Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New Releases Tuesday - February 4, 2014

It's New Releases Tuesday once again. Somebody get me my smelling salts, because Ignite Me is finally here.

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

The conclusion of the Shatter Me series has arrived. Let's pause for a moment, shall we, and just look at this cover. I know I like covers, but COME ON THIS COVER.

I only picked up the first two books in the series in the last six months (Shatter Me and Unravel Me) and I tore through them in record time. Juliette, our heroine, is a badass who kind of maybe can't touch anyone because her touch is deadly. But then there's Adam. She can touch Adam. And then there's Warner. Oh, yeah, she can touch him too. Sometimes. So much touching.

Romantic, steamy, completely enjoyable reads all around. If you buy the first one, you may as well buy all three--there's no putting them down.

Also, sorry not sorry, I'm 100% team Warner on this one.

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

I never watched Jon and Kate Plus 8 because that many children in one place kind of terrifies me, but I was always curious about what was going to happen to the kids when they got older. Thankfully, Heather Demetrios has done the wondering for me.

Once a child reality star, Bonnie Baker has left celebrity behind, trying to make her life as a normal teenager. Now, her parents are trying to get her back on television.

This book has the potential to be pretty entertaining, and also encourage us to take a look at the way we treat famous people, especially famous children (Bieber, I'm looking at you).

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

I was dubious, but then I read the tagline: Downton Abbey meets The Selection in this dystopian tale of love and betrayal.

Has it been done before? Uh, yes. Does that mean I won't totally love it? Uh, no. (Although the cover does kind of make it look like a bad Bravo reality show, which I definitely don't like either I swear...)

Monday, February 3, 2014

An Ode to Rainbow Rowell

I am quick to like books. I'll cross genres, age ranges, writing levels--you hand me a book, I'll give it a shot, and I'll most likely find some merit or enjoyment in it. I am very, very picky when it comes to love, though.

And I love LOVE LOVE Rainbow Rowell. I want to be her friend. I want to be her characters' friend. I want to read everything she has written and then make everyone I know read it just so I can tell them that they are wrong if they have even the slightest criticism. (I'm joking. Kind of.)

Rowell keeps me up reading until the early morning, which wouldn't be all that remarkable except for the fact that she does it without a break neck plot. I don't want to find out what happens, I just want to keep hanging out with Eleanor. And Park (ohmygodPark). And Cath. These characters that she's created that are so much like me and so much like everyone I know; they are endearing almost to the point of annoyance because I can't figure out how to get such flawed characters to be so damn likable.

Eleanor & Park tells the story of two high schoolers who just don't quite fit. Eleanor is poor, and lives in an abusive home; Park is an Asian boy in love with New Wave in a white neighborhood that's slightly behind the times. It sounds like it could veer into the cliche, but the characters are so strong and the scenes so mesmerizing that it feels like a brand new story. 

In this case, I thought I might be slightly biased in my immense enjoyment. I too once fell in love over music, while listening to many of the same songs that bonded these two. At every mention of The Smiths or Joy Division, I was back in my Chuck Taylors, tapping my toes on a dirty car floor mat, wondering how long everything would last. I couldn't help but become enamored with this book. John Green might have said it best (as he usually does), though, with this: "Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it's like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it's like to be young and in love with a book." 

Beyond the music though, I'm sure all readers can identify with the feeling of being out of place and sometimes helpless. Eleanor deals with these feelings with such strength--not with grace, necessarily, and also not with strength in the heroic sense, but pure human resilience to a terrible, terrible situation. 

(Side note: I don't want to go off on a pro-reading, stop-banning-my-favorite-books tangent, but there are people who are trying to ban this book because of the sometimes graphic and "profane" language. To those people I say this: This book is important, your teenagers already know those words, and you should be happy they are reading something with such quiet literary merit. Stop taking their books away and just realize that the world is not always a wonderful place, but stories like this make it beautiful. Thanks.)

Fangirl is Rowell's second major YA offering last year, and while the plot is even less dramatic than that of Eleanor & Park, it is equally charming. It tells the story of Cath, a fanfic writer of a  fictional and thinly-veiled Harry Potter/Twilight-esque series, and her struggle to thrive in her first year of college. Away from home for the first time in her life, and suddenly abandoned by her twin sister, Cath retreats into a world of social anxiety and gay fanfic. Really, really wonderful stuff here. 

Everything is messy, everyone makes mistakes that we all make, and they only sort of get cleaned up.  It's college how many of us lived it--without the sororities and the costume parties and the Solo cups, but with plenty of self doubt and discovery. 

Rowell has become my YA gateway author of choice. You think you don't like YA because you're an adult and you only like adult books, try not to fall in love with Eleanor & Park. I just don't think it's possible. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Releases Tuesday!

Because I've been completely absent, I'm going to reach back a couple of weeks for this "New" Releases Tuesday.

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Ok, look at this cover. This cover is the best. Judge this book by its cover, because it is also awesome. Gory, hilarious, morbid, and gripping, this murder mystery is a little bit of a Fargo rip-off, but it's so much fun to read, it's hard to really care about that.

When Kippy's (yes, Kippy) best friend is brutally murdered, she sets out to find the killer through the victim's explicit and hilariously bitchy diary. With enough Wisconsin slang to make you think you're watching Bobby's World (remember that, kids?), and a good helping of suspense, this is a fun read and a strong debut from Kathleen Hale.

In Dreams by Erica Orloff

From the book description: "Inception meets Unearthly in this hot romance for fans of Meg Cabot's Abandon series!"

Considering I almost walked out on Inception and really only stayed for the Leo and the JGL, I'm going to give this one a pass since it has neither of those people, but to each his own. (Maybe I could just picture Leo/JGL and it would be the same? Now I'm considering it...)

(From December 31, 2014)

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Sometimes a book is just a giant fuzzy scarf wrapped around you on a freezing day, and sometimes that's all you need. As the winter gets colder, cozy up with this charming, funny, realistic romance that just makes you want to drink hot chocolate and call your best friend to talk about crushes.

If all of this sounds too cliche for you (snow falling outside the window? Too much?), just know that the voices of these two characters make a somewhat predictable romance completely entertaining. It's an antidote to the dystopian desolation that's still popping up everywhere, even though all I want right now is for it to warm up and for a couple of people to love each other, OK?!

(From December 24, 2013)

Roomies by Sarah Zarr and Tara Altebrando

In your freshman year of college, nothing is as important as the random roommate assignment. As someone who ended up lifelong friends with her random roomie, I can certainly vouch for the importance of such a relationship, so the exploration of that burgeoning relationship is of particular interest to me. If you hated your roommate...sorry.

Told from the POV's of both potential masking-tape-line drawers, it sounds like this book will tackle some pretty heavy coming-of-age material, but be light enough not to drag you down too much. Definitely on the want-to-read list for me!

Monday, January 6, 2014

On writing, resolutions, and making time

So...the last re-start of the blog didn't go so well. After some editing offers that I couldn't turn down, my free time turned into freelance time, and I honestly didn't make the blog a priority (obviously), although I wish I would have.

I'm usually not one for New Year's resolutions, but now that my monster freelancing projects are done, I have some time to assess how I spend the hours that aren't in front of my work computer. One thing that my job sometimes lacks is opportunity for creativity, but for some reason I haven't ever thought to make up for that lack of creativity *outside* of work. So that's what I'd like to do now.

I can't promise that I will post twice a week, and I can't promise that there won't be moments of silence, but I do want to start funneling my energy into some kind of creative venture, even if it's just a blog about YA books with stupid jokes and too many caps lock rants.

Happy 2014! Here's to words.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Releases (pretend it's) Tuesday!

Not a huge releases week, but what we lack in numbers, we (maybe) make up for in quality.

Prodigy by Marie Lu - Penguin Young Readers

The sequel to Legend is finally here! June and Day go to Vegas (Nevada represent) and join the Patriot rebels in order to continue their quest to be the most bad ass characters in YA lit. (I think Katsa still edges them out, but I'm slightly obsessed with her, so...) ANYWAY, it sounds like June is going to have a crisis of faith regarding the rebellion, and maybe the Republic isn't that bad? It probably is, but we'll see.

I will say that while I enjoyed reading Legend, it didn't stick with me like other comparable books. I might even have to go back and read it before I dive into Prodigy to remind myself of the characters. I do remember there was a lot of dirt and a mean government, but that's about it. That's probably a good blurb for the jacket, guys: Small-time blogger says "There's a lot of dirt and a mean government." Marketing gold.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd - Balzer + Bray

Retellings of classic stories are going to be a big trend this year, and what better way to kick it off than with a reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau, told from the perspective of Juliet, the crazy doctor's daughter (see also: the title of the book).

I've already read this one, and it's pretty entertaining, with the right amount of creepiness, animal hybrids, and love triangles Not with the animal hybrids though--it's not that kind of book. Recommended for a dreary day with a cup of tea and some time to kill.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Releases Tuesday!

Yes! It's back, and I couldn't have asked for a better way to kick off 2013. Inexplicable electric storms! Murder and intrigue! Caroline B. Cooney!

Through The Ever Night, by Veronica Rossi--HarperCollins Children's
Barnes & Noble      Powell's

Listen, I know there are roughly 1,000,000 dystopian-fiction-romances out there right now, so let me help you wade through the muck a little bit: Read. this. book. Well, first, read the first book (Under the Never Sky), and then read this one.

You know how the second book in a trilogy can be kind of boring? It takes half the time recapping what you already knew and the other half setting up the third book? Well, not this one. The action is packed, the romance is believable and genuine without being saccharine. Set in a world of fierce electrical storms, desolate spaces, and, according to the cover, perfectly waxed chests (I don't think there really are waxed chests), this is a dystopian trilogy that will leave you clamoring for the next book, even if you're a bit tired of the genre.

Paper Valentine, by Brenna Yovanoff--Razorbill
Barnes & Noble     Powell's

For anyone who argues that book covers do not matter, I submit for your consideration: Paper Valentine. I want this framed. Seriously. Kudos to you, cover designers. You do not get enough credit.

Paper Valentine is the story of Hannah, a girl whose town is ravaged by a serial killer, and whose best friend comes back in ghost form to persuade her to find the killer. Seemingly a good mix of supernatural and realistic fiction, I'm looking forward to picking this one up for a spooky late-Winter read. I also can't fault anyone who puts Dramarama on a book playlist.

 Janie Face to Face, by OMG Caroline B. Cooney (her formal name)--Random House
Barnes & Noble     Powell's

This is the conclusion to the epic Janie series, which brought us such classics as The Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie? If you are old enough to remember the Lifetime movie adaptation of these novels (starring Kellie Martin aka Becca Thacher aka that bulimic girl from every other Lifetime Original movie), then you are probably pretty excited about this. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

Anyway, Reece is still around (remember when they made-out in the leaf pile? Did I make that up?), and Janie is still pretty torn up about being kidnapped and stuff. Let's see what happens! Let's also watch part 1 of The Face on the Milk Carton, which was sadly overlooked for every major award in 1995.

What books are you looking forward to reading this week?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Don't Call it a Comeback

Hello, dear readers! I have been absent for quite some time now, adjusting to some new developments in life. First, I got a full-time job. Second, I got married. Third, I lived in New York City at Christmas and had to brave Rockefeller Center every day. If I had tried to write anything after fighting through throngs of tourists trying to get a shot of a large tree, it would have come out something like OHGODPLEASESTOPWHY.

But now, I'm back. Much like Backstreet. ALL RIGHT.

Things to look forward to in the new year: New Releases Tuesday is making its triumphant return; I will be doing in-depth author posts; re-reading classics will become a bi-monthly feature (hopefully); I'll try to use less caps lock (BUT I'M NOT PROMISING ANYTHING).

Just a quick disclaimer: I do now work for a publishing company, but I promise to keep promoting books from all publishers because buying books helps us all, and you can trust that I will never recommend anything that I don't actually recommend.

If you have any requests for books you'd like to see here, let me know. Looking forward to reading/writing/snarking in 2013!