Saturday, October 25, 2014

ARC Review: Get Happy by Mary Amato

Get Happy
Author: Mary Amato
Publication: EgmontUSA (October 28, 2014)

Description: In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

Minerva has been raised by her single mother after her father left them both. On her 17th birthday, she is shocked to discover that he has been trying to keep in touch, but her mother has been sabotaging his attempts. Furious at her mom, she begins to investigate her dad, a famous marine biologist, only to discover that he has a new family, including a beloved, and perfect, stepdaughter--a girl Minerva already knows and despises. As she makes her way, trying to build her performing and songwriting career, her jealousy takes over and threatens to derail her life completely. It is only through the efforts of her best friend, Fin, and the introduction of Hayes, a new young man in her life, that she is able to see clearly who she is and who makes up her family.

My Thoughts: Minerva Watson gets a big surprise when she intercepts a package on her seventeenth birthday. The father that she believed abandoned her and her mother when she was small has sent a birthday present and the note indicates that this isn't his first attempt to keep in touch with her. Minerva has always believed her mother when she said her father abandoned them. But she and her mother aren't the kind that share secrets, Minerva doesn't know how to bring up her father.

Some quick research shows that her father has returned to work at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and has become an expert on starfish. Minerva hates him and hates him even more when she learns that he has remarried and has a stepdaughter - stepdaughter who happens to be a fellow employee at Get Happy.

Minerva feels both curiosity and rage when she thinks about her father. She also feels great anger at her mother for keeping them apart. Her mother is actually a real piece of work. She's jealous, controlling, and doesn't really know her daughter. Giving her an ugly sweater for her birthday instead of the ukulele she wants in just the first clue. The final straw is when she cleans her daughter's room and throws away all of the things that Min treasures and then expects Min to thank her.

Luckily, Min has a close friend in Finnegan and a new friend, and potential boyfriend, in Hayes who are there to support her. She is also a budding songwriter and her songs finish many of the chapters. You can really see what she is thinking and how she is feeling in her songs.

I like that the ending is realistic. Min, her mother, and her father have lots to work on to build a healthy relationship for all of them. But I feel confident that Hayes will be there to help her through it all.

Favorite Quote:
"Getting a job is on my list of things to do," he said.

Maybe it was the vim and vigor juice...maybe it was the fact that I didn't want to go home...maybe it was inspiring to see Hayes, who I had pegged as the quiet type, saying yes...I decided to go for it, too.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Memes: Get Happy by Mary Amato

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 Get Happy by Mary Amato. I got this eARC from Edelweiss to help further my goal of reading more contemporary YA. Here is the description of this Oct. 28 release:
In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

Minerva has been raised by her single mother after her father left them both. On her 17th birthday, she is shocked to discover that he has been trying to keep in touch, but her mother has been sabotaging his attempts. Furious at her mom, she begins to investigate her dad, a famous marine biologist, only to discover that he has a new family, including a beloved, and perfect, stepdaughter--a girl Minerva already knows and despises. As she makes her way, trying to build her performing and songwriting career, her jealousy takes over and threatens to derail her life completely. It is only through the efforts of her best friend, Fin, and the introduction of Hayes, a new young man in her life, that she is able to see clearly who she is and who makes up her family.
Beginning:
It starts with the gift. Please don't judge me, but I could tell by the shape and size of the box that it wasn't a ukulele and I felt a little piece of my soul start to drown.
Friday 56:
The vice principal walked out, eyeballing us and the other vagrants who didn't want to go inside. "School is starting, people. You have thirty seconds."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ARC Review: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware the Wild
Author: Natalie C. Parker
Publication: HarperTeen (October 21, 2014)

Description: Southern Gothic gets a whole new twist in this debut novel, sure to appeal to fans of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.

The swamp in Sterling's small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who's had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what—and who—the swamp has taken.

Beware the Wild is a riveting and atmospheric page-turner readers won't want to miss.

My Thoughts: BEWARE THE WILD was a fascinating story about a girl who has to find her inner bravery to rescue her brother. Sterling Saucier has always been protected by her older brother Phineas. But now Phin is graduating from high school and moving on to Tulane University. Sterling is terrified about surviving without her brother and stops eating which terrifies her brother and her friends.

Adding to the atmosphere is the swamp that is outside of town. There have been years and years of scary stories told about people who went in and didn't come back out or who come out forever changed. After an argument, Phin runs into the swamp. Then weird things start to happen. Suddenly, no one but Sterling even remembers Phin. Then a girl named Lorena May comes out of the swamp and everyone recalls that she has always been Sterling's older sister.

Sterling is determined to go into the swamp and rescue her brother. She teams up with a boy she has had a crush on for a while. Heath is the only one who remembers that his best friend Nathan also disappeared into the swamp. Together, they keep those two in their memories.  But Heath couldn't force himself into the swamp to look for his lost friend.

This is a scary story about love and courage and how, sometimes, love goes wrong. It is also a story about sacrifice. I liked the story and really liked Sterling's determination to be strong and to rescue her brother.

Fans of spooky stories who like strong female characters will enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote:
If I was afraid to live in a town without Phineas, I'm plain terrified of living in a world without him. With an unexpected combination of fear and guilt and recklessness, I set a foot on the bottom rung of the fence and rest my fingers on the top. Shine licks at them. I jump back, clenching my hands to fists and glaring at the sinister coils.

The swamp continues to beckon.

I can do this.

"Phinias Harlan Saucier,"I say to whatever might be listening. "I'm coming for my brother."
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ARC Review: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Atlantia
Author: Ally Condie
Publication: Dutton Juvenile (October 28, 2014)

Description: Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamed of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all Rio’s hopes for the future are shattered when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected choice, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long silenced—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the corrupted system constructed to govern the Divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.

My Thoughts: ATLANTIA was an entertaining post-apocalyptic story about a girl in an underwater city who longs for life on the surface. The city had been created many generations earlier when conditions on the surface became difficult. The world was divided in Aboves and Belows. The relationship between the two has become strained. Some of those living in Atlantia have become Sirens - able to sway people through the power of their voice. At first the sirens were considered a miracle but then some of them abused their powers and the government turned against them. Now, sirens are taken from their families and raised by the Council.

Our heroine Rio is a siren but her mother who was the religious leader of the city kept her talent hidden. Rio has grown up with her twin sister Bay and her mother both keeping her secret. Now, her mother is dead and the circumstances of her death are suspicious. Teens in the city are given a choice about at a ceremony about whether to choose live Above or life Below. Rio has always wanted to live life Above. She wants to see the sky. However, after their mother's death, Bay makes Rio promise to stay with her Below.

However, things take an unexpected turn when Bay chooses life Above and leaves her sister Rio behind. Rio is determined to find out why Bay chose as she did and also determined to join her Above. As Rio makes plans to join her sister, she learns that all is not as she thought in her city of Atlantia. The new leader of the city has plans and secrets that could be tragic.

Rio is alone except for her aunt Maire. She doesn't really know her aunt except to know that she is a siren who works for the Council. She thought that Maire and her mother were estranged. Her aunt comes to her and offers her help in her plans to escape and offers to teach her about the history of her city that has been hidden. But Rio isn't sure that she can trust her.

While she is making plans to leave Atlantia, Rio meets a boy named True who becomes her friend. He is content with his life Below and works as mechanic. He is also wondering why his best friend Fen chose to go Above. It seems that Bay and Fen had a relationship that Rio didn't know anything about.

I enjoyed this story which was filled with interesting characters and took place in a fascinating world.

Favorite Quote:
"The gods know everything," my mother used to say when I had a hard time hiding my voice. "They know how difficult this is. And they are pleased with you, Rio."

Are they pleased with me for being a siren—or for hiding it. I wanted to ask. But I never did.
I got this ARC from Penguin's First to Read Program. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker

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:
Now, finally my eyes burn and panic balloons in my throat. Of all the stories we keep in Sticks about the dangers of the swamp, there's not one in which someone who went inside it returns unchanged.
This week my teaser comes from Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description of this October 21 release debut novel:
Southern Gothic gets a whole new twist in this debut novel, sure to appeal to fans of the New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series.

The swamp in Sterling's small Louisiana town proves to have a power over its inhabitants when her brother disappears and no one but Sterling even remembers that he existed. Now Sterling, with the help of brooding loner Heath, who's had his own creepy experience with the swamp, must fight back and reclaim what—and who—the swamp has taken.

Beware the Wild is a riveting and atmospheric page-turner readers won't want to miss.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ARC Review: Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Chasing Power
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 14, 2014)

Description: Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind—things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers—and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel—a boy with the ability to teleport—he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family—and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.

My Thoughts: CHASING POWER was an excellent story with a wonderful main character. Kayla and her mother fled from her father when she was eight. After a time of flight, homelessness, and uncertainty, they found their way to Santa Barbara. Kayla's mother told her they ran because her father had killed her older sister Amanda and her mother was afraid that he would kill Kayla next. Kayla was born being able to use telekinesis and she has honed her skills by becoming a great shoplifter. She is eager to add some money to the family pot and to build up a hidden reserve in case they have to run again.

She is caught by a young man named David who has a power of his own. He's able to teleport to any place that he has seen a picture of. He blackmails Kayla to help him rescue his kidnapped mother. They visit a voodoo queen in New Orleans who tells them a story about three magical stones and a spell that can make the wielder invincible. She sets them on the path of finding those stones because that would help them find Daniel's mother.

Kayla and Daniel learn lots of secrets about their parents' pasts and both Kayla and Daniel suffer betrayals along the way. Kayla is strong and smart and not very trusting. Nonetheless, she and Daniel do become good friends and maybe even fall in love.

I liked Kayla's relationship with her mother and with her best friend Selena. I thought Kayla's psychic gift was cool. But, if I could have any psychic power, Daniel's teleportation is the one I would choose. He takes them to so many wonderful and exotic places as they search for the three stones. Of course they encounter lots of danger in their search too. From being trapped in a Mayan pyramid to being buried in bones in a crypt in Spain, the action is fast and furious.

This is a story that will appeal to adventure lovers and romance lovers. I can't wait to share it with my students.

Favorite Quote:
As he looked away toward the unseen ocean, his expression was as forlorn as a homeless cat's. But he didn't give her a chance to decide whether to punch him or comfort him. He vanished, leaving her wanting to scream.She shouldn't be wrapped up in this. It wasn't her problem!
I was approached by the author and got this book from NetGalley. You can get your copy here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (Oct. 19, 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.

More 2015 review books arrived this week and I added a couple of books for an upcoming signing too.
I'll be attending a signing on October 26 at the Red Balloon. Brain Farrey will be signing his latest book. I thought I should get the first two books in the trilogy for my school library too. I got The Vengekeep Prophecies and The Shadowhand Covenant but I doubt I'll have time to read them before the event.
Friday I got an envelope from Macmillan containing these three books.

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt (April 21)
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison (Feb. 3)
The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles (Jan. 27)
Earlier in the week I got Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson from Macmillan. It will be released on Jan. 27.

I got The Pretty App by Katie Sise at Edelweiss. It will be released on April 14.

What did you add to your stack this week?