Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

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:
I'm physically incapable of saying no to a dare—I've got the scars and broken bone count to prove it.
This week my teaser comes from Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley. I got this eARC from HarperTeen through Edelweiss. It will be released on Sept. 9.

Here is the description:
In this fast-paced, high-stakes debut novel, sixteen-year-old Sam McKenna discovers that becoming one of the first girls to attend a revered military academy means living with a target on her back. As Sam struggles to prove herself, she learns that a decades-old secret society is alive and active . . . and determined to force her out. Fans of Simone Elkeles and Trish Doller will love Rites of Passage’s perfect blend of sizzling romance and edge-of-your-seat suspense.

Monday, September 1, 2014

State of the Stack (Sept. 1, 2014)

This is my monthly State of the Stack post. It is my way to keep track of my review books and to hopefully reduce the stack that I have waiting for me. I take a look at my review commitments on the last Monday of each month. Please feel free to join in and let me know the state of your stack.

Here is my Review Books Spreadsheet. Yellow highlighted books are ones past their publication date that I still haven't read and reviewed. I use pink highlights for reviews due in even numbered months so that I can see at a glance how many I have for each month. Ideally, this keeps me from over-committing to review books.  


I also do this post because sometimes (frequently) review books sit on my stack for a while before I read and review them. I try to read and review books within two weeks of publication date. Sometimes I can't, though, if too many books are releasing on the same date or if the book arrives too near its publication date and my calendar is already full. 

I am very grateful to the authors and publishers who support my reading habit. 

My Review Pile

October
Liesmith by Alis Franklin (Oct. 7)
Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst (Oct. 14)
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch (Oct. 14)
Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix (Oct. 14)
Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 14)
Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 21)
Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 21)
Get Happy by Mary Amato (Oct. 28)
Atlantia by Ally Condie (Oct. 28)

November
Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Nov. 4)
The Gift of Darkness by Valentina Giambanco (Nov. 4)
Caught Dead by Andrew Lanh (Nov. 4)
Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood (Nov. 4)
True Fire by Gary Meehan (Nov. 4)
Deeper Than the Grave by Tina Whittle (Nov. 4)
The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield (Nov. 11)
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger (Nov. 18)
On the Edge by Allison Van Diepen (Nov. 25)

December

Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (Dec. 9)
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Dec. 9)
For Real by Alison Cherry (Dec. 9)

January
The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden (Jan. 6, 2015)


I Read This Month

These are listed in the order I read them. Links go to my reviews for all that have been posted already. Otherwise, the date the review is scheduled for is listed.
  1. Wood Sprites by Wen Spencer (Sept. 3)
  2. Irresistible Forces by D. D. Ayres (Aug. 23)
  3. Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley (Sept. 4)
  4. Bound to Danger by Katie Reus (Aug. 6)
  5. Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane (Sept. 6)
  6. The Vault of the Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien (Sept. 11)
  7. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil (Sept. 13)
  8. Blackbird by Anna Carey (Sept. 18)
  9. Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton (Sept. 17)
  10. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry (Sept. 20)
  11. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan (Sept. 15)
  12. Silent Murders by Mary Miley (Sept. 20)
  13. The Man from Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller (Sept. 27)
  14. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (Sept. 25)
  15. Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis (Aug. 18)
  16. Firebug by Lish McBride (Sept. 24)
  17. Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery (Oct. 2)
  18. Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin (Sept. 27)
  19. Pecan Pies and Deadly Lies by Nancy Naigle (Oct. 4)
  20. Night Sky by Melanie Brockmann and Suzanne Brockmann (Oct.2 )
  21. Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George (Oct. 6)
  22. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 1)
  23. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Oct. 4)
  24. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Sept. 8)
  25. Stray by Elissa Sussman (Oct. 9)
  26. A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage (Oct. 1)
  27. Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Oct. 8)
  28. Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot (Oct. 11)
  29. Harbor Island by Carla Neggers (Sept. 25)
Read Earlier, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Frostborn by Lou Anders
  2. Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre
  3. Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark
  4. Visions by Kelley Armstrong
  5. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (Aug. 20)
  6. Feral by Holly Schindler (Aug. 23)
  7. The Jewel by Amy Ewing (Aug. 27)
  8. Starry Night by Isabel Gillies (Aug. 28)
  9. Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson (Aug. 30)
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date  published is listed in parentheses. I included cover photos of the ones I have already read and scheduled the review for. 

  1. Irresistible Force by D. D. Ayres (Aug. 26)
  2. Bound to Danger by Katie Reus (Aug. 5)
  3. Silent Murders by Mary Miley (Sept. 23)
  4. Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 14)
  5. Two of a Kind by Susan Mallory (July 5, 2013)
  6. The Man from Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller (Feb. 26, 2013)
  7. Pecan Pies and Deadly Lies by Nancy Naigle (Sept. 24, 2013)
  8. Night Sky by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann (Oct. 7)
  9. Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis (Aug. 11)
  10. Atlantia by Ally Condie (Oct. 28)
  11. For Real by Alison Cherry (Dec. 9)
  12. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Dec. 9)
  13. Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (Dec. 9)
  14. The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden (Jan. 6, 2015)
  15. True Fire by Gary Meehan (Nov. 4)
  16. Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood (Nov. 4)
  17. The Gift of the Darkness by Valentina Giambanco (Nov. 4)
  18. Caught Dead by Andrew Lanh (Nov. 4)
  19. Deeper Than the Grave by Tina Whittle (Nov. 4)
  20. Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst (Oct. 14)
  21. The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate (Nov. 4)
  22. A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage (Oct. 7)
  23. Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger (Nov. 18)
  24. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Sept. 9)
  25. Liesmith by Alis Franklin (Oct. 9)
  26. Harbor Island by Carla Neggers (Aug. 26)
Next Month's Plan

My plan is to stay ahead! I met my August goal of having all of my September review books read before August 25. I also was able to start on my October review books. Except for weekly memes like Stacking the Shelves and It's Monday! What Are You Reading? I have all of my September posts written and scheduled. 

I also have all of my October review, Teaser Tuesday, Book Beginnings and Friday 56 posts begun with the boiler plate things that go with each one - description, publication information, links to author's webpage and purchase links. Now I just have to read and review the books. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (Aug. 31, 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 only addition to my stack this week was Dangerous Destiny by Suzanne Brockman and Melanie Brockman. This is a free prequel novella to their first YA book Night Sky which will be released in October. I've read that already as an ARC and am eager to read the prequel.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ARC Review: Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Don't Touch
Author: Rachel M. Wilson
Publication: HarperTeen (September 2, 2014)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: Caddie has a problem. She has a history of magical thinking that she uses to cope with a world spiraling out of control. She knows it doesn't make sense, but she believes that if she can keep from touching anything, her father and mother will not divorce. They will stay together and love each other. Caddies has been doing this long enough that it has become impossible for her to touch or be touched.

Now, her father has left their home and Caddie has started a new school year at the Academy - an Arts school - where she tries out for and gets the lead in Hamlet. She also reconnects with her childhood friend Mandy who is also a theater student and becomes part of Mandy's circle of friends. Among them is Peter who is cast as Hamlet.

Caddie would very much like to have a relationship with Peter but that is hard to do when she can't touch him. It is getting harder and harder for her to keep her touch phobia a secret from Mandy and her other friends.

I liked Caddie and ached for her. I could feel her sense of powerlessness and her desire to get some kind of control in her life. I liked that Peter who also had parents who had divorced and who didn't handle it well either. I liked that he had come to some acceptance of the situation and had gotten his anger issues under control. I liked his patience with Caddie and his willingness to offer her support.

I liked watching Caddie work through her problems while she studied and rehearsed for her role as Ophelia. Fans of Hamlet will enjoy watching these young actors put on the play. It might even convince some of them to read or re-read the play. 

I recommend this one for thoughtful readers of all ages. 

Favorite Quote:
Don't touch protects me from pain. Like an overzealous bodyguard whose last client died shaking hands. There are so many things in the world that can make you hurt, and people—people do it best. It I can't touch them, they can't hurt me.
I got this eARC through Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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.