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.

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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: Hidden by Sophie Jordan

Hidden
Author: Sophie Jordan
Series: Firelight (Book 3)
Publication: HarperCollins; 1 edition (September 11, 2012)

Description: Fans of Maggie Stiefvater and Colleen Houck will love this epic tale of forbidden romance and nail-biting action from New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan.

In the climactic finale to the steamy Firelight series, Jacinda must fight to save her life, her love, and all of her kind.

If Jacinda were to follow the wishes of her community, she'd happily settle down with Cassian, the prince of her pride. But she just can't. She's in love with Will, a human boy who comes from a family of hunters. Their relationship breaks the most sacred rule and endangers everyone she cares about. Now Jacinda, Will, and Cassian fight back against the hunters and their shadowy allies who would destroy them all. . .

My Thoughts: HIDDEN brings the story of Will and Jacinda to an end. Both of them are fighting to find a place where they can be themselves and, hopefully, be together. But first they have to rescue Cassian's sister Miram who has been captured by the scientists who are studying the dragons. To do this, Jacinda allows herself to be captured. She, Will, and Cassian have a plan.

Naturally, the plan doesn't go quite the way they imagined it. They escape along with the other captive draki and are on the run from the hunters again. Jacinda's plan to leave with Will once they have set the others on the path for home meets another setback leaving Will fearing that she will never be able to leave the draki and be with him.

This story brings lots of changes for Jacinda, her sister Tamra, and the other draki. Lives are changed and so is their draki group.

This story made a nice conclusion to the trilogy. Fans of dragons, adventure, and romance will enjoy this story.

Favorite Quote:
Everything changes...evolves. And I feel a sense of anticipation bubble through me, eager for the future to come with Will. Whatever happens, I know we'll be together.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ARC Review: Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

Anatomy of a Misfit
Author: Andrea Portes
Publication: HarperTeen (September 2, 2014)

Description: In this Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower tale, narrator Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl at Pound High School. But inside, she knows she's a freak; she can't stop thinking about former loner Logan McDonough, who showed up on the first day of tenth grade hotter, bolder, and more mysterious than ever. Logan is fascinating, troubled and off-limits. The Pound High queen bee will make Anika's life hell if she's seen with him. So Anika must choose—ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever? An absolutely original new voice in YA in a story that will start important conversations—and tear at your heart.

My Thoughts: ANATOMY OF A MISFIT was an interesting YA debut novel. It is a story told by Anika Dragomir, third most popular girl at Pound High School. She is fifteen and the youngest of five. She lives with her mother and stepfather, she calls him the Ogre, and maintains contact with her father, she calls him Count Chocula, through phone calls which she dreads because she fears not being able to meet his high standards.

The story is mainly that of her first romances and deals with the high school need to conform to the group and high school bullies, too. She is fascinated with former loner Logan McDonough but the most popular girl at Pound High School - Becky - has made him off-limits. Anika has to choose between Logan or Becky and Becky has the power to ruin her whole time in high school. She decides to sneak around with Logan and the two have a sweet romance.

However, it wouldn't be a teen novel without a love triangle. The other boy who is interested in Anika is THE Jared Kline. Recent graduate and the one that everyone wants to date or be best friends with, Jared takes a liking to her and asks her mother to date her. It is Anika's first official date. This was a little problematical for me because, at most, she is a sophomore and he has graduated. Worse of all, Becky is dating Jared's younger brother and would very much like to date Jared too.

The style of this book was rather hard for me to get into. It is told in tight first person from Anika's quirky point of view. It is almost stream of consciousness but, mercifully, with punctuation. We see all the characters and all the events through Anika's eyes. And Anika is sort of a drama queen. I didn't like Anika very much through most of the first two-thirds of the book.

I'm glad I stuck with this one because the ending redeemed both the book and Anika for me. Teen readers will enjoy the look at high school and will likely recognize some of the characters and situations.

Favorite Quote:
Shelli's mom is a real freak, like, she's a total Christian and is always talking about what would Jesus do, and the real meaning of Christmas, and how to hate gay people. If she only knew that before her very eyes she was raising her own personal Mary Magdalene, her eyes would probably roll into the back of her head and she's start speaking in tongues.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Hidden by Sophie Jordan

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:
The humans at the observation desk talk in a low dull drone. One of them catches me watching him and I look away, to uncomfortable to hold his gaze, as though he might be able to see inside me to my secrets. 
This week my teaser comes from Hidden by Sophie Jordan. This is the last book in the Firelight series and has been on my TBR mountain since Sept. 13, 2012. Here is the description:
Fans of Maggie Stiefvater and Colleen Houck will love this epic tale of forbidden romance and nail-biting action from New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan.

In the climactic finale to the steamy Firelight series, Jacinda must fight to save her life, her love, and all of her kind.

If Jacinda were to follow the wishes of her community, she'd happily settle down with Cassian, the prince of her pride. But she just can't. She's in love with Will, a human boy who comes from a family of hunters. Their relationship breaks the most sacred rule and endangers everyone she cares about. Now Jacinda, Will, and Cassian fight back against the hunters and their shadowy allies who would destroy them all. . . .

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis

Courting Magic
Author: Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Five Fathoms Press (August 10, 2014)

Description: In Kat Stephenson's Regency England, magic is even more shocking than a stolen kiss. But now that she's eighteen, it's time for wild and magical Kat to be introduced to high society by her older sisters, whether she likes it or not...and to finally have a romance of her own!

Of course, her true love is hopelessly ineligible. But when has Kat ever let Society's opinion stop her from making up her own mind? Once she realizes she's found her perfect match, she's not going to let anything or anyone stand in their way - even if she does have to solve a magical mystery, matchmake for an old friend, and break a few rules along the way!

"Courting Magic" is a sparkling 34,000-word Regency novella set in the world of Kat, Incorrigible.

My Thoughts: Fans of the Kat, Incorrigible series won't want to miss this novella that takes place five years later. Kat has finally lost her battle to postpone her debut into society and is being prepped for her first ball when she is summoned to Guardian headquarters for a new assignment. There is an illusionist about who is impersonating society types and attending social event in order to rob unsuspecting guests.

The plan is that Kat and three associates, who are posing as prospective suitors, will search for the illusionist at the Season parties. Her three co-conspirators are the Marquess of Lanham, the Honorable George Packenham, and Alexander Harding. Alexander isn't a member of the Order despite being the son of the former leader of the Order. His father never married his mother making him socially ineligible. That's really too bad because Kat met him five years earlier and fell in love with him.

Now reunited, both Kat and Alexander know that they can't have a future together and it is breaking both of their hearts. Despite that, they manage to find a way to identify the illusionist, with a couple of embarassing incidents along the way, and stop him. There's a "happy ever after" ending too.

It was nice to see what has been happening since the conclusion of Stolen Magic. I liked seeing that Kat's sisters were happy in the relationships that Kat helped them find. It was also nice to find that the sisters got along much better now that they were all adults.

Favorite Quote:
Some girls liked having their hands kissed by all and sundry. I certainly didn't care for any such nonsense. I could hardly even remember what he'd said that night on the beach in Devon before he'd walked away, after fighting side by side with me in the hardest magical battle of my life.

"It's not finished. I promise you that. I will see you again."

No, I could hardly remember that at all. I certainly hadn't thought about it since then. Especially not at night, before I fell asleep. Or when I was scanning the crowds in the most unlikely places, looking for those broad shoulders and remembering the tingling, breathless feeling of his lips brushing against my hand.
I got this eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stacking the YA Shelves (August 17, 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.
I had a quiet week. I just added two items for review. 

I responded to a tweet by Stephanie Burgis and was given a copy of her novella - Courting Magic - to review. I really enjoyed this follow-up to the Kat, Incorrigible series. If you have not read that series, you really should put it on your TBR pile. It was great historical fantasy. 

I also got a digital copy of Atlantia by Ally Condie from Penguin's First to Read program. I have been curious about it since I first heard about it. From the description I'm not sure if it is paranormal or post-apocalyptic. Whichever, it sounds good.

What did you add to your stack?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Book Review: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

The Lost Sun
Author: Tessa Gratton
Series: United States of Asgard (Book 1)
Publication: Random House Books for Young Readers (June 25, 2013)

Description: Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard.

Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

My Thoughts: Welcome to the United States of Asgard where the Norse gods walk among men and play with their fates at their whims.

Soren Bearskin is determined not to give in to his berserker heritage. After all, he was only eight years old when he saw his beloved father give in to the frenzy and massacre innocent bystanders at a mall. He knows that everyone at his school is afraid of what he might do and chooses to isolate himself from others. Then Astrid Glyn comes to the school and won't let him remain in isolation. She is the only one he knows who is not afraid of him. She comes to him and says that she has seen him in her dreams. She is the daughter of a famous seether who has disappeared and is a budding seether herself who gives herself to the frenzy and sees visions.

When Baldur the Beautiful fails to rise at the appointed time, Soren and Astrid are determined to find him to make the world right again. Astrid has the visions and Soren is determined to protect and help her. Both want to ask Odin Alfather for a boon for successfully returning his son to him. Astrid wants her mother back and Soren wants to get rid of all that could make him a berserker.

But finding Baldur only begins their quest. Baldur has lost his memory and become mortal too.

I really enjoyed getting to know something about Norse mythology in this story. I also liked the juxtaposition of modern conveniences like cell phones and the internet with the mythology.  I liked the relationship between Astrid and Soren. Fans of adventure, romance, and mythology are the perfect audience for this first book in a new series.

Favorite Quote:
I won't lose her. I can't. Fate has always been a thing for me to fight. This tattoo on my cheek is a mark of possibility, and everything I've done has been to keep it from coming true. How can I fight any less hard for Astrid's life?
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Memes: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

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 The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton. This book is from my TBR mountain. I bought it because I have read and enjoyed other books by the author. Here is the description:
Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.
Beginning:
My mom used to say that in the United States of Asgard, you can feel the moments when the threads of destiny knot together, to push you or pull you or crush you. But only if you're paying attention.
Friday 56:
Both sword and spear are back at the Spark; as one of Odin's, I can carry steel into any public place except for some temples, but that would have drawn immediate attention. My tattoo and my darker skin are enough to make me stand out.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing (Book 1)
Publication: HMH Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)

Description: It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

My Thoughts: Cia Vale is pleased to have been chosen for The Testing. She is eager to get to the University to become a leader in revitalizing her war ravaged world. Her father is a university graduate but has never encouraged his children to try for it. Once Cia is selected, he shares what he remembers and the nightmares that he has from the experience. Cia is warned to be very cautious.

When she arrives at The Testing, she is immediately faced with situations and people that test her in every possible way. Her friend and fellow graduate Tomas and two others from her colony are also taking part in the testing. She watches one of them die when he makes a mistake in the testing. And she watches the test proctors do nothing to help him. She quickly learns that the consequences of failure likely mean death.

There are four rounds of testing. The fourth has the students surviving alone in a trip from Chicago hundreds of miles south to the finish line. They have to deal with land that hasn't been revitalized, dangerous plants and animals, and, most of all, threats from fellow classmates who want to thin down the competition for the few university spots. She and Tomas agree to team up and together face all sorts of dangers.

The students know that their memories of The Testing will be erased. But Cia desperately wants to find a way to hold on to hers. She is also determined to change The Testing because she doesn't at all approve of the way the tests are run.

This is the first book of a trilogy. It is exciting and filled with danger and adventure. I will be eager to read the rest to find out what happens with Cia and Tomas. Luckily, both books are available now. There are some benefits of having a book sit on TBR mountain for a while.

Favorite Quote:
As we approached the green patch, I began to feel certain that this oasis is another kind of test. The perfect oval the grass grows in. The shimmer of a clear, clean, uncontaminated pond that rests in the center. Two trees filled with healthy leaves stand guard on either side. The entire area is only about twenty feet wide and half as long. There is no doubt. This small patch of paradise is man-made.
I bought this one on Aug. 23, 2013. You can buy your copy here. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Silver Shadows
Author: Richelle Mead
Series: Bloodlines (Book 5)
Publication: Razorbill (July 29, 2014)

Description: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

My Thoughts: Please note that this review has to have spoilers especially for The Fiery Heart. If you haven't read that yet, what are you waiting for?

In the beginning of this book the story is told in alternate chapters from Sydney and Adrian's point of view. Sydney has been captured by the Alchemists and sent to a hidden compound for re-education that begins with being thrown almost naked into a dark, cold cell where she is fed little and is constantly bombarded with messages to confess her "sins" and repent. She is also dosed with drugs to make her sleep and drugs to make her anxious. Adrian is left in Palm Springs where he tries to connect with Sydney in dreams and gets more and more depressed when he can't. He turns back to his old crutch alcohol to battle the depression.

When Sydney is moved from solitary confinement to the more open areas where she can interact with other detainees, she begins to plot and plan a way to get out of there. She never loses faith that Adrian will find her. But Adrian goes off track for a while when he is brought back to Court and spends quite a bit of time binge drinking. This is partially brought on because no one at Court knows how much he loves Sydney and no one feels the need to do anything to rescue her.

They do finally manage to connect in dreams but Sydney has no idea where she is. It is up to Marcus, Adrian and others to find her and find a plan to rescue her. But the Alchemists have no desire to let her go and are willing to go to great lengths to keep Sydney and to keep her away from Adrian.

And, of course, this book ends doesn't end happily ever after for any of the characters. Adrian and Sydney are in a place of relative safety but other characters we have come to know and love are still in great danger. This is an excellent series and this is a heart-wrenching and heart-warming episode.

Favorite Quote:
Her voice was small, nearly lost in the dripping of water from the fountain. But the power it carried—and the effect it had on me—was monumental. I'd heard the expression "weak-kneed" before but had never lived it until now. My muscles didn't feel as though they could sustain me, and there was a great swelling in my chest, the result of a tangle of emotions I couldn't even begin to describe. Love, Joy. Relief. Disbelief. And mixed in with all of them were the emotions I'd endured these last few months as well: despair, fear, sorrow. It spread out from my heart and I felt tears form in my eyes. It wasn't possible that one person could make you experience so many emotions at once, that one person could trigger a universe of feelings, simply with the sound of your name.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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:
They could have saved her. Instead, they let her die.
This week my teaser comes from The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. I have had this book on my TBR mountain since August 23, 2013. Here is the description:
It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.