Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New YA Releases for the Week of 6/26

There are the books I'm obsessing over this week:

By: Kody Keplinger
Road trip book!!  2 best friends go on the run from the cops.

By: Amanda Panitch
A girl who was abducted as a child now works at an amusement park where a girl has gone missing.

By: Lara Deloza
Alexandra won't let anyone stand in her way of winning Homecoming Queen.

By: Karen Rivers
When the death of his best friend leaves J.C. spending hours and hours watching shark and climate change documentaries, his mom ships him to live with his dad on a remote island in Canada.

(Blood of Gods and Royals #2)
By: Eleanor Herman
The second book in this fantasy trilogy about Alexander the Great.

By: Rebecca Maizel
A girl goes from misfit to miss popularity, but after an accident, has no memory of how that happened.

(The Conquerors Saga #1)
By: Kirsten White
Vlad the Impaler reimagined as a girl.

By: Katharine Corr & Elizabeth Corr
A girl who can't control her magic when she's stressed meets a boy possessed by a centuries old curse.

By: Pintip Dunn
CeCe thought she had a close relationship with her mother-- then her mom commits suicide amidst a sex-with-a-student scandal.  When doubts surface CeCe (and Sam, a newspaper intern) investigate and dig up shocking secrets.

Other Books Coming Out This Week:

Holy SHITE!!  I can't believe June is over already!  Summer always goes by so fast :(  But at least the  books have been good to me.  This week I'm super excited for Never Missing, Never Found.  I just finished Damage Done and it made me super curious to see what Amanda Panitch would come up with next.  I'm also trying to read Run, Winning, and The Season of Fireflies.

What books look good to you?

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Damage Done by Amanda Panitch-- And Why I Wasn't Mind-Fucked

Lucy Black used to be Julia Vann.  That is, until the media forced her family into hiding after a horrific incident at her former school.  Now Lucy is without her one person in the world that "gets her"-- her twin brother.

At her new school, she does her best to forget what happened.  She's made a new best friend and met a new guy.  But old things have a way of coming back... and now a blast-from-the-past has made his way to Lucy's new town.  She's determined not to let this person blow her cover... because she does NOT want to go back to the notoriety she had as Julia Vann, twin sister of a boy who has done an unforgivable thing.

I've been in the mood to have my mind messed with, so I thought I would try this YA Mystery/ Psychological Thriller.  I have no idea how to talk about this book without spoilers though.  I mean, there were some things about Lucy/Julia that I thought the author made VERY obvious right from the start (or at least 1/3 of the way in), but maybe saying those things would spoil the surprise???  Such a hard decision, but I guess I'm going to try to share as LITTLE as possible while also telling you what I felt about this book.

For a debut, I thought, WOW this was a super interesting way to start a career!!  With that aside, I was a little underwhelmed.  Upon first finishing I was caught up in how I felt about the utter sickness of the characters, so I initially I thought about rating it higher.  As I got further away from it though, I realized that while I enjoy reading about messed up people, I need more than just that.

The thing about Lucy/Julia is-- The thing about her could have/should have been hidden better.  I thought it should've been brought out at the end in a big SURPRISE!!  But it wasn't.  It was brought out fairly early on.  So after reading 1/3 of the book, I knew what the ending was going to be.  I didn't know how we would get there... and I certainly did not anticipate alllllll the things that came out, but I knew the heart of the story.  As a straight-up character study, it was cool.  As a mind-fuck, gotcha, suspenseful, OMG-moment book, I thought it failed.  I also thought it failed on a side-character level.  Her clueless friends, who were so uninteresting and just basically there to say "yes" to everything Lucy requested regardless of how weird/dangerous/stupid, were tough to take.  I really want my side characters to be more than props, ya know?

This was a case of-- if you changed just a few things, I would have loved it.  If the friend & boyfriend had had some sense, if the plot twist came out later, if some of the pointless scenes were cut, if the unbelievable ending scene was made to be, well, more believable-- I probably would have loved this book.  As it stands, I thought it was just okay.  I enjoyed reading it, but I wasn't OBSESSED like I wanted to be.

OVERALL: Another OKAY YA Mystery/Thriller.  I think it tried to be like Gone Girl, but it was way Captain Obvious for that.  I wished the side characters were real people, and I didn't love the way the ending played out (too fantastic to be believable), but I still enjoyed reading.  I wouldn't say this should absolutely be your next read, but maybe THINK about it for the future?

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Date Published: 7/21/2015
How I got this book: Library
Publisher: Random House

Character: Lucy Black/ Julia Vann
Book: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

  • Here-- You want to know what love is??? THIS is love.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2016 YA Debut Authors Bash- Emily France- Q&A and Giveaway

Emily France

Emily France graduated from Brown University before going on to law school, where she was the editor-in-chief of the law review. She finds creative inspiration in all things spiritual, from sitting with Benedictine monks for 4 a.m. vigils in a Rocky Mountain monastery to trekking to Buddhist and Hindu temples in India. Now she writes full-time and lives with her husband and their fearless Tibetan Spaniel in sunny Colorado—the closest place to Nirvana she’s found. Signs of You is her debut novel. Visit Emily online at and follow her on Twitter @EmilyFranceBook.

1.  I love that this book has a historical element to it.  How much research did you have to do to include the relic of St. Ignatius?
  • I did a lot of research for this book, and it was one of the most fulfilling parts of the entire project. My story has a spooky mystery that’s rooted in religious relics and lore, and I’ll never forget when I came across my first “breadcrumb” of research about it all. I saw this lone entry in an encyclopedia, and it said that one of the most famous religious books of all time—The Spiritual Exercises, by St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits—was missing. The original copy had been lost long ago. I started researching who wrote it and what it was about, and what I found was fascinating. I couldn’t get enough of it. I read as many books that I could find on the subject; I sought out librarians to help me find more; I even visited a retreat center in the mountains of Colorado and was taken through The Spiritual Exercises by a Jesuit priest! And it all started because I happened across one line in an encyclopedia. I think it pays to be curious and follow your interests. You never know where they may lead you.

2.  Who is your favorite character in this book?
  • Well, when I started writing this story, these four characters showed up on the page—Riley, Kate, Jay, and Noah—who had met in their high school grief support group because they’d all lost someone close to them. Because of what they shared, their bond went way beyond “best friends” and straight into family territory. And I’d have to say that it’s this entire group that is my favorite “character.” Whenever I would throw these four in a scene together, something unexpected happened—instead of being a dark group bogged down in grief, these guys were hilarious. They had this amazing chemistry. What I loved most was their dialogue; the minute I put them on the page, the lines would just fly out of their mouths at a record pace. Here I was writing about how to navigate grief, about four teens who were forced to grow up early because of trauma, and they were making me laugh every single day. I think lightness in the face of grief is one of the gifts that come when you find others who understand it.

3.  What books/authors most made an impact on you/inspired you to write?
  • I have always been an avid reader, and my favorite books are countless. My parents love to tell the story that I announced I would be a writer at the age of five! A YA book that really inspired me was The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky. The family mystery, the friendships, the voice… I loved it all.

4.  What would you tell your teenage self if you could write an email and send it back in time?

Dear Ninth Grade Emily,
You know that guy Kevin who just asked you to the Homecoming Dance? The one who is super cool and popular? Whose friends call you the Queen of the Nerd Herd? Um, sit down and get ready for this. Are you sitting down? Promise?

You’re going to marry him. Yeah, him.

As it turns out, he really, really likes all the things about you that you’re always worried about. Like how you never have the cool crystal necklaces or perfect jeans that everyone else has. Or that you always sit in the front row and raise your hand like Hermione Granger and answer every single question. Or how you love to go to Pizza Hut and talk about the cosmos and politics and whether or not God exists. Because those nerdy things you can’t help about yourself? They’re what make you you. And it’s the greatest thing ever to be loved for who you are. To be seen. So don’t waste so much time trying to be someone else. It doesn’t work anyway. Kevin ends up being the person you love most in the world, and he fell in love with Queen of the Nerd Herd You. Yay.
Oh, and buy stock in Google.
Grown Up Emily

5.  What were your favorite books growing up? (I’m a Fear Street girl)
  • My top three from childhood would have to be the Nancy Drew series, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Phantom Tollbooth. And I devoured Sherlock Holmes stories!

6.  I’m a big Potterhead… What houses would you sort your characters in?  What about a Patronus?
  • The main character Riley is most definitely Gryffindor.  She has such a quiet courage that she isn’t even aware of at the beginning of the story. I think she understands how strong she is by the end. Her best friend Kate is probably Hufflepuff for her loyalty and steadfastness. But I’m not going to sort Noah and Jay, though. I want the readers to decide who, in the end, they really are.
  • As for Riley’s Patronus—a hummingbird.

7.  What 3 Hashtags would you most associate with your book? (could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of Signs of You)
  • #lookforsigns  #mysteriesinhistory  #friendsarefamily

I LOVED the answers you gave Emily!!  Seriously, so thoughtful & now I'm even more super excited for this book!!  Also, that's so cool about Perks.  I'm from Pittsburgh, so I'm a big supporter of all things local :)  And thanks for reminding me to tell my past self to buy stock.... I'd go with Apple, but Google wouldn't be bad either ;)

Signs of You
Pub Date- July 19, 2016

Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.

When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.

When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

  • Pre-Order of Signs of You
  • U.S. only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday- Favorite 2016 Releases So Far

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and The Bookish. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (June 21st) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Favorite 2016 Releases So Far

  • AHHH there are SO many 2016 books that I want to read SO badly.  So far I've only made the smallest dent in that pile.  I have a feeling I'll be reading 2016 books for YEARS to come, but this is the best of what I've read so far (in order):

1.  With Malice by Eileen Cook
  • This one is going to be hard to beat.  I had a blast reading this page-turning mystery (and I've been looking for a great YA Mystery for a looooong time).  I definitely say give this a shot if you haven't yet.  Plus, BONUS: Great Beach Book!!

2.  After the Woods by Kim Savage
  • This book was about friendship and dysfunction.  It was creepy and smart.  I LOVED it.

3.  The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith
  • I kind of love books that hurt my heart.  This one is definitely a heart-hurter.  It was hard to read because of the tough subjects, but those ones are the ones that end up feeling the most meaningful to me.

4.  The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks
  • This book PERFECTLY mixed the funny and serious.  It featured 5 teens in a pretty dire situation, but it still managed to be cute, silly, and funny while also staying true to the life-threatening position they were in.

5.  The Haters by Jesse Andrews
  • I loved Jesse Andrews follow-up to Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl.  It's funny, there's a ROADTRIP, and music and crazy word-vomit.... and some actual vomit as well.

6.  The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
  • This book had me at the setting (Western PA) and the serial killer aspect.

7.  Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
  • I love that this book was so BRAVE.  I'll never NOT want to read about a girl owning her sexuality.

8.  Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher
  • I loved that this book lived up to my giant Ketchup Clouds expectations.  It's a little young feeling, but the emotions are there.

9.  You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan
  • Such a fun week-long adventure story.

10.  The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
  • I didn't LOVE everything about this book, but I COULD. NOT. PUT. IT. DOWN.


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Monday, June 20, 2016

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan

It's Pride Week in San Francisco and Katie and Mark are going through some THINGS.  Luckily, they meet each other the first night and are able to have each other's backs through the ups and downs that their week will take.

Mark is in love with his best friend, but it's not working out at all the way he wants it to.  Katie is in love with her best friend's cousin... the thing is, she's never met her IRL yet.  Fear holds Katie back, and love puts Mark's heart in peril.  In one week's time, both will go through life-changing events, while experiencing new friendship at San Fran's Pride week.

I had a great time reading this book.  It was full of friendship and teens working through problems, and I really enjoyed it.  The thing is, I was hoping to LOVE it.  Because I love Nina LaCour and David Levithan's books.  And I love the concept of this book-- friends meeting and going on an adventure-of sorts- together.  And while I love all of that, I really also want to FEEL things, and I just didn't have much of that going on in this book.  Was it an entertaining book?  Completely!  Would I recommend it? Totally.  But just be prepared that it's not the most emotional type of story, at least it wasn't for me.

I think my main deal was-- I just didn't like Katie/Kate that much.  She was this girl who was in love with her best friend's cousin, whom she had never met and was afraid to meet.  She was afraid of life in general and it got kind of annoying after a while.  Like I get it, you run away when things get scary.  That's a response a lot of people have, but she ran away from everything, and then didn't get why people were mad at her.    Also, things came ridiculously easy for her and she had no appreciation of that whatsoever.  Mark on the other hand, I LOVE.  He's this sweet, patient, caring, awesome guy who, of course, gets walked all over.  My heart hurt for him-- he was the one Feel Factor in this book.  And I think that Feel Factor was wrapped up way too fast.

I think this book should be in every high school library.  I think there are SO many teens going through the things the different characters are going through in this book.  Gay/Straight/Whatever, there are issues to relate to for everyone at that age.

OVERALL: It didn't quite live up to the giant expectations I had for it, but I still enjoyed the story.  I thought it was fun and a "we're going on a life adventure" feel, but it didn't bring the emotions like I had expected it to.  Great for Summer Reading!!

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 4/5

Date Published: 6/7/2016
How I got this book: BEA
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Character: Mark
Book: The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour

  • Okay yes, this is one of the author's books, but I want him to read this because he could totally relate to the whole being in love with your best friend and getting your feelings crushed thing.

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