds were the only sign of her entry. No one had noticed her scaling the garden wall of the darkened manor house, and with the thunder and the gusting wind off the sea, no one heard her as she shimmied up the drainpipe, swung onto the windowsill, and slithered into the second-floor hallway." 
Page 1

I was a huge fan of Throne of Glass - action, romance, drama, castles and princes, lots of death... Obviously it was meant for me. Such a good book. And I'm excited to report that Crown of Midnight lives up to my excitement.

Celaena has won the contest to become the king's Champion. He's now sending her all over to kill his enemies. Unfortunately, she's not willing to carry any of those out. So when she comes back to the castle, she has to keep the truth from her closest friends. And the castle itself has even more secrets than she realized. Everyone seems to have power that they shouldn't have and the mysteries in the castle are building up.

I think Celaena is one of my favorite characters in YA Lit. She kicks so much ass, but she's super girly, too. There's something so refreshing about a woman who can live in all of the different worlds. There is a part of this story where Celaena goes full-on assassin. It's pretty magical. The hard core, almost not human, crazy woman. This second book just really goes into the psyche that allows her to do the things she has to do to survive.

You can't talk about her without mentioning the guys in this story. Dorian... becomes even more lovable and wonderful in this second book. And Chaol... even more sexy. Sigh. They both really cater to her in all of the ways she needs them. They also have new secrets themselves that create all sorts of rifts in the friendship/love triangle. Just so much drama! I can't imagine how things are going to turn out for the three of them! There is also a lot more of the varying points of view, but it becomes important because so much is going on.

I honestly can't even get started on the ending. Not only because I'm not going to spoil it for you, but also because of its epicness. I reread the last couple of chapters immediately after I finished them. There was so much to sift through and get excited about. Things are going to get crazy before the end of this series. And I cannot imagine how Celaena is going to come out on top.

There are lots of new mysteries in this one - the castle has even more hidden secrets that Celaena has to sniff out. Which means a new monster, too...  even more scary than before. I will say that I was a little confused by the riddle and such at first. Which is probably how it should be. But beyond that confusion, it was a cool the way those things came together.

I was really worried that this book might suffer from the sophomore slump, but it really came through strong. There were enough details in the beginning to remind me of the first book and it took off like a freight train. I feel like all YA lovers will get into these books, but especially fantasy fans. It's just so well done and I am definitely a fan of Sarah J. Maas. This book comes out next week, so definitely get your hands on it soon!
Other Blog Reviews:

Talk Supe
Alexa Loves Books
A Reader of Fictions
My Guilty Obsession
The Eater of Books
Planet Print
Rainy Day Reads
Krista's Dust Jacket
Serendipity Reviews
WinterHaven Books

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Out This Week (August 18-24)

It's not a huge week in YA publishing, but there are some definite gems. Have a look-see: 
  •  8.20.13 VIII by H.M. Castor
  • 8.20.13 Dark Halo (Angel Eyes #3) by Shannon Dittemore
  •  8.20.13 If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan
  • 8.20.13 Flicker and Burn (Cold Fury #2) by T.M. Goeglein
  • 8.20.13 Asylum by Madeline Roux
  • 8.20.13 My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush by Laura Toffler-Corrie

Friday, August 16, 2013

Coda by Emma Trevayne

Title: Coda
Author: Emma Trevayne
ISBN: 9780762447282
Publisher: Running Press
Released: May 7, 2013
Page #: 311
Source: ARC provided by the publisher

"Deep in an abandoned basement, eighteen-year-old Anthem sings of truth and freedom with his illegal underground band. Yet on the surface and under watchful eyes, Anthem is unable to resist the call of the Corporation's addictive, mind-altering music tracks, even as he knows they are used to control him and his fellow citizens.

When tragedy strikes close to home, Anthem realizes that defying the Corp comes at a deadly price. The key to revolution might lie wit the girl Anthem loves, but will he trust her enough to let her join the fight?"
First Lines: (Quote from the ARC, subject to change)

"I'm drawn toward the door. I can't hear it yet, but I can feel it. A pulse, a heartbeat. The floor shakes. 
Inside, the cavernous, soundproof room is already packed, black and neon and flashing lights and stifling heat from the crush of bodies."
Page 7

I was really excited by this concept when I first picked up this book. Music as a drug given to people by the government? What an insane idea... I was fully intrigued and ready to delve into the story.

So, Anthem is a guy who is low on the totem pole. His job as a conduit is looked down upon by most people - he's just supplying energy to the grid. But he has a huge secret. There is a small group of people he meets and plays music with - which is strictly forbidden. Everyone is hooked on the coded music that is given to them. So much so that they go through withdrawals without it. Then something happens to a friend of Anthem's and he starts to see the world for what it really is.

When I was trying to get my footing at the start of the book, I found myself saying, "This is a character driven story set in a world I don't understand." And I fully felt that for the first, like, half of the book. I was eager to learn about Anthem's life - his family, his girl, his friends, and everything. You really get a big glimpse into his life. But I really didn't understand the world until almost the end of the novel.

I think the author does a good job giving you a snapshot of the lower castes and what they have to do to survive. It's a rough life. They are constantly being watched. They can't talk about certain things. There are tons of restrictions and they die really early. I liked the idea of being able to visit your loved one's lives in a museum/library setting. What a very cool idea. But if you break any of the rules, the government will take away your ability to hear - the worst punishment possible for a world where music is what keeps you going.

Speaking of the drug aspect of this book - I thought it was really interesting to attack the theme of drug use like this. It's a seemingly harmless thing, but people cannot go a few hours without "tracking." And you get several scenes with people ODing and going through withdrawals. I feel like if this was being shown to the readers with an actual drug, this book would be so controversial! And probably not YA. I didn't really contemplate this idea much while I was reading, but now that I think about it, the whole thing was super intense.

Was this book for me? Not really. But I think the teens who are very "down with the man" and music loving will absolutely die for this. It's a smart story that really carries a huge punch. I just felt like I was muddling through a few times. The voice wasn't one I identified with, so it was a little more difficult for me to get all of the feels out of it. I do know that it will be a splash with the right reader.
Other Blog Reviews:

Chapter By Chapter
The Midnight Garden
Jessabella Reads
Young Adultish
Sister Spooky
The Inbetweeners
Dark Faerie Tales
Once Upon a Bookcase
Bookhounds YA
A.B. Keuser

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Out This Week (August 11-17)

There are some really interesting YA titles coming out this week. Take a look...
  •  8.13.13 The Deepest Night by Shana Abe
  • 8.15.13 Demonosity by Amanda Ashby
  •  8.13.13 Where Beauty Lies (Beneath the Glitter novel) by Elle and Blair Fowler
  • 8.13.13 Dancer, Daughter, Traitor, Spy by Elizabeth Kiem
  •  8.13.13 False Sight by Dan Krokos
  • 8.13.13 The Shade of the Moon (Life as We Know It #4) by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • 8.13.13 Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  • 8.15.13 Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Assassin and the Princess Exclusive Scene (Throne of Glass Novella) - Part 11

So, as you may remember... I have been posting the last few weeks about the second book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas - Crown of Midnight. Today I get to post something super exciting. I have part of an exclusive scene from the Throne of Glass novella The Assassin and the Princess!

There are ten blogs ahead of me that have posted the first parts to this scene earlier this week. Check those out first and get back to me:

Fiction in Fiction in Fiction (Part 1)
Serendipity Reviews (Part 2)
Novel Sounds (Part 3)
Shiirleyy's Bookshelf (Part 4)
Dark Readers (Part 5)
Vivalabooks (Part 6)
Yolanda Sfetsos (Part 7)
Narratively Speaking (Part 8)
My Guilty Obsession (Part 9)
So Many Books, So Little Time (Part 10)

And now... Part 11:
 The carriage wasn’t much warmer than the outside. Celaena and Nehemia huddled together, cursing violently and rather creatively at the endless winter.
Nehemia’s latest vulgar concoction sent Celaena into a fit of howling laughter, so loud that one of the guards riding atop the carriage thumped twice to ask if all was right. Nehemia thumped thrice to assure him all was fine, but Celaena kept laughing until her stomach hurt.
When silence fell again, she looked at her friend and wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes. “I’d pay good money to see you say that to Queen Georgina.”
Nehemia chuckled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Thank you, Elentiya, for helping me today. I—I needed the dresses. And to get out of the castle for a bit.”
Celaena sobered, and nodded. They passed through wealthiest district, a blur of alabaster houses and emerald roofs, now iced over and gleaming in the lamplight. “Thank you for pretending. For one day, at least.”
She felt Nehemia’s eyes on her, but kept staring out at the wet streets, slick from a day of melting snow now turning to ice. After a while, Celaena asked, “Do you ever wonder what it’d be like if we truly were ordinary people?”
The princess chewed on her lip. “Sometimes.”
“Do you ever wish you were? Ordinary, I mean.”
Nehemia was quiet for a long moment, her eyes distant, as if she beheld some far-off land, warm and vibrant, its grasslands undulating under a hot summer sun. “It is my most selfish wish and daydream—to be normal, to be ordinary, to be free of my burdens.”
She hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath, hadn’t realized just how important Nehemia’s answer was to her until she’d heard it. Celaena sighed. “And yet you and I couldn’t even pretend for a single day to be free of those burdens.”
Finish reading this scene today at 4:00pm at Fall Into Books!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Out This Week (August 4-10)

Pretty cool YA titles coming out this week. Have a peek... 

  •  8.6.13 Wise Young Fool by Sean Beaudoin
  • 8.6.13 Maybe Tonight? by Bridie Clark
  •  8.6.13 Control by Kim Curran
  • 8.6.13 Elegy (Watersong #4) by Amanda Hocking
  •  8.6.13 Second Impact by David Klass
  • 8.8.13 Charmed Vengeance (The Aether Chronicles #2) by Suzanne Lazear
  •  8.6.13 Infinityglass (Hourglass #3) by Myra McEntire
  • 8.6.13 Gated by Amy Christine Parker
  • 8.6.13 Running Lean by Diana L. Sharples
  • 8.6.13 The Uprising (The Forsaken #2) by Lisa M. Stasse

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