Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #173 - The Cage

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

The Cage
(The Cage, Book 1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: May 26, 2015
Published by: HarperTeen

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments--tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empt town cobbled together from different cultures--all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer--a handsome young guard called Cassian--appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo--where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer--though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And is so...what world lies beyond the walls of their cage? (Summary from Goodreads)

Doesn't this sound interesting!? Different. I'm in! Plus, I got an ARC at ALAMW15 which I'm diving into this week hopefully! YAY! Has anyone read it yet?

What are you waiting on this week?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words 
Author: Katie Alender
Release date: September 30, 2014
Published by: Point/Scholastic
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Willa has just moved to California with her mom, a widow, and new stepfather, a Hollywood movie director. She has been keeping some big secrets from her mom ever since her dad died. In fact, one of those secrets is the fact that she has been trying to contact him almost every night using a method she learned in a book. This has led to Willa seeing strange shadows, having odd hallucinations, and generally questioning her sanity.

Throughout the story, I love Willa’s snarky attitude. One of my favorite lines is from the third page of the book: “Jonathan unlocked the dead bolt. ‘The door’s original,’ he said, sounding proud--as if a plank of wood lasting almost a hundred years was somehow a credit to human ingenuity and not, you know, trees” (3). Willa is smart and sassy which is one way she hides her vulnerability. Shortly into the story, she begins to have some serious visions about the women killed by the serial killer hounding L.A. She struggles to accept what she is seeing, especially since she has built many walls to keep people out and no longer has anyone to confide in...until Wyatt Sheppard, who is investigating the killings as a school project.

This is one emotional story. Not only will you be reeling from Willa’s ups and downs, but you will also have to take deep breaths as you experience ghostly encounters with her, and endanger your life beside Willa’s on the hunt for the serial killer. And while I was able to figure out the killer pretty quickly, I still enjoyed the ride with Willa.

I was reading the book this weekend and tried to read it before bed...bad idea. I had to slam the book closed right in the middle of a potential “scary ghost” moment as I lay a snuggly in my bed; otherwise, sleep would have eluded me. Then I finished it Sunday morning in the bright daylight ;)

If you enjoyed Katie Alender’s Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer then get your hands on Famous Last Words. It’s definitely worth a read.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spotlight Tour + Giveaway: Spelled by Betsy Schow

By Betsy Schow
Release date: June 2, 2015
Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

"A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea's evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine...For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige's Dorothy Must Die." -School Library Journal

"This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin' pair of heels.)" --Jen Calonita, author of The Hollywood Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

"Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled." --J. Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series

"A hilarious and snarky reimaging of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, "Spelled" is one fabulous read...Kick off those silver slippers and truck in with this wonderful tale!" -Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)

Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks--like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story. 

Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but ravels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals. 

  Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the alltoo-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix 'em. They were just servants. It wasn't like their opinion mattered.
  Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I'd never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
  Well, I'd had enough of being a sideshow for the day. "If you're the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim." I pointed in the direction of my father. "While you're there, you can help the king with the wisps."
   The young man's expression clouded over, but he didn't move.
  I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. "Off with you. Courtyard's that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in."
  "Someone told me I'd find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs." He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water--made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing. 
  In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. "It seems she was mistaken."
  Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
  I felt my own lip curl; in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
  Before I could put the boy in his place--down in the dirt, where he belonged--a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
  After stowing his sword, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. "Clearly he's blind and doesn't know what he's talking about."
  I didn't ask for Sterling's opinion, but it made me feel better.
  Until he opened his mouth again.
  "Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don't know what you're fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?"
  Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
  And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.


Waiting on Wednesday #172 - The Stars Never Rise

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Be sure to post a link to your Waiting on Wednesday below!

This week's pre-publication "We can't wait to read it!" selections are...

(Untitled Series, Book 1)
Author: Rachel Vincent
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Published by: Delacorte Press

Sixteen-year-old Nine Kane should be worrying about her immortal soul, but she's too busy trying to actually survive. Her town's population has been decimated by soul-consuming demons, and souls are in short supply. Watching over her younger sister, Mellie, and scraping together food and money are all that matters. The two of them are a family. They gave up on their deadbeat mom a long time ago.

When Nina discovers that Mellie is keeping a secret that threatens their very existence, she'll do anything to protect her. Because in New Temperance, sins are prosecuted as crimes by the brutal Church and its army of black-robed exorcists. And Mellie's sin has put her in serious trouble.

To keep them both alive, Nina will need to trust Finn, a fugitive with deep green eyes who has already save her life once and who might just be an exorcist. But what kind of exorcist wears a hoodie?

Wanted by the Church and hunted by dark forces, Nina knows she can't survive on her own. She needs Finn and his group of rogue friends just as much as they need her. (Summary from Goodreads)

The tagline on the cover is what really got me honestly...
I was in from that alone! 

What are you waiting on this week?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: Waiting for Gonzo

Waiting for Gonzo 
Author: Dave Cousins
Release date: January 1, 2015
Published by: Flux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oz has just moved to the “wilds” of the country after living close to London. He must adjust to a new school with some crazy characters and a new house that is ancient and crumbly. On his first day at his new school, he pulls his sister’s underwear from his backpack AND in an effort to redeem this horrible first impression, draws a mustache on the face of a picture of a girl who turns out to have the nickname Psycho Skinner. Needless to say, Oz does not get off to the best start.

The author, Dave Cousins, has created a roller coaster ride of plot twists and emotional ups and downs for Oz’s first year in this new setting. I really enjoyed all of the different characters and their personalities. Oz’s mom and dad are quirky but lovable. Ryan, Oz’s only sort-of friend, is a fantasy-loving geek. And the relationship between Oz and his sister is perfect: they love and hate each other with equal passion at various points in the story--so true to real life :)

There are secrets, missteps, hurt feelings, celebrations, and love. This story is sweet and heartwarming and chuckle inducing. AND definitely worth a read. Enjoy!
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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Review: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart 
Author: Robin LaFevers
Series: His Fair Assassin, Book 3
Release date: November 4, 2014
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The last of the three friends has waited and waited to serve Death as her friends have been sent out on their missions. She has to be the next one called up, right? Nope. A younger novice is called instead of Annith. Instead she's stuck at the convent with the older sisters and the really young sisters, and worst of all very soon her fears are confirmed that the Abbess has decided that Annith is to become the next Seeress. This means she will never leave the convent and see the world. Now that that she's found out that her worst fears are to come true, she has decided to strike out on her own to see what the world holds for her...

My thoughts: THIS!! Seriously...THIS!!! Oh how I LOVE this series! I waited and waited to read this one because I just didn't want the series to ever end. :( Silly me. Who knows maybe it isn't over and there will be more adventures for the daughters of Mortain. Please? Pretty please with a cherry on top? This series is ALWAYS on my Top 10 list whenever I do one. It is just fantastic in every way.

Ok, let's chat about this one specifically...

It was a fantastic finish and I wasn't ready for what it entailed. I thought it was going to be different somehow, but boy was it good. I savored every page. Oh the secrets that are revealed in this one are unbelievable and they just keep coming over and over in this one...

Of course I'm not going to tell you any of those. Mwahaha! *insert evil laugh* Let me just say that Annith was an interesting character who I couldn't quite decide if I completely identified with since she wasn't fierce like Ismae or Sybella, but she did slowly begin to grow on me just as she slowly spread her wings in the world. She was raised in the convent from infancy, so she was much more docile to the Abbess and her demands then the others who were called to Mortain later in life. 

This book was much more fantasy then historical, although it was of course very full of the historical element which Robin elaborates on at the end of the novel as to which is fact and which is fiction. It is a beautiful story of love, friendship, self discovery, and so much more. 

Last thoughts: If you haven't tried this series yet, I'm really not sure what you're waiting for. It's filled with SO MUCH!! You have to give Grave Mercy a try if you haven't!

Check out my reviews of book 1 & 2:
Book 1: Grave Mercy
Book 2: Dark Triumph

p.s. If you EVER get the chance to see Robin speak somewhere she is in my Top 5 list of author visits I've attended and it was for this series. She was fascinating! 

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review: Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

Author: Rachel DeWoskin
Release date: August 7, 2014
Published by: Viking Books for Young Readers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You would think that relearning everything would be enough to keep you busy after losing your eyesight to a terrible accident. Of course that is just not enough for Emma Sasha Silver apparently since she also grabs onto the death of a local girl which has been found to be a suicide. How can a young girl commit suicide and no one have ANY idea that she was headed in this direction? That's the sad mystery that Emma wants to solve. She's only 15 and now completely blind but is bent on solving what happened and what should happen next for her and her friends.

My thoughts: I really liked this one. I got to meet Rachel and hear her talk about researching for this book. I was seriously impressed that she not only went to a school for the blind to talk with kids about being blind, going blind, their fears, etc. but that she also learned braille. The best part about the book for me was the main character, Emma. She is tough, strong and resilient like all of us hope to be every day. She is a great role model without dressing things up and playing at being a fake teenage girl. She's real. That really means a lot in a book.

Emma's family was a character all on its own in the book. She has 6 siblings along with her mother and father who surround her throughout the book. I, of course at this point in my life, really loved the mom and the dad. They were great, and also very real. They never let up on trying to help her even when Emma didn't want help they still did things in little ways for her. Even if it was an inappropriate sip of wine at midnight when she couldn't sleep. Of course so were her siblings, including her sister who was just awful to her even though she had lost her sight. Others tended to want to treat Emma with "kid gloves", but not this sister. She also has this adorable younger brother Benj who she adores and who adores her. I could honestly go on and on about her family; they were so well written. 

There isn't much romance in this one and I was ok with that since Emma is, and should be, focused on putting herself (her mind and body) back together after such an awful accident. The development of Emma as a character was really the main event in this book. She is so well written. 

The audiobook: There was one actress reading this one and we really liked it. We actually listened to this one after ALAMW15 in the car back and forth from school and home each day. The girls and I that is. I was a bit nervous here and there about the YA content, and even made sure to listen to a large section without them which they were really angry about. LOL! I actually finished reading the book as the actual book since I got it at ALAMW15 too ironically. They have been begging me to get another book to listen to in the car. :) 

Final thoughts: This is a great story about a girl who is trying to find her way at a point where she has to start over because she is now suddenly completely blind. Plus, it's about what it means to be there for your friends and your family. Try it! 

A goofy picture of Rachel and I this fall @Anderson's YA Conference. LOL!
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