Google+ YA Romantics: April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Couples With Issues: The Treatment by Suzanne Young and Boys Like You by Juliana Stone

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This week I'm pairing up my reviews so I can get them all posted in time!

The Treatment
(The Program #2)
by Suzanne Young
To be published by Simon Pulse
on April 29, 2014

Source: giveaway at ALA
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sloane and James are on the run after barely surviving the suicide epidemic and The Program. But they’re not out of danger. Huge pieces of their memories are still missing, and although Sloane and James have found their way back to each other, The Program isn’t ready to let them go. Escaping with a group of troubled rebels, Sloane and James will have to figure out who they can trust, and how to take down The Program. But for as far as they’ve come, there’s still a lot Sloane and James can’t remember. The key to unlocking their past lies with the Treatment—a pill that can bring back forgotten memories, but at a high cost. And there’s only one dose. Ultimately when the stakes are at their highest, can Sloane and James survive the many lies and secrets surrounding them, or will The Program claim them in the end?
My (mini) take: I must confess: I didn't love The Treatment as much as The Program, but I am glad that I read it. I have a lot of affection for poor Sloane and James, starcrossed lovers trapped in a web of evil people who want to capture them and mess with their brains.

In this book, James and Sloane have escaped from the Program. It's rare that I am wildly enthusiastic about "on the run" books and that's pretty much what this installment was, as Sloane and James try to keep one step ahead of their pursuers and figure out who they can trust. One of my favorite things about The Program was the questions the book raised about what constitutes happiness and "normal" behavior. To today's parents, has teenage mental health become synonymous with "good" or conformist behavior? In The Treatment, with all the running around, most of these truly fascinating philosophical questions got lost in the mix.

I was also hoping for more resolution on the issue of Sloan's brother's death. After reading the first book, I was convinced was something sinister there. But I still I remain a fan of these books and a devoted shipper of James and Sloane. And overall, this duology does raise a lot of interesting and timely questions about how mental disorders and their treatment. While I wish The Treatment had taken the time to delve into these issues a little more, the book was still a pretty satisfying end to an interesting story.

Boys Like You
by Juliana Stone
To be published by Sourcebooks
on May 6, 2014

Source: Thanks to Sourcebooks for allowing me to read an advance copy for review!

Synopsis from Goodreads: One mistake and everything changes.
For Monroe Blackwell, one small mistake has torn her family apart –leaving her empty and broken. There’s a hole in her heart that nothing can fill. That no one can fill. And a summer in Louisiana with her Grandma isn’t going to change that. Nathan Everets knows heartache first-hand when a car accident leaves his best friend in a coma. And it’s his fault. He should be the one lying in the hospital. The one who will never play guitar again. He doesn’t deserve forgiveness, and a court-appointed job at the Blackwell B&B isn’t going to change that.
My (mini) take: Here's a quick test you can take to see if Boys Like You is a good fit for you as a reader:

Do you love those two-damaged-people plots in New Adult fiction? Are you a fan of edgy, angsty books like those by Katie McGarry? If so, this book is right up your alley.

I'm still on the fence about NA. While I appreciate all the emotions and issues the genre raises, I sometimes feel that all the angst and drama crowd out other things I value in a story, like character and plot development.

There were things I really liked about Boys Like You. The Southern setting was fantastic and Monroe's grandmother was a great character. Nathan and Monroe had sizzling hot chemistry that kept me flipping the pages. As a parent, I was especially moved by Trevor's story, and really felt for his parents and what they were going through. But at times, the "two broken people who find one another and smolder as they find healing" plot did feel a little busy. There was a whole lot going on - Nathan's issues, Monroe's issues, Trevor's issues. It just seemed that with so many issues, some of them got shortchanged.  Given the cover, I was also a little disappointed that music wasn't as big a part of the book as I'd hoped. On the plus side, this book is filled with emotion and features a romantic relationship that I think a lot of YA readers will adore. If you go in expecting plenty of smolder and not as much music, I think you will be pleased.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing April 29-May 5

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

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

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

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

The Treatment by Suzanne Young Sweet Reckoning Shattered by Teri Terry The Taking by Kimberly Derting
The Treatment (The Program #2) by Suzanne Young (Simon Pulse)
Sweet Reckoning (Sweet #3) by Wendy Higgins (Harper)
Shattered (Slated #3) by Teri Terry (Nancy Paulsen)
The Taking (Taking #1) by Kimberly Derting (Harper)

A Time to Dance Hunter by Michael Carroll Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike
A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (Nancy Paulsen)
Hunter by Michael Carroll (Philomel)
Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike (Harper)

Summer Love by Jill Santopolo Exile by Kevin Emerson Scan by Sarah Fine
Summer Love by Jill Santopolo (Speak)
Exile (Exile #1) by Kevin Emerson (Katherine Tegen)
Scan by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine (Putnam)

Tease by Amanda Maciel Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson Love and Other Foreign Words
Tease by Amanda Maciel (Balzer + Bray)
Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson (Scholastic)
Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan (Dial)

The Drowning by Rachel Ward In the Shadows The End or Something Like That
The Drowning by Rachel Ward (Chicken House)
In the Shadows by Kiersten White (Scholastic)
The End or Something Like That by Ann Dee Ellis (Dial)

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Twins? Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson and Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel

With their lookalike covers and sound-a-like titles, it could be difficult for a reader to tell Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson and Second Star by Alyssa Sheinmel apart. They aren't the same book. One is a nicely realistic odd couple romance between a small town girl and a celebrity, the other a well-crafted retelling of Peter Pan. I enjoyed them both!

Second Star
by Alyssa Sheinmel
To be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
on May 13, 2014

Source: thanks to Macmillan/FSG for advance review copy!

Synopsis from Goodreads: A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. 
My take:  You wouldn't think this would be my kind of book. Peter Pan is not one of my favorite classics and magical realism really isn't my thing. But I'm a huge fan of Alyssa Sheinmel's work -- I've read all her books -- and I love the way that she incorporates magic and fairy tale elements into all her stories.

Second Star is the story of Wendy Darling, a California teenager who just finished high school and is headed to Stanford. You'd think Wendy's life is perfect, but it's not. Her happiness is shadowed by the mysterious disappearance of her twin brothers while surfing. Wendy sets out to find them, and is soon wrapped up in the lifestyle of a mysterious group of surfers led by the charming but inscrutable Pete. Wendy's certain that he can help her find her brothers. Her quest leads her to the Jolly Roger, a dive bar, and Jas, who deals an addictive drug called fairy dust. Wendy's not giving up until she gets answers about her brothers, even if her quest destroys her.

Okay, you might think that all sounds kind of out-there, but this retelling really worked for me. The whole book feels ...  dreamy and otherworldly, and to me, those are qualities that really honor the spirit of original story and its portrayal of Neverland. Alyssa Sheinmel excels at writing fragile-yet-strong heroines who seem to have everything but are barely holding it all together. To me, the whole story felt like a classic fairy tale -- not the Disney-fied version, but those original fairy stories that showed peeks of the dark side underneath all the glitter.

Catch a Falling Star
by Kim Culbertson
To be published by Scholastic
on April 29, 2014

Source: Thanks to Scholastic for allowing me to read an e-ARC from Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter's town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam's girlfriend while he's in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn't at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what's real and what's fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds - her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

My take: For me, the greatest strengths of Catch a Falling Star were the character of Carter and the book's charming portrayal of small town life. Carter is a character who is described by another character as happy where she is and happy with herself. That may not be 100% true, but she's sort of refreshingly sweet and down to earth without seeming irritatingly goody-goody. But I loved the way that the book dug deeper -- is she really happy where she is, or is she just afraid to venture outside her familiar little world? Speaking of that world, I loved the wonderful little details of life in Little, California - yep, that's the town's name.

The romance in this one was interesting. When bad boy child star Adam Jakes comes to town, Carter is the only one in town who couldn't care less. But then, spurred on by some financial problems in her family, she agrees to a (paid) fauxmance with Adam. Things don't always go smoothly. Adam is an interesting character -- a kid who's never had a normal life and has a hard time trusting anyone. While he was a very hard character to warm up to, in the end I found Carter and Adam's slow burn romance to be a nice blend of realistic and romantic. In this book, the ending was just the beginning, if that makes sense.

A few things about the book fell short for me. Carter's family's financial problems seemed like a bit of a plot device at times. And Adam never really opened up to an extent that I felt that I understood him. But overall I was quite charmed by this one -- it's a celebrity romance story with a surprising amount of depth.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Freebie Friday: ARC Grab Bag!

Happy Friday!

When I first started blogging I used to do ARC Grab Bag. I'd draw a winner and let them choose from my giant stack of ARCs. So I was staring at my giant stack of spring ARCs and I thought:

Because my stack is big, the winner can choose up to four spring 2014 ARCs!  And I'm so sorry to say that the cost of mailing a box of books outside the US will be too much for my blog budget to bear, so this Freebie Friday will be US only.  If you live outside the US, you can enter Hot Off the Presses here AND you can enter my stop on the Fairytale Fortnight Hop here.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trending Thursday: Island Tales, From Idyllic to Sinister

Welcome to Trending Thursday, a weekly post in which I pick some trendy aspect of YA literature and we can discuss...

I just finished this book, which was set on a private island....

That got me thinking about YA books that take place on islands.  I think that Island Books are a timeless trend, the kind of thing that never really goes out of style.  Island settings take the element of isolation and make it either romantic or sinister.  I thought We Were Liars, which I'll review soon, was a clever combination of both.

Here are the four types of island books that I thought of:

Idyllic Island: romantic walks on the beach on a charming island you won't want to leave... 
Creepy Island: you think you're on that charming island, but then things get spooky...
Survivalist Island: on these islands, only the strong survive...
Fantastical Island: these stories blend mythology with the supernatural...

Classics set on islands run the gamut, from Idyllic (Anne of Green Gables) to Survivalist (Lord of the Flies or Robinson Crusoe) to Creepy (Island of Dr. Moreau)

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TV shows set on islands often have Survivalist and/or Creepy elements...

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In terms of recent YA, there are a few Idyllic Island books.  Not everything is perfect on these islands, but the worst that might happen is a broken heart or a bad case of sunburn...
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Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
The Au Pairs by Melissa de la Cruz
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Creepy Island books are a favorite of mine. Everything seems nice, until you realize that something sinister is afoot...
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Ten by Gretchen McNeil
The Turning by Francine Prose
Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Survivalist Island books seem to have surged in popularity since the TV show LOST. In these island books, you might be menaced by a virus, an asteroid, Mother Nature, or your fellow castaways...
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NIL by Lynne Matson
Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe
Elemental by Antony John
The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

On a Fantastical Island, you might find supernatural forces, mythical creatures -- or both!
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The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
Ashes on the Waves by Mary Lindsay
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Revel by Maurissa Guibord

There's something about a book set on an island that just captures my imagination. What do you think of this timeless trend?
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