Google+ YA Romantics: January 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Freebie Friday: Burning Midnight!



Welcome to Freebie Friday! Don't know about you, but this week has been brutal -- weather-wise and things-to-get-done-wise and I'm SO happy that the weekend is just around the corner.

For today's giveaway, I have an ARC of an upcoming YA book:


I'm mailing this, so it is open to US/Canada only -- sorry! But next week I have a GREAT giveaway coming up that is open to all :) Happy reading and happy weekend!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing Jan 26-Feb 1

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!

LAST CHANCE to enter the January giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

I'm making a small change to the giveaway portion of Hot Off the Presses -- there will no longer be a linky, but there are still plenty of ways to enter and win!

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!

Rise of the Wolf Any Other Girl Shallow Graves
Rise of the Wolf (Mark of the Thief #2) by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic)
Any Other Girl by Rebecca Phillips (Kensington)
Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace (Harper)


The Siren Love That Split the World The Memory of Light
The Siren by Kiera Cass (Harper)
The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry (Razorbill)
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur Levine)

Front Lines Dark Days Club It's All Your Fault
Front Lines by Michael Grant (Katherine Tegen)
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (Viking)
It's All Your Fault by Paul Rudnick (Scholastic)

Year We Fell Apart pic I'm From Nowhere
The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin (Simon Pulse)
Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk (Delacorte)
I'm From Nowhere by Suzanne Myers (Soho)

Mystery of Hollow Places Possibility of Now See How They Run
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos (Balzer + Bray)
The Possibility of Now by Kim Culbertson (Pointe)
See How They Run (Embassy Row #2) by Ally Carter (Scholastic)


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Monday, January 25, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

Burning Midnight
by Will McIntosh
To be published on February 2, 2016
by Delacorte Press

Source: ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere. When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them. There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
My take: Burning Midnight was a fun, page-turning story about a diverse gang of underdogs out to stop an evil billionaire and save the world. The book's premise is that colored spheres start showing up all over the world, and people soon realize that by "burning" these spheres (holding them to their temples) they can absorb the powers within (better eyesight, singing talent, etc.) The spheres are different colors and categorized according to rarity like diamonds or ...Pokémon cards. Rare spheres can go for millions and the rich burn them with abandon as they try to make themselves better looking, smarter, etc. The aforementioned evil billionaire, being a typical greedy capitalist, wants to corner the market on spheres and, as the story opens, has cheated the main narrator, Sully, out of money he owed him for a sphere. Sully soon meets Hunter, a mysterious girl who hunts spheres to make extra money, and the two of them build a tentative partnership/alliance/flirtation. The gang is rounded out by Mandy and Sully's friend Dom.

What I Liked about Burning Midnight:
The writing, though it felt closer to the middle grade reading level to me, was smooth and flowed well, making this a quick and easy read. Sully was an engaging character, as were all the gang, at least on a surface level. They were a diverse group who had different philosophical reactions to the whole sphere thing, which was interesting. The sphere concept was fun - simple enough to be easily grasped, and gave the book a nice "quest" vibe.

What I Thought Could Have Been Better:
In the afterword, the author says that Burning Midnight was expanded from a short story, which made a lot of sense. The plot and worldbuilding were pretty basic - the first two-thirds of the story felt a little repetitious with rounds of good news followed immediately by bad. Then there was a road trip, an action sequence, and a rather rushed conclusion. I also wished for a bit more character development. Each character was given one defining "thing." Sully and Hunter were the most three-dimensional, with Mandy and Dom feeling much less so. Finally, the back cover of my ARC promised that the ending is "the craziest and most surprising climax of any novel you'll read all year." Uh... just like Mandy warns the other characters that burning spheres might not be the best idea, making marketing promises like that is always unwise. I didn't predict the ending, but given that (highlight for spoiler) the author is a sci-fi writer,(end spoiler) it wasn't incredibly shocking.

I enjoyed Burning Midnight, though it skews a little younger than my usual YA read. I'd definitely recommend it to those who are fans of books with a Rick Riordan vibe, to those are looking for something for a tween or reluctant reader of either gender, or to anyone who wants a quick, fun read.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Freebie Friday: Zero Day



Welcome back to (traditional) Freebie Friday! 

Today I have a fun prize for my winner -- a finished hardcover of Zero Day by Jan Gangsei AND a signed Zero Day mousepad! Zero Day is a fun political thriller which I reviewed here.


Because I'm shipping this myself, this week's giveaway will be US only, sorry!



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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing January 19-25

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!

Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

I'm making a small change to the giveaway portion of Hot Off the Presses -- there will no longer be a linky, but there are still plenty of ways to enter and win!

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!

We are the Ants Sword and Verse Burn Concentr8
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson (Simon Pulse)
Sword and Verse by Kathy McMillan (Harper)
Burn (Three Sisters #2) by Elissa Susan (Greenwillow)
Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe (Bloomsbury)


Shade Me Radiant Road Up to this Pointe
Shade Me (Nikki Kill #1) by Jennifer Brown (Katherine Tegen)
The Radiant Road by Katherine Catcall (Dutton)
Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo (Random House)

Under the Dusty Moon The Capture Sanctuary Bay
Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland (Dunedin)
The Capture (The Prey #2) by Tom Isbell (Harper)
Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz (St Martins)


Will to Survive The Isle My Second Life
Will to Survive (Rule of 3 #3) by Eric Walters
The Isle (The Ward #2) by Jordan Frankel (Katherine Tegen)
My Second Life by Faye Bird (FSG)


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Monday, January 18, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

The Year We Fell Apart
by Emily Martin

To be published on January 26, 2016
by Simon Pulse

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan. Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis. While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from. As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.
My take: I love realistic fiction and love flawed characters, but had mixed feelings about The Year We Fell Apart. It seemed to be trying to be a second-chance-at-love story, a redeem-the-misunderstood-girl story, and a illness story all in one. For me, that was too much.

The way the story was told -- at least for the first half of the book -- was confusing and a little alienating to me as a reader. There are a bunch of characters between whom some drama has happened in the past. For the first half of the book, I felt a like the odd person out at a party -- you know, when everyone knows one another and talks in shorthand. I didn't really understand what had gone on between this group of people. I was expecting to be able to piece together a timeline of Harper and Declan's breakup: a led to b and then c. When I finally did understand, it seemed like a list of unrelated events:  a death and a break-up and a scandal and something about the swim team.  For more explanation under spoiler protection, check out my Goodreads review.

I found Harper very hard to understand and relate to. Because we're all flawed, it's immensely satisfying to watch a character face up to that fact. It was beyond frustrating to watch Harper make the same mistakes over and over and then complain about being judged and misunderstood. It also didn't help that Harper's problems, while upsetting to her, absolutely paled in comparison to the things that people around her were going through -- people who needed her. I also wish the book had done more to address Harper's drinking problem -- every time she drank, she made choices that she regretted later on.

For me, this book would have worked better if it had focused more on what the book seemed to want to be about: a girl trying to come to terms with mistakes she's made and redefine herself as a person. I don't feel like the story quite got there in the end. As much as I like characters to get a happy ending, I couldn't help feeling that the book copped out on making Harper do the work that she needed to get one.

tl;dr: Though I liked the idea behind this book, the slow-reveal plot structure and distracting subplots made it a less satisfying read than I was hoping for.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Freebie Friday: January Feed Your Reader!


One of my 2016 resolutions is to mix things up a little here on the blog, so welcome to a new monthly feature: Freebie Friday: Feed Your Reader!

Every month I'll feature a few of my favorite e-book deals -- either books I've read and loved or books I've been meaning to read -- and pick a winner who can choose one of my picks.

For January I'm featuring three books I really enjoyed. I will gift the winner his or her choice on either Kindle or Nook. If these e-book deals have an expiration date, I've noted it below.



Jellicoe Road Shadow and Bone His Fair Assassin

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. This is a YA classic, a Printz winner that introduced the YA world to one of the most beloved book boyfriends of all time: Jonah Griggs. The ebook is 1.99 through January 18!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. If you haven't read this, you should. Not a fantasy reader? Neither am I and I adored it.  The ebook is 2.99

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. This is the first of a set of companion books. If you love historical fiction and/or historical romance, these are a must read. The ebook is 2.99


I will gift the winner any one of these e-books for either Kindle or Nook! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer

Once Upon a Kiss
by Robin Palmer

Published on January 5, 2016
by Penguin/Speak

Source: ARC from publisher for review
Synopsis: It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to?

My take: Once Upon a Kiss is a little younger and fluffier than my typical YA read, but it was fun, especially since I am old enough to remember things like...

Hot Dog on a Stick! (Their lemonade was really good!)

Or do you remember doing this

to get your hair to look like this? 
I am still trying to find and destroy all my perm pictures...

Then, of course, there's that fabulous 80s music (which I still listen to, thank you very much...)


The blurb (and the book's characters) call what happens in Once Upon a Kiss time travel, but to me, it felt more like a comic switcheroo book like Freaky Friday or a crazy dream sequence, like The Wizard of Oz. Zoe -- a not-so-popular high school student from the 80s -- starts choking and is suddenly transported into 2016, where she's a popular mean girl. All her friends from 1986 are there, but they haven't aged -- they're still teenagers. In time travel I think they would have aged...

Once Upon a Kiss isn't a very plot-heavy book -- it mainly involves Zoe trying to get back to her old (uncool) life, which makes all the popular kids really confused. There's humor if you remember the 80s, and more humor as you watch Zoe try to navigate modern technology, etc.

In sum, while Once Upon a Kiss wasn't my typical kind of read, it did offer a few laughs. I'd recommend it to readers who are looking for something light and comic.  Or nostalgic. Or both!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Just Finished Readings ... Zero Day by Jan Gangsei

Zero Day
by Jan Gangsei

Published on January 12, 2016
by Disney-Hyperion

Source: Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on. Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious. When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn't know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie. It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. 
My take: I really enjoyed Zero Day. I've seen it compared by other reviewers to Scandal, which I understand, because both the show and the book have a Washington D.C. setting and characters that include a President and his family. But I'd say that Zero Day is more similar to the first couple seasons of Homeland -- but a gender-swapped Homeland, so returned kidnapping victim Addie Webster is the Nicholas Brody character, with Addie's former best friend Darrow filling the Claire Danes role.

Zero Day's premise is simple yet intriguing. A prominent politician's daughter is kidnapped but never found. Eight years later, Addie is retuned to her parents, now the President and First Lady. So the first question I had was: is this really Addie? (As a veteran thriller reader, I I've learned to question everything and everyone.) If the girl isn't Addie, what is she up to? And if the girl is Addie, what is she up to? Darrow knew the old Addie better than anyone, so even if I wasn't sure what Addie's deal was, I was counting on him to figure it out.

Zero Day is told from several close-third person POV's: mainly Addie's and Darrow's, but a few others as well. While I'm a multi-person POV isn't always my favorite, this works well in thrillers because is creates and intensifies suspense. Because Addie is a possibly unreliable narrator, this narrative style preserves the mystery as to whether Addie is a victim, a villain, or something in-between. But another result of this narrative choice is that Zero Day reads more like a plot-driven book than a character-driven one. This also isn't a book with much romance, but the pace of a thriller doesn't often allow time for that.

I had a (completely outlandish) theory of Addie and her return that did not turn out to be accurate. But I thought that the resolution of the story was fittingly dramatic and that nearly every loose end was nicely tied up. (To me, it seemed like Zero Day might be one of those "possible series" books, as one loose end remains enticingly dangly...)

I had a lot of fun reading Zero Day and  recommend this book to YA readers who are fans of Scandal, Homeland, and The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing January 12-18

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!

Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

I'm making a small change to the giveaway portion of Hot Off the Presses in 2016 -- there will no longer be a linky, but there are still plenty of ways to enter and win!

Enter by linking your reviews of YA books that release this month 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!
Zero Day Teen Frankenstein Assassin's Masque Bookishly Ever After
Zero Day by Jan Gangsei (Disney-Hyperion)
Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker (Feiwel and Friends)
The Assassin's Masque (Palace of Spies #3) by Sarah Zettel (HMH)
Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira (Entangled)


Underwater Other Broken Things Traveler Heir and the Spare
Underwater by Marisa Leichhardt (FSG)
Other Broken Things by Christa Desir (Simon Pulse)
Traveler (Seeker #2) by Arwen Elys Dayton (Delacorte)
The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright (Merit)


The Killing Jar Up From the Sea American Ace
The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth (FSG)
Up From the Sea by Leza Lowitz (Crown)
American Ace by Marilyn Nelson (Dial)


a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
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