Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (March 1, 2015)

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.

I got one review book this week. 
Public Enemies by Ann Aguirre is the sequel to Mortal Games which I read last summer. This book will be released on August 4.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

ARC Review: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

How to Win at High School
Author: Owen Matthews
Publication: HarperTeen (March 3, 2015)

Description: Adam Higgs is a loser, and he's not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers' weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam's popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School's honest picture of high school hierarchy combines with an over-the-top, adrenaline-charged story line, and Adam's rocket ride to the top of the social order (and his subsequent flameout) is by turns bawdy and sweetly emotional.

My Thoughts: HOW TO WIN AT HIGH SCHOOL shows the rise and fall of Adam Higgs. Adam is a self-proclaimed loser with the self-esteem to go with his perception. When he enters a new school as a junior, he decides that he wants to be part of the in-crowd. He wants to make his older brother Sam proud of him. His older brother was on his way to high school popularity when he was injured in a hockey accident and paralyzed. Now he's in a wheelchair and working at a donut shop.

Adam begins his rise to fame and fortune by starting a homework business. He'll do assignments for the in-crowd at $10 a page with a $20 bonus for an A. His business booms. In fact, it expands so quickly that he recruits other students as employees to help ease the load. But that isn't enough for Adam so he starts dealing booze and fake IDs. Pretty soon he has met a sophomore girl named Victoria who actually likes him and he's being invited to all the right parties. The he decides to start dealing pills and things start changing. He begins to use a lot of the product he's selling. He has the outward success that he always wanted but it costs. He isn't happy; he loses Victoria who can't deal with the drugs; he damages his relationship with his brother.

As I read the short chapters - most of which were less than a page long and several which were only a sentence - I could feel Adam spirally out of control and getting farther and farther from what he really wanted out of life. I could also see that there had to be a major crash before he could find his way out of the life he had built.

The story was fascinating and fast-paced. I think it would also be best for older YAs because of the themes of the story.

Favorite Quote:
He's supposed to take Victoria out again on Saturday, and he has to visit Sam, too.

But Adam can't tell the gods he won't do their homework. Gods don't know the word no. It's not in their vocab.

And Adam isn't going to be the guy to teach it to them.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Memes: How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews

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 How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews. I got this eARC at Edelweiss. Here is the description of this March 3 release:
Adam Higgs is a loser, and he's not okay with it.

But starting as a junior in a new high school seems like exactly the right time to change things. He brainstorms with his best friend, Brian: What will it take for him to take over Nixon Collegiate? Adam searches for the A-listers' weak spot and strikes gold when he gets queen bee Sara Bryant to pay him for doing her physics homework. One part nerd, two parts badass, Adam ditches his legit job and turns to full-time cheating. His clients? All the Nixon Collegiate gods and goddesses.

But soon his homework business becomes a booze business, which becomes a fake ID business. Adam's popularity soars as he unlocks high school achievements left and right, from his first kiss to his first rebound hookup. But something else is haunting him—a dark memory from his past, driving him to keep climbing. What is it? And will he go too far?

How to Win at High School's honest picture of high school hierarchy combines with an over-the-top, adrenaline-charged story line, and Adam's rocket ride to the top of the social order (and his subsequent flameout) is by turns bawdy and sweetly emotional.
Beginning:
Adam Higgs is a loser. That's the first thing you have to know.
Friday 56:
Adam's lying, of course.
He's busy.
He's really busy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

ARC Review: The Memory Key by Liana Liu

The Memory Key
Author: Liana Liu
Publication: HarperTeen (March 3, 2015)

Description: Lora Mint is determined not to forget.

Though her mother's been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most important, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer's, that isn't easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora's key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother's disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever?

Lora's story of longing for her lost mother—and for the truth behind her broken memories—takes readers on a twisty ride. The authentic, emotional narrative sparks fascinating questions about memory and privacy in a world that increasingly relies on electronic recall.

My Thoughts: This is a science fiction story which takes place in a future United States. Since the outbreak of Vergets Disease, which is a form of Alzheimer's, most people have been implanted with memory keys which preserve memories. Lora's mother worked for Keep Corp until her death in a car accident five years earlier. Since then it has just been Lora and her absent-minded professor of a father. Lora is still grieving her mother's loss and sad that the memories she had of her mother are fading.

Then she has an accident in which she bumps her head and now her memory key is malfunctioning. All of a sudden she is remembering things about the time her mother disappeared which makes her think that her mother was the victim of foul play. But can she trust her new memories? Lora is also subject to memory cascades and crippling headaches which she self-medicates. She becomes determined to find out what really happened to her mother.

The basic theme of the story - a massive corporation more concerned with the bottom line than doing good - is not new. However, the execution of the story was very well done. Lora's relationships with her best friend Wendy, with Wendy's brother Tim, with potential new boyfriend Raul are all complex and interesting. I enjoyed the twists and turns in this tale.

This book will appeal to science fiction fans, mystery fans, and fans of stories with strong relationships.

Favorite Quote:
I'm surprised: I didn't know Keep Corp was able to track each individual memory key in this way. I'm unnerved: it's sort of disturbing that Keep Corp is able to track each individual memory key in this way. So the secret I thought was mine alone is actually a secret I'm sharing with a huge corporation.
I got this ARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WoW: Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. She has a linky widget at her site each week for your post and to make it easy to find posts by other people.

The purpose of the meme is to spotlight books that we are eagerly anticipating. It is fun to take a look at what others are waiting for. I have noticed that it has expanded my wishlist though. Be warned!

I am eager for Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly. Here is the description for this March 24 release:
Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That's no choice at all. Apple Yengko moved from the Philippines to Louisiana when she was little, and now that she is in middle school, she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams.

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. Her mother still cooks Filipino foods, speaks a mix of English and Cebuano, and chastises Apple for becoming "too American." It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple's class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple's friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple's conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.
How does this one sound to you?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Memory Key by Liana Liu

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:
Wendy is always setting me up with her new boyfriend's friends, and it always ends one of two ways. Either I like the friend and we all double-date until Wendy and her boyfriend break up. Or I don't like the friend and we all double-date until Wendy and her boyfriend break up.
This week my teaser comes from The Memory Key by Liana Liu. I got this eARC at Edelweiss. Here is the description of this March 3 release:
Lora Mint is determined not to forget.

Though her mother's been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most important, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer's, that isn't easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora's key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother's disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever?

Lora's story of longing for her lost mother—and for the truth behind her broken memories—takes readers on a twisty ride. The authentic, emotional narrative sparks fascinating questions about memory and privacy in a world that increasingly relies on electronic recall.

Monday, February 23, 2015

State of the Stack (Feb. 23, 2015)

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

March
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (March 30)
Solitaire by Alice Oseman (March 30) - Finished; review scheduled for March 26
Holding Strong by Lori Foster (March 31) - Finished; review scheduled for March 26

April
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (April 7)
Skandal by Lindsay Smith (April 7)
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (April 7)
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (April 14)
Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt (April 14)
The Pretty App by Katie Sise (April 14)
Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret by D. D. Everest (April 21)
Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook (April 21)
Darkmouth: The Legend Begins by Shane Hegarty (April 21)
Ferals by Jacob Grey (April 28)
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver (April 28)
Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan (April 28)
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy (April 28)

May
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (May 5)
The Novice by Tarah Matharu (May 5)
Heat of the Moment by Lauren Barnholdt (May 12)
Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu (May 12)
The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman (May 12)
The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher (May 19)
A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith (May 19)
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb (May 26)
The Fog Diver by Joel Ross (May 26)
The Cage by Megan Shepherd (May 26)

June
 Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (June 2)
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer (June 2)
 Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (June 2)
Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Sea by Jonathan Kranz (June 9)
 The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen (June 16)
Blood Will Tell by April Henry (June 16)
 Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat (June 16)
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (June 23)
The Leveler by Julia Durango (June 23)
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel (June 30)

July 
 Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom (July 7)
Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley (July 7)
 Paperweight by Meg Haston (July 7)
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (July 14)
Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner (July 14)
Lost by S. A. Bodeen (July 28)

August
School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough (August 4)

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. The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 5)
  2. Bridged by Kendra Elliot (Feb. 11) 
  3. Lost Boy by Tim Green (March 7)  
  4. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (March 11) 
  5. Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton (March 12) 
  6. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (March 14)
  7. Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (March 19)  
  8. First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan (March 19) 
  9. Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes (March 21) 
  10. Holding Strong by Lori Foster (March 26) 
  11. Solitaire by Alice Oseman (March 26) 
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen (Jan. 28)
  2. Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson (Jan. 29) 
  3. The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles (Jan. 31) 
  4. Since You've Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne (Feb. 5)
  5. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios (Feb. 6)
  6. MarEvacuees by Sophia McDougall (Feb. 12)
  7. Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor (Feb. 14)
  8. Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King (Feb. 19)   
  9. Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci (Feb. 18) 
  10. No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss (Feb. 19)
  11. The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald (Feb. 21)
  12. Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder (Feb. 21) 
I Added These Books

These are listed in the order I received them. Links go to Amazon. Date received and date published are listed in parentheses.
  1. Bridged by Kendra Elliott (Feb. 10) 
  2. Our Brothers at the Bottom of the Sea by Jonathan David Kranz (June 9)
  3. Blood Will Tell by April Henry (June 16) 
  4. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (June 2) 
  5. Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo by Brian Falkner (July 14) 
  6. Lost (Shipwreck Island) by S. A. Bodeen (July 28) 
  7. School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough (Aug. 4) 
  8. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu (June 2) 
Next Month's Plan

I am currently reading the last of my March releases and then will be immediately begin my April books. I wasn't paying enough attention and chose 13 that have April release dates. All of them are young adult books. I usually post reviews on Thursday and Saturday but 4 of the 5 Wednesday in April will also have book reviews (if I can get everything read.) May looks even worse with reviews planned for every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday all month.

I foresee a lot of review book reading in my future.