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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Out This Week (March 30-April 5)

I am in love with some of the covers for books coming out this week. Have a look...
  •  4.1.14 Cold Calls by Charles Benoit
  • 4.1.14 The Last Forever by Deb Caletti
  •  4.1.14 The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
  • 4.1.14 Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  • 4.1.14 Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
  • 4.1.14 Illusion (Chronicles of Nick #5) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  •  4.1.14 Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
  • 4.1.14 Learning Not to Drown by Anna Shinoda
  • 4.1.14 Sekret by Lindsay Smith
  • 4.1.14 This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Out This Week (March 16-22)

This is a really light week for  YA pubs! But the ones that are coming out look very exciting!
  • 3.18.14 Pretty Sly by Elisa Ludwig
  • 3.18.14 Elusion by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam
  •  3.18.14 Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
  • 3.20.14 Sterling (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #3) by Fiona Paul
  • 3.18.14 The Riverman by Aaron Starmer
  • 3.18.14 The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach

Title: Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders
Author: Geoff Herbach
ISBN: 9781402291418
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Released: May 6, 2014
Page #: 311
Source: ARC from the publisher

"From 'One of the most real, honest, and still funny male voices to come around in a while,' (YALSA) comes a brand-new cast of quirky characters, pitting self-effacing fat boy Gabe against an upstart dance squad in a battle over control of the school's soda machine.

When the machine's funds - previously collected by the band - mysteriously begin funneling to the already over-privileged dancers, the war is ON! And suddenly the leader of the band geeks is none other than the funny fat kid Gabe, who's sunk low enough that he allows even his best friend and teachers to call him 'Chunk.' No one will be safe from the Geekers odd brand of wrath: not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly no the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends."
First Lines: (Quote from the galley. See final version for accuracy.)

"Ripping off the pop machine last night wasn't meant to be funny. It was my duty to all the geeks, burners, and oddballs in school because that machine sucks. Robbing it was serious business, okay?"
Page 1

Band geeks. Burners. Oddballs. Cheerleaders. Jocks. Fat Kids. Fit Kids. One Vending Machine. One War.

Gabe has been arrested for robbing a vending machine. He never expected things to get so out of hand. People are egging houses, beating each other up, throwing rocks through windows... there is general havoc. Gabe just wants the band program to be recognized and funded. This is his story of how he tries to start a movement.

As a self-respecting Southerner, the term "pop" when discussing soda grates on my nerves like almost nothing else. I'm sorry to say that "pop" is the term used in this book. And it's used a lot. I mean, we're talking about a soda machine... of course they're gonna talk about it the whole time. But it made my lip curl every, single time. I'm hoping that doesn't color my actual thoughts on this story, though. Just know that I'm trying to put that aside.

The format of this story is very unique. You're starting this book after all of the action has taken place. You know that Gabe has robbed the machine. He's been caught. Now you're getting his story while he's sitting behind a table at a police station. It's his narrative about what happened. But it's a one-sided conversation. The voice of the interviewer/police officer is never heard. It's like he's talking to himself. There are answers to his questions, but you only know the answer by his reply. There are big swaths of time that you forget about it... until he addresses the interviewer directly. I'm not sure if I liked this, honestly. I wished to hear the other side of things as well... not just the one side of the conversation.

That being said, I loved the overall concept of the story. The band fighting back against the school and the cheerleaders to restore their funding. As a band alum, this obviously warms my heart. Gabe doesn't set out to become the leader, but he seems to be the only person who understands what is happening. So he starts making plans and figuring out ways to protest. They aren't exactly the ways I would protest, but they're still effective. He also starts meeting new people and changing his outlook on life. It's definitely a story about transformation - not just of Gabe, but of their town.

I know that funding in schools is a big topic right now. It's nice to see someone get incensed over it. Of course, the small town setting helps out with that. Cannot imagine a riot happening because of one school in a big district. But that's neither here nor there. There are a few times that the characters mention that it isn't because the money is being given to the dance squad, but that it was taken from them without any sort of vote or hearing. It's all about the fairness of the whole thing. And I think that was a smart way to phrase things. All extracurricular activities are important, but they have to be treated the same way.

I haven't read anything else by this author, but I've heard of his other stuff. I may have to check it out. But I think this book is going to appeal to teens who get excited about social change and clubs in school. That's probably a narrow group, but I think it also has enough humor and family drama to pull in quite a few readers. Plus, the cover is bright and fun! What better way to invite readers in?! :) 
Other Blog Reviews:

Sunk Treasure
Young Adult Books - What We're Reading Now

The Excessive Baking Book Lover

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
ISBN: 9780374384678
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Released: March 4, 2014
Page #: 355
Series: Winner's Trilogy #1
Source: ARC from the publisher

"Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: to join the military or to get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel's real passion is music. Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave sold as a singer, at auction. It's not long before he begins to change the way she sees everything... but he himself is not what he seems. Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for him is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

The first novel in a brilliant new series, The Winner's Curse tells of the star-crossed romance of Kestrel and Arin. It is a story of masters and slaves, spies, rebellion, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake. The gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart."
First Lines:

"She shouldn't have been tempted.
This is what Kestrel thought as she swept the sailors' silver off the impromptu gaming table set up in a corner of the market."
Page 3

Any time I see a book cover like this, I get a little concerned that it will be just like every other book with a girl in a pretty dress on the cover. While there were hints of that, this girl was way more kick ass than all those fluffy girls. Not to mention she's the daughter of a warrior.

Kestrel lives in a world where women are expected to be a part of the military - unless they get married. She lives in a world where her people have conquered most of the known world and are used to being the ones in charge. Those people they conquer become slaves and learn quickly how to serve a master. Then she goes and turns society on its head by purchasing a slave and becoming a little too attached to him. But he's not all he seems, either. Arin lets nothing effect him and will do anything to take back their land. He wants to learn anything and everything he can about the Valorian military and their weaknesses. The general's daughter will help him find that information, but she gives him way more than that.

The whole idea of buying a slave is super foreign to me (obviously). So I really hoped that we were going to have a situation where she buys him in order to set him free... or something like that. Which isn't the case! In fact, she straight up ignores him for the first month that he's there! You can tell that Kestrel is sensitive to the needs of the slaves - especially since she set free the woman who helped raise her. But I sort of appreciated that the story didn't pan out the way I thought it would. Not to mention, Arin doesn't want to be freed. He can see that she cares about people, but that's not his endgame. Which reveals itself with force throughout the book.

I'm having a really hard time sticking this book in any genre. Is it fantasy? Well, yes... it's set in a world that doesn't exist. Is it historical? It sort of feels like it with the fancy balls and old-school thinking about having an escort everywhere you go. And riding horses and carriages. It is romance, for sure... but not fully! There's so much more to it than that. It's probably a good thing that I can't stick this book in one genre. That's what an author wants, right? :)

Kestrel is the daughter of the military general and has a great mind for strategy. She plays games with people and always wins and can see military movements as pieces of a game. This gets her into trouble a couple of times - even gets herself into a duel with one of the most cruel men of their society. But that's what also gets her out of it alive. I really loved having a heroine who uses her head to prove herself. She understands the world and knows how to manipulate it. And that's what brings me to the ending...

Seriously, the end of this book was above and beyond everything I had hoped. It's a huge cliffhanger, but I feel like I can see where this story might be going. And I can't wait to get there! If you're really into the romance side of this book, you won't believe what happens! I had a few moments where I found myself thinking, "She's not really going to do that. No way. Wouldn't that ruin that other thing? But what about...?!" Yep. It was a little mind blowing, but it all comes together in a really interesting way. I was impressed!

I feel like I need to tell y'all that I was picturing Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones for Kestrel. You know, minus the dragons and magic. They have the same sort of fierceness and coloring (I think). Which may have made her way more kick ass in my head than she might have been. This book has a great balance between characters, setting, and action and I'm definitely giving it two thumbs up. I sort of wish for a little more world building, but I think that's where we're headed in book 2. Definitely give this one a shot!
Other Blog Reviews:

The Book Smugglers
Alice Marvels
Book. Blog. Bake.
The Book Cellar
Confessions of a Bibliovore
Novel Novice
Snuggly Oranges
The Flyleaf Review
Alexa Loves Books
Consumed by Books

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Out This Week (March 9-15)

Pretty awesome looking selection this week:
  • 3.11.14 Never Ending by Martyn Bedford 
  • 3.11.14 Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas
  •  3.11.14 The Shadow Prince (Into the Dark #1) by Bree Despain
  • 3.11.14 Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

  •  3.11.14 Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
  • 3.11.14 The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickeron
  •  3.11.14 Acid by Emma Pass
  • 3.11.14 Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

  • 3.11.14 Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington
  • 3.11.14 Ruins (Partials #3) by Dan Wells

Monday, March 3, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
ISBN: 9781250030955
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Released: September 10, 2013
Page #: 435
Source: Finished copy from the publisher

"Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...
But for Cath, being a fan is her life - and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fanfiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.

Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cat she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend; a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction is the end of the civilized world; a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... and she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?"
First Lines:

"There was a boy in her room.
Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand.
Pound Hall, 913."
Page 4

This is probably one of my favorite books I've read this year. I mean, that's not hard as I haven't read much. But it's definitely ranking and I think it will for a long time.

Cath and Wren are heading to college... separately. They've always done everything together and Cath isn't sure how life is going to be without her twin sister. She has a weird roommate who definitely hates her... and a new writing partner who seems content to let her do the heavy lifting. Not to mention that she doesn't have time to write her fanfiction like normal. It's all so different and Cath isn't sure she's cut out for it. 

This one is a little outside my norm. College vs. High School. The age difference isn't big, but there are a lot of elements that I'm not used to seeing. Everything is a first. Life in general is a little more frightening. You have to fend for yourself and not expect anyone else to care about you. This book really took me back to my college years and reliving those fears and triumphs.

While I think it really speaks to people who are either dealing with college or are through it, I think there is something that teens could really get out of this book. It's a very realistic view of the non-social side of college - which is totally where I was. And I know a lot of teens that will be there, too. So, it's sort of sweet in that way that it shows Cath's growth and how she learns to be an individual without her sister.

The whole fanfiction thing was awesome. I mean, how many people get sucked into reading fanfiction of extremely popular books?! I know I have. And it's cool to think that the author of one might be some college freshman who is just trying to make it through life. It also showed how stressful it could be to feel the need to stay on schedule with the story. As a Librarian, the whole copyright/plagiarism thing was very interesting. I've never really thought about fanfiction as being plagiarized. Not really. They aren't trying to sell their work, right? It would definitely make for an interesting conversation with a reading group or class.

There is, of course, a first real love. A least expected person. A friend. Someone who would do anything for Cath. I really found the whole relationship super sweet. They don't rush into anything. They are honest with each other. It's sort of how you hope relationships will go - even with all of the insecurities. I was just really impressed with that and it felt real.

This is just a really honest story. The girl's father certainly isn't perfect. The girls have their own issues to work out. Friends are made and lost. It feels like you're living right alongside of Cath. It's a well-crafted story and I'm officially a fan of Rainbow Rowell.
Other Blog Reviews:

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Nessa's Thoughts 
Dear Author
We're All Mad Here
Once Upon a Bookcase
Helen's Book Blog
Wondrous Reads
The Infinite Curio
Leisure Reads

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Out This Week (March 2-8)

I am absolutely in love with some of the covers of books coming out this week! Not to mention that the titles themselves sound amazing. Check it out...
  •  3.4.14 The Finisher by David Baldacci
  • 3.4.14 Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
  •  3.4.14 Steadfast (Spellcaster #2) by Claudia Gray
  • 3.4.14 Half Bad by Sally Green
  • 3.4.14 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler
  • 3.4.14 A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier

  • 3.4.14 The Assassin's Blade: The Throne of Glass novellas by Sarah J. Maas
  • 3.4.14 Let the Storm Break (Sky Fall #2) by Shannon Messenger
  • 3.4.14 Panic by Lauren Oliver
  • 3.4.14 Exposure (Virals #4) by Kathy Reichs
  •  3.4.14 The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
  • 3.4.14 Hung Up by Kristen Tracy

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