Google+ YA Romantics: May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just Finished Reading .. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar

Girl in the Clockwork Collar

by Kady Cross

Published by Harlequin Teen

On May 29, 2012

Source: received an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.

Series report: While this book does a good job of recapping past events, it doesn't do as much to refresh the reader's memory about the relationships between the characters.


My summary: In Girl in the Clockwork Collar, the gang of misfits from Girl in the Steel Corset returns for new adventures. Finley, Emily, Griffin and Sam leave London in search of their friend Jasper, who has been taken away by bounty hunters. In New York, they find Jasper and his ex-girlfriend Mei, who are being controlled by a hoodlum named Dalton. Jasper used to be in Dalton's gang, and thus knows the location of something Dalton desperately wants. To ensure that Jasper is willing to help him, Dalton has fitted Mei with a clockwork collar that will choke her if she flees.

My thoughts:  If you enjoyed Girl With the Steel Corset, you'll probably like The Girl In the Clockwork Collar. I thought both books were light, enjoyable reads, but as I turned the pages, I kept wishing for even more -- more character development, more surprises, more of an emotional payoff.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Dreamless by Josephine Angelini

Dreamless (Starcrossed Book #2)

by Josephine Angelini

Published by HarperTeen

on May 29, 2012

Source: e-Galley from the publisher via Edelweiss. Read my review policy/disclosure here.

Series report: This book dives right in with a minimal amount of recap. You might want to refresh your memory about Starcrossed.



Sorry, this is going to be a bit long, but I have labeled each part so that you can read what interests you.

First, some non-spoilery thoughts on Starcrossed, plus a brief recap:

If you read a lot of YA, there are aspects of Starcrossed that may feel a bit BTDT. Helen, our heroine, is a self-conscious, awkward girl who doesn't realize that she's drop-dead beautiful. Lucas, also gorgeous beyond belief, suddenly shows up at Helen's school. He's part of a close-knit, mysterious family and seems to detest Helen on sight. 

Helen, who is blessed with superhuman strength and plagued by nightmares, learns that the reason she's always felt different is that she is a scion, or demigod. So is Lucas. Each scion is a member of a different House, founded by a different Greek god. There are four Houses: Atreus (founded by Zeus), Thebes (Apollo), Athens (Poseidon) and Rome (Aphrodite.)

Since the end of the Trojan War, Zeus dictated that the four Houses could not unite. Thus, members of different Houses feel compelled to hate, even kill one another. (Imagine a kind of demigod gang warfare.) But when Helen and Lucas save each other's lives, this breaks the cycle of hatred between the two of them and they fall madly in love. Great, right? Nuh-uh. They can't act on these feelings, because that would unite Lucas' House of Thebes with Helen's House of Atreus, which is prohibited. 

At this point in the story, Helen and Lucas are given another reason they can't be together --  a reason that the reader learns is a lie. This infuriated some readers of Starcrossed, but hey, this is book is part of a series. If the couple gets together right away, the romantic tension fizzles rather than sizzles.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

YA Hot off the Presses: May 29- June 4

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Hot Off The Presses highlights great new YA releases for the coming week. For more information on all my Blog Features and their inspirations, please click Blog Features on the left sidebar.

These books are coming out the week of May 29-June 4.

These three I'm definitely reading! Click on the photos to go to the Goodreads page in a new window.

Monday, May 28, 2012

If You Like ... Mermaid Books



If You Like.... is hosted by Melanie @ Reclusive Bibliophile.

This week's theme is Mermaids!
Zozelini/Flickr Creative Commons


Literally Jen, one of my blogging friends, loves mermaid books. LOVES them. I like them, but I guess I haven't yet found the mermaid book that just blows me out of the water.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Extra Extra 6

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is a new-ish weekly post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as a summary of what's new on the blog.
To read about the inspiration behind my blog features, click the highlighted text.

Today I'm trying out linking to Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews. Check out the great blogs that have posted their Sunday news over there....

WHAT'S NEW IN MY TBR PILE?



Two new ARCs: 
Smashed by Lisa Luedeke
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Both of these look super-cool and edgy! Click the highlighted titles to check them out on Goodreads.




And now, without further delay, here are the answers to the "Which of this six things did Adrian Ivashkov really say? 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just Finished Reading: Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

Dark Frost

by Jennifer Estep

Will be published by: Kensington Teen

on May 29, 2012

Source: received an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy and disclosure here.

Series report: Estep does a fantastic job of recapping in the early chapters of this third book of the series. Dive in and enjoy!


My summary: Still feel like you need a recap of books one and two? Click this highlighted text to read my summary of Touch of Frost and Kiss of Frost in a new window. 

Dark Frost begins immediately after the events in Kiss of Frost. Gwen and some classmates are getting a homework assignment done -- visiting a museum before school resumes from winter break -- when a sudden, violent Reaper attack leaves them shaken. Gwen knows what's up -- the Reapers are looking for the Helheim Dagger, an artifact used during the final battle of the Chaos War. That conflict ensured that the evil Norse God Loki was imprisoned. If the Reapers find the last artifact, they free him. Using clues from her mother's diary, Gwen resolves to find the dagger first.

My thoughts:  There are so many things I love about this series. The pan-cultural mythological world Jennifer Estep has created is fresh and interesting. Gwen is a great main heroine, and I love the will-they-won't-they romance between Gwen and Logan. The secondary characters are all well-developed and appealing -- Nickamedes, Daphne, Carson, Grandma Frost, and of course, Vic! Plus, the action scenes are fantastic. If you're a reader who loves weaponry and sword fights, you'll be very happy. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Just Finished Reading .... The Golden Lily

The Golden Lily

by Richelle Mead

Published by: Razorbill/Penguin Group

on June 14, 2012

Source: bought from bookstore

Quick spoiler-free Bloodlines recap: 
Alchemist Sydney Sage has been under suspicion since she aided fugitive Rose Hathaway in the Vampire Academy series. In Bloodlines, Sydney is sent to Palm Springs to protect Moroi princess Jill Dragomir, the only living relative of the reigning vampire queen.  So Jill and Sydney enroll as students at the exclusive Amberwood school.   This assignment offers Sydney a second chance to prove her loyalty to the Alchemists. Syd needs to do her job as a bridge between the vampire world and the human one, while staying true to Alchemist principles, which consider magic immoral and vampires unnatural and dangerous.  Still, Sydney can't help but become a little attached to Jill and her undead entourage, like eccentric reclusive Clarence and rakish bad boy Adrian.When Moroi girls start turning up dead in L.A., Sydney knows she needs to get to the bottom of what's happening.

Spoiler-free summary of Golden Lily: With the culprit from Bloodlines brought to justice, Sydney is looking forward to a normal life at Amberwood: going to class and working as a research assistant for eccentric Ms. Terwilliger. A Dhampir team has arrived in town to research the process by which vampires who have been turned Strigoi can be turned back by the use of spirit. The team need Sydney's help, but she's reluctant to provide it. After having to face down a murderer in Bloodlines, Sydney is also concerned with learning to protect herself. To further complicate matters, she's met the perfect guy. Brayden is smart and serious. So why does Sydney find herself drawn to someone else, someone completely wrong for her? Sydney also begins to suspect that there's a new group targeting vampires. When someone close to Sydney is abducted, she'll have to decide if she's willing to betray Alchemist principles to save a life.

My thoughts: I know that some readers find Sydney dull in comparison to Rose.  Not me! I love Sydney. She's so responsible and serious, but underneath it all you just know there's a wild girl waiting to come out!

In Bloodlines, Sydney started out wary of vampires, then grew to know them as individuals and began to change her mind. In Golden Lily, she's getting more comfortable with the whole vampire lifestyle, but she's still struggling with the ethics of magic. She knows that magic saved her in Bloodlines, but her Alchemist upbringing is causing her a lot of internal conflict in this regard. Good stuff!

Adrian. AdrianAdrianAdrian.  Were you waiting for me to say that?

TGIF: What's Under The Covers?

hot trends in fiction

I'm joining TGIF again today. This meme is hosted by GReads.  It's a chance to recap the week on our blog and answer a question.

Today's question: What's Under That Cover? What are some not so great book covers with great stories inside?

I accidentally answered this question last week -- duh!! A few people read the post before I could take it down. If you did, I apologize!

I have the highest respect for the people who design book covers. I can't even draw a stick figure. But sometimes I feel like the cover doesn't really fit the book inside. Or the cover just doesn't grab me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Love and Loss 3: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson



For my third and final "love and loss" review, I'm featuring Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson.



Second Chance Summer

by Morgan Matson

Published by Simon and Schuster BFYR

on May 8, 2012

Source: bought from independent bookstore



My summary:  Taylor thought she'd left her twelve year-old self behind at her family's lake house, along with a broken friendship and a failed romance. Five years later, when Taylor's father is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his last wish is to spend a summer back at the lake with his family. Will Taylor take this second chance to connect with her father and confront her old disappointments?

My take: I loved Amy and Roger's Epic Detour and was very excited to read Morgan Matson's second book. Like Amy and Roger, Second Chance Summer is a touching story about family and loss. This book has a bit of the same feel as Jenny Han's Summer series, which also weaves together the last summer of a terminally ill parent with a coming of age story. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Love and Loss 2: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Welcome to my Love and Loss series. On Monday, I featured First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky.
Today it's....

In Honor

by Jessi Kirby

Published by: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

On May 8, 2012

Source: bought from independent bookstore



My summary: Ever since Honor lost her parents in a car accident, she's relied on big brother Finn. Then Finn is killed in Iraq. After his funeral, Honor gets one last letter from him, a letter that includes two tickets to singer Kyra Kelley's final concert in California. So Honor gets into Finn's battered Impala with her brother's hungover (and somewhat annoying) best friend Rusty and they set off on a road trip that's one part memorial, one part spiritual journey, and one part slapstick comedy.

My take: I've been waiting impatiently for In Honor ever since I finished reading Moonglass, Jessi Kirby's first book. While In Honor is a "grief and loss" book that deals with issues of mourning and lost friendship, this story also takes the reader in all sorts of emotional directions. There are arguments and transcendent moments and shocking revelations. Then, just when things are getting too intense, the story veers off into comic territory. Let's just say that tequila shots are almost always a mistake!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Love and Loss 1: First Comes Love

There's a theme to my reviews this week. I just happened to read three books about love and loss -- or "grief books" as some people call them, but I like "love and loss" better!

Today's book ....

First Comes Love

by Katie Kacvinsky

Published by: Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt Children's

On May 8, 2012

Source: traded with another blogger

Content: characters are more mature than in the typical YA (post high-school) and some of the content reflects that.


My summary: After a tragedy, Gray is quiet and serious. He meets Dylan, who is impulsive and optimistic. Can Dylan force Gray to come out of his shell and embrace life? Will Gray ever be able to pin free-spirited Dylan into a relationship, or will he get his heart broken twice?

My take:  This book was a refreshing change for me. It's a short, simple story of two people and their relationship. There aren't a lot of dramatic plot events, no huge cast of characters, no paranormal elements or shocking twists, and I liked that. Two people fall in love, slowly and realistically, and then have to face the "happily ever after" part of their relationship. Can they make it work?

I don't want to say too much about Gray, because his story unfolds slowly in the book. But after a tragic event, he's sleepwalking through life. He resists Dylan at first, then realizes that he feels awake and alive for the first time in his life.

I loved the fact that this book didn't just focus on the falling in love aspect of a relationship. As the title indicates, First Comes Love also looks at the making love work part. Opposites may attract, but can they last for the long haul?

YA Hot Off the Presses: May 22-28

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Hot Off The Presses highlights great new YA releases for the coming week. For more information on all my Blog Features and their inspirations, please click Blog Features on the left sidebar.

These books are coming out between May 22-May 28.

Click on the photo to go to the Goodreads page in a new window:


Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker Of Poseidon by Anna Banks Shift by Em Bailey

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Shift by Em Bailey

Also releasing this week -- click on red title to go to the Goodreads page in a new window:

The Enchantress (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #6) by Micheal Scott
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy
Alice on Board by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson
37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon
Taken By Storm (Taken By Wolves #3) by Jennifer Barnes

Are you planning to read any of these?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just Finished Reading: Pretty Amy

Pretty Amy

by Lisa Burstein

Published by Entangled Publishing

on May 8, 2012

Source: gifted by a friend

Content: drug use -- but shows the negative consequences in a realistic and non-preachy way





My summary:  Amy is just trying to go along with her two best friends, Lila and Cassie, who have found them each a date for the prom. But when the guys stand them up, one thing leads to another, and the next thing Amy knows, she's in jail.  Instead of attending prom and graduation parties, Amy will have to attend arraignments and counseling. What she doesn't realize is that she'll also have to dig deep and figure out where she's going with her life.

My take: I read "prom"+ "arrested" and assumed this would be a Hangover-esque book for teens. Not at all. Pretty Amy actually takes a look at what can easily happen to a kid who just goes along with a friend's not-so-bright-idea, a kid who happens to be there when trouble goes down. Amy's not a bad person, she just wants to stand out. To have everyone notice her. To feel like "Pretty Amy," which is what her pet bird calls her. So she gets what she wanted, but not in the way that she expected.

It would be easy for a book like this to be humorless and preachy, to go all "Just Say No To Drugs" and make Amy the poster child for wayward kids. But Pretty Amy doesn't go that route at all. The book is edgy and hilarious. 

Sample:

Amy's Dad, on the way to lunch after her arraignment: "What are we in the mood for?"
Amy: "What was I in the mood for? A gun with one bullet in it. A bottle of strong liquor. A rewind button."

But Pretty Amy didn't just make light of Amy's problems. It was also realistic. I'm reading along, waiting for poor Amy to hit bottom. And she did, a few times. I was practically yelling at her as I was reading, warning her not to trust that person, not to make that decision. But, just like in real life,  she has to make her own mistakes and learn from them. Her problems didn't just disappear by magic.

If you love contemporaries, love funny books, and enjoy books about flawed characters who struggle to straighten everything out, you should definitely try Pretty Amy!



Bout of Books Read-a-Thon Final Report



I had so much fun doing my first read-a-thon as a blogger! Thanks so much to Bout of Books for hosting and to all the bloggers who hosted mini-challenges!

I did better than I thought. Early in the week, I got bogged down reading a book I really didn't like, but by  Friday I was back in the groove.  Here's what I read:

Here's my final Read-A-Thon report

Read:

5/14/12 - 5/15/12
Insurgent by Veronica Roth  (had started this prior to the read-a-thon; finished the last 300 pages)

5/16/12 - 5/17/12
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy

5/18/12
Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

5/19/12
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

5/20/12
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (read to page 205).

I also DNF'd a couple things -- or at least put them aside for now. I learned that to make a read-a-thon work, you really need to pick books you love.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Extra Extra 5: Wish Fulfillment

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is a new-ish weekly post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as a summary of what's new on the blog.
To read about the inspiration behind my blog features, click this red text.

WHAT'S NEW IN MY TBR PILE?  
I'm not really a woo-woo kind of person, but keeping a list of books I want seems to result in me finding those books. It's so weird.  I've been dying for these two and thanks to my amazing local indie bookstore, I got them this week!


Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols (ARC)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

WHAT HAPPENED ON THE BLOG THIS WEEK?

I reviewed two books on small town royalty:  Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker and Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes. Click that red text to check it out.

I also looked at three YA historicals that ranged from the fun and frothy to the dark and gritty: Wentworth Hall by Abby Graeme, Gilt by Katherine Longshore and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Click that red text for the lowdown.

New giveaway!  Jacinda of The Reading Housewives of Indiana hosted a Books and Shoes giveaway as part of the Bout of Books Read-a-Thon. It was so fun -- we had to match shoes to book covers. Check out my pairing and enter to win Masque of the Red Death!! Just click that red text. You can enter through Wednesday.

WHAT'S UP FOR NEXT WEEK?
My review books will have the theme "Love And Loss."  I'm looking at First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky, In Honor by Jessi Kirby and Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. And probably a review of Golden Lily.

I'm going to the beach with my family for Memorial Day weekend. Here's a shot of the books I'm taking with me...



How was your week? Leave me a comment and a link to a post if you have one!

Book Spine Poetry and Read-a-Thon Report

I've wanted to try book spine poetry ever since I heard of it.

So when I saw that Smash Attack Reads was hosting a challenge for the Bout of Books Read-A-Thon, I was very excited.

Here's my attempt:




Here's the poem. I'm allowed to use 6 extra words because I have six books. That white book is fake -- it has my extra words...


No, I will never be a professional poet. But it was fun!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Freebie Friday 6 Winner!



How did I pick the winner? First I take the comments and divide them by 2. This time there were 146 comments, minus two because Jen M and I were talking about rafting. So 144. Divided by two (to take out all my comments in reply) is 72. 

I put everyone's name in a Word doc. I make each name into one word, because that's how I double check that I didn't forget anyone. My word doc should have 72 words .... and it does!

Then I randomize the list and ......


Rachchan, otherwise known as Rachchan2006. 

And, based on her email, I think I have another international winner :)  That's so funny -- I found $10 on the sidewalk Thursday night and thought, "Here is my international postage, just in case."

Okay, we'll see if I'm right when I email her.... and I'll tell you what she picked.

Edited Sunday 7:59 am: Yep, she's international, and she picked...



If you didn't win this time, never fear. We'll have multiple winners next week. I may set it up so you can enter for the books you're interested in and hold separate drawings for each book.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Books and Shoes Challenge



This challenge is part of the Bout of Books Read-a-thon!

Quick read-a-thon update:

I've read Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Dead Time by Anne Cassidy.
I'm reading Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein -- I've read 115 pages so far!
Hoping to get a lot of reading done over the weekend!

When I saw that Jacinda of the Reading Housewives was doing a Books and Shoes challenge for read-a-thon participants, I was so excited.

Here's the book cover I chose:

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Here are three shoes that I would pair with this book cover...

pic name
Sinistersoles.com
pic name
Goodgoth.com
pic name
Ebay.com



I loved this challenge so much that I'm going to give a copy of Masque of the Red Death away!

To enter, just tell me in the Rafflecopter which shoes you think are the most fabulous -- A, B or C. 

Then be sure to go to Reading Housewives of Indiana and see what other book/shoe pairings other #BoutofBooks read-a-thoners chose!

Sorry, this is US/Canada only, but Freebie Friday is open internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Freebie Friday 6



Yay -- Friday rolls around again -- time for another fantastic Freebie Friday!  FF will be on hiatus next week for the Memorial Day weekend, then back with a vengeance on June 1st!


What is up for grabs today?



The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson
Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Grim by Anna Waggoner
Last Rite by Lisa Desrochers

All are ARCs except Last Rite.

It has been a looooong week, so I'm just randomizing for the winner this time. He or she can choose one book and I will mail it out as soon as I receive an address.

International entrants welcome! Entries close when the dog wakes me up Saturday morning. (Around 7 am EST).

To enter, please leave a comment. You can tell me what you're reading now, or about something you're looking forward to this summer (a book or something not book related) or anything else you want to say.

You can use the Google Doc if you need to give me an email. It's optional -- if I can find you through Twitter or your blog, you don't need to fill out the Google Doc!

THIS FREEBIE FRIDAY IS OVER, BUT PLEASE COME BACK ON JUNE 1!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

New YA Historicals: From Frothy to Gritty

Since I just wrapped up my YA historical giveaway, I thought I'd do a round-up post on three new YA historicals. Like paranormal fiction, historical fiction ranges from the light and frothy to the dark and gritty. I'm up for all of it!  But if you have a preference, I hope this post helps you make up your mind about these brand-new titles.

Review of Wentworth Hall by Abby Graeme
Wentworth Hall

by Abby Graeme

Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

May 1, 2012

Source: bought from independent bookstore



My summary: It's 1912, and eighteen year old Maggie Darlington has suddenly gone from vivacious to moody. Her younger sister Lila longs to be taken seriously, while their parents cope with the unexpected arrival of their fourth child. Times are changing, too. Some titled British families can no longer afford to maintain their estates. Rich arrivistes from the colonies are shaking things up, the servants are restive, and a mysterious gossip columnist is spilling everyone's secrets.

My take: Fans of the Luxe series by Anna Godbertson will love this book. It's told from multiple POVs, giving it a true upstairs/downstairs perspective. While it's not long on historical detail, it is full of plotting and scheming, romance, parties, and secrets.

Are you looking for something with a little more historical heft?

Gilt

by Katherine Longshore

Published by Viking Juvenile

on May 15, 2012

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley


My summary:  Kitty, Gilt's narrator,  is one of the girls of Norfolk House, a protege-slash-lackey of the Duchess of Norfolk. The girls dream of going to the Tudor court of Henry VIII, meeting royals and wearing beautiful jewels and gowns. The most ambitious and cunning of the girls is Catherine Howard. Cat practices her flirting on a local boy as she schemes her way into an invitation to be a lady in waiting to Anne of Cleves, Henry VIII's fourth wife.  When Cat catches the king's eye, she's able to bring the Norfolk girls to court. But court life is filled with intrigue, double-crosses and betrayals. Kitty will have to watch her step so she doesn't lose her head.

My take: I'm a total sucker for this kind of story. I watched the Tudors (but not up to season 4, which featured Catherine Howard) and the highlight of my trip to England was a day spent at the Tower of London. Gilt is a fantastic blend of history and fiction. The book makes the most of the real-life intrigue that seems to have been a part of court life, while also looking at the issues of female friendship and male vs. female roles in society.

The title is a nice conceit. Gilt is but a shiny overlay, and this book doesn't gloss over the grim realities and hypocrisies of the time. Women's virtue is prized, yet their sexuality and fertility are all they have at their disposal to better their circumstances. At the time of the story, Henry VIII was no handsome storybook hero, but an overweight, short-tempered man with a roving eye and a festering leg wound. Kitty calls him "mean and piggy." Wellborn men and women were all looking for a leg up, so to speak. "Looking for advancement," Cat says. "Looking for a crack into which they can wedge a fingernail. To chip off the gilt."

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Tudor history will know that things can't end happily for poor Cat. But I greatly enjoyed watching all the twists and turns of this tale play out.

Do you love historical thrillers? Then don't miss...

Review Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Code Name Verity

by Elizabeth Wein

Published by Hyperion Books for Children

May 15, 2012

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley


My summary: Verity is an agent captured by the Nazis in occupied France. Her captors give her paper and tell her to write down everything she knows about the British war effort. Instead, she writes down the story of her friendship with Maddie, the young British pilot who flew her into France. Verity tells the reader she's doomed -- she'll be killed by her captors if she doesn't talk, shot for treason if she does. So she spins tales, even cracks jokes. Is anything she writes true, or is it all just layer upon layer of deceptiont?

My take: The story begins in an epistolary form, with Verity's writings. She's compared to Scheherazade, the young girl in a Persian folk tale who volunteers to spend one night with the king, knowing that he has killed every woman he has entertained. But Scheherazade's stories so captivate the king that he keeps her alive for 1001 nights. I was captivated too, especially once I began to learn more about Maddie. The friendship between Maddie and Verity is realistic and heartfelt.

Code Name Verity is the kind of crafty story that slowly, cleverly spins its web around you, then tightens it until you're gasping for breath. There are layers of subterfuge, twists that left me open-mouthed and, at the heart of it all, the touching story of a deep and abiding friendship. 

How do you feel about historical fiction? Have you read any of these, or are you planning to?

Readathon update: I've finished two books. Starting Of Poseidon today!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

YA Royalty: Review of Princesses of Iowa and Queen of Kentucky

Review of Princesses of Iowa and Queen of Kentucky

We're talking royalty today -- I'm reviewing Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes and Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker.

Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes
Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

Published by Candlewick Press

on May 8, 2012

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.

Content: more language that a typical YA and some drunken hook up scenes


My summary: Paige always looked forward to her senior year, to being a  homecoming princess with her best friends Nikki and Lacey. But after the girls are involved in a drunk driving accident at the end of their junior year, Paige is shipped off to Paris to toil as an au pair -- more Cinderella than princess. When she returns, nothing is quite what she expects. Her friends have changed, her boyfriend seems different, the new creative writing teacher  wants her to dig deep and write about her life, and there's a new kid in class who seems to think that she's way more than just a pretty girl on a float.

My take:  There's a lot going on in this book. It begins with a stream-of consciousness monologue about how easy it is to find yourself drunk behind the wheel of a car. Then we're with Paige as she arrives at the airport from her summer in Paris.

It took me a while to warm up to Paige. Initially self-centered and a little snobby, she wants to put the drunk driving incident behind her and have a picture-perfect senior year. That's not going to happen. Her friend Lacey has spent the summer in surgery and physical therapy after the accident. Paige's boyfriend Jake seems to have spent a lot of time "being there" for Lacey while Paige was away.

Paige ends up in a creative writing class taught by the handsome and dynamic Mr. Tremont, who is one part John Keating from Dead Poet's Society and one part Ms. Finney from The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger.

There are a LOT of issues crammed into this book: drunk driving, homophobia, small town prejudice, near date rape, parental pressure. All important issues, but just when I'd get invested in one, the book would veer off in a different direction. I did like the way that change wasn't easy for Paige. And by the end, I was rooting for her to sort everything out.


Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker

Published by: Poppy/Little Brown Books for Young Readers

On: January 2, 2012

Source: swapped

My summary: Ricki Jo can't wait to start her freshman year of high school. She knows she can be popular, if only she can get her family and best friend Luke to remember to call her Ericka. Then she just has to find friends, make the cheerleading squad, and be sure no one at school thinks she's a hick.

My take: This book was absolutely adorable! You could call it borderline middle grade, as the main character is only fourteen and hasn't hit puberty. But I fell completely in love with Ricki Jo. Debut author Alecia Whitaker is a twenty-first century Beverly Cleary. Queen of Kentucky is simple, touching, funny, heartfelt, and true to life.

I think just about every reader will recognize themselves in Ricki Jo. She studies Seventeen magazine as religiously as the Bible. She's worried that the country club girls at her school will think a farm girl like her is a hick. She has two normal, overprotective parents, plus a Mamaw and Papaw who shamelessly embarrass her in public. She makes friends who disappoint her at times. She falls for the absolute wrong boy and doesn't realize it. She has the absolute right boy under her nose and doesn't realize it.

Queen of Kentucky was an absolute pleasure to read -- I'm putting it on the stack of books that I'm saving for my daughter.

Readathon update: I finished Insurgent and am 45% done with Dead Time by Anne Cassidy.
Tell me in comments: what are you reading right now?


 
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