Google+ YA Romantics

Friday, January 20, 2017

Freebie Friday: Reading Refuge

Hope everyone is doing okay today! We can't retreat into books forever, but having a place to escape to for a while can be a wonderful thing. 

On this particular Friday, I am offering the winner their book of choice, up to $15. This is open to US and international residents - US residents will win an Amazon gift card, but since The Book Depository doesn't offer gift cards, if the winner is international I will order them any book they choose.

Pick a book that will energize and inspire you, or a fluffy escapist read -- your choice!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Just Finished Reading: By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your Side
by Kasie West

To be published by Harper Teen
on January 17, 2016

Source: eARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side? 
My take:  I enjoyed Kasie West's paranormal duology much more than her contemporaries, which are usually a little too fluffy for me. When I read the synopsis for By Your Side, I was super-skeptical. Well, I'm glad I read it, because I liked it much more than I thought.

Main character Autumn is dutiful, responsible, and anxious -- she has an anxiety disorder that she tries to keep under wraps. When she's invited to a friend's cabin for a long holiday weekend, she says yes because Jeff, the guy she's crushing on, will also be there. But when the group leaves her behind at the library and takes off, her overnight bag in the trunk, she finds herself trapped.  Soon she discovers that she's not only trapped, she's trapped there for the foreseeable future with the school bad boy, Dax.

Okay, I'll pause here to address a few things that were sticking points for me when I read the synopsis:

1) How is it possible for two tech-addicted, tech-savvy teenagers to be cut off from civilization ... in a library?  Well, Autumn's phone is in her overnight bag. Dax (for reasons the book explains) doesn't have a phone. The library computers require a log-in. Fair enough, but a library should have landlines, right?? I can't remember if the book addresses this, but in any case I was able to get over my "how could this really happen?" skepticism.

2) Is there a love triangle? Technically yes, but it didn't feel like the bad kind of triangle to me. Autumn clearly likes Jeff, but it also was clear to me that he was wrong for her and she realizes this eventually too.

So, alleged bad boy Dax and good girl Autumn are locked up in the library. Anyone else getting a huge Breakfast Club vibe? I have to confess that the time these two spent in the library wasn't my favorite part of the book -- the two of them find not-that-interesting things to do and flirt a little.  But then things turned around.  In The Breakfast Club, I always wondered what happened when these six kids saw each other at school the next day -- they probably went back to their own friend groups, right? Loved that this book actually showed that part of the story! Clearly, Dax and Autumn have formed a bond in captivity, and also have to deal with his complicated family issues, her anxiety, and the situation with Jeff (also complicated but involves spoilers.)

I was really rooting for this couple to make it work through all their obstacles. I still like West's Pivot Point duology best of all her books (if you haven't read those, you should!) but this is now my favorite of her contemporary YA romances.

If you've read this one, let me know what you thought in comments!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing January 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.

Enter the NEW 2017 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.

Radius of Us Carve the Mark History is All You Left Me

The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt (St Martin's)
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen)
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Soho)

As Red As Blood An Uncertain Choice
As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka (Crown)
An Uncertain Choice by Jody Hedlund (Zondervan)

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing January 10-16

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 new YA books you can buy or borrow in the week to come.

Enter the NEW 2017 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.

Windwitch You Don't Know My Name A List of Cages
Windwitch (Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard (Tor)
You Don't Know My Name by Kristen Orlando (Swoon)
A List of Cages by Robin Roe (Disney-Hyperion)

Poison's Kiss Roseblood Teen Hyde
Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields (Random House)
Roseblood by A.G. Howard (Amulet)
Teen Hyde by Chandler Baker (Feiwel and Friends)

Factory Girl Beheld Frostblood
Factory Girl by Josanne LaValley Clarion)
Beheld (Kendra Chronicles #4) by Alex Flinn (Harper)
Frost Blood by Elly Blake (Little, Brown)

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Just Finished Reading: You Don't Know My Name

You Don't Know My Name
by Kristin Orlando
To be published on
January 10, 2017
by Swoon Reads

Source: ARC from publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Reagan Elizabeth Hillis is used to changing identities overnight, lying to every friend she’s ever had, and pushing away anyone who gets too close. Trained in mortal combat and weaponry her entire life, Reagan is expected to follow in her parents’ footsteps and join the ranks of the most powerful top-secret agency in the world, the Black Angels. Falling in love with the boy next door was never part of the plan. Now Reagan has to decide: Will she use her incredible talents and lead the dangerous life she was born into, or throw it all away to follow her heart and embrace the normal life she's always wanted? And does she even have a choice at all?
My take: On the plus side, You Don't Know My Name was a fast-paced read that kept my attention. On the negative side, it felt a little flat to me as well, with not a lot of nuance in plot and character development.

Reagan's parents are a members of some super-secret organization called the Black Angels that swoops in and handles stuff like kidnappings and hostage situations. I wasn't sure if they were mercenaries or more like black ops.  In any case the story starts with a bang, making it clear that Reagan and her parents are in danger and have to move and resume new identities yet again. The book tries hard to make Reagan relatable. Yes, she's trained in martial arts and target practice, but she's also a "normal" teen who hates the fact that she has to move and change her name constantly. She both worries about and resents her parents, which seems fair.

Though there's suspense, the plot is pretty straightforward. They family is in danger, stuff happens, Reagan is told to stay safe but of course sneaks in to help out. And because her parents have been training her for years, she knows her stuff. It's tough to make a teenager with SWAT team skills seem realistic, but this book does a decent job. That said, I didn't have a great sense of exactly what the Black Angels were doing or why.

Overall, You Don't Know My Name was the book equivalent of a fast paced action movie for me: enjoyable in the moment, but didn't make a lasting impression.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Freebie Friday: You Don't Know My Name

Happy first Friday of 2017!

Today's giveaway is a fun teen spy book, perfect for fans of the Gallagher Girls books and the Also Known As series:

Open to US/Canada addresses. 

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Just Finished Reading: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
by Chelsea Sedoti
Published by Sourcebooks
on January 3, 2017

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: A teenage misfit named Hawthorn Creely inserts herself in the investigation of missing person Lizzie Lovett, who disappeared mysteriously while camping with her boyfriend. Hawthorn doesn't mean to interfere, but she has a pretty crazy theory about what happened to Lizzie. In order to prove it, she decides to immerse herself in Lizzie's life. That includes taking her job... and her boyfriend. It's a huge risk — but it's just what Hawthorn needs to find her own place in the world. 
My take: I love mysteries, and I'm generally a fan of books where an amateur detective tries to help find a missing person. Like Last Seen Leaving, this seemed to me to be part coming-of-age story and part mystery. When a popular fellow student named Lizzie disappears, Hawthorn (child of hippie parents and sibling to a popular older brother) becomes fascinated with the case. But then things got weirder. Hawthorn spends a lot of time wondering if Lizzie disappeared because she was a werewolf. (Um.... huh? For a while I wondered if this was going to turn into a paranormal book. Not really.) Then Hawthorn takes over Lizzie's old waitress job and takes up with Lizzie's boyfriend. And not because she thinks it will help her crack the case.

On the positive side, I liked the writing a lot and will definitely try future books by this author. On the negative, I found the main character hard to understand or connect with. I love quirky characters and am even fine with unlikeable. For me, Hawthorn took quirky and unlikeable and narcissistic a little too far. Her desire to take Lizzie's place started to seem weird and distasteful.

The mystery is eventually solved (not by Hawthorn) and I did think the ending fit the story.
But that didn't outweigh my feeling that I wanted more mystery solving, less werewolf rumination, and a main character that I enjoyed spending a few hundred pages with.
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