Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Memes: Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week I am spotlighting Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson. I got this eARC through Edelweiss. Here is the description of the September 2 release.
Step on a crack, break your mother's back,
Touch another person's skin, and Dad's gone for good . . .

Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it's never been this bad before.

When her parents split up, Don't touch becomes Caddie's mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person's skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn't make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama's humidity, she's covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.

And that's where things get tricky. Even though Caddie's the new girl, it's hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who's auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she'll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.

From rising star Rachel M. Wilson comes a powerful, moving debut novel of the friendship and love that are there for us, if only we'll let them in.
Beginning:
"Cadence Finn? Take yourself right out there, hon."

The office lady points toward the academy's courtyard and goes back to her magazine: Crafting for the Southern Home.
Friday 56:
I need to not feel that way. I need to not touch anyone.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ARC Review: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies

Starry Night
Author: Isabel Gillies
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 2, 2014)

Description: Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

My Thoughts: STARRY NIGHT was an entertaining story of friendship and first love. Wren is one of the turtles. She and her friends Charlie, Vati, Farah and Reagan have known each other forever. Their parents were and are in the same book club. Now they are all fifteen and growing up in their own unique ways.

It all starts at at party at the Metropolitan Museum. Wren's father is the curator. The party is featuring a number of artists including Cy Dowd. It is the kids' first formal party. Wren's older brother Oliver brings a friend Nolan Shop to the party and life changes for Wren. She is immediately smitten with Nolan and the two begin a romance. That's not the only romance that begins that night. Farah starts a romance with Cy Dowd. Reagan kisses Oliver despite knowing that Vati has had a crush on him for years.

Wren is an excellent artist who is determined to win a place at an exclusive course in France. Art is her strength since she also suffers from dyslexia and A.D.H.D. She is a particular fan of Van Gogh's Starry Night. But somehow, new love becomes more important than the love of art. When Nolan asks her to stay in New York, she agrees not to apply despite the disappointment of her parents and art teacher.

But then Nolan falls in love with another girl - Reagan.

I think that my students will enjoy this story of first love and will also be interested in the life of girls who attend exclusive private schools and live in New York City. I think the story was well-written and Wren was a great main character. I liked seeing the world from her point of view. I also liked that she had supportive parents and a strong nuclear family. The other girls all are children of divorce and seem to have lots more freedom than Wren does. For some of them, it is freedom that borders on neglect.

I recommend this one.

Favorite Quote:
I looked at her, speechless. My heart started beating a strong, distracting beat, like there was someone furiously pounding on a door in my chest. It felt exactly like I was about to recite a poem that wasn't one hundred percent memorized in front of a class,or even like I was riding a bike down a steep hill and was just out of control enough to be unsure of my outcome. Or it was as if I had lost my footing climbing and almost fell out of a tree. Have you ever felt any of that? Like something dangerous was about to happen?
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ARC Review: The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Series: Jewel Series (Book 1)
Publication: HarperTeen (September 2, 2014)

Description: The Selection meets The Handmaid's Tale in this darkly riveting debut filled with twists and turns, where all that glitters may not be gold.

The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet finds herself living in the Jewel as a servant at the estate of the Duchess of the Lake. Addressed only by her number—#197—Violet is quickly thrown into the royal way of life. But behind its opulent and glittering facade, the Jewel hides its cruel and brutal truth, filled with violence, manipulation, and death.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her life . . . all while trying to stay alive. But before she can accept her fate, Violet meets a handsome boy who is also under the Duchess's control, and a forbidden love erupts. But their illicit affair has consequences, which will cost them both more than they bargained for. And toeing the line between being calculating and rebellious, Violet must decide what, and who, she is willing to risk for her own freedom.

My Thoughts: THE JEWEL takes place in a dystopian society where the royalty can't have children and have surrogates taken the poorest area to bear their children. Violet is one of those surrogates who was taken from her family at age twelve and groomed for her role. She was taught to use some magical abilities that came at the cost of pain and hemorrhaging. When she was sixteen she was sold.

Now Violet finds herself in the home of the Duchess of the Lake. She also finds herself deep in a society that she doesn't understand. The royals all have their own political agendas, feuds and alliances. Violet is completely out of her depth. Then she meets Ash who has been purchased as a companion to the Duchess's niece and the two fall in love. Both are slaves and both are risking everything to be together.

Violet is also involved in another conspiracy spear-headed by one of the ruler's ladies-in-waiting. He has promised to get her out of the Jewel and into a new life. But she doesn't want to go without her best friend who has also been sold as a surrogate to another of the ruling families.

The setting was interesting. It was a walled city built with five rings. The Jewel where the royals live is the center; the outer ring where Violet lived is where the poor but fertile are from. The contrast between the lives of excess and privilege of the royals versus the poverty of those who live in the outer ring couldn't help but bring tension to the story.

I liked Violet and Ash and felt very sorry for them. They were essentially powerless and at the mercy of capricious owners. The cliffhanger, and surprising, ending makes me eager for another book in this series.

Favorite Quote:
But it's his eyes that have me pinned in place. They are a soft gray-green, and they look at me in a way I haven't been looked at since I started my life in the Jewel—like I am a girl, a person, not a surrogate. And yet, it's something more than that; they look at me in a way that makes me feel hollow and strangely buzzy.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser:
"Napa. These is a gentleman there apparently." Farah said in a no-big-deal way. I didn't say anything. Farah's mom's "adventures" are beyond what I can understand in my parents-have-been-married-my-whole-life brain.
This week my teaser comes from Starry Night by Isabel Gillies. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description of this September 2 release:
Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night,  suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (Aug. 24, 2014)

Tynga of  Team Tynga's Reviews hosts this meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow when you see all the wonderful books everyone gets.

My review stack dipped under 20 books so I decided to browse NetGalley and Edelweiss to see what I could add. Here are the books I chose:
Suspicion by Alexandra Monir sounded great and was a Dec. 9 release. I found this one at NetGalley.

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay was also a NetGalley find and Dec. 9 release.
For Real by Alison Cherry is my third Dec. 9 release. This one was also from NetGalley.

True Fire by Gary Meehan was an Edelweiss find that will be released on Nov. 4.
The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden is my first 2015 review book. This one will be released on January 6 and is also an Edelweiss find.

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst was offered to me by the author. I hesitated a nanosecond before I said yes. Ms. Durst is one of my auto-buy authors.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare was my first approval from Scholastic Books on NetGalley. It is being released on September 9 and was great. I loved the story and can't wait to share it with my students.

I took advantage of one Kindle Daily Deal this week.
16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler was $1.99.

What did you add to your stack?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ARC Review: Feral by Holly Schindler

Feral
Author: Holly Schindler
Publisher: HarperTeen (August 26, 2014)

Description: The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

It's too late for you. You're dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a new start. But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger. Her fears are confirmed when she discovers the dead body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town's feral cats. Claire knows there's more to this "accident" than meets the eye. But the closer she gets to finding out the truth, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself. . . .

My Thoughts: Sensitive readers are courting nightmares by reading this intense, scary, and graphic story. It begins with a young woman's body being dragged into the woods and being hidden. The girl - Serena - hasn't gone on though and graphically describes what she is feeling and her helplessness to do anything about it.

Then the story switches viewpoint characters to Claire Cain who is coming to the same small town hoping for a fresh new start after being brutally beaten by a group of young men and almost dying. Her first experience in the town is listening to a group of Serena's friends wondering where she is.

Claire is dealing with her own trauma and trying to keep it secret from the students at her new school because she knows that people who know what happened to her treat her like she is different and fragile. She is determined to put the incident behind her but can't control the nightmares that bring it back again and again.

When she discovers Serena's body, she is swept into trying to figure out what happened to her. After all, both were budding journalists and curiosity was their common trait. The story could be a ghost story as Claire is sure that Serena is trying to tell her something. It could also be a horror story with vengeful ghosts trying to take over her body and feral cats who seem to know things. It could also be the story of a girl struggling with a mental illness. Evidence supports each of those possibilities.

I would recommend this for the reader who loves psychological thrillers and wants a shiver to run up their spine. Oh, and who likes to sleep with the lights on.

Favorite Quote:
She eyed the faces surrounding her table, wondering why so many people insisted on being books that spent the entirety of their high school years in one genre section—mystery (the loners), romance (the jocks and the cheerleaders), literary (the brains and nerds, sci-fi (the socially inept)—and never wandered anywhere else.
I got this eARC through Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Memes: Feral by Holly Schindler

Happy Friday everybody!!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.


This week I am spotlighting Feral by Holly Schindler. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description of this August 26 release.
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

It's too late for you. You're dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a new start. But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger. Her fears are confirmed when she discovers the dead body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town's feral cats. Claire knows there's more to this "accident" than meets the eye. But the closer she gets to finding out the truth, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself. . . .
Beginning:
In the rugged, underbrush-riddled rural town of Peculiar, Missouri, at the beginning of a January sleet storm, and beneath the dimming orange hues of dusk, a body lay half out of the window that led to the high school basement.
Friday 56:
Claire speeds up, flexing the thighs the feel tight beneath the wintry chill. The footsteps behind her thunder in a way that makes Claire believe not only that the boys are trailing her, but that they know she's now aware of being followed.