Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Spy in the House (Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

Historical Mystery YA


Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

1850s London smelled terrible. To be more accurate, the Thames in 1850s London had such an unpleasant stench of rotting bodies/food/God knows what else that it stunk up the surrounding city. Victorian London has never been so unglamorous. 

Mary Quinn is an equally unglamorous heroine. She cares not one whit about current fashion, etiquette, or embroidery. She's tough, intelligent, acutely aware of the limited roles available to women, and of vulnerable women can be in such a cruel city. Which makes it all the more interesting when she's plopped into a genteel house, where it's necessary she pretend to be a placid, Bible-reading companion. 

She quickly crosses paths with her "love interest," an intrepid James Easton. The scenes between the two are playful and delightful, and I especially love how she has to save him in the end! 

Mary's deep, dark secret may have come as a surprise to some, but I had already guessed it way before the reveal. That said, I think it gives the novel a compelling, satisfying complexity. Identity is a difficult thing to grapple with in the best of times. Mary's own struggle reveals so much about the Victorian era and sensibilities. 

There are two more books in this series, and I plan on reading both of them. Mary was a great protagonist, and I'm very interested to see whether she will run into James again. 







Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #7


Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from the library, review books, and of course e-books! This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews


Review ARCs

 




Giveaways

 

Library Copies





What books were added to your shelves this week?



Friday, June 27, 2014

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

YA Fantasy


This book should have really been my cup of tea. I love Alice in Wonderland and its various interpretations. I love everything zombies. But unfortunately, I didn't love this book.

It starts out well. Alice (or Ali, as she prefers to be called) always thought her paranoid father was a kook. He kept their family locked up after dark and raved about unseen monsters. It isn't until a horrible, supernatural accident takes the lives of Ali's entire family that she realizes her father was telling the truth after all. She should be afraid of the dark. 

And then things went downhill for me. Ali meets a cast of lively characters, including a quirky girl named Kat and a whole gang of tough guys with their ringleader, Cole. Ali has an instant attraction to Cole and experiences a weird mind meld with him. Logically, it should have been working. But Kat and the rest of the kids at school speak like stilted hipsters, and I didn't feel any emotion attachment to anyone, not even Ali.

I put this book aside for now. I may try finishing it sometime in the future. 





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Burning in a Memory by Constance Sharper

One of the most pivotal parts of writing a book is being able to make the characters come alive. Not only do the people reading your book need a feeling for them, but as the author, you need to picture them as well. Of course everyone pictures characters a bit differently. This is the typical cause of movie casting uproar. “That person looks nothing like the book!” I’ve said it too. But it’s impossible to get someone who doesn’t exist fully onto the real screen.  Thinking about the characters in my new book, Burning in a Memory, I have picked out a few actors that I think fit the role well. I’ve listed them below!
           
Adelaide…Emma Stone                      

Mistel… Nicola Peltz                           
Adam Colton… Benton Thwaites      
           


Leon Colton… Alex Pettyfer         

Angie Colton… Karen Gillian            

           
These images are from IMDB.com and I do not own them. Also a few of them are off in the hair color or exact look of the characters, but I think they are a good fit. I’d love to hear from people who read the book if they agree with me! And I always love to see aspiring authors/published authors come up with their own movie cast!



About the Author:
Born and raised in Florida, Constance Sharper juggles following her writing passion with completing her doctorate degree. She's been a lover of urban fantasy and young adult books, and published The Airborne Saga as her first series. She continues to write multiple books in the same and similar genres. She currently lives with her beagle and wishes a Starbucks would open up nearby.






Burning in a Memory
Adelaide’s Series
Book 1
Constance Sharper

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Date of Publication: July 1st, 2014

ISBN-13: 978-1499258738
ISBN-10: 1499258739
ASIN:

Number of pages: Approx. 315
Word Count: 87,000

Formats available: Paperback, Kindle, Nook, Kobo

Cover Artist: Judyta (Feainne) K.

Book Description:

Curiosity killed the cat, and nineteen-year-old Adelaide was next. She could barely remember the moments during her childhood when she knew magic existed, but she never stopped searching for it since. On the flipside, monsters from the magical world never stopped searching for her either.

Their paths finally cross in time for Adelaide to realize she should have stayed on the human side of the east coast. Unlike college, she can’t get out of trouble with a cute smile and a cuter wardrobe.

These monsters are out for blood, her blood, but she’s in luck. They will spare her life in exchange for one favor, and that favor is named Leon Colton.

Amazon   BN    Kobo



Tour giveaway

4 paperback copies of Burning In A Memory!


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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

ARC Review of Dangerous Reflections by Shay West


YA Fantasy

Alex has the ability to time travel via mirrors. She can't pick the time or place, but all the women she morphs into are very, very familiar, especially around the eyes ... she soon realizes that the lives she's jumping into are ones that she lived before! I love the entwining of reincarnation and time travel. It's an original idea that I don't think has been explored before.
Alex is also a teenager dealing with all kinds of very real issues. Her father walked out on her family, and her mom is forced to move them to a different town and into her rich aunt's guesthouse. Things aren't as dire as they seem, however. Turns out that she loves living in the guesthouse, and being part of her aunt's life. She also meets a great group of friends at school and discovers she has a talent for acting. 
And ... she's lucky enough to be lab partners with Beau, a hot guy who happens to be dating a nasty piece of work named Catelyn. Is Beau being nice to Alex just because he wants homework help? Or does he harbor stronger feelings for her? I thought the way this relationship progressed was very realistic. Alex seems a bit sheltered and naive for her age, perfect bait for Beau and Catelyn. I was so happy when she starts to stand up for herself, instead of letting Catelyn push her around. 
The time travel segments were really interesting. Alex is a history buff, so it makes sense that she quickly finds her footing in every time she's thrown into. She's everything from a courtesan in Venice (an uncomfortable vocation for a teenage girl to be in, but no worries, nothing sexy happens while she's there) to a elderly slave woman on Jefferson's plantation. Two mysterious figures, Master and Drifter, hope to stop Alex from time traveling. They want to change history, and Alex is there every time to thwart them. There are a few close shaves, however. I wasn't sure she would be able to leave the plantation at all ... gulp!
There were a few things that bothered me: I wanted to know more about Drifter, especially since he mindlessly took Master's orders. I just didn't buy it without knowing more about his life, pre-Master. The slaves on the plantation also seemed ... a tad too happy to be realistic. 
The novel ends on a real cliffhanger. I can't wait to read the next book!




Monday, June 23, 2014

Throwaway Girl by Kristin Scarrow (ARC Review)

YA Contemporary


Andy Burton knows a thing or two about survival. Since she was removed from her mother's home and placed in foster care when she was nine, she's had to deal with abuse, hunger, and homelessness. But now that she's eighteen, she's about to leave Haywood House, the group home for girls where she's lived for the past four years, and the closest thing to a real home she's ever known. Will Andy be able to carve out a better life for herself and find the happiness she is searching for?

I read the synopsis of this novel before requesting an e-copy from Netgalley, so I knew what I was getting into. A gritty coming-to-age story about a girl left adrift in the world. But that's not exactly what Throwaway Girl is. Indeed, Andy has had a hard life. Her mother was abusive and neglectful, one of her foster homes was less than savvy, and she leaves Haywood House alone, with only a few belongings. 

Yet Andy is an unusually buoyant protagonist. There are TERRIBLE things that happen to her and the people she loves, but instead of being angsty/angry/depressed/mistrustful, Andy's ... hopeful. Even though she's eighteen, at times she resembles a little girl -- marveling at things that most of us take for granted, grateful for everything she has. 

The chapters alternate between the present and Andy's past -- first with her mother, then with her first foster parents, and finally with her last foster home. While Andy is able to bounce back from every horrific situation she's thrown into, some of the secondary characters aren't so lucky. There's a particularly tragic scene at the end of the novel between Andy and her estranged mother. Time hasn't been kind for the older woman. Others, like Andy's best friend and roommate, don't fare much better.  

The writing is a bit more tell than show, and I wished for some scenes to naturally unfold, instead of just hearing Andy's narration of what happened. This is especially true when she meets her Prince Charming, a boy I know mostly from exposition summarizing his good qualities, instead of actual scenes highlighting their growing relationship. 

All in all, I found this an enjoyable read, but oddly light for a novel that deals with such dark subject matter. 


                    

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott


YA Contemporary


Emma's life has become so small. She lost everything when her mother died, but instead of being able to grieve properly, she's trapped in a strange limbo. That's because her mother's body lies in a hospital bed, kept alive by machines while her unborn baby struggles to survive. What makes it even more complicated is Emma's daily visits to see her mother. Her mother, who's dead. Yet almost isn't, because Emma can sit beside her and hold her hand. She can watch her stomach kick and move.

You can see how traumatizing this is. To make matters worse, Emma seethes against her step-father, whom she holds responsible for all of it. If Dan didn't insist on her mom having this baby, she would still be alive. Dan cares about nothing but the baby, his future son, and Emma is being shut out from the vestige of family she has left. There's only one problem. She isn't being shut out. She's the one pushing Dan away.

It's like this with everything. Emma even holds her best friend at arm's length. She loses all interest in school, in fun, in anything other than grief and rage. Which she expresses at great decibels.

I totally understand where Emma is coming from. The scenes at the hospital are heartbreakingly sad, and the loss of a parent is one of the hardest things a person (much less a teenage girl) can go through. I loved the flashbacks with Emma's mother, because it shows us the missing pieces of Emma, the girl she had once been.

So I understand, but it doesn't make it any easier to read. Behind Emma's anger is Dan, who so obviously isn't trying to push her out into the street or onto distant relatives. Dan makes her pancakes, drives her to school, tries to talk to her the way they used to. But Emma isn't having any of it. And it's so uncomfortable and sad.

I breathed a sigh of relief when Caleb is introduced, a bad boy known for stealing cars and driving them into lakes. Caleb knows profoundly what it feels like to lose someone, and Emma finds herself drawn to him. Yet Caleb's life is equally as sad, so I didn't feel any reprieve.

My final impressions? Heartbeat is a necessary book. But it's far from being an enjoyable one.


                               


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #6



Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical stores or online, books you borrow from the library, review books, and of course e-books! This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews

I have about a billion books to review, so I tried to keep this week's haul pretty light. :) 

Review ARCs

 


Print Copies

 


Giveaways



What books were added to your shelves this week?




Friday, June 20, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver


YA Contemporary

**SPOILERS**

I've never read anything by Lauren Oliver, but now I'm determined to read everything she's ever written ASAP. That's how much I LOVED this book. Panic is a game played every year by graduating seniors in Carp, a tiny, depreciated town. For a sizable reward, these teenagers compete against each other by taking greater and greater risks. What sort of risks? The kind that kill people. There have already been casualties of Panic, and this year there might be even more ... 

Heather's playing because she wants to get her and her little sister out of the trailer park, and away from her destructive mother. Dodge is in the game for a different reason: revenge. 

I was immediately hooked from the first chapter, and couldn't put the book down. Dodge, Heather, Nat and Bishop are all flawed and believable in their own ways. I especially related to Heather, recovering from a bad break-up (her ex-boyfriend actually shows up at the first Panic event with his new love interest), desperate to get her sister away from the drugs and alcohol their mother keeps bringing home. I was so happy when Heather finally crosses paths with Anne, a nice widow who offers Heather a part-time job and hope for the future (okay, I know that part sounds hokey, but it's true!). When one of the Panic challenges involves Anne's beloved pets, I was so distraught! I didn't want anything to ruin the trusting relationship between Anne and Heather.  

There's a pair of love stories too. Dodge has feelings for Nat, and Bishop so obviously loves Heather, it hurts. Both guys have very dark secrets. I won't give away anything, but I think that the repercussions of what they did seemed really light. In fact, Dodge's misdeed (for lack of better word!) wasn't even addressed in the last chapter!

I'm all for happy endings, but that was my only real qualm about the book. The foursome live happily ever after, and while I'm happy for them, I also doubted that Nat would end up with Dodge (wasn't she just using him, after all?). Heather and Bishop, on the other hand, was totally plausible! So glad that worked out! 

So yes, read this book. It's AMAZING. 



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Art Geeks and Prom Queens by Alyson Noel


YA Contemporary

***SPOILERS***


Remember Mean Girls? That's the movie I kept thinking of as I read this book. Rio's the new girl in town. She lived a pretty sheltered existence in New York, but her entrance into __ is definitely eye-opening. She's introduced to two set of people -- Mason and handsome Jas, kids she meets in art class who run their own school zine and don't follow any status quo. And then there's Kristi and her entourage -- popular cheerleaders with the nicest clothes, cutest guys, and best parties. 

Right away, you can tell that there's something not quite right about Kristi. For one thing, she's way too obsessed with Rio's ex-supermodel mother and superstar lawyer father. She says weird things about the square footage of Rio's new home. And here's the biggest red flag: she gives Rio a set of rules to follow.

As far as I can tell, there's two reasons why Rio falls into this crowd: 
1) Her mother loves Kristi and is obsessed with the idea of Rio being one of the pretty, popular girls. 
2) Rio has a mortifying "date" with Jas, where she learns that not only is she NOT on a date, but Jas already has a girlfriend. 

Yet I still have to question Rio's motivations. She's very smart, and was perfectly happy at her old school with her non-popular geeky friends. I'm sure that she had to live with pressure from her mother in New York as well. She never seems totally enamored with Kristi's lifestyle, but she plunges right in anyway.

Everything ends well, though. A bit ... too well?? Once again, I'm skeptical about character motivations. Rio ignored Jas and Mason for most the novel, so I'm surprised when they welcome her back with open arms. It doe make sense for Kristi's cronies to follow Rio's lead -- they are, after all, followers. But Jas and Mason are free-thinkers, or so we're lead to believe.

My biggest complaint? Rio's never happy. Well, she's never unhappy either, just in this weird limbo state most of the time. I think she's finally happy at the end, but that's when the book ends! Sigh.

I enjoyed Art Geeks and Prom Queens, but I wanted a bit more realism and grit. I also Rio to be convincing in her convictions and decisions.


             




Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Blitz and Giveaway! Mind Static by Jen Naumann



Mind Static by Jen Naumann 
Publication date: August 2013

Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult


Synopsis:

Keyanna Sanders is about to get everything she could ever wish for on her 18th birthday: a hot guy who’s really into her, the sports car she’s always dreamed of owning, and the party of a lifetime that no one will forget any time soon.


But before long, she’ll understand these wishes are more than a coincidence, and that they come at a steep price. Keyanna is more than just an average high school senior, her best friend is more than the innocent boy next door, and her sudden good fortune isn’t just by chance. When her estranged father suddenly re-enters her life, she’ll have to decide who to trust, and whether or not the man she loves has become the enemy.


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AUTHOR BIO

Jen Naumann grew up in southern Minnesota as an addict of such flicks as Indiana Jones and The Goonies until she discovered John Hughes, and spent her high school days locked away writing love stories with a sci-fi twist. Married to a farmer in southern Minnesota, she tries to follow the madness of her four active children while balancing an imagination that never shuts down. As the author of CHEATING DEATH, SHYMERS, AND PARANORMAL KEEPERS, she writes stories with strong female leads who have a good sense of humor and tend to fall in love despite their better judgment.

Author links: 



GIVEAWAY


Blitz-wide giveaway
Open to US/CAN
-Signed copy of Mind Static
-15$ iTunes GC
-Custom bookmark


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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR List!



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's theme is the top ten books I want to read this summer. 

Wow, this is a tough one, because I literally have hundreds of books I want to read. There's just not enough hours in the day. But if I had to narrow it down ...

10) 

I've heard amazing things about this fantasy series. 



9) 

I'll need a dose of cute YA to read while lying at the pool. 



8) 

A girl detective series! :)


7)  

This has been languishing on my shelf for a long time, and I've heard nothing but good things about it.


6) 

I really liked Edith Pattou's East, so I was excited to receive the e-ARC copy of Ghosting!


5)  

I still don't know what happened! I need to know!!


4) 

A fairy tale series I haven't read yet? I'm excited!


3)  

Dystopian novels transcend the seasons. Summer, winter, whatever...


2) 



Ooh, a suspenseful thriller. Sounds good!


1) 

I'm loving this series right now. I can't wait to read Cress! 


What are your top ten summer reads?