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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releases May 24-30

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 CHANGE to enter the May 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!

Last Star Safest Lies Cures for Heartbreak Breaker
The Last Star (5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey (Putnam)
The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda (Crown)
Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb (Delacorte)
Breaker by Kat Ellis (Running Press)

Outrun the Moon Please Don't Tell The Hunt
Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee (Putnam)
Please Don't Tell by Laura Tims (Harper)
The Hunt (The Cage #2) by Megan Shepherd (Balzer + Bray)

Incriminated Exile for Dreamers 26 Kisses
Incriminated (Emancipated #2) by M.G. Reyes (Katherine Tegen)
Exile for Dreamers (Stranje House #2) by Kathleen Baldwin (Tor)
26 Kisses by Anna Michels (Simon Pulse)

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Just Finished Reading ...Beware That Girl

Beware That Girl
by Teresa Toten

To be published by Delacorte BFYR
on May 31, 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Haves. The Have-Nots. Kate O’Brian appears to be a Have-Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she’s had to snake her way out of—some more sinister than others. But she’s determined to change that. She’s book smart. She’s street-smart. Oh, and she’s also a masterful liar. As the scholarship student at the Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ladder and land a spot at Yale. She’s already found her “people” among the senior class “it” girls—specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she’s always needed, the sister she never had. When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration, he immediately charms his way into the faculty’s and students’ lives—becoming especially close to Olivia, a fact she’s intent on keeping to herself. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can’t reveal—and can’t afford to ignore. How close can Kate and Olivia get to Mark without having to share their dark pasts?
My take: The synopsis compares this book to We Were Liars, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl, but as I was reading, I just got a HUGE Gossip Girl vibe. First, I'll sum up my reaction, and then for you fellow Gossip Girl fans, I will point out all the similarities.

As the synopsis suggests, Kate O'Brien has conned herself into the exclusive Waverly School, where she picks out the perfect girl to befriend: beautiful, troubled Olivia Sumner. In the end, both characters were sort of a conglomeration of stereotypes in search of a plot. Kate was a pathological liar: ambitious, conniving, and trying to get on the inside of the in-crowd. Kate is good at manipulation, but I didn't really understand what her end game was, except to pretend she was something she's not.  Olivia is just as much of an enigma. She has looks and money and daddy issues, plus some big psychological problems. Throw in an attractive young school administrator with a penchant for attractive blondes, and you've got a trio of trouble....

Beware That Girl was definitely entertaining while I was reading it, but all the characters were pretty unlikeable and unrelatable. There was a "shocking" development near the end that wasn't really all that shocking.  The book never made it clear what all the characters were up to beyond just being messed up connivers who get in one another's way. I hoped this would have more psychological complexity beyond Kate's obsessive reading of the DSM manual, but in the end this became a mildly entertaining story with no real point.

For those of you who are Gossip Girl fans:

Kate O'Brien = Juliet Sharp + Ivy Dickens
pic name pic name
Take Juliet Sharp's creepy obsession with Serena and add Ivy Dickens' wrong-side-of-the-tracks background and conniving opportunism, and you have Kate O'Brien.

Olivia Sumner = Blair Waldorf + Serena van der Woodsen
pic name pic name
 Olivia has Blair's Ivy obsession, Serena's horrible taste in men, and both girls' daddy issues...

Beware that Girl also features:

 A Polish housekeeper-slash-confidante


Obsession with Yale

Sad/Unconventional Thanksgiving

Creepy/Age-Inappropriate Relationship
pic name pic name

If all this sounds like your speed, I'd recommend binge-watching Gossip Girl this summer. Things got a little off-track in Season Three, but then they got right back on track again. 

If you liked Gossip Girl, Beware That Girl might give you a bit of a fix. For me, Beware That Girl's characters and plot just weren't as compelling...

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Blog Tour Review!

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories
Edited by Stephanie Perkins
With stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith

Published by St. Martins Griffin
on May 17, 2016

Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

My take: First off, how cute it it that this cover is the same pond that was featured on My True Love Gave to Me, Perkins' winter-themed anthology? And that now that it's summer, the pond is thawed and everyone is swimming instead of skating? (Okay, maybe it's just me, but I was excited....)
Most of the stories evoked my own experience of summer: camping, amusement parks and carnivals, national park visits, day camp, movie theaters, the beach...  What could be more magical than a summer romance?

I think short stories are perfect for summer. In summer I'm either a) really busy, so a quick read between all my running around is perfect or b) relaxing and I don't want to read anything that's too mentally taxing...

Here's my take on a few of the stories.  Each had its own strengths and there is a little something for everyone, but I starred my three absolute favorites!

Heads, Scales, Tongues, Tail (Leigh Bardugo)
Though the topic and genre of this (spoiler) mermaids and magical realism (spoiler) were not my favorites, I always enjoy her writing.

The End of Love (Nina Labour)
I liked the overall idea of this -- a girl whose parents are divorcing feels completely adrift and tries to find balance between the security of continuity and the scariness of change -- but I felt like this plot needed more time to breathe and might have worked better as a novel.

Last Stand at the Cinegor (Libba Bray)
This story featured many Libba Bray trademarks, like humor and snappy dialogue and truly scary moments. But like some of her books (Beauty Queens) this got a little out-there for me...

Sick Pleasure (Francesca Lia Block)
I'd never read anything by this author and not sure if this is her typical style. Loved the 1980s California setting a lot, but the plot was a little too drift-y for my taste.

**In Ninety Minutes, Turn North (Steph Perkins)
Adorable! I loved revisiting this couple from the prior anthology. I smiled all the way through. And come on ... a funicular??

**Souvenirs (Tim Federle)
Really loved the writing in this one! I will be checking out his new book.

Love is the Last Resort (Jon Skovron)
This one is set in a resort and I was hoping for a retro Dirty Dancing vibe, but got more of a really retro, Jane-Austen-period-novel-translated-to-2016 vibe. There were a lot of characters (guests, employees, meddling mothers) and a lot of goings on.

**Good Luck and Farewell (Brandy Colbert)
I really enjoyed this one - set in Chicago and featuring more non-traditional family relationships and a sweet in-one-night romance. I hope she's writing a new book!

All in all, a fun selection of stories. Let me know in comments if you've read this or plan to!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a free advance copy of this book for me to review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Guest Post by John Corey Whaley, author of Highly Illogical Behavior

I'm happy to be part of the Highly Illogical Behavior Blog Tour and am excited to welcome Printz Winner and National Book Award finalist John Corey Whaley to the blog as a guest poster.  He's writing about his main inspirations as a writer and how they contributed to Highly Illogical Behavior:

I think about inspiration a lot, actually.  I think about it when I’m not inspired or when I am.  And I often talk about it with other artists—whether they are painters or musicians.  What I’ve learned about inspiration is that it’s much more about the time and place in your life when you’re exposed to something than it is anything else, at least that’s the case for me. 

I’ve written a lot in the past about how inspired I was when I read both The Catcher in the Rye and The Perks of being a Wallflower as a teenager.  These books introduced an idea to me, really—the idea that maybe I could write something that would speak to someone like these books had spoken to me.  There’s a combination of skill, manipulation, and magic when it comes to writing a story that can really connect to a reader on a personal level.  And that’s what I always go for in my writing: to tell a story that, no matter what or who it’s about, taps into some universal understanding in my readers.  

In terms of my one or two biggest inspirations as a writer, I think they go beyond other works I’ve read and fit more into the overall category of Existing.  I write to stay sane and to understand the world—so my greatest inspiration, in the weirdest way possible, is the frustration and pain I feel from the very confusing world around us.  And I used to be scared of that, I think.  I was scared it made me a pessimist.  But, I think it’s the opposite, actually.  I think my way of coping with the world is to dissect it and find the common, personal things that connect us to one another.  Once I find those, whether it’s through a story about a missing kid, a body transplant, or an agoraphobic, the process starts to more clearly define itself and the story starts to take a more permanent shape, both in my head and on the page. What I hope is that these stories explore enough of the human condition, through darkness or absurdity or both, to tap into the same emotions in my readers that I’m trying to understand in myself.  Which, to my understanding, is the whole point of fiction in the first place.  I want to entertain, sure, but I also want my readers to think about more than just the story when they put the book down.  And that is asking a lot, and therefore takes a lot of time and hard work to earn.  And a very good editor. 

So, fear of the world inspires me. Haha.  What else?  Hmm…I think I’d have to go with my partner-in-crime, Scott.  I set Highly Illogical Behavior in my boyfriend Scott’s hometown of Upland, California, and there’s more than a few similarities between Solomon’s home and his too.  There are also some not-so-secret aspects of Clark’s personality that were heavily inspired by Scott.  The thing is, I get to share my life with the most kind, empathetic person I’ve ever met.  Patient to a fault sometimes, and always honest, sincere, and thoughtful.  Not to mention hilarious and super fun.  And it’s inspiring to be around that kind of person every day.  How could it not be?  Highly Illogical Behavior was very much written for him, and for many more reasons than just the few above.  This is, after all, my first book that focuses on a gay character, and in having Scott in my life, it was even more important to me that I portray that character with honesty and nuance.  

Thanks to John Corey Whaley -- you can read my review of Highly Illogical Behavior here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing May 17-23

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.

May 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!

Problem With Forever Summer Days and Summer Nights Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Girl Against the Universe
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Harlequin)
Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins (St. Martins)
The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson (St. Martins)
Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes (Harper)

Crowns Game Devil and the Bluebird Silence is Goldfish
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye (Harper)
Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black (Amulet)
Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher (Little, Brown)

Gena/Finn 100 Days of Cake Breakfast With Neruda
Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Hegelson (Chronicle)
100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen (Atheneum)
Breakfast with Neruda by Laura Moe (Merit)

Spark Iron Phoenix This is the Part Where You Laugh
Spark by Holly Schindler (Harper)
The Iron Phoenix by Rebecca Harwell (Bold Strokes)
This is the Part Where You Laugh by Peter Brown Hoffmeister (Knopf)

Draw the Line Love Charms and Other Catastrophes It Wasn't Always Like This
Draw the Line by Laurent Linn (Margaret McElderry)
Love Charms and Catastrophes by Kimberly Karalius (Swoon)
It Wasn't Always Like This by Joy Preble (Soho)

Circle of Jinn Places No One Knows Marked
Circle of Jinn (Becoming Jinn #2) by Lori Goldstein (Harper)
Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff (Delacorte)
Marked (Tracked #2) by Jenny Martin (Dial)

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Just Finished Reading: The Only Worse Thing Than Me Is You

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You
by Lily Anderson

To be published by St. Martin’s Griffin
on May 17, 2016

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West—and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing—down to number four.  Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben's, including give up sleep and comic books—well, maybe not comic books—but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it's time to declare a champion once and for all.  The war is Trixie's for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben's best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben's cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie's best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they're on—and they might not pick the same side.
My take: I'd describe the overall vibe of The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You as John Green (group of genius kids who spend most of their time engaging in witty nerdish banter) + Rainbow Rowell (the whole fandom thing) + ... maybe a touch of Big Bang Theory.

The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You is also a loose retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, one that involves a heated school competition over class rank and a very mild mystery. I wasn't sure it was all going to work, but it did in the end.

I really liked the friendship between Trixie, Harper and Meg. And the mystery, which I was skeptical about at first, definitely grew on me. The romance -- which uses one of my favorite tropes (hate to love!) very effectively -- was quite sweet. And I adore the cover, which has a nice quirky, comic book-ish vibe.

I did struggle a bit with a few things. I'm a huge nerd (as are most avid readers, probably) but the fandoms in the book aren't really my fandoms. (I think Rainbow Rowell was clever in creating a completely fictional fandom.) The fandoms here are comic books (sorry, no), Dr. Who (very sorry, but not really), Joss Whedon (yes, I've seen every Buffy episode and defend it vigorously to those who think it was just a cheesy show with bad special effects. I can't quote dialogue and *whispers* I've only seen a couple episodes of Firefly).

So if these things aren't your things, you may feel a bit lost and left out of the joke at times. I did remember (sort of) the plot of Much Ado though I certainly wouldn't call myself a Shakespeare nerd.

For this reason, perhaps, I also though the book felt long. I was reading on a kindle and guessed it was 450-ish pages, when actually it was only 350-ish. To me, it seemed to take a while to really get going, with all banter and no plot for a long time.

Highly recommended for: fans of witty nerd banter, Dr. Who, comic books, Shakespeare retellings.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Freebie Friday: Highly Illogical Behavior and The May Queen Murders

Happy Friday!

On Monday I reviewed The May Queen Murders and on Wednesday, I reviewed Highly Illogical Behavior. My winner can choose either or both!

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Hope you have a great weekend of reading or other fun!
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