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Friday, July 29, 2016

Freebie Friday: Summer ARC Grab Bag!




Hope you're enjoying the summer!  The heat wave finally broke here and I'm happy about that.

Today I have a stack of summer ARCs and finished copies for my winner to choose from!

Happy weekend and happy reading!


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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomatic Immunity
by Brodi Ashton

To be published on September 6, 2016
by Balzer + Bray

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Raucous parties, privileged attitudes, underage drinking, and diplomatic immunity...it’s all part of student life on Embassy Row. Piper Baird has always dreamed of becoming a journalist. So when she scores a scholarship to exclusive Chiswick Academy in Washington, DC, she knows it’s her big opportunity. Chiswick offers the country’s most competitive prize for teen journalists—the Bennington scholarship—and winning will ensure her acceptance to one of the best schools in the country. Piper isn’t at Chiswick for two days before she witnesses the intense competition in the journalism program—and the extreme privilege of the young and wealthy elite who attend her school. And Piper knows access to these untouchable students just might give her the edge she’ll need to blow the lid off life at the school in a scathing and unforgettable exposé worthy of the Bennington. The key to the whole story lies with Rafael Amador, the son of the Spanish ambassador—and the boy at the center of the most explosive secrets and scandals on Embassy Row. Rafael is big trouble—and when he drops into her bedroom window one night, asking for help, it’s Piper’s chance to get the full scoop. But as they spend time together, Piper discovers that despite his dark streak, Rafael is smart, kind, funny, and gorgeous—and she might have real feelings for him. How can she break the story of a lifetime if it could destroy the boy she just might love?
My take:  I really liked Brodi Ashton's Everneath trilogy - yes, it was chockful of adolescent angst and had a bothersome love triangle, but it also had a compelling narrative voice and a lot of humor. So I've been really excited to read Diplomatic Immunity. Based on the cover and title, I was hoping it would be thrilling and filled with political intrigue, like an Ally Carter Gallagher Girls or Embassy Row book or Jennifer Lynn Barnes' Fixer series.

Sadly, I was a little underwhelmed. I felt like the premise had a lot of promise that was never fully realized.

Piper Barnes dreams of being an award-winning student journalist and is thrilled to receive a scholarship to Chiswick, a fancy DC prep school that educates the children of diplomats and politicians. I never completely warmed up to Piper. I related to her social awkwardness, but she whines because she doesn't get assigned all the best stories for the paper at her new school (hello, you're new!)

Then suddenly two guys are crazy about her, awkwardness and all. It's not the wrenching sort of love triangle Ashton wrote in her paranormal series, but I felt like one of the guys was just sort of thrown in there for no good reason. I felt a little uncomfortable with the way the other guy, the son of a Spanish diplomat, is saddled with this sort of awkward "Latin Lover" stereotype.

Piper's family situation was interesting to me (they are very low income and her brother is on the autism spectrum) and I wished those issues - the class differences between Piper and her classmates and perhaps the way her brother's medical issues contributed to the family's financial troubles - had been explored more.

But mostly, I wanted more plot - more intrigue and scandal. Piper is looking for a compelling story to win a journalism contest. She spends most of the book "investigating" her school and then finally tells the editor of the student paper that she's found an amazing story "involving drugs, fake IDs, binge drinking, pill-popping..." Uh... not that I condone that kind of behavior among teenagers, but sorry, I'm decidedly NOT shocked that this is going on and wasn't buying the fact that exposing typical rich kid hijinks at her school was going to win her any kind of award.

The book - and its title - do bring up an intriguing angle: that some of the students at her school are diplomats' kids and have diplomatic immunity. I waited patiently for that to come into play, but in the end the concept seemed underutilized. I mean, if a kid with diplomatic immunity was driving drunk, hit someone, and got away with it, I would have been outraged, but these kids just seemed up to regular rich kid misbehavior.

Piper puts together her story and then gets worried about exposing her classmates' secrets and seems to think that publishing the story anonymously is a good idea (Uh... okay. But how can she win the award if no one knows who wrote the article? She just never seemed to think things through.)

I guess I felt a bit let down by what I hoped the book would deliver versus what it actually did. Cover and title aside, this is NOT a political thriller in any way, shape or form (to be fair, the synopsis above is pretty accurate) but more like a rich boy-poor girl romance with a DC setting and an anticlimactic ending.

I will definitely try another Brodi Ashton book, but this one was a bit of a miss for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing July 26-Aug 1

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

Last chance to enter the JULY giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!


Gemini How to Hang a Witch Riverkeep Darkest Hour
Gemini by Sonja Mukherjee (Simon & Schuster)
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather (Knopf)
Riverkeep by Martin Stuart (Viking)
The Darkest Hour by Caroline Tung Richmond (Scholastic)


PS I Like You What the Dead Want Nice Girls Endure
P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (Point)
What the Dead Want by Norah Olson (Katherine Tegen)
Nice Girls Endure by Chris Struyk-Bonn (Switch)

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Three Truths and a Lie

Three Truths and a Lie
by Brent Hartinger

To be published by Simon Pulse
on August 2, 2016

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun. Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.  Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect. Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand. Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve. One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is. 
My take:  Sometimes in the summer I just want a quick, page-turning piece of brain candy. So I'll give Three Truths and a Lie credit for keeping me reading -- I polished this off in a matter of a couple hours. The story starts off on an intriguing note, with four friends getting tattoos. Except that they're interrupted by some sinister/threatening people who seem to be after ne of the kids. The foursome gets spooked and runs off to hide a deserted cabin where even weirder things start to happen.

The twists in this story are well-executed and the setting -- a deserted cabin in the Pacific Northwest -- was nicely portrayed. I think what kept me from completely enjoying the book was that while I found the characters nicely diverse for YA  (the narrator is a guy with a brand new boyfriend) I also found them a little flat, and, as a result, didn't really connect with them on more than a superficial level. Me: "you're dead? Okay. Whatever..."

Finally, and I'll try to say this without spoilers, I could pretty much predict what was going to happen.  I have further thoughts under spoiler protection on my Goodreads review if you're interested.

Try this if you're in the mood for a quick page-turner.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing July 19-25

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

Enter the JULY giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies A World Without You Flying Signs of You
Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies by Laura Stampler (Simon Pulse)
A World Without You by Beth Revis (Razorbill)
Flying by Carrie Jones (Tor Teen)
Signs of You by Emily France (Soho)


Smash & Grab The Revival Chasing Stars The Way Back Home
Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker (Random House)
The Revival (Young World #3) by Chris Weitz (Little, Brown)
Chasing Stars (After Eden #2) by Helen Douglas (Bloomsbury)
The Way Back Home (Wildflower #3) by Alecia Whitaker (Little, Brown)


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Friday, July 15, 2016

Freebie Friday: Twitter Giveaway



Happy Friday!


This week I'm trying something a little different - a Freebie Friday Twitter giveaway. You can find the link to my Twitter on the right sidebar.

1. Find my Freebie Friday tweet (it won't be hard)
2. RT and follow me to enter.

Winner will be picked at random by TweetDraw sometime after 10 am on Thursday, July 21.

The winner will receive a copy of this ARC. If you win and you've already read it, I also have a few more choices. This is open to US/Canada only, sorry!


Happy weekend reading!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies

Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies
by Laura Stampler

To be published on July 12, 2016
by Simon Pulse

Synopsis from Goodreads: Harper Anderson always believed she belonged somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick's backyard can one girl take? That's why Harper is beyond ecstatic when she lands her dream internship as a dating blogger at the elite teen magazine Shift. Getting to spend the summer in New York City to live her dream of becoming a writer? Harper's totally in. There's just one teeny, tiny, infinitesimal problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn't have a lot of - or, really, any - dating expertise. In fact, she might have sort of stolen her best friend's experiences as her own on her Shift application. But she can learn on the job...right? From awkward run-ins with the cute neighborhood dog-walker to terrifying encounters with her crazed editor, from Brooklyn gallery openings to weekends in the Hamptons, Harper finds out what it takes to make it in the Big City--and as the writer of her own destiny. 

My take:  To me, Little Black Dresses, Little White Lies felt very reminiscent of classic chick lit --normal girl lands an amazing internship at a Manhattan magazine, just happens to have a rich aunt who lives on Fifth Avenue and has a closet full of fabulous clothes and also a super-cute dog walker. (Seriously, why don't these things actually happen to normal girls?) Girl learns how superficial everyone in New York/the magazine industry is. She is shocked, SHOCKED to find out that Clickbait Rules the Internet. She then comes to appreciate her dull normal life. And, of course, finds love. Think Devil Wears Prada lite with a touch of How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.

My favorite part of the book was by far the female friendships, which had their dicey moments (true to life!) but came through in the end. One the less positive side, I think this would have worked better with a twenty-something protagonist. The main character is a high school intern who's given major responsibilities at a major magazine. This might be realistic, but I remained skeptical. Even college grad Andy Sachs in TDWP had to fetch coffee and hang up coats when she started out.

Since I've read a TON of chick lit and watched a ton of chick flicks, this felt a little "been there, read that" for me. But that said, if you're a fan of those kinds of stories and are looking for a fluffy beach read, give this a go!
 
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