Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Memes: True Fire by Gary Meehan

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 True Fire by Gary Meehan. I got this eARC for review from Edelweiss. Here is the description of this November 4 release:
Her sister stolen. Her grandfather murdered. Her home burned to the ground. At just 16, her life destroyed. Now, Megan wants revenge. But the men who took Megan's precious twin are no ordinary soldiers. The brutal witches, armor-clad and branded with the mark of the True, will stop at nothing to take back the power they once had. Desperate for a way to destroy them, Megan uncovers a terrifying lie. A lie that will cast doubt on everything she has ever known, and everyone she has ever trusted. A lie that will put Megan at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever seen.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty--her only asset--in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future--even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

Beginning:
Megan had no trouble slipping away from the mill.
Friday 56:
"I failed Gwyneth once," she said. "I won't fail her again. I'm going to find her and rescue her and God help anyone who tries to stop me."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

ARC Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals (Book 2)
Publication: Disney-Hyperion (November 4, 2014)

Description: Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother's murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father-a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

My Thoughts: In this sequel to THE NATURALS, the five kids are still getting over the events of the first book when Agent Sterling moves in. She is a profiler like Dean and Cassie and she and Dean have a history. The kids get involved in a murder investigation when a crime is committed that looks like a copycat crime mimicking the crimes Dean's father committed.

Last book, the focus was on Cassie. This time the focus is on Dean though Cassie is the viewpoint character. Cassie, Lia, Sloane and Michael all want to protect Dean from getting swept up into his father's games. But Dean's father is a complex character who has set up some long range plans.

The kids all use their skills as they try to out-think Dean's father and save lives. Michael read emotions; Lia is a human lie detector; Sloane is great with facts and details. They all need to use all their abilities in this case.

Cassie also has to make some decisions about her relationships with both Michael and Dean. She really likes both boys who have a rivalry between them. Cassie doesn't want to hurt either but it is inevitable that she does.

The story is fast-paced, action-packed and still takes time to work on the relationships between the five kids. I enjoyed every page!

Favorite Quote:
"I can probably offend him without even trying to!" Sloane was sounding altogether to enthusiastic now. "If things get too intense, I'll tell him some statistics about domesticated ferrets."

"That's...errr...a very generous offer, Sloane, but I'd prefer you stay behind the scenes." The director's voice came out somewhat strangled.
I got this ARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ARC Review: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Finishing School
Publication: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (November 4, 2014)

Description: Class is back in session...

Sophronia continues her second year at finishing school in style--with a steel-bladed fan secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Such a fashionable choice of weapon comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap, and the charming Lord Felix Mersey stowaway on a train to return their classmate Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland. No one suspected what--or who--they would find aboard that suspiciously empty train. Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos and she must decide where her loyalties lie, once and for all.

Gather your poison, steel tipped quill, and the rest of your school supplies and join Mademoiselle Geraldine's proper young killing machines in the third rousing installment in the New York Times bestselling Finishing School Series by steampunk author, Gail Carriger.

My Thoughts: In this exciting third episode of the Finishing School series, Sophronia and her friends Sidheag, Soap, and Lord Felix have to make some life-altering decisions. They are all about sixteen and thoughts of their futures are intruding on their educations.

Sophronia is trying to decide where she should seek patronage after she leaves school. She is being wooed by Lord Akeldama and is also being encouraged by the one who set her on the course to this school to adopt the Queen as her patron. Sophronia is torn. She is trying to ease her young suitor Lord Felix away from his father's party - the Picklemen, who are opposed to the supernaturals in society.

She is also fighting her feelings for her old friend Soap but he doesn't fit into society at all. He is African and is a sootie who works in the bowels of her floating school. He knows that their social classes prohibit any relationship but it doesn't stop his longing for her. His solution is to become a werewolf which would be remove some of the barriers. But Sophronia is aware that trying to become a werewolf is a huge gamble and she's afraid for her friend.

Meanwhile, the story takes place on a train that the kids have hijacked in their quest to help Sidheagb get home to her pack in Scotland. It just so happens that the train is being run by some vampire drones who are tracking suspicious Pickleman activity.

Various actions in this story help Sophronia decide where her true loyalties lie and what her future should be. Look out, bad guys! Sophronia is an opponent to be reckoned with.

Favorite Quote:
Soap saw her looking at him, her green eyes grave and pleading. He tilted his head at her in query. But there was no privacy to ask him anything. An uninformed decision had to be made. Fortunately, uninformed decisions were Sophronia's specialty.
I got this eARC from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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:
"Agent Briggs is back," I said once I'd straightened.

"Thank God," Lia dropped the act and slumped back against the sofa. "Though if anyone tells him I said that, I'll be forced to take drastic measures."
This week my teaser comes from Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. This is the sequel to The Naturals which is about a group of young people who are part of an elite FBI experiment. The book will be released on November 4. Here is the description:
Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother's murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father-a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

Monday, October 27, 2014

State of the Stack (Oct. 27, 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

November
Sleep with the Lights On by Maggie Shayne (Sept. 24, 2013)
Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne (Nov. 26, 2013)

December
Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (Dec. 9)
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Dec. 9)
For Real by Alison Cherry (Dec. 9)
Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh (Dec. 9)
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner (Dec. 23)
Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass (Dec. 31)

January
The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden (January 6)
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (January 6)
Save Me by Jenny Elliott (January 6)
Twisted Fate by Noran Olson (January 20)
Polaris by Mindee Arnett (January 20)
The Prey by Tom Isbell (January 20)
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (January 27)
The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni (January 27)
Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson (January 27)
Too Hot to Handle by Katie Rose (January 27)
The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles (January 27)

February
The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark (February 3)
Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison (February 3)
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (February 17)
Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor (February 17)
No Parking at the End Times by Bryan Bliss (February 24)
The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald (February 24)
Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci (February 24)

March

How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews (March 3)
The Memory Key by Liana Liu (March 3)
Lost Boy by Tim Green (March 3)
The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 3)
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (March 10)
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (March 24)
Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton (March 24)
Solitaire by Alice Oseman (March 31)
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (March 31)

April
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (April 7)
The Pretty App by Katie Sise (April 14)
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (April 15)
Skandal by Linday Smith (April 15)
Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt (April 21)
The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver (April 28)

July
Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley (July 7)


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. Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (Oct. 29)
  2. The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate (Oct. 29)
  3. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Oct. 30)
  4. True Fire by Gary Meehan (Nov. 1)
  5. Path of Needles by Alison Littlewood (Nov. 1)
  6. Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong (Nov. 6)
  7. The Book of Storms by Ruth Hatfield (Nov. 6)
  8. Deeper Than the Grave by Tina Whittle (Nov. 8)
  9. Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death by Mark Reutlinger (Nov. 15)
  10. On Her Father's Grave by Kendra Elliot (Nov. 12)
  11. Gone to Her Grave by Melinda Leigh (Nov. 19)
  12. On the Edge by Allison van Diepen (Nov. 20)
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (Oct. 1)
  2. A Penny for the Hangman by Tom Savage (Oct. 1)
  3. Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery (Oct. 2)
  4. Night Sky by Melanie Brockmann and Suzanne Brockmann (Oct.2 )
  5. Pecan Pies and Deadly Lies by Nancy Naigle (Oct. 4)
  6. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (Oct. 4)
  7. Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George (Oct. 6)
  8. Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Oct. 8)
  9. Liesmith by Alis Franklin (Oct. 8)
  10. Stray by Elissa Sussman (Oct. 9)
  11. Even in Paradise by by Chelsey Philpot (Oct. 11)
  12. Clariel by Garth Nix (Oct. 13)
  13. Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis (Oct. 15)
  14. Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch (Oct. 16)
  15. Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Oct. 18)
  16. Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst (Oct. 20)
  17. Atlantia by Ally Condie (Oct. 22)
  18. Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews (Oct. 23)
  19. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (Oct. 23)
  20. The Gift of Darkness by V. M. Giambanco (Oct. 25)
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. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (April 7)
  2. Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (Jan. 6)
  3. Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton (March 24)
  4. Lost Boy by Tim Green (March 3)
  5. Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong (Oct. 28)
  6. Skandal by Lindsay Smith (April 15)
  7. The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark (Feb. 3)
  8. The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 3)
  9. The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver (April 28)
  10. The Pretty App by Katie Sise (April 14)
  11. Cut Me Free by J. R. Johannson (Jan. 27)
  12. Too Hot to Handle: The Boys of Summer by Katie Rose (Jan. 27)
  13. Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt (April 21)
  14. Beastkeeper by Cat Hellison (Feb. 3)
  15. The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles (Jan. 27)
  16. On Her Father's Grave by Kendra Elliot (Oct. 7)
  17. Gone to Her Grave by Melinda Leigh (Oct. 21)
  18. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner (Dec. 23)
  19. Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh (Dec. 9)
  20. Save Me by Jenny Elliott (Jan. 6)
  21. Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci (Feb. 24)
  22. Wake to Darkness by Maggie Shayne (Nov. 26, 2013)
  23. Sleep with the Lights On by Maggue Shayne (Sept. 24, 2013)
Next Month's Plan

I was caught up on all of November's releases until I decided to visit Amazon Vine. Now I have a couple of really old books to read in the next month. I also want to get all my December releases finished before December 1.

I need to keep reminding myself that January and March are full. I should not accept any more books for review that are being released in those months.

As of today, I have all my reviews written and scheduled through Nov. 20.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (Oct. 26, 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

Review:
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner - I got this one at NetGalley. It will be released on Dec. 23.

Save Me by Jenny Elliott - I got this one from Macmillan. It will be released on January 6.

Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci - I got this one from Macmillan too. It will be released on February 24.

Bought:
Snake Bite by Andrew Lane - I had the earlier books in this series for review. I need to know what happens.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein - Another teacher at school recommended this title to me.

Scorched by Mari Mancusi - This was a Kindle Daily Deal.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson - This was a Kindle Daily Deal.

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer - This was pitched as being like Heist Society which I had read and enjoyed.
Speaking of Heist Society by Ally Carter, I decided to buy a matching set and finally read the rest of the books. So I bought Uncommon Criminals and Perfect Scoundrels too. 

What did you add to your stack this week?

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.