Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: The Hit List by Nikki Urang

  The Hit List
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher:  Spencer Hill Contemporary
Pages: 256
Source: eARC from publisher(Thanks!)
ISBN-10:   1939392322
Rating: 5 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"The Los Angeles Conservatory for the Arts is supposed to be a new beginning for Sadie Bryant. Moving across the country is exactly what she needs to escape the gossip surrounding her injury, the devastating betrayal of her ex-partner, and to rebuild her career as a solo dancer.

When the school announces that the annual Fall Showcase, a performance that secures a spot studying in London, will now require each dancer to have a partner, Sadie’s fresh start is a nightmare. Now she has to dance with Luke Morrison, the school womanizer with a big ego. Sadie doesn’t know how to trust Luke enough to dance with him after her last partner left her broken, but Luke is determined to change that.

Then, The Hit List comes out. A game of sexual conquest where guys get points for all the girls they hook up with—and it seems like every guy at the school is playing.

The girl worth the most points? Sadie
."

Review

Short and Sweet:

Beautiful. Emotional. Brilliant. Loved it!! 

To Elaborate... 

Do you those books you come across so rarely that punch you in the feels over and over? Not just because the characters are facing a rough time or sad things happen, but also because the writing just speaks to you on such a personal level? This was that kind of book for me. I'm certainly not a dancer looking to be the best, but the writing shot straight to my heart over and over again. It's beautiful and meaningful, and it goes deeper than I ever imagined. 

The main couple, Sadie and Luke, are full of so much passion, intensity, emotion, hate, and love that my eyes got so angry they couldn't read about them fast enough (and I read this in a few hours). They are the kind of couple I never want to walk away from. They fight, argue, yell, kiss, and dance with everything they have, and most importantly, they aren't afraid to call bullshit on each other. They are flawed, and they are marvelous

The game of The Hit List is ridiculously realistic. I'm not sure if the game was inspired by something someone actually tried to do, but it would not surprise me to see it happening anywhere. It makes the reader and the characters take a hard look at gender objectifying, stereotyping, and just plain human hurtfulness. I always rave about books that can spark a much needed discussion, and this is definitely one of them. 

I seriously can't recommend this book enough, but I especially recommend it for people who love the movie Center Stage, who like contemporary stories with deep emotion, and for people who might be in search of a book to find meaning in.  

5 Hearts!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Review & Giveaway: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17234658-a-thousand-pieces-of-you
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Source: Finished copy from the publisher (Thanks!)
ISBN-10: 0062278967
Rating: 4 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.
"

Review

Short and Sweet:

A Thousand Pieces of You is a delightful, compelling, fantastically fun read! It definitely lives up to the excitement that its gorgeous cover has inspired in the YA community. An absolute must-read!

To Elaborate...

While I expected any story penned by Claudia Gray to be wonderful, I didn't expect to love the 'parallel worlds' aspect as much as I did. I have enjoyed other books with this concept, but had mostly tired of it until I picked up A Thousand Pieces of You.

So, what the story gets absolutely right for me is the romance. Not straight away, but before long I was feeling all the swoony feelings. I also REALLY appreciated the loving parents who are invested in Marguerite's life. Marguerite also really loves and respects her parents. And guess what? The story is still absolutely fabulous. No absent, or crappy parent dynamic necessary. I really hope to see more of this positivity in YA regarding parent/teen relationships. The dynamic between Marguerite and her father is really beautiful and important to the story.

The dimension travel was also really fascinating and exciting to follow. The characters actually 'possess' the version of themselves that exists in the multiverses that they travel to, so the original in each world is dormant, but not entirely gone. It's really interesting and a few moral concepts are introduced that are really intriguing. I've never read a story quite like this one and I'm super excited that this will be a trilogy. I absolutely want to spend more time in this world and see what happens next!

There were a few aspects that I felt picky about, for example: fairly early on, I guessed a couple of things about the 'bad guy(s).' I think that if I hadn't the twist would have been a bit more satisfying. Second of all, I was so excited that Marguerite's mother was this brilliant scientist, but then hardly any time is spent on her character development. This is a badass, genius mom-scientist. I wanted to know her like we got to know Marguerite's father. I hope to see much more of her in the next two installments!

I highly recommend this imaginative, swoony, high stakes story! 4 solid hearts!


AND the publisher has graciously sent a gorgeous, shiny, new hardcover of A Thousand Pieces of You for me to give to one lucky US winner! Enter below!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Blast: How We Fall by Kate Brauning

How We Fall How We Fall
Kate Brauning
Merit Press, F&W Media
Releasing November 11, 2014
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1440581797
ISBN-13: 978-144058179

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle's sleepy farming town, she's been flirting way too much--and with her own cousin, Marcus. Her friendship with him has turned into something she can't control, and he's the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for...no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn't right about this stranger, and Jackie's suspicions about the new girl's secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus. Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else's lies as the mystery around Ellie's disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Praise for How We Fall:
Kirkus Reviews: "Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid.... A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil."

School Library Journal: "Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning's characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller... this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens."

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

How We Fall is available through:

All book lovers are invited to attend #YAlaunch, a giant book party for How We Fall and The Hit List on Monday, November 10th, from 6-9pm central time. Broadcast live over video, the party will allow you to see, hear, and interact with the authors. 10 YA and adult authors will be discussing everything from writing a series to how they write love interests. They’ll also be playing book games with the audience, taking questions, and giving away 100 books to guests attending online. Authors attending include NYT bestsellers Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee, Kate Brauning, Nikki Urang, Kiersi Burkhart, Bethany Robison, Alex Yuschik, Blair Thornburgh, Kelly Youngblood, and Delia Moran. It will be a fun and interactive evening for anyone who loves books and wants to spend some time with great authors. For more information and to sign up to attend, please click here. We'd love to see you there!


 



Author Bio: Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she'd want to read. This is her first novel. Visit her online at www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

  The Princess Spy
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher:  Zondervan
Pages: 352
Source: eARC from publisher(Thanks!)
ISBN-10:   0310730988
Rating: 4 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha---one of the few who speaks his language---understands the wild story. Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin's message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself 'Lord Colin' is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy---not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook's wicked plot."

Review

Short and Sweet:

This is such a sweet fairy tale retelling with an awesome setting, and I really liked it!

To Elaborate... 

Margaretha is tired of the same type of suitor. They continuously treat her with no respect and hate how much she talks. Her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, doesn't seem quite as awful, but she still doesn't feel herself around him. When an English stranger named Colin stumbles into her home, injured and confused, he tells her of his mission to bring justice to a fallen friend whom he says Claybrook killed. Though she is hesitant to believe him at first, she soon discovers the evil Claybrook  is hiding, and she must work with Colin to save her family.

I've had my eye on Melanie Dickerson's novels for quite a while, and I was finally able to read this one! Though I had hoped to see a little more inclusion of the Frog Prince story, I still really enjoyed the new twists and turns this novel takes. 

The romance is slow, and while there were several times I just wanted to yell at Colin and Margaretha to kiss already, the slower pacing of their relationship made it so sweet. Because of Claybrook, they are both facing tough personal challenges, and their encouragement of the other to help them grow and face those challenges made me root for them all the way through. 

Their overall journey going against Claybrook is beautifully plotted. The climax builds tremendously, and all the big questions are answered at the end. For anyone looking for a more gentle fairy tale retelling, I would definitely recommend this one!

4 Hearts!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20522640-mortal-heart
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 464
Source: ARC for Review
ISBN-10: 0547628404 
Rating: 5 Hearts
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18285437-rites-of-passage

Book Description

"Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has..
"

Review

Short and Sweet:

A stunning installment in a flawless series. Robin LaFevers incredible tale just gets better and better! I cannot recommend this book, series or author enough. Amazing from beginning to end.

To Elaborate...

I'm finding it hard to formulate sentences to be honest. I loved this book so very much. Mortal Heart is not only part of a wonderful series, but in my opinion, it is the best book yet. Part of this opinion is no doubt because all 3 of Death's handmaidens are present throughout the story and having recently reread Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph, it was lovely to spend more time with them. However, Annith's character is sent out into a virtually unknown world where she faces more disturbing and threatening trials than you would think 'sweet, saintly Annith' could endure. In fact, Annith is far more resourceful than the previous books could show. She is actually pretty badass.

Over the years, convent-raised Annith has become skilled at feigning an eager-to-please, obedient attitude as a way to control her environment. But when those same qualities somehow put her in line to be the next Seeress, a life that she could not want less, Annith sets aside her compliant act and begins to plot a way out of such an undesirable fate. Where this takes her and the things that she discovers along the way are unimaginable. Truly. However, the are seamlessly woven into the story and Annith's revelations are just as often delightful as they are shocking.

Mortal Heart brings us to the height of political conflict between the Duchess and the French, and the characters are all feeling the pressure and must take greater risks than every before. And just when it seems that it is impossible and that all is lost, this story explodes into heart-pounding energy with a potential to break your heart that will set you on edge with your fingers crossed for a miracle.

Absolutely PERFECT. 5 Adoring Hearts.
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