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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mini-Reviews: The Hunt by Stacey Kade and The Taking by Kimberly Derting

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Welcome to Mini-Reviews, a periodic feature in which I give you my quick take on a handful of recent releases.

The Hunt (Project Paper Doll #2)
by Stacey Kade
Published on April 22, 2014
by Disney-Hyperion
Source: e-ARC from Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads: Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.  But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger. Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

My mini-take: I'm not generally a fan of books about aliens -- I find alien beings pretty hard to warm up to. (Except E.T.) However, I really liked The Rules, the first Project Paper Doll book. I enjoyed watching half-human, half-extraterrestrial main character Ariane struggle to fit in at high school, obey the Rules that her father has given her to fit in with humans, and struggle mightily to ignore her attraction to her classmate Zane.

In The Hunt, some of my favorite aspects of The Rules were gone or diminished. As the synopsis indicates, Zane and Ariane are now a couple, and they're hiding out for the majority of the book, which I wasn't terribly excited about. The plot began to be a lot of Ariane trying to push Zane away because she felt she was putting him in danger.  (The "pushing away" thing is a textbook second book romance ploy.) I was really excited to meet some other hybrids, but was hoping that they'd have more to do with the plot. Then there was a cliffhanger ending that left me ambivalent. (highlight for spoiler) I'm guessing that to save Zane's life, they'll make him part alien too. I kind of liked the whole "odd couple" thing this pair had going and making him a hybrid like Ariane would kill that. (end of spoiler)  If the next book finally kicks up the action -- I'm hoping for a huge Hybrid Smackdown -- then count me in for the rest of the series!

The Taking (The Taking #1)
by Kimberly Derting
To be published on April 29, 2014
by Harper Teen
Source: eARC from Edelwiess

Synopsis from Goodreads: When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day. Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.  Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

My mini-take: I got a weird sense of deja-vu while reading this as it was the second book in a few weeks I'd read that had a protagonist who was re-entering their old life after years away. But while these two books -- Noggin and The Taking --dealt with some of the same emotional issues, they ended up taking two completely different story paths. The Taking definitely falls into the paranormal/light sci-fi realm, while Noggin is a realistic/contemporary book.

The Taking got off to a strong start for me. Kyra is in a car, arguing with her father about her college plans. Angry and frustrated, she gets out of the car and then -- boom!-- just vanishes. Then suddenly she finds herself behind a dumpster at a gas station. Years have passed and she has no memory of what happened to her and doesn't know where she's been. But she's wearing the exact same clothes as when she disappeared and doesn't feel five years older. My favorite part of the book was watching Kyra navigate her new life and try to figure out what happened. Her boyfriend has moved on, her parents seem to have changed, and Kyra finds all this hard to deal with. (Just like Noggin!)

But The Taking got weirder and less enjoyable for me when I started to get some explanations. The story headed into a paranormal/sci-fi subgenre (highlight for spoiler)-- alien abduction -- (end spoiler) that I'm not crazy about, everything started to make less sense and I began to lose my connection to the story. The ending was strong, but I'm still left with overall mixed feelings. I remain a big Kim Derting fan -- I love her writing style. In this book, she does a great job of setting up an intriguing scenario and writing a strong-yet-vulnerable heroine. But in the end, this was never going to be my kind of book.

Have you read either of these?






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing April 22-28

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 grab in the week to come. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing in the current month so we can all check them out!

This month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.) Enter by linking your reviews, commenting on other people's linked reviews, or tweeting :)  

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. You are also welcome to link your reviews of YA books that were self-pubbed this month. Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.


Deception's Princess by Esther M. Friesner The Hunt by Stacey Kade Meridian by Josin McQuein
Deception's Princess (Princeses of Myth #7) by Esther Friesner (Random House)
The Hunt (Paper Doll Project #2) by Stacey Kade (Disney-Hyperion)
Meridian (Arclight #2) by Josin L. McQuein (Greenwillow)


She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi How I Got Skinny by Ken Baker Talker 25 by Joshua McCune
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick (Roaring Brook)
The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi (Candlewick)
How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker (Running Press)


Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley The Art of Secrets by James Klise Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell
The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer (Philomel)
Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley (Harper)
The Art of Secrets by James Klise (Algonquin)
Expiration Day by William Campbell Powell (Tor)

Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik Victories by Rosemary Edghill
Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita (Poppy)
The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik (Harper)
Victories (Shadow Grail #4) by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill (Tor)


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Fairy Tale Fortnight Giveaway Hop


Welcome to my stop on the Fairytale Fortnight Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, The Book Rat and a Backwards Story.

I love fairytale retellings. They're a bookish trend that never goes out of style. My winner can pick one of the great titles below, or any book that's $15 or less from Amazon (if my winner lives inside the US) or TBD (if my winner lives outside the US.)

Cress Cruel Beauty Ring and the Crown Dark Triumph

Enter below, and then check out all the other stops on the hop! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Trending Thursday: Silhouette Romance


Welcome to Trending Thursday, a weekly post in which I spot a YA trend of some sort and we can discuss.

I've done two recent posts about covers that talked about face-avoidance on YA covers -- the fact that many readers don't want a photo of the main character's face on the cover and the ways that cover designers seem to get around that.

You can check out my post on Headless Covers here and my post on Obscured and Shattered Faces here.

Today, I wanted to talk about the silhouette, another solution to not showing a character's face directly. There are several different variations on this theme. 

First, there's what I call Silhouette Romance. Pastel and sweet, it evokes walking hand-in-hand along the beach at dawn. Thank you, Only Everything, for mixing up the color palette, though the font is romantic and I still think I see clouds.

What I Thought Was True Second Star Catch a Falling Star
Don't Call Me Baby Summer of Yesterday Only Everything

Then there's what I like to call Silhouette Romantic Suspense.  By changing changing the color palette to moody blues instead of gauzy pastels, and switching up the setting to something more menacing -- an alley, a forest, a lair --  there's a new element of suspense and mystery.


Lair of Dreams Untold Book of Blood and Shadow
Get Even pic name Forget Me

Then there's ... what should we call this one? Silhouette Futurism? Amping up the color palate gives these more of a high energy, sci-fi feel.

Burn Out Flams Raging Star


Then we have what I'll call Silhouette Standoff. The figures are not running, but taking a stand against something or someone. Oppression? Dystopia? That white block text?

Illusive Young World Idols

Classic Silhouette --  these are solid black and have a sweet old-fashioned feel. The problem with that is that they can make a book feel young. Can you tell the YA from the MG?

Nightmare Affair Unspoken Weather Witch
pic name pic name pic name

What are your thoughts on these? Do you have a favorite? I'm not a huge fan of any of them. I'll take those shattered faces...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing April 15-21

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

I'm on a short Spring Break, but I wouldn't leave without leaving you a note about the great new books coming out this week...

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can grab in the week to come. If you're a reviewer, you can also link your blog or Goodreads reviews of any YA book publishing in the current month so we can all check them out!

This month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.) Enter by linking your reviews, commenting on other people's linked reviews, or tweeting :)  

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA. You are also welcome to link your reviews of YA books that were self-pubbed this month. Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Last Enemy by Jim Eldridge What I Thought Was True Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
The Last Enemy: The Malichea Quest by Jim Eldridge (Bloomsbury)
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (Dial)
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (Poppy)


Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold Sunrise by Mike Mullin To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold (Month9Books)
Sunrise by Mike Mullin (Tanglewood)
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster)

House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple Raging Star by Moira Young Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
House of Ivy and Sorrow by Natalie Whipple
Dust Lands: Raging Star by Moira Young
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Don't Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout You Only Live Once by Bridie Clark Frozen by Erin Bowman Fury of the Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney
Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout
You Only Live Once (Snap Decision #2) by Bridie Clark
Frozen (Taken #2) by Erin Bowman
The Last Apprentice: Fury of the Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney


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