Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles

The Stolen Moon 
Author: Rachel Searles
Series: The Lost Planet (Book 2)
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (January 27, 2015)

Description: Chase has been reunited with his younger sister, Lilli. He doesn’t remember his past, but Lilli does—she remembers their parents, and life before their planet was destroyed. Chase and Lilli are different. Chase can "phase"—pass through objects, and Lilli can "transport"—send a copy of herself to other locations, even other planets. There are only two people who may have the key to their abilities, and their purposes: Captain Lennard, who is harboring Chase and Lilli (and Chase’s friend, Parker) on his spaceship, and Asa Kaplan, who may be responsible for an interplanetary takeover meant to push Lennard out of power. Chase, Parker, Lilli, android Mina, and the solider Maurus are fighting for their lives, the lives of Lennard and his crew, and for the truth about what Asa has in store for the universe.

My Thoughts: In this sequel to THE LOST PLANET, Chase, Parker and his sister Lilli have taken refuge on a Fleet ship captained by family friend Captain Lennard. This isn't a very secure spot because the Fleet is after them. Both Lilli and Chase have unusual powers that Fleet would like to experiment on and exploit. Parker has found some friends and is deep in trying to hack the computer chip that will tell him the location of his mysterious guardian Asa Kaplan. Lilli is hiding and sending duplicates all over the ship. And Chase is wandering aimlessly. Between his amnesia and confusion about his ability to phase, he is one confused young man.

The kids find themselves in the middle of a war. The Storrians hired the Werikosi to terraform and moon and now the Werikosi don't want to leave. The Fleet has sent Lennard's ship their with a bunch of diplomats to try to settle the situation down. The kids find themselves on the moon that is in dispute and in danger from both the alien groups and from the Fleet which is trying to destroy Lennard's ship.

They reconnect with Asa Kaplan and learn some things about their parents that help explain why they are in their current situation. Kaplan wants them to leave with him to get away from the Fleet but Lilli demands that they stay with the Captain who is a family friend rather than go off with a stranger they barely know.

The story is filled with excitement and adventure. It is also filled with political intrigue and betrayals but those who should be trustworthy. I can hardly wait for the next book to find out what happens to Chase, Parker and Lilli.

Favorite Quote:
As they exited the building with their escort, Maurus turned to Chase. "What on Hesta's seven sun are you doing here?"

"It's a long story," Chase faltered.

"They took a page from the chief's son and stole a jump pod," said Vidal in a clipped tone.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Memes: The Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles

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 Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles. This middle grade science fiction story is the sequel to The Lost Planet. Here is the description of this January 27 release:
Chase has been reunited with his younger sister, Lilli. He doesn’t remember his past, but Lilli does—she remembers their parents, and life before their planet was destroyed. Chase and Lilli are different. Chase can "phase"—pass through objects, and Lilli can "transport"—send a copy of herself to other locations, even other planets. There are only two people who may have the key to their abilities, and their purposes: Captain Lennard, who is harboring Chase and Lilli (and Chase’s friend, Parker) on his spaceship, and Asa Kaplan, who may be responsible for an interplanetary takeover meant to push Lennard out of power. Chase, Parker, Lilli, android Mina, and the solider Maurus are fighting for their lives, the lives of Lennard and his crew, and for the truth about what Asa has in store for the universe.
Beginning:
For the fourth time in as many days, Chase Garrety was mad enough to spit nails.
Friday 56:
Chase rolled his eyes. "Couldn't they just share the moon?"

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: Cut Me Free by S. R. Johansson

Cut Me Free
Author: S. R. Johansson
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (January 27, 2015)

Description: Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

My Thoughts: CUT ME FREE was an excellent story that caught a grip on my heart and didn't let go until the last page was turned. Piper is on the run from her old life. She spent eleven years in the attic of the people she called The Parents being abused. For six of those years she had the company of her brother Sam. She did her best to protect him but, one day, the Father woke her up and told her to bury him. That was the last straw for Piper. She attacked both the Mother and the Father and believes that she killed them. Since they had helped her grandmother die and stolen her money from her, Piper does have a stake to help her make a new start.

When the story begins, she is in Philadelphia and contacting a person to buy a new identity. She doesn't expect Cam to be the person. He is a skilled hacker but he is also a guy about her own age who really wants to be her friend. Piper, now renamed Charlotte, doesn't want him in her life. She has never had anyone she could trust. Things escalate when she sees a young girl in the park who is showing all the same signs of abuse that Piper did. She manages to rescue Santa and thinks she has also killer Santa's abuser. But then the messages start arriving in Charlotte's apartment.

This was an excellent story about a young woman finding her strength and the strength to move on and let other people into her life. But first she has to deal with a really scary villain.

Piper was a character that every reader should get to meet. I can't wait to share this story with the students in my high school media center.

Favorite Quote:
I know his voice isn't real. That he's dead and I'm essentially arguing with myself. But it helps me feel like he's still with me. And if that means I'm walking a bit on the crazy side of the sanity line, I'm okay with that. I've lived through reality—didn't care much for it. 
I got this ARC from Macmillan for review. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ARC Review: Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen

Beastkeeper
Author: Cat Hellisen
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (February 3, 2015)

Description: Sarah has always been on the move. Her mother hates the cold, so every few months her parents pack their bags and drag her off after the sun. She’s grown up lonely and longing for magic. She doesn't know that it’s magic her parents are running from.

When Sarah’s mother walks out on their family, all the strange old magic they have tried to hide from comes rising into their mundane world. Her father begins to change into something wild and beastly, but before his transformation is complete, he takes Sarah to her grandparents—people she has never met, didn't even know were still alive.

Deep in the forest, in a crumbling ruin of a castle, Sarah begins to untangle the layers of curses affecting her family bloodlines, until she discovers that the curse has carried over to her, too. The day she falls in love for the first time, Sarah will transform into a beast . . . unless she can figure out a way to break the curse forever.

My Thoughts: Sarah is used to moving frequently with her parents. She isn't surprised when her parents pick up and leave a place. Her mother hates the cold. But when her mother leaves this time, she leaves alone and leaves her family is disarray. Her father also seems to emotionally leave the family too leaving Sarah alone. She finds some solace in a wooded lot near her home and a strange boy who meets her there. Alan provides some comfort to her but also confuses her with his cryptic remarks.

When her father takes her to a grandmother she never knew she had, things get even more strange. Her grandmother lives in a decrepit castle and spends time feeding the beast she keeps in a shed. That is when Sarah learns that her family is under a curse. And that is when the story started to really confuse me. 

Sarah hears a couple of versions of the reason for the curse. She hears one version from a white raven who is cursed to serve her grandmother and she hears a version from Alan. She knows that neither version is the whole truth and neither version tells the whole story. The curse is about love, pride, vanity, revenge and lots of other things too. Since the curse has affected her father and could affect her too, Sarah decides to try to find a way to break it. She is told that the curse is unbreakable but Sarah is determined.

The curse has to do with falling in love and staying in love. Her grandparents were cursed by her grandmother's sister for some reason - maybe jealousy. The curse says that if the woman falls out of love with the man, he will turn into a beast. She can't leave him or he will die. The curse carried down to her parents too. When her mother left, her father began his transition into beast. If Sarah falls in love with someone who doesn't love her back, she will become a beast too.

This was a well-written story but I felt like I needed to makes notes or a flow chart to understand all the twists and turns of the curse. For me, the story also lacked admirable characters. Beyond Sarah, I really didn't like any of the characters and didn't at all understand Sarah's choice at the end.

Fantasy lovers may enjoy this complicated and ambiguous story. It did make me wonder about the definitions of love.

Favorite Quote:
The curse was like that—it turned something soft and jewel-bright into a snarled mess of filth. The thing was to find the loose ends and slowly unpick it. To try to find a truth in the lies, and smooth it our and follow where it led her.
I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Cut Me Free by S. R. Johansson

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 best thing the Parents ever did for me was to go down without giving me much trouble. At least I only had to escape once. I'm not positive that they're dead, but I certainly tried. And I really can't think about that now.
This week my teaser comes from Cut Me Free by S. R. Johansson. I got this ARC from Macmillan. Here is the description of this January 27 release:
Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

Monday, January 26, 2015

State of the Stack (January 26, 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 Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (March 3)
Lost Boy by Tim Green (March 3)
How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews (March 3)
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (March 10)
The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows (March 10)
First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan (March 19)
Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes (March 24)
Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton (March 24)
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (March 24)
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (March 30)
Solitaire by Alice Oseman (March 30)
Holding Strong by Lori Foster (March 31)

April
Skandal by Lindsay Smith (April 7)
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre (April 7)
Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (April 7)
Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt (April 14)
The Pretty App by Katie Sise (April 14)
Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier (April 14)
Darkmouth #1: The Legend Begins by Shane Hegarty (April 21)
Every Last Promise by Kristin Hallbrook (April 21)
Archie Greene and the Magician's Secret by D. D. Everest (April 21)
Ferals by Jacob Grey (April 28)
Drive Me Crazy by Terra Elan McVoy (April 28)
Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan (April 28)
Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver (April 28)

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

June
Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer (June 2)
Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat (June 16)
The Revenge Playbook by Rachel Allen (June 16)
The Leveller by Julia Durango (June 23)
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (June 23)
Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel (June 30)

July
Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom (July 7)
Paperweight by Meg Haston (July 7)
Can Anybody Help Me? by Sinead Crowley (July 7)
Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (July 14)

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. 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. Mars Evacuees 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) 
  13. Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys (Feb. 26)
  14. The Memory Key by Liana Liu (Feb. 26)
  15. How to Win at High School by Owen Matthews (Feb. 28) 
Read Previously, Reviews Posted This Month
  1. Hungry Like the Wolf by Paige Tyler (Jan. 1)
  2. Save Me by Jenny Elliott (Jan. 1)
  3. Private Affair by Rebecca York (Jan. 3)
  4. The Unicorn Hunter by Che Golden (Jan. 3)
  5. The Rule of Three: Fight for Power by Eric Walters (Jan. 8)
  6. Owl and the Japanese Circus by Kristi Charish (Jan. 8) 
  7. The Hound at the Gate by Darby Karchut (Jan. 7) 
  8. Polaris by Mindee Arnett (Jan. 10)
  9. The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark (Jan. 14)
  10. Too Hot to Handle by Katie Rose (Jan. 15)
  11. The Prey by Tom Isbell (Jan. 15)
  12. Twisted Fate by Norah Olson (Jan. 17)
  13. Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (Jan. 22)
  14. The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni (Jan 24) 
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. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (June 23)
  2. Paperweight by Meg Haston (July 7)
  3. Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel (June 30)
  4. The Leveller by Julia Durango (June 23)
  5. The Revenge Playbook by Rachel Allen (June 16)
  6. Between the Notes by Sharon Huss Roat (June 16)
  7. Don't Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom (July 7) 
  8. Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes (March 24)
  9. The Novice by Taran Matharu (May 5) 
  10. The Cage by Megan Shepherd (May 26) 
  11. First Time in Forever by Sarah Morgan (Feb. 24) 
  12. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (March 10)
  13. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (July 14, 2015)
Next Month's Plan

I have finished all of my February review books and need to keep reading all of the March ones on my stack. I have lots of books on my stack that have Spring release dates. I don't have an open slot on this calendar for a review book until late June. I need to keep reminding myself of that when I see irresistible books.

Wish me luck! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (Jan. 25, 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 added four books to my pile this week. One book is for my TBR pile and three are for my review stack.
My copy of All Fall Down by Ally Carter arrived this week. I love her Gallagher Girls series and can't wait to read this new series.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman appeared on NetGalley on Thursday and I was quick to download my copy. Thank you, Random House, for adding me to your auto-approved list. I'll be reading this one soon as it will be released on March 10.
The Cage by Megan Shepherd came to me as an eARC from Edelweiss. It sounds like an interesting science fiction title. It will be released on May 26.

I received the second of my requests from Macmillan when Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson arrived on Friday. This steampunk fantasy will be released on July 14.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Book Review: The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni

The Inquisitor's Mark
Author: Dianne K. Salerni
Series: The Eighth Day (Book 2)
Publication: HarperCollins (January 27, 2015)

Description: This sequel to The Eighth Day, a fantasy adventure that VOYA called "unparalleled" and "absolutely necessary for middle grades," continues with higher stakes, greater world building, and more pulse-pounding action. With suspense, action, and intrigue at every corner, this fast-paced fantasy series will be a welcome addition for fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

After an all-out battle in Mexico, Jax, Riley, and Evangeline have gone into hiding. There are still rogue Transitioners and evil Kin lords on the hunt for Riley, a descendant of King Arthur, and Evangeline, a powerful wizard with bloodlines to Merlin, in order to gain control over the Eighth Day.

So when Finn Ambrose, a mysterious stranger, contacts Jax claiming to be his uncle, Jax's defenses go up—especially after Jax learns that he's holding Jax's best friend, Billy, hostage. To rescue Billy and keep Riley and Evangeline out of the fray, Jax sneaks off to New York City on his own. But once there, he discovers a surprising truth: Finn is his uncle and Jax comes from a long line of Dulacs—a notoriously corrupt and dangerous Transitioner clan who want Riley dead and Evangeline as their prisoner. And family or not, the Dulacs will stop at nothing to get what they want.

My Thoughts: In this story, Jax, Riley and Evangeline are on the run from both evil Transitioners and Kin who really want both Riley and Evangeline dead. They have decided that they need to find Evangeline's younger sister to protect her from the same threats. The two girls are the key that keeps the spell that locks the evil Kin away from the rest of humanity. Evil Kin want them dead to destroy the spell and evil Transitioners want to control them.

They follow clues to Addie's location but find that they have arrived just after she has run away from the safe house where she has spent over 30 years in normal time. Calling on the sneaky Donohues for aid give them additional leads but forces Jax to meet Tegan again. He isn't sure what his relationship with her is. They're thirteen; her treatment of him might indicate a crush.

When Jax's Normal friend Billy is kidnapped by the Dulacs, Jax goes to rescue him and learns that he has family he didn't know about. He has an uncle and cousins who are vassals and part of the Dulac family. It was the Dulacs who wiped out Riley's family and who really want control of Evangeline. Their family gift is mind control and a diary Jax's cousin Dorian has found which was written by Jax's father gives Jax a really good idea why his father ran away from home and never contacted them again.

The story is filled with adventure as Jax tries to protect Riley and Evangeline while rescuing Addie and his friend Billy. There are all sorts of twists and turns and danger from all sides. There is clearly more to come in this story and I can't wait to read what happens next.

Favorite Quote:
Evangeline nodded solemnly. She was used to being sought after by unscrupulous people—Transitioners and Kin alike. Jax thought it was a terrible burden she lived with: being a key to the Eighth-Day Spell that imprisoned dangerous Kin in an alternate timeline. In some ways, Evangeline and her sister were the two most important people on the planet, and Jax, as the sole vassal of the Emrys family, felt a little inadequate for the job of protecting them. Thankfully, he had Riley's help.
I got this eARC for review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Memes: The Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni

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 Inquisitor's Mark by Dianne K. Salerni. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. It is the sequel to The Eighth Day. Here is the description of this January 27 release:
This sequel to The Eighth Day, a fantasy adventure that VOYA called "unparalleled" and "absolutely necessary for middle grades," continues with higher stakes, greater world building, and more pulse-pounding action. With suspense, action, and intrigue at every corner, this fast-paced fantasy series will be a welcome addition for fans of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter.

After an all-out battle in Mexico, Jax, Riley, and Evangeline have gone into hiding. There are still rogue Transitioners and evil Kin lords on the hunt for Riley, a descendant of King Arthur, and Evangeline, a powerful wizard with bloodlines to Merlin, in order to gain control over the Eighth Day.

So when Finn Ambrose, a mysterious stranger, contacts Jax claiming to be his uncle, Jax's defenses go up—especially after Jax learns that he's holding Jax's best friend, Billy, hostage. To rescue Billy and keep Riley and Evangeline out of the fray, Jax sneaks off to New York City on his own. But once there, he discovers a surprising truth: Finn is his uncle and Jax comes from a long line of Dulacs—a notoriously corrupt and dangerous Transitioner clan who want Riley dead and Evangeline as their prisoner. And family or not, the Dulacs will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Beginning:
Jax Aubrey's phone rang at least once a day, and it was always the same number.
Friday 56:
Evangeline had taken the news about Addie bravely but sadly, as if she hadn't really expected a happy reunion today.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff


Playlist for the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Publication: HarperTeen (January 27, 2015)

Description: Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now.

There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam's best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand. To figure out what happened, Sam has to rely on the playlist and his own memory. But the more he listens, the more he realizes that his memory isn't as reliable as he thought. And it might only be by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he'll finally be able to piece together his best friend's story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

My Thoughts: PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD tells the story of a young man coming to terms with the suicide of his only friend. Both Sam and Hayden were misfits in their school. They banded together because of similar interests in music, comic books, and video games. Sam was the one who found his friend and is the one who is trying to decipher the messages Hayden was trying to convey in the playlist he left him.

As Sam explores the playlist he also starts to see that others around Hayden had their own burdens of guilt. Hayden's older brother Ryan and his two good buddies were Hayden's chief tormentors. Sam and Hayden called them the bully trifecta. Now things are happening to the trifecta and Sam is afraid that he might be the one doing them.

Sam also meets a girl - Astrid - who seems to know things about Hayden that Sam never knew. She and Sam become close until Sam learns that she is keeping secrets too. Sam also meets some other people like his sister's boyfriend Jimmy who, having experienced his own loss, helps Sam deal with his.

This was an engaging story about coming to terms with loss and using that loss to grow and change. Fans of contemporary fiction will enjoy Sam's story. Readers who are familiar with the songs that are the chapter titles may gain some insight that I did not simply because I wasn't familiar with any of the songs.

Favorite Quote:
I'd spent the past few days alternating between missing him and hating him, feeling guilty and shitty, not knowing how I was supposed to be feeling but wanting it to be different, somehow. He'd left me alone, and I'd never have done that to him, no matter how mad I was. It had made it almost impossible to sleep, so on top of everything else I was exhausted. Exhausted and angry. A great combination.
I received this eARC from Edelweiss for review. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff


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:
Listen and you'll understand. What was a supposed to understand? He'd killed himself and left me here all alone, and left me to find him. 
This week my teaser comes from Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff. I got this eARC from Edelweiss. Here is the description of this January 27 release:
Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now.

There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, Sam's best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand. To figure out what happened, Sam has to rely on the playlist and his own memory. But the more he listens, the more he realizes that his memory isn't as reliable as he thought. And it might only be by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he'll finally be able to piece together his best friend's story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stacking the YA Shelves (Jan. 18, 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 took advantage of one Kindle Daily Deal and added two books to my review stack this week. I got:
Between by Megan Whitmer was the Daily Deal. This contemporary fantasy sounded good.

Review Books
I got a tweet from Paula Stokes asking if I wanted to read Liars, Inc. It just happened that I had one gap in my YA review calendar in March. So I accepted this March 24 release.

In Friday I received The Novice by Taran Matharu which is the first of the dozen or so Macmillan ARCs I asked for to read this Spring and Summer. This one is a May 5 release.

What did you add to your stack this week?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

ARC Review: Twisted Fate by Norah Olson

Twisted Fate
Author: Norah Olson
Publication: Katherine Tegen Books (January 20, 2015)

Description: Two sisters. One mysterious boy.

Ally and Sydney couldn't be more different—one shy, the other popular and outgoing—and when a new boy moves in next door, tensions between the sisters escalate. Graham is attractive, peculiar, and perhaps a little dangerous, and both girls are drawn to him in ways they can't quite explain. As each girl's relationship with Graham unfolds, the more complicated the truth becomes—until a shocking encounter turns their sleepy coastal town upside down and questions everything the sisters thought they knew about themselves and each other.

Told in alternating points of view by a wide cast of characters, Twisted Fate is a tensely wrought psychological thriller, perfect for fans of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

My Thoughts: TWISTED FATE was a compelling story that is almost impossible to talk about without spoiling it for readers. The main characters are all variously damaged. Ally and Sydney have both taken different paths to gain the attention of their neglectful parents. Ally is determined to be perfect and her mother's eager clone. Sydney has decided to be a troublemaker and drug-user to gain her parents' attention. Neither approach seems to be working as it would be hard to find more absent parents in literature than these girls' parents.

Things really come to a head when Graham moves next door. His parents have moved to Maine mainly to get Graham away from mysterious events in Virginia. Graham is a filmmaker who doesn't believe that anything is real that he doesn't see through the lens of his camera. He is drawn to both girls and both are equally fascinated with him. Ally thinks he is a troubled soul who needs her support; Syd thinks he is very dangerous.

The book is told in multiple viewpoints - Ally, Syd, Graham, Graham's step-mother Kim and his father David, Syd's best friends Beth and Declan, and the town police chief. Each added more questions via cryptic hints that had me extremely curious about what was going on in the story. Indicating in the blurb that the book was like WE WERE LIARS had me prepared for a major twist. I kept trying to puzzle out who was telling the truth and who was lying. I was completely surprised by the twist I got.

If you like psychological thrillers, this is the book for you. I'll be thinking about, and talking about, this one a lot. If you've read it, can we talk?

Favorite Quote:
"If no one sees us doing this, is it really happening?" I joked.

He laughed. And I am sure we were both thinking about what an upside-down world Graham lived in, where you exist only when there's some photographic evidence of you.
I got this eARC from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.