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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Giveaway: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

I happen to have two review copies of Tessa Gratton's newest release, The Lost Sun. This book officially releases on June 25th and is the first in a new series: The United States of Asgard

About the book:

Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. 
Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

If you're interested in winning a copy, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Of course, for every comment left on my blog, I'll be trying to make it over to your blog to spread the comment love! :)

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

There are times when I finish a book and I can't help but think to myself: why did you take so long to read this!? That's exactly what I was thinking when I finished Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits. This book has a compelling premise and a seriously swoon-inducing romance between two flawed and very different individuals who somehow seem absolutely perfect together.

Pushing the Limits alternates between Echo and Noah's point-of-view, which works perfectly for this premise and these characters. Since both have their own set of complicated problems and difficult pasts, it felt important that both characters had an opportunity to share their POV regarding both the issues they're currently facing and the growing feelings between them. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't end up preferring one narrator over the other; they complimented each other well and I found myself excited to hear the other's take on situations and conversations.

It's been quite some time since I've read a novel that focused on romance. I was feeling a bit burnt out and uninspired by those that I'd been reading; I wanted a romance with depth but all I felt like I was really getting was fluff and bad matches. Pushing the Limits reawakened by love of romance. Echo and Noah - and their story - made me want to fall in love again. McGarry's story evoked the excitement of first real, deep, complicated love that we all inevitably feel... and as horrible and distracting as it can be when you're going through it (as Echo and Noah clearly illustrate), there is something epic and wonderful about it as well!

I highly recommend this first Pushing the Limits book from McGarry. The second book, Dare You To, has just released and I'm super excited to see if McGarry achieves the same level of emotion with her sophomore offering as with her first.

Shop Indie Bookstores
Harlequin Teen, July 2012, Hardcover, ISBN:  9780373210497, 392 pgs.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Keeping Her by Cora Carmack Preview & Excerpt!

Fans of Cora Carmack's novels, especially her first novel, Losing It, will be thrilled to find out that Carmack has written an e-book about Garrick and Bliss! Yay!! The novella, Keeping Her, releases August 13th and is available for preorder. Can't wait until August? Avon and Carmack have released an excerpt of the novella, which can be found below. Of course, I've read this excerpt myself, but I'm not sure it was the smartest decision because now I want to read the whole story right now!

Additionally, Carmack and Jay Crownover will be participating in a Goodreads chat on 6/26 and there will be a Faking It book club on Cora’s facebook page on 6/27 from 3-4 p.m. EDT. So there are two great opportunities to chat with Cora about the books and ask her all your burning questions!

Next week, be on the lookout for the Finding It cover reveal!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? 

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. 

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one. 

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

I keep hearing people say that they're becoming burnt out on the dystopian genre... Well, let me tell you, Joelle Charbonneau's The Testing might just rekindle your love of the genre. 

The Testing has been pitched as a must read for Hunger Games fans and does feel very similar... even the cover shares the same simplicity and a similar focal concept sure to catch the eye of HG fans. But I assure you, The Testing is not The Hunger Games. Charbonneau introduces readers to an entirely new dystopian society that, at least initially, feels quite safe, but turns out to have a much darker, sinister side than our heroine ever imagined. 

The novel follows Cia, a mechanically gifted girl who has been chosen to participate in The Testing, which is a means of determining which individuals from various parts of the United Commonwealth will be able to continue their education at university and eventually become an important leader. Only a very small number of individuals are selected to compete in The Testing and most individuals know they will never be chosen, even if they dream of the honor. Cia hopes to be selected, like her father once was, but knows her chances are slim. When she learns that she, and three others from her district have earned a spot in the competition, she's amazed and incredibly proud - and is confused as to why her parents seem less than excited. Before she leaves for the capital, her father takes her aside and shares one of his deepest fears: that the testing is not the dream that it seems. He reveals to her that, while participants minds are wiped after they've completed the testing, he's been left with terrifying nightmares that he fears may be lingering memories rather than products of an overactive imagination. With this knowledge now lodged in her mind, Cia leaves for The Testing, anxious and guarded. She soon learns that her father was correct to fear The Testing and that she'll need to use everything in her to survive.

There is a romantic plot line within The Testing and, while it does contribute to the story, especially when considering the complications a romance can cause when an individual is unsure who can be trusted, it isn't the main focus of the novel. That is to say, this is not a love story, though it does contain one. In this way, it is much like The Hunger Games

Some may wonder how like Cia is to THG's Katniss. While both heroines are strong and capable of taking care of themselves, Cia, in my opinion, is definitely more motivated by emotion than Katniss and is more naturally trusting and sympathetic. It always seemed to me that Katniss wasn't above manipulating or using others for her own gain when she knew they were emotionally attached to her (for example, Peeta); Cia, on the other hand, is more likely to be the one manipulated, not because she's weak, but because she feels deeply for others. There was never any point where I felt she was weak or unintelligent, though she does have weaknesses.

For the most part, The Testing had really great pacing and twists. Although, it did take me perhaps 50 pages or so to be completely hooked. It is around this point that Cia has reached the capital and has begun the testing... and then all hell breaks loose!

Whether you're a Hunger Games fan, a dystopian junkie, or just looking for a great, action packed read, The Testing is for you. Do not miss this book!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780547959108, 336 pgs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bookish Viewing: The Buccaneers

I really, really love shows like Downton Abbey, movies like Pride & Prejudice, and BBC minseries. I enjoy all of it: the history, the unavoidable romance, the costumes and hair, the accents, and the engaging plots!

Additionally, many (if not most) of these stories are retellings of novels - novels that are on my miles high to-be-read pile. As most of us readers know, we won't ever get to half the books we plan to read - it breaks my heart just thinking about the amazing stories I'm missing out on - and, for me at least, I know that many of the books I will end up not having time for are those huge, often dusty, tomes that such shows and movies are based on. It isn't at all that I don't want to read them, but, at least in my case, that there are other things that I feel I should be reading to keep up with the patrons in my library. While some readers will be searching for older, classic titles, many have found them on their own and are now looking for more recently published read-alikes... inevitably, I end up reading those newer titles so I'm able to confidently recommend them. 

Of course, this is why I am so incredibly thankful for things like BBC miniseries and PBS! They're the perfect way to experience those books I'm forever (sadly) pushing lower on my TBR pile! Sure, the television or movie version probably isn't as good as the original book and there are probably differences between the two that would annoy me if I had read the book, but I'll never know (well, unless I do get to read the book, in which case, hurrah!). 

Now perhaps I'm just late the party and everyone else has already watched these various miniseries and movies, but I've decided to post about what I've been watching. Of course, in some cases I won't actually be sure whether or not the movie or show is a very accurate representation of the novel (though BBC does tend to be quite true to originals), but I will be able to recommend that you do (or don't!) spend your t.v. watching time on this or that particular movie, show, or miniseries!

And, if you're anything like me, you might just be even more motivated to make time for that classic novel... and everything else the author has written!

The Buccaneers (IMDb) (Netflix)
Based on: Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers
Released: 1995 - BBC
Description: Nan and Jinny St George have both wealth and beauty in generous supply. In the New York society of the 1870s, however, only those with old money can achieve the status of the elite, and it is here that the sisters seem doomed to failure.
Nan's new governess, Laura Testvalley, herself an outsider, takes pity on their plight and launches them instead on the unsuspecting British aristocracy. Lords, dukes, marquesses and MPs, it seems, not only appreciate beauty, but also the money that New York's nouveaux riches can supply.
A love story of love and marriage among the old and new moneyed classes, The Buccaneers is a delicately perceptive portrayal of a world on the brink of change.


I watched this miniseries after it popped up on my Netflix recommendations around the same time I was compiling a list of read-alikes for fans of Downton Abbey, which ended up including Edith Wharton's novel by the same title.  Someone, I hadn't ever heard of The Buccaneers before - in either novel or miniseries form - but I'm now very curious about Edith Wharton and her writing. 

The 4-part series, set in the 1870s, follows the stories of four well-off American girls. For the most part, all four girls are well off and, during this time, wealth bought status, but not necessarily respect (especially from those born into positions of status). Nan, arguably the main character of the series, is the youngest of the girls and under the care of her new governess, Miss Testvalley, who her mother has hired to achieve the manners and class required of the family's new social status. Miss Testvalley convinces the St George's that a season in England is just the thing to raise Nan's prospects and lure in a marriageable match.

In no time, all four girls have found husbands. The girls assume that now they're set to experience happy lives full of leisure and love, but live is never simple and marriage doesn't necessarily equal happiness... and money, which brought their supposed happy endings in reach, might just end up being the cause of their unhappiness.

When I started watching The Buccaneers I had no idea how scandalous it would be. Those who have watched or read P&P are familiar with the fact that marriages were often made for reasons distinctly unrelated to love, but it's the love matches that are the focus of the stories and the part that we readers and viewers remember. The Buccaneers, in contrast, is bursting with these unhappy matches and stories, but they're, at least at the beginning, completely unexpected. The girls are so full of hope and romanticized ideals that you can't help but believe they'll all get their happily ever afters. And their is true love and happiness, but there are horrible things that happen to. Affairs, illegitimate children, STDs, rape, longing, hate, forgiveness... 

There is so much drama and emotion in this 5 hour series. I watched it over a period of 5 days, but I thought about it constantly and even now find myself reflecting on the events of the story, the characters, and the themes. When I first started part one of the series, I wasn't sure I'd like it, but, by the end, I was enthralled and completely blown away. 

Of course, now I'd really like to read the novel and other works by Edith Wharton. I've found a couple short story collections of her work, so I might start there. I've also done some reading and it turns out that Wharton never finished The Buccaneers, she died before it was finished and it was later completed by Marion Mainwaring. I'm not sure how Wharton would have finished the novel, but, in my opinion, Mainwaring's conclusion was perfect. The novel ends on a hopeful, even happy, note, which soothed my heart after the roller coaster of emotion I'd experienced during my viewing.

Rating: 5/5

Favorite Character: Nan (Played by Carla Gugino) (though I also really loved Conchita and Lizzy!) 

Crush: Guy Thwaite (Played by Greg Wise)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Interview: Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light

Today Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light, visits The Hiding Spot to answer a few questions about herself and her book! Check out the interview to learn why writing about characters with anorexia was a challenge, how three books in particular influenced Lois as a writer, and why "odd" is her favorite word.

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write? 
There was something I was aware of the entire time I was writing A Trick of the Light (over what turned out to be almost ten years) -- a whole culture out there that glamorizes anorexia, complete with web sites that proudly call themselves "pro-Ana."  One of my characters, Amber, is someone who sees anorexia as "a lifestyle, a choice" and not a disease.  Writing Amber was tricky.  I didn't want her to be a "trigger" (something that sets off an eating disorder in people).  I wanted readers to find her sad and lost, certainly not a role model.  I omitted particular details about anorexia for fear that readers would copy them.  That balancing act was the hardest thing -- being true to Amber as a character and letting her be herself, while not making anything she does appear desirable.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The original title was Stop Motion, and that was its title for many years.  The main character, Mike Welles, and his best friend are interested in stop-motion animation, particularly the films of Ray Harryhausen.  I liked that title because it made Mike sound caught, stuck, unable to break free.  Then, while rewriting, the phrase "a trick of the light" began to appear.  Mike's grandmother calls up frantically and says there's a mouse in her living room; Mike and his mother rush to her place -- and there's no mouse to be found.  Mike's grandmother shrugs it off and says, "It must have been a trick of the light."  Mike knows she's lying.  Later, Mike says the same thing to himself when he clearly sees something (a boy in an eating-disorder wing of a hospital) and convinces himself he's seen something else (a girl who looks like a boy).  That phrase, "a trick of the light," was truer to what the book was about, deep down.
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 
There are three books I can directly credit:  The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner), Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov), and The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger).  What these three have in common is a perfect link of structure, character, and voice, with no false notes anywhere.  Each part of The Sound and the Fury has a different narrator, and I particularly like Jason, who tells the third part.  Jason starts out furious and he only gets madder.  It's the most sustained burst of anger I've ever seen.  In Lolita, the foreword, written by a fictional character called in to "edit the manuscript," basically gives away the whole story but you don't realize it until you finish, which is both very funny and very sad.  And after reading The Catcher in the Rye and listening to Holden Caulfield, you certainly get to know him as well as you ever know anybody.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing? 
I've had tons of jobs, but the best experience was a five-year stint at The New Yorker Magazine.  I was in the typing pool (this was pre-computers); it was called the Walden Pond because the boss was a kind, motherly woman named Harriet Walden.  When I typed in editors' corrections, I learned grammar and punctuation; I saw how the editors fixed something when it didn't make sense; I listened to the rhythm of the sentences of some of the world's finest writers; and I acquired an almost-obsessive attention to detail (frankly, take out the "almost-").
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
I've always liked the word "odd."  It looks odd.  It's off balance (one "o," two "d"s).  It sounds odd, ending in a thud.  It's only three letters long (two of them the same), but it has a big meaning: differing in nature from what is usual or expected, peculiar, eccentric, fantastic, bizarre, leaving a remainder of 1 when divided by 2 (from Webster's College Dictionary).  For its size, it packs a punch. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 
Definitely going to the movies.  Leave the house, turn off the cell phone; no one can find you, no one can reach you.  Just . . . disappear into the story.  Also I like riding the subway.  I always see something new (though maybe sometimes I wish I hadn't).  It's a private experience in the midst of strangers.  Nothing better for daydreaming.

Author Bio
Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light, was born in Queens and has always written for young adults. She is the author of three previous novels and two nonfiction books about the Holocaust, and she has edited five anthologies. Her short stories have appeared in collections all over the world. Her writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Harper's Bazaar. She lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and son. Find out more about Lois and her books here and follow her on Facebook 
 © 2013 Lois Metzger, author of A Trick of the Light

Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Trailer: Canary by Rachele Alpine

The book trailer for Rachele Alpine's upcoming August release, Canary, released today! Check out the trailer and find out more about this title below:

About the book:
Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.
Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete. 
But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.
Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review: Taken (Taken (#1) by Erin Bowman

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

I'd heard mixed reviews prior to picking up Erin Bowman's Taken, but the colorful cover and intriguing premise proved too intriguing to avoid for long - thank goodness - because I ended up really enjoying this first installment of the Taken books.

The story is narrated by Gray Weathersby, a teen-aged boy who has grown up in the curious town of Claysoot. The town is surrounded by a wall, but whether the wall keeps danger out, protecting the inhabitants, or keeps the people of Claysoot in, trapping them, is up for debate. When Gray's older brother, Blaine, is heisted, mysteriously disappearing from Claysoot like every boy in the settlement at the age of eighteen, Gray starts to question what he knows (and doesn't know) about Claysoot and ends up finding answers he's never dreamed of.

I really liked Gray as a narrator. Given the premise of the novel, Taken would have been a very different novel if told from the point of view of a female inhabitant of Claysoot. I found especially interesting the idea that the boys in the community are "slated" to various girls, month by month, to ensure the continuation of Claysoot's population. I can't say for sure what goes through the head of a teen boy who is faced with forcibly playing musical, uh, beds with the girls in his community, but I felt Gray's reaction was pretty genuine. On one hand, he's a teen boy who enjoys spending the night with girls and all that entails, but he also hates that he's forced to do anything and struggles with the fact that he might have real feelings for one girl in particular. Outside the wall, things change dramatically for Gray, but I felt that the romantic elements of the novel - specifically the discussion and focus on what love is, how it feels, and the confusion that comes with it - to be engaging and well-executed.

I very much looking forward to Bowman's next book, which promises the reader more answers about Claysoot and the (*spoilery*) information revealed in Taken. I wish I could say more about what I think and hope will happen in the next book, but I can't say much without revealing important elements of Taken's plot! Suffice to say, book two has the potential to blow the revelations revealed in Taken away!

HarperTeen, April 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780062117267, 360 pgs.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interview: Hannah Harrington, author of Speechless & Saving June

Today Hannah Harrington, author of Speechless and Saving June, visits The Hiding Spot to answer a few questions about herself and her most recent release, Speechless! I love both of Hannah's books (I even listed Saving June as one of my favorite books featuring travel), plus she's a Michigan author... YAY, MICHIGAN! 

Check out the interview to discover the original title of Speechless (it was much longer!), which writers her she finds most influential, and her favorite place to lose herself!

The Interview

Did you have trouble writing any of your characters or specific scenes within the novel? Or, were any characters or scenes particularly easy to write? 
Chelsea was a little rough for me to write, especially at the beginning. Her character is very different from who I am, so I had to step out of the box when developing her character. I really enjoyed writing for Andy the most; I think of all the characters, he is most similar to me.
Has the title changed or stayed relatively the same as your novel journeyed towards publication?
The original working title was The Redemption of Chelsea Knot. Harlequin Teen suggested the change to Speechless, and I agreed with no problem because I thought it was a lot better!
What book or author has most influenced you as a writer or in general? 
There are so many books and authors I found influential growing up. I devoured Sarah Dessen as a teenager. Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, and John Green were also influences of mine. Of more adult authors, Margaret Atwood is so inspiring to me—I marvel at her writing style.
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a writer/published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing? 
I’ve had a lot of different jobs since I was a teenager. Stable girl, grocery bagger/cart pusher, pizza cook, administrative assistant… I think they all helped my writing in the sense of giving me more life experience to draw from, not just the work itself but the people I interacted with while working those jobs.
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
Persnickety is a great word. It sounds exactly the same as what it means!
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Who, what, or where can be credited as your personal escape from reality? 
I do the same with books, too, and films and television shows… they definitely provide some escapism. But music may be my number one. There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a good song!

Author Bio
Hannah Harrington is a 25-year-old born and bred Michigander. She grew up in the town of East Grand Rapids before later moving to the Lansing area, where she currently resides with three cats and a black labrador, all of whom are named after famous musicians.
She wrote her first book at age nine, a stunning, forty-page Call of the Wild/Black Beauty ripoff ode to her dead dog. She later attempted her second at fourteen (by longhand), but failed miserably. She got the idea for Saving June during the summer after high school, while living out of her car and working as a pizza cook. It wasn't until she was twenty-one that she decided to write a story around the scenes she'd scribbled into a notebook years before.

Saving June, Hannah's first novel, was published by Harlequin Teen in 2011. Her second novel, Speechless, was released in the US on August 28th, 2012.

When she isn't busy writing like a crazy person, Hannah enjoys horseback riding, arguing about politics, watching documentaries, playing guitar (very badly), and speaking about herself in the third person.
Learn more about Hannah and her novel's here

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top Ten Beach Reads

This week's topic: Top Ten Beach Reads (however you define beach reads!)

This week's topic feels a bit premature for where I live (in the upper Lower Peninsula of Michigan) because it's still pretty cold here some days, but the sun has been showing its face more and more, so I'm just going to have to channel summer via the warm rays! The books I've picked are books that I feel are summery because of the setting more than tone or subject. Some of them are tearjerkers, others are more lighthearted, but they aren't necessarily "fluffy" books.

Link your TTT post in the comments and I'll stop by your blog as well!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous blog The Broke and the Bookish!

1. Bubble World by Carol Snow

Freesia’s life is perfect. She lives on the beautiful tropical island of Agalinas, surrounded by idyllic weather, fancy dress shops, and peacocks who sing her favorite song to wake her up in the morning. She has so many outfits she could wear a different one every day for a year and not run out.

Lately things on the island may have been a bit flippy: sudden blackouts, students disappearing, even Freesia’s reflection looking slightly . . . off. But in Freesia’s experience, it’s better not to think about things like that too much.

Unfortunately for her, these signs are more than random blips in the universe. Freesia’s perfect bubble is about to pop.

2. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
A gorgeous debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A dreamy summer read, full of characters who stay with you long after the story is over.

3. The Story of Us by Deb Caletti

Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend—but she’s picked a bad week to sort out her love life. For one thing, her mother’s romance is taking center stage: After jilting two previous fianc├ęs, her mom is finally marrying Dan Jax, whom Cricket loves. But as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities at a guesthouse whose hippie owners have a sweet, sexy son—Ash—complications arise:
Cricket’s future stepsisters make it clear they’re not happy about the marriage. An old friend decides this is the week to declare his love for Cricket. Grandpa chooses to reveal a big secret at a family gathering. Dan’s ex-wife shows up. And even the dogs—Cricket’s old, ill Jupiter and Dan’s young, lively Cruiser—seem to be declaring war.

While Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, she’s also alarmed by her own desires. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her....

4. Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town.

Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.

5. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now, I've thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

Anna's life is upended when her father accepts a job transfer the summer before her junior year. It's bad enough that she has to leave her friends and her life behind, but her dad is moving them to the beach where her parents first met and fell in love--a place awash in memories that Anna would just as soon leave under the surface.

While life on the beach is pretty great, with ocean views and one adorable lifeguard in particular, there are also family secrets that were buried along the shore years ago. And the ebb and flow of the ocean's tide means that nothing--not the sea glass that she collects on the sand and not the truths behind Anna's mother's death--stays buried forever.

6. A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . . 

CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose's "little wanting song" is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.
7. Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

8. Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter

You’d think Polly Martin would have all the answers when it comes to love—after all, her grandmother is the famous syndicated advice columnist Miss Swoon. But after a junior year full of dating disasters, Polly has sworn off boys. This summer, she’s going to focus on herself for once. So Polly is happy when she finds out Grandma is moving in—think of all the great advice she’ll get.

But Miss Swoon turns out to be a man-crazy sexagenarian! How can Polly stop herself from falling for Xander Cooper, the suddenly-hot skateboarder who keeps showing up while she’s working at Wild Waves water park, when Grandma is picking up guys at the bookstore and flirting with the dishwasher repairman? 

No advice column can prepare Polly for what happens when she goes on a group camping trip with three too many ex-boyfriends and the tempting Xander. Polly is forced to face her feelings and figure out if she can be in love—and still be herself.
9. Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks

A smart, tense murder mystery twined with an emotional investigation of the ways love, sex, class, and celebrity can forever change friendships.

Thoughtful Pete, tough Pauly, twins Eric and Nicole, strange Raymond: As kids they were tight; now they've grown up--and apart. They agree to get together one last time, but, twisted by personal histories and fueled by pharmaceuticals, old jealousies surface. The party's soon over, and the group splinters off into the night. Into the noise and heat and chaos of the carnival. Days later, a girl goes missing. The prime suspect in her disappearance? One of their own, one of the old gang. Pete doesn't know what to believe: Could one of his childhood friends really be a cold-blooded killer?
10. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

A long, hot summer...

That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Review: Rush (The Game #1) by Eve Silver

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

Rush, Eve Silver's debut novel, is a very unique take on an impending alien invasion. The novel follows Miki and other teens who are pulled from their every day lives to participate in missions, which are set up much like the missions in video games, complete with kill points and health/life meters, where they must exterminate an alien race called the Drau that seeks to take over planet Earth. At first, Miki is sure she's dreaming - or that the whole experience is some sort of elaborate hoax - but she soon discovers that the stakes are real... and deadly.

One of the things I love about Rush is that it has obvious appeal for a wide variety of readers. There are video game elements, aliens, possible romance, lots of action, a fast pace, and an interesting cover that's relatively gender neutral. I like to think that boys could just as easily carry this book around (without fear of being teased for a girly cover) as a girl reader. 

Rush starts off quickly paced and never slows. In many ways, it read like a video game feels. In video games that engage players in missions, there is always something to pay attention to or something happening, information is slowly revealed at specific points, and there is always the fear or a surprise attack and character death: Rush is kind of like watching someone else play a video game with your character. You're invested in the characters and the story's events and you're constantly trying to snatch the controls back, but you can only look on and hope for the best.

I'm hoping for more detail and information about the Drau in the future installments of The Game. By the end of Rush, readers have gathered some information about the players of The Game and their mission, but there are still many holes. Hopefully these things will be fleshed out in the subsequent books, since readers have met and formed bonds with the the players, which seemed to the be the focus of this first installment.

I'll definitely be reading Eve Silver's next book. I'm very curious about what will happen to Miki next... things were really intense by the end of this first book. She has a lot of information to work through, but she was definitely shaping up to be a badass by the end of Rush!

Be sure to check out the book trailer too!

Katherine Tegen Books, June 2013, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780062192134, 352 pgs.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Read Aloud Review & Giveaway: A Funny Little Bird by Jennifer Yerkes

A lonely, invisible bird mistakenly believes that adorning himself with flashy feathers and flowers will make him beautiful and win him new friends. Except his plan quickly backfires when his magnificent plumage attracts the attention of everyone, even the fox! In his rush to safety the little bird loses every last bit of his new decorations, making him invisible once again. Except now in place of his loneliness is the knowledge that putting others first is the key to friendship and high self-esteem.

I absolutely adored Jennifer Yerkes' A Funny Little Bird. This read aloud shares the story of a little bird who is a bit difficult to see and, therefore, often overlooked and ignored. Sad and lonely, the funny little bird tries different tactics to draw attention to himself, only to find out that being seen has its consequences as well. The little bird quickly learns that being himself, near invisibility and all, has its own advantages. 

Utilizing bright, minimalist illustrations and a touch of humor, A Funny Little Bird sends an important message about embracing one's physical differences. The text is also minimal, letting the illustrations guide the story, making it perfect for interactive reading aloud and great stepping stone for early readers.
Themes: Self-esteem, Friendship, Individuality, Creativity




Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, May 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9781402280139, 48 pgs.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

{Widget} Watersong by Amanda Hocking!

I know many of you are fans of Amanda Hocking's novels, her Watersong series included! The newest book in the series, Tidal, released June 4th. For those of you who are fans, be sure to show your love for the books by popping the pretty widget up on your blog!

For those of you who haven't read the books, you can find out more about Amanda Hocking and the Watersong books here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Top Ten Books featuring Travel

This week's topic: Top Ten Books featuring Travel (in some way)

This week's topic immediately made me think of books featuring road trips. They're something magical about road trips, especially road trips in YA novels where there is often a healthy dose of romance, a great soundtrack, and some worthwhile lessons along the road. Aaaand now I want to take a road trip. Who's with me!? I've also tried to include some other books that feature travel as well!

Link your TTT post in the comments and I'll stop by your blog as well!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous blog The Broke and the Bookish!

1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker
Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. 

Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. 

Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart?

2. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere. 

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

3. Crash Into Me by Albert Borris
Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae have one thing in common: they all want to die. When they meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, the four teens make a deadly pact: they will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides...and at their final destination, they will all end their lives. As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impulses, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living--or if there's no turning back. "Crash Into Me puts readers in the driver's seat with four teens teetering on the edge of suicide. But will their cross country odyssey push them all the way over? Only the final page turn will tell, in Albert Borris's finely-crafted tale of friendship forged from a desperate need of connection.

4. The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Maybe it was wrong, or maybe impossible, but I wanted the truth to be one thing. One solid thing.Quinn is surrounded by women who have had their hearts broken. Between her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother, Quinn hears nothing but cautionary tales. She tries to be an optimist -- after all, she's the dependable one, the girl who never makes foolish choices. But when she is abruptly and unceremoniously dumped, Quinn starts to think maybe there really are no good men.
It doesn't help that she's gingerly handling a renewed relationship with her formerly absent father. He's a little bit of a lot of things: charming, selfish, eccentric, lazy...but he's her dad, and Quinn's just happy to have him around again. Until she realizes how horribly he's treated the many women in his life, how he's stolen more than just their hearts. Determined to, for once, take action in her life, Quinn joins forces with the half sister she's never met and the little sister she'll do anything to protect. Together, they set out to right her father's wrongs...and in doing so, begin to uncover what they're really looking for: the truth.
Once again, Deb Caletti has created a motley crew of lovably flawed characters who bond over the shared experiences of fear, love, pain, and joy -- in other words, real life.

5. In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn’s celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. 

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn’s last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn’s best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn’t seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn . . . and ruggedly good-looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences?

6. Saving June by Hannah Harrington
‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’

Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one — so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.

When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going — California.

Enter Jake Tolan. He’s a boy with a bad attitude, a classic-rock obsession and nothing in common with Harper’s sister. But Jake had a connection with June, and when he insists on joining them, Harper’s just desperate enough to let him. With his alternately charming and infuriating demeanour and his belief that music can see you through anything, he might be exactly what she needs.

Except June wasn’t the only one hiding something. Jake’s keeping a secret that has the power to turn Harper’s life upside down — again.

7. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

8. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road--diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.
9. The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her. 

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
10. Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill--a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk--Neryn sets out for the legendary Shadowfell, a home and training ground for a secret rebel group determined to overthrow the evil King Keldec. 
During her dangerous journey, she receives aid from the Good Folk, who tell her she must pass a series of tests in order to recognize her full potential. She also finds help from a handsome young man, Flint, who rescues her from certain death--but whose motives in doing so remain unclear. Neryn struggles to trust her only allies. They both hint that she alone may be the key to Alban's release from Keldec's rule. Homeless, unsure of who to trust, and trapped in an empire determined to crush her, Neryn must make it to Shadowfell not only to save herself, but to save Alban.