Google+ YA Romantics: March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fool for Books Giveaway Hop! (INT)

Welcome to my stop on the Fool For Books Giveaway Hop! Here are a few books I've fallen for in the last few weeks, but my winner can choose ANY book up to $15 on either Amazon or The Book Depository. Open internationally!

Bone Gap pic name Simon vs the homo sapiens agenda
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing March 31-April 6

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

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

NEW April giveaway and link-up! 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 reviews of YA books that release in April or by commenting on other people's linked reviews.

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Click on the photos to get to each book's Goodreads page!

Black Dove, White Raven Conformity Sisters of Blood and Spirit World Within
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Disney Hyperion)
The Conformity (Incarcerate #3) by John Hornor Jacobs (Carolrhoda)
Sisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen)
The World Within by Jane Eagland (Arthur Levine)

Twist Backlash Etherworld
Twist (Loop #2) by Karen Akins (St Martins)
Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman (Scholastic)
Otherworld (Elusion #2) by Cheryl Klam and Claudia Gabel (Katherine Tegen)

King Instinct Playing a Part
King (Prophecy #3) by Ellen Oh (Harper)
Instinct (Chronicles of Nick #6) by Sherrilyn Kenyon (St Martins)
Playing a Part by Daria Wilke (Arthur Levine)

Start of Me and You The Wicked Will Rise Kidney Hypothetical
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (Bloomsbury)
The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (Harper)
The Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee (Arthur Levine)

Cemetery Boys What Waits in the Woods Solitaire
The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer (Harper)
What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott (Point)
Solitaire by Alice Osman (Harper)

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Just Finished Reading ... Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
by Becky Albertalli
To be published on April 7, 2015
by Balzer + Bray

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
My take: Last week, I wrote about my love for books with male narrators. Not only does Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda feature one of my favorite new guy narrators of all time, it's just such a fantastic book -- funny, relatable and moving.

Simon's a high school student who is thinking about coming out. But there are some complications:

He's exchanging flirty emails with a mystery guy who isn't sure he's ready to reveal himself.
"He's someone. He may even be someone I know. But I don't know who. And I'm not sure I want to know."
Three of his friends have developed an awkward friendship triangle, and he's stuck in the middle.
"I have a policy of not falling for Nick. But Leah has fallen. And it's caused all kinds of problems, especially now that Abby's in the picture."
His family should be supportive -- except that, like everyone's family, they see him in a certain way and shut him down every time he tries to show them that he has other sides to himself.
"They put me in a box, and every time I try to nudge the lid open, they slam it back down. It's like nothing about me is allowed to change." 
And he's being blackmailed over the aforementioned flirty emails.
"I seriously can't believe I'm having this conversation with Martin Addison. Of all the people who could have logged into Gmail after me."
All these elements are balanced so beautifully together into a story that's just sheer YA perfection, a perfect blend of awkwardness, humor, adolescent angst, friendship, romance... this book has it all. I had my theory about who the mystery emailer, a.k.a. Blue, was, but I was completely wrong. (highlight for spoiler) I thought he was Martin, who was using the blackmail to get to know Simon. But I was kind of glad to be wrong. (end)

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is among my favorite books of 2015 so far. I highly recommend it. I'll be giving away an ARC on Freebie Friday this week, so if you're interested in giving it a try, be sure to stop by!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Freebie Friday: The Start of Me and You

Happy Friday!

Today I'm giving away The Start of Me and You, a book I reviewed on Monday!

This is US only, but I have a bunch of giveaways running, two of them open internationally. Check them all out here!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Compare and Contrast Two Guy Narrators: Liars Inc and Boys Don't Knit

I love guy narrators and recently read two great -- though very different -- books featuring guy protagonists.

Boys Don't Knit
by T. S. Easton
Published by Feiwel and Friends
on March 24, 2015

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: After an incident regarding a crossing guard and a bottle of Martini & Rossi (and his bonehead friends), 17-year-old worrier Ben Fletcher must develop his sense of social alignment, take up a hobby, and do some community service to avoid any further probation. He takes a knitting class (it was that or his father’s mechanic class) under the impression that it's taught by the hot teacher all the boys like. Turns out, it’s not. Perfect. Regardless, he sticks with it and comes to find that he’s a natural knitter, maybe even great. It even helps ease his anxiety and worrying. The only challenge now is to keep it hidden from his friends, his crush, and his soccer-obsessed father. What a tangled web Ben has weaved . . . or knitted.

My take: I feel like the cover and title are a little misleading. Boys Don't Knit is Lad Lit, which is a favorite genre of mine. Think Adrian Mole, Nick Hornby, or The Inbetweeners. Think awkward British adolescent boys trying to navigate the confusing world of high school. That's What She Said Jokes (or in poor Ben's case, his parents' creepy double entrendres). I'm also a huge Anglophile -- I love British slang and characters who have friends with names (or nicknames) like Gex and Joz.

For me, Boys Don't Knit started out strong, with some laugh-out-loud moments and a crazy set-up that leads to Ben being enrolled in a knitting class. My interest in the story flagged in the middle a bit, and the ending was a predictable, movie script sort of ending. But overall, I did really enjoy this one. If you're a fan of Lad Lit or funny male narrators, definitely give this one a try!

Liars, Inc
by Paula Stokes
Published by Harper Collins
on March 24, 2015

Source: eARC for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative? When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.
My take: I love thrillers and am always on the lookout for good ones. As I said above, I'm also happy to find a great, relatable male narrator. Liars, Inc. combined the two in a way that made for a fast-paced story with a twist that I didn't (completely) guess.

Liars, Inc. starts with a bang, as Max is being stalked by two FBI agents. Max makes a break for it and runs, then backs up six weeks to tell us how he got into such an unusual situation: his friend is dead and he's being fingered as the culprit. The story then follows Max and his girlfriend Parvati as they try to stay one step ahead of the Feds -- and the killer. Parvati was a great character, so much more than the usual female thriller sidekick. She's the daughter of a Navy Seal and has more than a few tricks up her sleeve. Max is also a classic thriller protagonist, a sort of everyman who finds himself in trouble and has to improvise.

Liars, Inc. is fun and fast-paced and will really keep you guessing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing March 24-30

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

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

Enter the March 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 March YA reviews or by commenting on other people's linked reviews.

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Click on the photos to get to the book's Goodreads page!

Liars Inc Walls Around Us Tightrope Walkers Haunting of Sunshine Girl
Liars Inc by Paula Stokes (Harper)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin)
The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond (Candlewick)
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie and Alyssa Sheinmel (Weinstein)

Guardians Half Wild Boys Don't Knit
Guardians (Wasteland #3) by Susan Kim and Laurence Klaven (Harper)
Half Wild (Half Bad #2) by Sally Green
Boys Don't Knit by T. S. Easton (Feiwel and Friends)

Door in the Moon Things I'll Never Say Catalyst
Door in the Moon (Chronoptika #3) by Catherine Fisher (Dial)
Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick)
Catalyst (Control #2) by Lydia Kang (Harper)

In the Time of Dragon Moon Me Being Me Finding Mr. Brightside Written in the Stars
In the Time of Dragon Moon (Wilde Island Chronicles #3) by Janet Lee Carey (Kathy Dawson)
Me Being me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak Lowy (Simon Pulse)
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark (Henry Holt)
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Just Finished Reading .... The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

The Start of Me and You
by Emery Lord
To be published on March 31, 2015
by Bloomsbury

Source: ARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?
My take: I put off reading this book for a couple of reasons. I was afraid it would be really sad. Also, I really liked Open Road Summer and was afraid I wouldn't like this quite as much.

The Start of Me and You is not a sad book. Which for me was a good thing. Yes, Paige's boyfriend died in an accident, but the two of them hadn't been together more than a couple of months before the accident happened. That created an interesting situation in which Paige has been thrust into an almost widow-like role. Paige has been the Girl Whose Boyfriend Died for two years and, as the book opens, she's ready to resume a "normal" life.

The Start of Me and You has a sweeter, quieter feel than Open Road Summer. The characters in Open Road Summer felt larger than life to me and these characters seem more like regular people. There's a point near the beginning of the story where Max and Paige argue about Pride and Prejudice. He makes a case for the loyal, even-tempered Janes and Bingleys of the world over the hard-headed, outspoken Elizabeths and Darcys. I loved this. Max and Paige are definitely more Jane and Bingley. They're both a little introverted, hanging out in bookstores and competing on the Quiz Bowl team. (Paige is also a grammar freak who's obsessed with the correct use of pronouns, which makes the title kind of an inside joke.)

Like Open Road Summer, this book has great female friendships. I liked that Paige had a big group of friends, though Tessa was the only one I felt I got to know well. Still, I loved the sense that Paige had this supportive group of young women who always had her back. It made a nice change from the roving gangs of mean girls in many YA books.

I liked that romance took a bit of a back seat in this book. Yes, there was a romance, but this is really the story of Paige's journey back into the world -- facing her fears, saying goodbye to Aaron, figuring out who she is and who she wants to be.

While Open Road Summer was the classic summer read, I'd say The Start of Me and You is a great spring book -- filled with new beginnings.  I'll be giving away an ARC this week on Freebie Friday, so be sure to stop by!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Extra! Extra! Four Great Giveaways!

Extra! Extra!

Extra! Extra! is my weekend post featuring brand new additions to my TBR pile as well as a summary of what's new on the blog.

This weekend I'm linking to Stacking the Shelves @ Tynga's Reviews and/or to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer. 

I have FOUR great giveaways running right now!

 Feeling lucky? Well, you can enter the Lucky Leprechaun Hop. It's open internationally and you can find it here!

Also for international entrants? Hot Off The Presses, which you can find here.

I have two US only giveaways you can enter:

The Spring Cleaning giveaway hop -- enter here!

And a publisher-sponsored giveaway for The Winner's Crime:

Have a great weekend of reading -- or whatever else you're up to :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winner's Crime Blog Tour and Giveaway!

I'm so excited to participate in the What's Your Winner's Curse? Blog Tour and Giveaway.

First off, I really love the Winner's Curse series and highly recommend that you check the books out if you haven't already. If you missed my review of the Winner's Curse, you can read it here. My review of the Winner's Crime is here.

For this tour, Macmillan has asked bloggers to write about the following:

The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price. 

My Curse was a vacation. I got what (I thought) I wanted and the price was (too) high, but I did learn something valuable about myself in the process.

Some of my most vivid memories of childhood are the times I was able to convince my babysitter to let me stay up past my bedtime and watch inappropriate television. I'm a child of the 80s, so for me one of the shows my parents did NOT approve of was the Love Boat. The show made cruising seem so glamorous -- celebrities I'd never heard of -- like Barbi Benton and Charo -- strolled onto the ship and met Julie McCoy, the perky cruise director. There were dinners at the Captain's Table and romantic nights under the stars...

So when I was planning a special, one-of-a-kind vacation, I thought of a cruise. Everyone I talked to raved about them. My sister did pull me aside and whisper an alternate cruise story, a horror of missed flights and lost luggage and having to outfit herself with dowdy, overpriced clothes from the gift shop, but I shrugged that off.

As I stood in the airport among all the other cruise passengers in our embarkment city, I wrenched my suitcase out of the hands of some guy who was trying to take it by mistake. This trip was going to be perfect. Nothing was going to spoil it. 

No, it wasn't THAT bad!
Except the weather. Which was tragically cold and overcast. For excitement, we donned our waterproof jackets and ventured out onto the cold, windy decks to access a ping-pong table that was partially protected under an awning. Because of the weather, we'd also brought all the wrong clothes, and I spent a huge part of the trip in a tiny, overheated cruise ship laundry room, washing our few sets of warm clothes. We were luckier than some -- a lot of our fellow passengers were seasick. Many of the excursions were cancelled. All there was to do was eat, and even that got boring after a while.
Except that it was our most expensive trip ever, and the worst trip ever.

Yes, the weather was most of the problem, but I also realized that I do not thrive on structure while on vacation. To me, being on a cruise ship felt a little bit like being a kid on a school field trip: endless schedules, rules, procedures and lines.

Like Madeline, I wanted to run away and have an adventure.

For shore excursions, we had to line up obediently to be taken to a port city that was, we soon discovered, filled with shops that were owned or paid to be promoted by the cruise ship company. As I wandered listlessly from generic store to generic store, all I could think of was how much this vacation had cost and how little I was enjoying it.

Maybe my cruise experience was just random bad luck. Or maybe, given my sister's bad experience, my I am living under a Cruise Curse. But I also think that a large part of being happy in life is knowing yourself.  I'm not sure cruises are for me. For our next vacation, I rented a tiny apartment and we spent our time wandering, trying to navigate the grocery store in an unfamiliar city in a language we didn't speak. To some people, that vacation might seem like a nightmare, but to me it was like reading an amazing book, having the opportunity to imagine living someone else's life, if only for a week.

I wish I'd had a copy of the amazing Winner's Crime on board -- that might have saved my trip. To enter to win a copy, thanks to the generosity of Macmillan, just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

And please be sure to  check out all the other tour posts -- it's nearly the end of the tour, but each posts has a different blogger's Curse story and some of them may still have giveaways running!

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