Google+ YA Romantics: September 2012

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Extra! Extra! 24

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is my weekly Sunday post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as other exciting blog news.

This Sunday I'm linking up to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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Bloggiesta Update:

I'm a participant in Bloggiesta and I'm also hosting a challenge about stepping outside your blogging comfort zone.  If you're feeling blah about blogging, go take a peek!

One of my challenges for myself is being less shy -- my family calls me The Hermit. Friday and Saturday I attended the KidLitCon 2012. It was a little scary but also so much fun and I can't wait to tell you about it. I'm working up a post now!

My other Bloggiesta goal is to update my post archive AND get some blog posts up on Goodreads AND work on some new ideas that I have for posts.  That's my to-do list for today!

What Happened On the Blog This Week?


Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally:  Read my unabashed gushing about this one here.

Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant: Did I think this sci-fi thriller was out of this world?

Current giveaways:

This week's winners:

Myra @ Pieces of Whimsy won my ARC of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang in the September 18 Hot Off the Presses Givewaway. She's a new Aussie blogger-- please go check out her blog :)

Natalie -- another international winner -- won my All These Things I've Done giveaway.  And ...

Laceyblossom won Freebie Friday! She chose Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, which I'm sure she will love!

Cursing Challenge:This week's topic on Freebie Friday was profanity in YA. I had a little quiz about fake-swearing and asked you guys to tell me which YA books use these faux-curses:

1. Frex
2. Coit
3. Bleep
4. Fug
5. Shunting

Two of my readers  (Eleonor and PepsiVanilla) offered up the answers I intended:

Frex- Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Coit - A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Bleep- Paranormalcy Series by Kiersten White
Fug- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Shunting - Glitch by Heather Anastasiu

Veronika, April H and Isa also answered every question, and thought that some of these words might be used in books I haven't read  (Spoiled, The Maze Runner, On the Road and Gone Away World.)

Special bonus points to Makix for guessing The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer for #4. Yes, back in the 1940s, Mailer's publisher convinced him to replace the f-bomb with "fug" in this book. Bah to all those people who claim that YA readers don't read the classics!

More fake swearing:

Fragg - Black City by Elizabeth Richards

News of the Weird:

Best spam comment: "Shoes made a big comeback last year, so that you can find a wide range of styles, including with a heel murderer of slouchy."

Best Google search that led to my blog:

Sorry -- I would say my blog is one of the last places you might find this out. But I'm glad you stopped by!


A post about KidLitCon 2012

Reviews!  I'm still moving my calendar around, so I'm not 100% sure what those will be :)

A brand-new Hot Off the Presses where you can link your reviews of new YA, read other people's thoughts, and yes, there's a giveaway!

Can't wait to see you there!

Tell me what you're up to these days ... or leave a link and I'll visit you :)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

It's My Blogoversary!

I've been blogging for one year!

It's hard to believe -- it went by so fast!

Over 400 posts -- whew!

Over 10, 000 comments -- thank you for that!

I love to share great books -- I've given away over 100 books to my blog followers and readers

I also love to find places to donate books.  Every year, I participate in a book drive in my community that collects books for underfunded public schools.  You can read more about my "leave a comment and I'll donate a book" project in this post  and and there are pictures of the event and my last year's donation here.

I've had a lot of international winners. I've mailed giveaway prizes to Germany, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Bosnia, Ireland and the Philippines.

Best of all, I've met so many amazing readers, authors and bloggers!

Most of my very first followers ever -- Cristina from Princess of Storyland, Jennifer from Some Like It Paranormal, RivkaBelle from A Word's Worth, and Arianne from ArianneCruz are still with me. Thanks, guys!

In honor of my blogoversary, I'm planning a few small changes -- a blog redesign, for one. I'm also starting a Pay It Forward program to help brand-new bloggers -- more details on that soon. I'll keep all the stuff you know and love, like Freebie Friday.

Yes, there will also be a giveaway to thank all my fantastic followers. Stay tuned for that.

Mostly, I'd just like to say this to all of you who read the blog, leave me comments that make me smile, write books and blogs I love to read, and come here to discuss books with me.... THANK YOU!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Freebie Friday 18: Watch Your Language!

Happy Friday!

Today I thought we'd talk about swearing.

I review YA. Some YA books have a fair amount of cursing, while others don't.

Everyone has a different comfort level with profanity. A little swearing in a book aimed at teens or adults doesn't bother me. But I also think it's fine if a YA book decides not to include it. A "realistic" amount of cursing in YA would probably be too much for me.

This study claims that the average YA book contains 38 instances of cursing -- which seems high to me -- and found that characters who cursed were better looking and of higher social status.

Then there's the fake-swear. You know it from movies dubbed for TV or "clean" versions of songs on iTunes: the word that takes the place of the curse word.There are whole internet sites devoted to the best dubbing replacements. Here are some of my favorites:

"Give me the keys, you fairy godmother."  From the Usual Suspects

"Pardon my French, but you're an aardvark."  From Ferris Bueller's Day Off

I learned recently from this blog post that invented profanity is also common in sci-fi -- who knew? Have you heard these?

Frak -- Battlestar Galactica
Gorram -- Firefly
Kark -- Star Wars: Legacy
Frell --- Starscape  (Thanks to Suz for chiming in with this one!)

Below is my list of faux-profanity in YA.

I'll publish the answers to my curse quiz on Sunday in Extra! Extra! and give credit to anyone who gets them all right :)

1. Frex
2. Coit
3. Bleep
4. Fug
5. Shunting

This Freebie Friday is over, but check back next week for more fun discussion. The answers to the quiz are here -- in my Extra! Extra! post for Sunday, September 30.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just Finished Reading .. Crown of Embers

If you're here for Bloggiesta -- welcome! Just click here to read about my mini-challenge -- or just scroll down one post.

Crown of Embers
By Rae Carson
Published by Greenwillow Books
on September 18, 2012

Source: ARC swapped with a friend

My summary: Since becoming a queen at age 17, Elisa has faced many trials and challenges. But there are even more to come. After repeated attempts on her life, Elisa must figure out whom to trust, how to rule, and where to learn about the special powers granted to her by her Godstone. She'll have to tread carefully, navigating court intrigue, enemies, and the perils of falling in love.

My take: If you read this blog regularly, you know that I'm not a big fantasy reader. My rule is this: if you're going to stick me in a strange place with a bunch of new stuff I have to keep straight, you better also offer me characters that win my heart and a strong plot with some exciting twists and turns. Yeah, I'm demanding like that.

So I always open fantasy books feeling a little bit grumbly. Crown of Embers starts with a dramatic bang, then I had to remember what had been going on in book one -- there isn't much recap, and it took me a few chapters to orient myself.

But then, WOW -- I was hooked. Suddenly, all the reasons I loved Girl of Fire and Thorns came rushing back to me, and I read through breakfast and forgot to take a shower.

One of my favorite things about Girl of Fire and Thorns was its character development. I love a kickbutt girl as much as anyone, but what I love even more is when a book shows us that a kickbutt girl is made, not born. In Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa starts out sheltered and naive. She's married off to a king who doesn't love her, is thrown into court life, and has a lot to figure out.

In Crown of Embers, she has to learn how to be not just a queen, but a ruler. She has to learn how to control the power in her Godstone. She has to decide with whom to ally herself. And she has to do this before mysterious assassins succeed in killing her.

I was surprised at the turn that the romance took in Girl of Fire and Thorns. Really surprised. As Crown of Embers started, I could see right away where the romance train was headed. Let's just say that having one character teach another to spar is getting them halfway to first base in my book. But then this nascent love story took on some very unexpected twists and turns, which is exactly what a good fictional romance should do. Well done!

The worldbuilding in these books is excellent. In my opinion, worldbuilding is the quicksand of fantasy writing. Give us too little detail and the story seems thin and confusing. Give us too much, and we're bogged down in unnecessary information.

If you've never read this series, I highly recommend you try Girl of Fire and Thorns. It's $2.99 right now on Kindle !

If you've read and loved Girl of Fire and Thorns, I think you'll love Crown of Embers!  If you're dying to read it, you might want to stop by Freebie Friday tomorrow. Just saying!

Tell me what you think in comments? Have you read either of these? How do you feel about reading fantasy?

Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

I'm participating in Bloggiesta! If you're not, never fear. I'll have a regular review post later this morning...

Welcome to my Bloggiesta Mini-Challenge: Step Outside Your Blogging Comfort Zone!

Routine is what keeps me sane.

If you're like me, you probably have some sort of flexible blog schedule of meme days and review days so that you don't have those panic-stricken "what am I posting tomorrow" moments. If you do have those moments regularly, then go check out the Bloggiesta organizational challenge hosted by Trini at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity.

So while I need my routine, it can also start to feel a little ho-hum...

My challenge to you: try something out of your blogging comfort zone. 

Here are three suggestions, but feel free to come up with your own ideas!

1. Read something outside your preferred genre. 

I blog about YA. But even within YA, I have my preferred genres (contemporary and paranormal) and things that are not exactly my go-to reads (mermaid books, zombie books, and fantasy.) 

That said, some of my most fun reviews came when I tried a book outside my zone. I tried a fae book. I even tried a zombie book. You know how excited you are when you meet someone who's discovering a book or a genre for the first time? That's how your blog readers feel when they get to watch you try something new. It's fun for them, fun for you. If you hate the book, maybe you can get a spirited discussion going in comments...

2. Take something that you're passionate about and incorporate it into your blog.

You'll have fun and your readers will respond to your enthusiasm. Here are some ideas that some of my blogger friends have tried with great success! Click on the highlighted text to check them out. If you borrow someone's idea, don't forget to ask permission and/or give credit!

Total fashionista? Use Polyvore to  create an outfit inspired by a book. 

Travel buff? Do a photo gallery that shows some of the settings of your favorite book. 

DIY manicurist? Design some  book-inspired nail art!

Do you have kids or nieces and nephews? Sara @ Forever 17 does the most adorable feature where she asks her five year-old to interpret different YA covers with hilarious results. 

3. Resolve to do some blog-related thing that you've been avoiding because it's scary!

For me, that's author interviews. I don't know why they are so terrifying to me. But I've resolved to do more of them.

Maybe you're scared to ask a publisher for a review copy. Or convinced that if you change the look of your blog, you'll make a huge mess you can't fix. Bloggiesta is the perfect time be brave -- we're all here, ready to offer support. You can do it!
For this challenge, make yourself a Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone blogging goal. 

The winner, as picked by Rafflecopter, will receive a $15 Amazon gift card that they can use to help carry out their goal. If winner lives outside the US or Canada, they will receive a book of their choice (up to $15 value) ordered from the Book Depository.

To enter, you can either make a post on your own blog about this challenge and leave a link to it in comments OR you can leave a comment below describing what you're going to try.

NOTE: Anyone is welcome to make goals or post a comment and I hope you will -- but please only fill out the Rafflecopter if you are a registered Bloggiesta participant. Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just Finished Reading.... Eve and Adam

Eve and Adam
by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
Expected publication date: October 2, 2012
by Feiwel and Friends

Source: e-ARC from NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.

My summary: After being hit by a car, Evening "Eve" Striker is whisked from the ER to her mother's biotech firm, where she meets enigmatic teen intern Solo Plissken. As Eve heals, her mother asks her to use Striker Biopharm's new technology to create the perfect man. But when Solo shares some disturbing secrets with Eve -- secrets about her mother, Striker Biopharm, and Eve herself -- they find themselves in terrible danger.

My take:  Eve and Adam was a fun, fast-paced read that kept me flipping the pages. It was one part Adoration of Jenna Fox, one part Mannequin. Eve was a spirited heroine, her mother a great Mommy Dearest-meets-Real Housewives of Silicon Valley villainess.

Then there's Solo. Here's how he's described:

"He's scruffy-looking with too much hair, too little shaving. He's tall and wide shouldered, muscular, blondish. Extremely blue eyes."

Solo. Scruffy and cute. Hmmm. Anyone else getting this mental picture?

Plus, his last name is clearly an homage to Snake Plisskin, the hero of one of my favorite 80s movies, Escape from New York.

Sorry -- got distracted by a little movie nostalgia. 

Solo and Eve band together to find out what the conniving grown-ups are hiding from them, outwit the baddies, and stay alive.  The book uses multiple POVs, first switching between Eve and Solo's, then adding in that of Adam, who is Eve's perfect cyborg creation. There's an entertaining but unconnected subplot involving Eve's friend Aislin, who has very unfortunate taste in guys.

Eve and Adam was a lot of fun --  a light sci-fi read that's heavier on the "fi" than the "sci" --  one of those books that reads like a movie treatment.  Eve and Adam is the perfect choice for readers who like a fast-moving, action packed book -- fans of books like James Patterson's Maximum Ride series will probably also love this one.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releases September 25-October 1

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Hot Off The Presses highlights great new YA releases for the coming week.

Wondering what new books are coming out September 25-October 1?

Click on the covers to get to Goodreads!

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally Yesterday by C.K. Kelly Martin Skinny by Donna Cooner

Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally -- did I think this book was a home run? Find out here.

Yesterday by C.K. Kelly Martin

A Fractured Light by Jocelyn Davies

The Blessed by Tonya Hurley  Reading this one now!

The Turning by Francine Prose

There are even more books releasing this week:

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter (Harlequin)  Thanks, Amber. I think my zombiephobia made me forget this one :)

Flock (Stork #3) byWendy Delson (Candlewick)

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher (Dial)

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch (Scholastic)

The Assault (Recon Team Angel #1) by Brian Faulkner (Random House)

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin (Candlewick)

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost (Random House)

The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini (Balzer + Bray)

Scorch (Croak #2) by Gina Damico (Graphia)

Pinned by Sharon Flake (Scholastic)

Dearly Beloved by Lia Habel  Thanks, Amy from Book Loving Mom for adding this on :)

Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle -- Thanks to Jenn from Owl Read It!

Want to win a choice of either The Blessed by Tonya Hurley (finished copy -- hardcover), Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally (finished copy-- paperback), Skinny by Donna Cooner (ARC) or The Turning by Francine Prose (ARC)? 
If winner is international, they can choose from the paperbacks -- Stealing ParkerSkinny or The Turning. (Trying to keep these international and affordable for me -- my last TWO winners were international!)

To enter, just link up a review of any new YA title released Sept 25 thru Oct 1 in the US -- just in case I forgot anything. Did you notice I had to add in the zombie books? Accident, I swear it!

OR if you don't have reviews to link, just comment on any of my linked reviews above or any of the linked reviews below.

Enter in the Rafflecopter!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Stealing Parker

Stealing Parker
by Miranda Kenneally
Expected publication date: October 1, 2012
by Sourcebooks Fire

Source: ARC via Around the World ARC Tours

My summary: Parker Shelton is a straight-A student and star softball player. But when Parker's mom shocks her family and their conservative community by falling in love with a woman, Parker's entire life goes off the rails. As Parker begins to question everything she thought she knew about love and faith, she begins eyeing the new baseball coach, a twenty-something guy with more than a few issues of his own.

My take: I loved Catching Jordan, the companion book to this one, but I think I might love Stealing Parker even more. I have a soft spot for angry characters, male or female. Parker's angry at her mom, at the church members and former friends who now shun her, and at God. As a result, she starts doing some stuff that is Really Not a Good Idea. While I found that hard to read about, I didn't feel it was done for shock value, but to probe some difficult questions. As a person of faith, what do you do when you feel yourself losing that faith? What do you do when you discover that someone you love isn't the person you thought they were? What do you do when you find yourself not acting like the person you want to be?

Stealing Parker was a darker, deeper book than Catching Jordan. I loved the fact that Miranda Kenneally wasn't afraid to ask a lot of tough life questions and to let Parker go to the very edge of her own moral boundaries, then stop and take a look at what she was doing. I love books that are able to incorporate themes of religion and faith in a way that's nuanced and non-preachy.

But Stealing Parker is not all seriousness and hand-wringing. It's funny. Heart-breaking. Inspiring. I was thrilled that some of the characters from Catching Jordan make cameo appearances! And then there's Corndog. Never, ever, ever would I have predicted that I would come to love a character named Corndog.

Then there are some things I love that I'm discovering are a hallmark of Miranda Kenneally's writing:

Great male-female friendships
I loved the friendship between Jordan and Henry, and I love the friendship between Parker and Drew. Some of the conversations they have are laugh-until-you-cry hilarious.

Themes of dreams and being true to yourself
I loved the way that Stealing Parker acknowledges the fact that everyone has dreams and that sometimes those dreams don't work out the way you hope. People disappoint you. Sometimes you disappoint yourself. So you pick yourself up and try to find your way again.

I'm a huge, huge fan of this author and can't wait to read whatever she writes next!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Extra! Extra! 23

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is my weekly Sunday post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as other exciting blog news.

This Sunday I'm linking up to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and also Sundays in Bed With hosted by Kate at Midnight Book Girl.

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What's new with me?

I'm participating in Bloggiesta, which kicks off on Friday, September 28th.

Bloggiesta is a chance to work on your blog in a fun, supportive atmosphere. You sign up and set your own to-do list. You can tackle anything from a tiny project (back-up or updating a review archive) to a huge one (a redesign). There will be mini-challenge hosts -- including me -- who will be offering you information, suggestions, and fun projects to tackle.

It's not too late to sign up! You can do that here.

What happened this week?

Monday I reviewed Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin. If you haven't had the chance to start this series, I'm giving away book one, All These Things I've Done. For more details, click here.

Tuesday was Hot Off the Presses with another amazing giveaway -- an ARC of What's Left of Me. Still time to enter!

Thursday I did a double review, of Butter by Erin Jade Lange and Skinny by Donna Cooner -- each book looked at the struggle of a morbidly obese teen. Two very worthwhile reads -- check those out here.

Friday we talked Love Triangles. The giveaway portion of Freebie Friday is over, but you can still read our list of Love Triangles That Work.

Yesterday, I reviewed Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. What did I think? Find out here.

Congrats to this past week's winners:

Winner of the ARC of Fathomless: Jill

Winner  of Nerve in last week's Hot off the Presses giveaway: Heather B.

Freebie Friday winner:

Starry Blue -- she chose the ARC of A Want So Wicked

Random Weirdness:

Strangest spam: "Your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own website. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly"

Strangest search that led to my blog:

Whoa, that sounds a little racier than my usual blog content.

What's Coming Up On the Blog Next Week?


Reviews of Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally and Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

Another Hot Off the Presses with an awesome giveaway!

What's new with you? Tell me in comments and if you want, leave me a link so I can visit you back!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares
by Kendare Blake
Published on August 7, 2012
By Tor Teen

Source: library

My summary: This is book two in a series. In book one, Anna Dressed In Blood, ghost hunter Cas Lowood arrives in Thunder Bay, Ontario with his mother and their cat. Since the untimely death of his father at the hands of a ghost, Cas has traveled around the country, killing them. In Thunder Bay, his target is the ghost of Anna Karlov. Anna was murdered as a teenager, and for sixty years has stalked around her Victorian mansion, ripping apart (literally!) anyone who crosses her threshhold. Anna's scary, all right, but things get complicated as Cas finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her...

In Girl of Nightmares,  Anna's gone, Cas is in a deep funk and his Scooby Gang of ghost hunters seems to be drifting apart. But Cas has nightmares of Anna being tortured and he's determined to find a way to help her.

My take: I love ghost stories, and I LOVE these two books. I mean, a dark and spooky guy-meets-ghost story? Sign me up! There's so much to love about these books.

I love these characters. I know that some ADIB reviewers found Cas overly cocky, but I thought that was part of his special charm. I mean, you can't be a timid ghost hunter. Thomas, Cas's telepath friend, is also a huge favorite of mine. Then there's Carmel, the queen bee with hidden depths. In book one, they meld into a solid team, in book two, they seem to fall apart a little, which made me chew my fingernails.

I loved the fact that the plots of these books are surprisingly simple. Book one story goal: kill Anna. Book two: save Anna. Cool how those two goals are totally reversed, right?

Scariness level: perfection! These books are dark and do contain some bloody, horrific stuff at times, but that never felt gratuitous to me, just deliciously creepy.

I was thrilled that some of the action in Girl of Nightmares moves to London. My absolute favorite parts were the scene at the Tower of London and Cas's descent into the underworld. I really love a good underworld scene!

For me, the saddest part of Girl of Nightmares was the moment when I realized I'd come to the end. Not just the end of the book, but the end of Cas and Anna's story. While I loved the ending, I could have used one more book - and I hardly ever say stuff like that!

If you haven't read these, what are you waiting for? Halloween's coming soon, and these two books would make a perfect October read.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Freebie Friday 17: Love Triangles that Work

Happy Friday!  Today's topic is LOVE TRIANGLES.

I know -- it's all the rage to hate on YA love triangles, but I think that the right kind of triangle can create a lot of angst and suspense.

Love triangles didn't start with Twilight, though I think that the Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle definitely heated up this trend in the YA genre.  So today I'm featuring triangles with two guys and a girl -- though there are other variations...

There were literary love triangles way before Twilight. Like these:

Jay Gatsby -- Daisy Buchanan -- Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby

Scarlett O'Hara -- Rhett Butler -- Ashley Wilkes from Gone With the Wind

Anna Karenina -- Count Vronsky -- Karenin from Anna Karenina

There have also been a lot of great love triangles in film and TV:

Spike -- Buffy -- Angel 

Stefan -- Elena -- Damon

Pacey -- Joey -- Dawson

Here are my rules for a perfect love triangle:

1) The heroine must be romantically drawn -- or emotionally tied -- to each guy equally, and for completely different reasons. If not, you have something more like true love and a third wheel.

2)  The love triangle has to be true to the characters and the story.

3) By the end of the story, the heroine needs to make her choice and live with the consequences. I don't count it as resolved if a) one of the guys gets killed off or b) I'm told that one of the guys is actually a terrible person who has, for instance, been secretly cheating on the heroine.

And here's my list of Five YA Love Triangles That Really Work.

I may not know how all these turn out -- so please, no spoilers!

5. Logan-Aura-Zach from the Shade trilogy by Jeri Smith-Ready.
Poor Aura. This is not a spoiler, but her boyfriend Logan dies right off. So you'd think that this breaks my rule #3 about killing off one side of the triangle. Nope.  Logan haunts her as a ghost, and I kept thinking that there really was a possibility they'd get back together.

4. Jay-Violet-Rafe From the Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting
You would think that Violet and Jay were an unbreakable couple. They were best friends who became more. But this series took a darker turn, and Rafe represents a character who can help Violet understand a whole different side of herself. I can't wait to find out what happens in the next book!

3.  Tucker-Clara-Christian from the Unearthly series by Cynthia Hand
This triangle is similar to the one above. Clara is an angel, and Tucker is mortal. Christian hasn't made any moves on Clara yet, but I have a feeling that might be coming in the final book in this trilogy. Eeep!

2. Gale-Katniss-Peeta from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I had absolutely no idea which of these guys Katniss was going to choose for the longest time. Then by book three, I could see that one of the guys was subtly changing and I had my suspicions about what was going to happen. Still, I can't deny that this was a good one!

1. Jem-Tessa-Will from the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare
Okay, so I've only read Clockwork Angel, and after that I'm Team Will, but then at the end of that book, Will pushes Tessa away.  Don't tell me what happens in Clockwork Prince!

To enter Freebie Friday, just tell me your favorite literary, TV or film love triangle. Okay, if you're totally and completely allergic to love triangles, you can make your case. If you don't think I can find you if you win, please also leave an email in the Google Doc. Thanks!

Open internationally and entries will close at 8 am on Saturday, September 22. THIS FREEBIE FRIDAY IS OVER BUT PLEASE CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Butter AND Skinny

Butter by Erin Jade Lange and Skinny by Donna Cooner  -- each book is about a morbidly obese teen with musical talent. Each of these characters faces bullying, self-hatred, and some very difficult choices.

by Erin Jade Lange
Published by Bloomsbury Children's
on September 18, 2012

Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. See my FTC disclosure here.

My summary: Butter is a gifted saxophone player. He has a crush on Anna, a girl at his school. He also weighs 423 pounds. Anticipating Anna's rejection, he carries on an internet relationship with her disguised as a private school kid named JP. He fears he'll never be able to lose weight or have the life he wants, so he creates a website devoted to his plan to eat himself to death on New Year's Eve. The popular kids at school get wind of his plan and, unsure if he's serious or just trying to get attention, they begin to cheer him on.

My take:  Like this book's premise, Butter is both horrifying and fascinating.

The thing I liked most about this book was its moral complexity. There's a lot of subtle commentary here about modern technology, about the uneasy relationship between voyeurism and entertainment, about the fine line between a supportive relationship and an undermining one.

To me,  Butter was not a book with obvious heroes and villains. Butter's online relationship with Anna is sad but also cuts two ways.Yes, Butter is totally and completely delusional to think that a gorgeous, popular girl would ever give him the time of day in real life. On the other hand, why is gorgeous, popular Anna in a relationship with a guy who will never meet up with her, never talk to her on the phone, never fully reveal himself to her? Clearly, Anna has her own issues. Although I would have loved to have seen these explored a bit more in the book, this is really Butter's story.

Given reality TV and the fact that so much of teens' social lives takes place on the internet, Butter's website to chronicle his own suicide is both ghoulish and apt. At first, I wasn't sure whether his site was a cry for attention or a cry for help. Until the very end of this book, I wasn't sure how things were going to turn out.

Butter is way more than just a book about a kid with weight issues -- this is a thought-provoking book that still has me pondering the way technology influences our self-image and our relationships with others.

by Donna Cooner
To be published by Point/Scholastic
on October 1, 2012

Source: received an ARC from the publisher at BEA (Book Expo America.) Link to FTC statement above.

My summary:  Ever, a talented singer, is certain that she'll never play the lead in the school musical, never get asked out on a date, never have the life she dreams about. Ever weighs over 300 pounds. After she makes the decision to undergo bariatric surgery, Ever begins a new stage in her life.

My take: I had the impression that this book was about an overweight girl struggling with "Skinny," a voice inside her head that undermines her self-esteem and self-image. I was intrigued -- I mean, what girl or woman doesn't have that voice, the one that tells her she's not smart enough, not pretty enough, not good enough? That voice is part of this book, but Skinny is mainly a book about one girl's experience with gastric bypass surgery.

Ever's decision to have surgery felt a little rushed to me. Yes, Ever seems to have a genetic predisposition to be overweight. But Ever also watched her mother die of cancer, then gained fifty pounds in a short period of time. When she goes to the doctor to discuss the possibility of surgery, he asks fifteen year-old Ever how many calories are in a Big Mac, lectures her father on the dangers of obesity, then hands over the consent forms -- which her father signs. Done. I was a little surprised that the issue of therapy never seemed to come up -- at least in the ARC version of this book.

That aside, while Butter presents a guy's experience of being overweight, Skinny does an excellent job of portraying female characters' insecurities. Skinny does acknowledge the fact that normal weight women have issues too. Ever's stepsister Briella is deeply hurt by the fact that her father doesn't make time to have a relationship with her.

While I liked Skinny, at times I felt that the book's many Cinderella themes (Ever's name, her stepmother and stepsisters, the fact that her school is putting on a production of Cinderella, Ever's big makeover for a school dance) felt heavy-handed. Ever has the surgery, gets whisked off to the mall for a haircut and some new clothes, and suddenly, all her dreams start coming true.  It's great to be healthy, but losing weight isn't like the wave of a fairy godmother's wand -- it doesn't magically fix every problem.

These two books presented different and interesting viewpoints on teen obesity. I think Butter and Ever are characters that a lot of us can relate to -- people who just wish that others could see and appreciate them as they really are.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday ... Days of Blood & Starlight


Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

On a beach vacation over the summer, I tackled a stack of books I'd been meaning to read forever. One of them was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. You can read my "why didn't I read this book sooner" post here.

Now I'm very excited that there's only a (relatively) short wait for the next book in the series:

Days of Blood & Starlight
by Laini Taylor

Expected publication date: November 6, 2012
by Little, Brown BFYR

I love to read books right when they come out, but the benefit to not reading a book right away is that the wait for the next book seems so much shorter!

Leave me a link to your WoW post OR tell me about a book that you've been meaning to get to forever!

Also, don't forget to enter to win What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang here (Int) OR 

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce here  (US residents only) OR 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releases September 18-24

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Hot Off The Presses highlights great new YA releases for the coming week.

Wondering what new books are coming out September 18-24?
Some fantastic stuff! Click on the book covers to get to Goodreads!

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian Adaptation by Malinda Lo The Diviners by Libba Bray

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
See my review here!

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Butter by Erin Jade Lange Teh Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Butter by Erin Jade Lange
I'm reviewing this later this week!

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Review coming soon!

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Win this -- enter below!

More September 18-24 releases below. If I missed something, please let me know!

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris (Entangled)

Cursed by Jennifer Armentrout (Spencer Hill Press)

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Thomas Dunne -- my bookstore doesn't categorize this as YA, but I'm including it)

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse (Feiwel and Friends)

Seconds Away by Harlen Coben (Putnam)

Glass Heart (Cold Kiss #2) by Amy Garvey (HarperTeen)

Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson (Little, Brown)

To enter to win an ARC of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang, just link up a review to any of the above books, or leave a comment! Then enter in the Rafflecopter!  Open internationally. Thanks for stopping by :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 17, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Because It Is My Blood

Review of Because It Is My Blood
by Gabrielle Zevin

To be published by FSG/Macmillan BYR
on September 18, 2012

Source: Received ARC from the publisher at BEA. Read my review policy/disclosure here.

Series report: Dive right in! Gabrielle Zevin ingeniously uses Anya's exit interview from the Liberty Children's facility to recap a few major plot points.

Spoiler-free summary of All These Things I've Done: It's 2083 in Manhattan. Coffee and chocolate are illegal and water is scarce. Anya Ballantine is a mafia princess -- her family manufactures and sells black market chocolate -- who looks after her brother, sister, and grandmother after her parents' deaths. A power struggle is brewing over control of the Balanchine empire, and Anya's stuck in the middle. Then Anya's ex-boyfriend is poisoned by a bar of Balanchine chocolate, and she's the prime suspect. All this complicates her growing attraction to Win Delacroix, son of the city's district attorney. Needless to say, neither of their families are very happy about the relationship.

Spoiler-free summary of Because It Is My Blood: Anya's just been released from juvie and is determined to put her life back together. That could be a bit of a problem. Her old high school doesn't want her back, and Win Delacroix seems to have found a new girlfriend while she was locked up. If that's not bad enough, strange "accidents" seem to be happening all around her. Anya is forced into hiding on a cacao plantation, where she'll learn more about the strange plant that is so much a part of her birthright, and also have time to reflect upon the part she needs -- and wants -- to play in the Balanchine empire.
"I regretted nothing."
My thoughts:  If I ever played matchmaker between two YA characters,  I would introduce Anya to Cassel Sharpe in the Curseworkers series by Holly Black. Both of them have had to grow up way too fast, both of them want to do the right thing, and neither of them ever seems to be able to get away from their close-knit but amoral families. Even if there wasn't a romantic spark between them, they could be great friends.

Anya's a fantastic female character: tough and wry and world-weary. "Poor me" just isn't in her vocabulary. Whatever the job is, she gets it done. I loved her deadpan humor, and her humorous asides to the reader.
"That was the thing about organized crime families -- you shouldn't bother getting too attached to anyone."
Win. He's not a big part of this book and I have mixed feelings about that. I recently pointed out that often in book two of a trilogy, the couple gets separated. Because It Is My Blood definitely follows that pattern. On the plus side, the story doesn't have to balance real plot developments with make-out sessions and stuff. Also on the plus side, Anya really gets a chance to grow as a person in this book. On the negative side, Anya felt a little bit adrift emotionally and geographically for a large stretch of the book.

Yes, I was also sad to see this book move away from Manhattan, but I like Anya enough to follow her wherever she want to go. The cacao plantation was interesting, though, and I gained a new appreciation for all the varied uses of the machete. Anya eventually does make it back to New York, where she makes a decision and a new alliance that will spin her life -- and this series -- into an interesting new direction.

Have you tried this series?

I'm giving away a paperback of All These Things I've Done. Open internationally.

Just enter in the Rafflecopter below! a Rafflecopter giveaway
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