Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Published: May 2, 2017
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
Pages:
418 (Hardcover)
Series:
N/A
Source:
Library
My Rating:
3 of 5 stars


Let luck find you.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Blitz: Something Beautiful by Amanda Gernentz Hanson


Something Beautiful by Amanda Gernentz Hanson
Published by: Pen Name Publishing
Publication date: June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Cordelia and Declan have been best friends since they were three years old. By the time they hit middle school, Cordelia—Cord, to Declan—is already feeling the blackness in her life as depression takes hold. Their mutual attraction to each other leads to a serious high school relationship, one with their foundation of friendship at the forefront. Cordelia seems to have her mental health under control. All appears to be well.
However, when Declan starts to accept his own fluid sexuality, it sets something in motion in their lives that is both beautiful and tragic as they learn to love each other for who they are.
EXCERPT:
Chapter 1—Now
October 2014
“Fresh off of her book tour, I have here an advocate who is actively involved in fighting inequality in her daily life. I give you, Cordelia Quinn!” The rally organizer steps aside, and I can finally see the crowd. I wave, and the rally organizer gives me a dazzling smile before she continues. “Cordelia Quinn is the bestselling author of The Yellow Wood, a coming-of-age story about a boy and a girl who are best friends as children but choose different paths as adults and then come together later in life. She is also an award-winning screenwriter and one of the most outspoken LGBTQ allies in publishing. Please join me in welcoming her to the podium!” The crowd breaks into thunderous applause that echoes through the cold air, and a smile pulls at the corners of my mouth.
I can’t lie—I’m nervous. I’m not good at hiding my emotions, so I’m afraid that people might be able to tell. I hate crowds, and I hate public speaking. I’ve managed to avoid it ever since I spoke at high school graduation.
“Hello, Topeka,” I begin. My voice is shaking. God, I hope no one notices.
The crowd is rumbling below me, waiting for me to say something good. I’m not even sure I have anything good to say. I’m so bad at this. But I’ve learned that being honest is usually the best way to go, so I decide to veer away from my prepared speech and try for candor.
“I’m going to admit something to you,” I say, gripping the sides of the podium to keep my hands from trembling. I can’t be trusted to hold papers or they’ll be shaking so much that I can’t read them. “I’m not a fan of public speaking, and I don’t usually speak at rallies like this one. But this issue… it’s really important to me. Those of you who have read my book know that. So, when my publicist asked me to come here and talk to you, I couldn’t really turn her down.”
The crowd cheers, and I smile and take a deep breath. With each breath, I feel more at ease, more comfortable speaking up here in front of everyone. I close my eyes for a second, trying to center myself. I see my children’s faces, and my grin widens.
“Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say,” I continue, gaining confidence. “I believe in equality. I believe in love. And I believe that the government should not tell us who we are allowed to love and marry.” At this, all I can think about are the people I left at home—the people who I love, the person I married. I’m lucky. I’ve never had to fight for those rights. “The politicians who are fighting against marriage equality are all active in their conservative churches—well, ladies and gentlemen, I find two issues with that. First, this country was founded on the separation of church and state—it’s in the First Amendment of the Constitution. What ever happened to that?”
I’m on a roll now. My hands have stopped shaking and everything.
“And second, marriage isn’t just about love. Anyone who has made that kind of commitment to someone can tell you that. There are legal rights that come with marriage that should be available to everyone, no matter who they love!”
I can’t help it. I start looking for him. He’s here. I can feel it.
And then I see him, and my face breaks open into the giddy sort of smile I wish I could contain. I knew he’d come. We’ve been apart for weeks now while I’ve been on my book tour, and I’ve missed him so much. Almost as much as I’ve missed the kids. God, I wish they were here with me.
As I make eye contact with him, an idea strikes. I decide to roll with it. “I’m very pleased to tell you that the person who inspired my book is with us tonight. I’d like to call him up here, so that you can meet the first man I ever loved—Declan MacLeod. Come up here, Dec!”
People turn to look at him as he shakes his head and starts moving toward me. I can nearly feel my body vibrating. I can’t wait to be next to him again, to feel his warm hand in mine. My smile is so big it feels like it’s going to split my face in two.
“I’m going to kill you,” he whispers in my ear as he wraps his arms around me. I want him to hold me forever, to never let go of me, to keep me safe and warm wrapped in his strong arms. But we’re in front of all of these people. He has to let go.
“No, you’re not,” I murmur back. “You’re better at this stuff than I am. Tell them something. Anything.” He starts chewing on his bottom lip as he thinks, and I throw him a sharp look. I’ve been on him about that since high school, but he always slips back into the old habit when we’re apart.
He makes his way to the podium and clears his throat. “Hello,” he starts as he waves at the crowd. “I had no idea that I was going to be speaking here tonight, so I apologize if what I say doesn’t make any sense.” He takes a deep breath and glances back at me. “As Cordelia mentioned, I’m Declan MacLeod. I grew up across the street from her in Hamden, Connecticut. Now, I spend most of my time in New York, performing on Broadway.”
The crowd is hypnotized, and I don’t blame them. I’ve been told that, together, Dec and I are hypnotic. We have an energy. I’m not sure I agree—I think he’s the one who radiates energy and charisma, whose skin feels electrifying, no matter how many times I touch it.
As I watch him look out into the crowd, I know one thing—he’s everything. He’s my reason, my why. He’s it for me. I’d be nothing without him.


Author Bio:
Amanda Gernentz Hanson has been writing stories since the third grade, when she entered a five-page story about talking dogs into a local youth arts contest. She is an instructional designer by day and an everything else by night. Amanda is a proud Latina who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Hope College and her Master’s degree in Technical Communication from Minnesota State University. You can find her on the internet at browneyedtwentysomething.com, diverseladybookproject.tumblr.com, and on Twitter and Instagram @amandamariegh. If you see her in the wild, she probably has a book in her purse.

XBTBanner1

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings. It spotlights upcoming books we're excited about and have yet to read. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine.

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Release Date:July 18, 2017

A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

First of all, I think that color is really pretty and it's what first caught my eye about this book. It also sounds exactly like something that I would love and definitely unique. The Library of All Things sounds really interesting and ugh this book just sounds so good to me. I can't wait for it to come out.

What book can't you wait for?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
Published: March 8, 2016
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pages:
698 (Hardcover)
Series:
The Dark Artifices #1
Source:
Bought
My Rating:
4.5 of 5 stars

In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

New Releases: June 18-24

Release of the Week

 

Such a Good Girl by Amanda K. Morgan
Riley Stone is just about perfect. (Ask anyone.)
She has a crush on her French teacher, Alex Belrose. (And she suspects he likes her, too.)
Riley has her entire life planned out. (The plan is nonnegotiable.)
She's never had a secret she couldn't keep. (Not ever.)
Riley is sure that her life is on the right track. (And nothing will change that.)
She's nothing like a regular teenager. (But she doesn't have any problem admitting that.)
Riley doesn't usually play games. (But when she does, she always wins.)

She thinks a game is about to start…
But Riley always has a plan…
And she always wins.

 

Other Releases

Maybe in Paris by Rebecca Christiansen
Two Roads from Here by Teddy Steinkellner

Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams
The Girl in Between by Sarah Carroll

What books are you most excited about?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Review: That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim
Published: May 9, 2017
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Pages:
288 (Hardcover)
Series:
N/A
 
Source: Publisher
My Rating:
3 of 5 stars

High school has ended, and Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom. She’s felt alienated from her gutsy best friend, Farah, ever since Farah started wearing the Muslim head scarf—without even bothering to discuss it with Shabnam first. But no one else comes close to understanding her, especially not her parents.

All Shabnam wants to do is get through the summer. Get to Penn. Begin anew. Not look back.

That is, until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack and meets her there every afternoon.

Shabnam sees Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, even her awkwardness. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.

In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings. It spotlights upcoming books we're excited about and have yet to read. It's based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine.


All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Release date: October 10, 2017

Here is a thing everyone wants: 
A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.


Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.

At this point Maggie Stiefvater could write a book about the life cycle of an ant and I would read it. She has been my favorite author for years now and I love her writing so much, so when I heard about this book I got so excited. It sounds amazing and I definitely can't wait to get my hands on it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: Grit by Gillian French

Grit by Gillian French
Published:
May 16, 2017
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Pages:
304 (Hardcover)
Series:
N/A
Source:
Publisher
My Rating:
4.5 of 5 stars
His presence beside me is like heat, like weight, something I’ve carried around on my back too long.
Raw and moving, this contemporary realistic debut novel will leave readers of E. Lockhart and Gayle Forman breathless as it unflinchingly unfolds the tragic secrets being kept in a small, deceptively idyllic Maine town.

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Prentiss has long held the title of “town slut.” She knows how to have a good time, sure, but she isn’t doing anything all the guys haven’t done. But when you’re a girl with a reputation, every little thing that happens seems to keep people whispering—especially when your ex-best friend goes missing.

But if anyone were to look closer at Darcy, they’d realize there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface. Staying out late, hooking up, and telling lies is what Darcy does to forget. Forget about the mysterious disappearance of her friend. Forget about the dark secret she and her cousin Nell share. Forget about that hazy Fourth of July night. So when someone in town anonymously nominates Darcy to be in the running for Bay Festival Princess—a cruel act only someone with a score to settle would make—all of the things that Darcy wants to keep hidden threaten to erupt in ways she wasn’t prepared to handle…and isn’t sure if she can.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

New Releases: June 11-17

 

Release of the Week 

 

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Kansas, 2065 Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before Launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own. 

Oklahoma, 1934 Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called The Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire -- and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life -- Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most. 

England, 1919 In the recovery following World War One, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself? 

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful.

Other Releases 

 

The Suffering Tree by Elle Cosimano
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios
Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack

Be True to Me by Adele Griffin

Want (Want #1) by Cindy Pon
Obsidian and Stars (Ivory and Bone #2) by Julie Eshbaugh

What books are you most excited about?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

Talon by Julie Kagawa  
Published: October 28, 2014
Publisher:
Harlequin Teen
Pages:
449 (Hardcover)
Series:
Talon #1
Source:
Library
My Rating:
3 of 5 stars

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thoughts for Thursday: Book Covers

Thoughts for Thursday is a discussion post mainly about book related things. It isn't every week, but we try to do it as often as possible.

Erika

I'm sure everyone has heard the saying "don't judge a book by its cover," but I'm sure I'm not the only one that really loves covers and will often initially pick up books because the cover was pretty or unusual. I feel like book covers are important because they're a person's first impression of the book. It's like when you first meet someone, you'll either have a good first impression or a bad one. If you have a bad first impression it would make sense that you would be less likely to seek that person out again and I feel like this is kind of similar to good or bad first impressions with book covers. If the book cover gives you a bad first impression will you be more or less likely to pick that book up? For me (and probably a lot of people) they would probably be less likely to pick it up. I hope some of that made sense.

There are certain kinds of covers that I absolutely love and ones that make me wonder what was going on when it was designed. Personally, covers with faces I don't tend to like as much, with a few exceptions. I think those take away the imagination of the reader if they're already given the face of the main character. I do like covers where the face is obscured or not entirely clear because it still leaves a lot up to the imagination.

Of course, the more creative the cover, the more I'm going to absolutely love it. Covers like the ones for The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater immediately catch my attention. In the YA section a lot of books have very similar cover designs. I'm sure if I went through all the books I own and took a brief look at books at my local library and bookstore, many of them would feature a girl in a pretty dress on the cover. I'm not entirely sure why this is such a trend, but I still prefer more unique covers, even if I think some of the covers with girls in dresses are pretty. 

Nikki

This is actually a really interesting topic for me because I'm thinking about working in the publishing industry after college and have gone over book covers in my Publishing in the 21st Century class, as well as with some of the authors I have worked with in the past. For my publishing class I actually interviewed a couple authors about their Trade, Indie, and Self publishing experiences and how much influence they had over their book covers! It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot to present to my class. A lot more goes into book covers than I thought, especially with the increasing popularity of ebooks. I never even considered how all of my hardcover books might look when squished into a thumbnail like on Goodreads or Amazon, but how it looks as a thumbnail is an important factor in designing a book cover.

Book Covers are the most important marketing tool to sell a book to the right audience. Having the wrong cover could be the difference between being a bestseller or not. When someone looks at a cover, they should be able to tell exactly what genre it is. For example, if I say I'm reading a romance book I'm already picturing a fat, short, mass-marketed paperback with Fabio on the cover. A lot of Fantasy books show warriors and battles on their covers.  If you walk into a book store, you might not buy a book 100% based on its cover, but you pick it up and read the blurb because that cover attracted you more than the other covers. For me, I'm attracted to covers that don't feel like they were done in a couple minutes in photoshop and are more artsy-based. Like Rick Riordan's covers.

Actually, a total example of the power of book covers in action is Laini Taylor's Strange the Dreamer. When I first saw the cover I was so unimpressed I was actually put off from buying it. I loved the covers of A Daughter of Smoke and Bone. What the heck happened??? I don't want boring half yellow half blue with some moths on it. NO THANK YOU. Even though the blurb was cool I could not bring myself to want to purchase the book. Then, I later saw the other cover. The one that was solid dark blue, like the sky before night fully comes, with a large golden moth on the cover. I was stunned. This was gorgeous!  I was thinking "How could Hodder & Stoughton even show the first cover to the light of day when they had something as gorgeous as this up their sleeves??" Then the moment of realization hit me. There were two covers because there were two publishing companies selling the same book. Little, Brown was selling the cover I disliked, and Hodder & Stoughton were selling the cover I adored. So the different publishing companies and artists Laini worked with made a huge aesthetic difference and almost stopped me from enjoying her next book. Basically, I discovered I totally enjoyed solid backgrounds with silver/gold geometric shapes and squiggles on them- so pretty!




What kind of covers do you prefer?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Buddy Review: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published: June 13, 2017
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Pages:
272 (Hardcover)
Series:
N/A
Source:
Publisher 
Erika's Rating: 5 of 5 stars 
Nikki's Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kansas, 2065 Adri has been handpicked to live on Mars. But weeks before Launch, she discovers the journal of a girl who lived in her house over a hundred years ago, and is immediately drawn into the mystery surrounding her fate. While Adri knows she must focus on the mission ahead, she becomes captivated by a life that’s been lost in time…and how it might be inextricably tied to her own. 

Oklahoma, 1934 Amidst the fear and uncertainty of the Dust Bowl, Catherine longs for the immortality promised by a professor at a traveling show called The Electric. But as her family’s situation becomes more dire -- and the suffocating dust threatens her sister’s life -- Catherine must find the courage to sacrifice everything she loves in order to save the one person she loves most. 

England, 1919 In the recovery following World War One, Lenore tries to come to terms with her grief for her brother, a fallen British soldier, and plans to sail to America in pursuit of a childhood friend. But even if she makes it that far, will her friend be the person she remembers, and the one who can bring her back to herself? 

While their stories spans thousands of miles and multiple generations, Lenore, Catherine, and Adri’s fates are entwined in ways both heartbreaking and hopeful.