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Friday, January 30, 2015

Freebie Friday: More January Titles!



Happy Friday! I have three great January titles for my winner to choose from -- this will be US only but...if you live outside the US you can still enter Hot Off the Presses for a chance to win a book of your choice.

And if you live in the US you can enter both :)



There Will Be Lies All Fall Down I Was Here
There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (ARC)
All Fall Down by Ally Carter (finished copy)
I Was Here by Gayle Forman  (ARC)


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Trending Thursday: Is 2015 the Peak Year of the YA Illness Book?


Welcome to Trending Thursday a periodic post in which I pick a bookish trend and then you're welcome to dive in and discuss, disagree, whatever...

As I mentioned in last week's post on YA books about suicide, I've recently noticed that there are a LOT of very serious books out there in the year to come. 

Many of these books deal with illnesses of various types -- just by looking at four publishers' spring lists, I found over a dozen books.

Of course, this trend doesn't come out of nowhere. These kind of YA books have been around. 

pic name pic name pic name

The 1990s featured Lurlene McDaniel's YA books about sick or dying teens. And more recently, there was Before I Die by Jenny Downham (2007), I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler (2011), The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder (2011), All These Lives by Sarah Wylie (2012), Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (2012), Zac and Mia by A. J. Betts (2014), Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy (2014, among others.

I don't want to pin every YA trend on John Green (and I'd argue that his books are popular not because of their subject matter, but because his unique take on the world appeals to a lot of people.) However, I think would be hard to claim that the popularity of The Fault in Our Stars didn't have anything to do with the subsequent proliferation of these kind of books. 

But an interesting thing I also noticed is that a few of these books aren't just about the illness -- some of them take characters facing illness and incorporate them into a story that's a thriller or a fantasy. That's interesting to me, as many people are out there, living with illness and doing other things too. This is a trend I'd like to see more of.
Here's a rundown of the books I found so far. I've yet to read these and am just going on the published descriptions, so if I've mischaracterized any, feel free to correct me, and if I missed any books, please let me know in comments.

Suicide
For a list of YA books about suicide coming out in 2015,  check out last week's post.

Mental Illness/Disorders
Challenger Deep Made You Up Every Last Word Trouble is a Friend of Mine
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (mental illness)
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia (schizophrenia)
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (purely obsessional OCD)
Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly (mental illness)

Eating Disorders
Paperweight Elena Vanishing
Paperweight by Meg Haston
Elena Vanishing by Elena and Clare Dunkle


Chronic/Serious/Terminal Illness
Magonia Invincible Last Leaves Falling Hold Me Like a Breath

One Thing Stolen Because You'll Never Meet Me Positively Beautiful
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (lung disease)
Invincible by Amy Reed (cancer)
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (ALS)
Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (autoimmune disorder)
One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart (neurological disorder)
Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas (electricity allergy)
Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills (genetic mutation that causes cancer)

Also (no cover) Extraordinary Means by Robin Schneider (tuberculosis)


Organ Donation
Things We Know By Heart Alive Pieces of Me
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
Alive by Chandler Baker
Pieces of Me by Amber Kizer

Also: Hold Me Like a Breath (pictured above) deals with organ transplants.

Tell me in comments: which of these books do you plan to read?  Do you think this trend may be reaching a peak in 2015? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My YA Book Club Recommendations



I was going to do this week's Book Club themed Top Ten Tuesday, but then there was a blizzard, Photobucket went down, and my Wednesday post accidentally popped up on Tuesday. Total #bloggerfail.

So, yes, it's Wednesday, but I am here to offer you Book Club Suggestions from the YA genre.

Here are my criteria for good book club books:

1. Books that are not too long. I mean, we all have good intentions, but then life interferes...
2. Books that will provoke strong opinions and good discussion. 
3. Standalones. Maybe this is just me, but I don't always want to be roped into a new series.

These are all picks that I've read -- click on the cover to get to the book's Goodreads page, and click on the title for my review.


Lies We Tell Ourselves Thin Space This Song Will Save Your Life
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (Harlequin 2014)
This book is historical fiction, set in the 1950s US during school integration, but provides insight into issues that are still relevant today. 

Thin Space by Jodi Casella (Simon Pulse 2013)
A combination of grief book and thriller, this story of a boy mourning the loss of his twin offers a spooky vibe and some very cool plot twists.

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (FSG 2013)
Honest and uplifting, this book chronicles the journey of a girl from high school misfit to confident club kid.


Noggin Something Real Dangerous Girls
Noggin by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum 2014)
This book a boy whose head is cryogenically frozen and then used to reanimate him is part sci-fi, part black comedy, part coming-of-age story. If your book group likes literary writing, you might also try Where Things Come Back by the same author.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios (Henry Holt 2014)
If your book group is an eclectic mix of reality TV watchers and PBS highbrows, this book offers something for everyone: a Jon and Kate Plus Eight reality show, probing questions about the nature of reality TV, and an almost-too-perfect YA love interest.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (Simon Pulse 2013)
Is your book group hooked on Pretty Little Liars? This book has a bit of a "ripped from the headlines" feel and a page-turning plot.

The Midnight Dress Please Ignore Vera Dietz Charm & Strange
The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee (Knopf 2013)
Not everyone on Goodreads adored this as much as I did, but it's a mystery with some magical realism and a fantastic (historical) Australian setting.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King (Knopf 2010)
Though I'm not usually a fan of magical realism, I adored this story of a prickly girl, her well-meaning father, and her secret love for her best friend Charlie.

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn (St Martin's 2013)
It was a toss up for me between this and Kuehn's more recent Complicit. Both feature lovely writing a spooky vibe, and dark secrets. 

If your book group prefers award-winners, both Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Charm & Strange fit the bill. And check out these Mini-reviews of three Printz winning books, including Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.


Have you read any of these, or do you have other suggestions? Leave your thoughts in comments!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Just Finished Reading ... Soulprint by Megan Miranda

Soulprint
by Megan Miranda
To be published
by Bloomsbury Kids
on February 3, 2015

Source: Thanks to Bloomsbury for approving me for an e-ARC for review

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private.  Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.
My take: I'd decided to take a pass on Soulprint, or at least wait for reviews to come out. The title sounded New-Agey and the plot like sci-fi. Then I read a rave review on Goodreads from Ashley of Nose Graze and decided to give this book a try for review.

I'm so glad I did. Soulprint is an excellent thriller with a super-cool premise, but it's also a story with philosophical themes, well-developed characters, and a touching romance. There are sci-fi aspects, but if you're not a fan of that, the science isn't a huge part of the story.

What I loved most was the way the book ingeniously blends something age-old -- the idea that souls can be reincarnated -- with something speculative and high-tech -- the idea that souls can be analyzed like DNA and then tracked when they are reborn in a new body. Alina, the main character, knows she is the reincarnated soul of June, a notorious murderer. As such, she's spent her life in a high security prison. The book begins in action, with Alina being broken out of prison by people whose motives aren't immediately apparent, and I was gripped right away.

Once Alina is broken out, the story slows down. She learns more about the people who've helped her and what their motivations are -- or are they being completely honest with her? She also begins to feel June's presence within her -- or is she imagining it? This slowdown in pace was an interesting narrative choice for a thriller-y story, but it also offers some breathing room for character development and the exploration of some of Soulprint's themes, questions like: Are we a product of our pasts? Do we have free will? What is the nature of the soul, and could those qualities that make us individual and unique carry on after our physical bodies are gone?

I think that Soulprint has a little something for every reader: an intriguing scientific premise, a daring prison break, some interesting philosophical questions, and a sweet romance. Ashley's right -- give it a try!

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing January 27-February 2

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. 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 January YA reviews or by commenting on other people's linked reviews.

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 the book's Goodreads page!

Fairest We Can Work It Out Cold Legacy
Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5) by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel and Friends)
We Can Work it Out (Lonely Hearts #2) by Elizabeth Eulberg (Point)
A Cold Legacy (Madman's Daughter #3) by Megan Shepard (Balzer + Bray)

Playlist for the Dead Cut Me Free I Was Here
Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff (Harper)
Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson (FSG)
I Was Here by Gayle Forman (Viking)


Burning Nation Woven Zombified
Burning Nation by Trent Reedy (Arthur A. Levine)
Woven by Michael Jensen and David Powers King (Scholastic)
Zombified (Zombie Apocalypse #2) by Adam Gallardo (KTeen)

Tear You Apart Empty Throne Mime Order
Tear You Apart by Sarah Cross (Egmont)
The Empty Throne (Heirs of Chrior #2) by Cayla Kluver (Harlequin)
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury)

I'm Glad I Did Love, Lucy Chaos
I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil (Soho)
Love, Lucy by April Lindner (Poppy)
Chaos by Lanie Bross (Delacorte)


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