Archive | February, 2013

Finishing the Month Off Strong

26 Feb

February is a short and busy month for me. But the publishing world isn’t slowing down for this girl! There are so many exciting books that have been released this month that I can’t wait to check out, and some which I’ve been lucky enough to read already. Last week’s and this week’s releases finish the month off strong! Here are the books from the last two weeks of February that I’m most excited for:

Mind Games by Kiersten White
February 19, 2013

I’m listening to Mind Games on audio this week. From the author who brought us the popular Paranormalcy series comes a story of two sisters with special abilities – one with flawless instincts, one who has visions of the future – attending a school where the girls are forced to use their powers for corporate espionage. It’s a quick read at 256 pages, or on audio just over 6 hours of listening pleasure, which is just what I need when overwhelmed by how many books I want to read!

How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller
February 21, 2013

Rounding out our month of YA releases with bizarre schools (see Mind Games above, and Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage from earlier this month), Kirsten Miller’s Mandel Academy is an exclusive school where only the most ruthless of young criminals graduate and the rest disappear. This one made it on my must read list after one of the tweens that I work with told me week after week that it was one of her favorite books of all time.

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
Dark Horse
February 26, 2013

This graphic novel is ridiculously fun and entertaining, portraying the trials and tribulations of Superhero Girl, a young Canadian superhero who is struggling to pay the bills, find a nemesis, escape the shadow of her popular superhero brother, and avoid skeptical guy and his snarky comments. I read the egalley for this book and the web version (with commentary!) as well. Both of those versions are in black and white, but when the book releases today it will be in full color. The few sample color pages that I’ve seen look fabulous.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press
February 26, 2013

Set over the course of one school year in 1986 (great year btw), Eleanor and Park are two sixteen year-olds experiencing first love. Our blog buddy Capillya of That Cover Girl may not review books on her blog, but we still trust her reviews and she gave this one her stamp of approval (and some), so there you go. High hopes for a stellar read.

Also Known As by Robin Benway
Walker Childrens
February 26, 2013

Many have compared Robin Benway’s latest book to Ally Carter’s Heist Society series; some have even said that it is better than Carter’s popular spy stories. Either way, I’m excited to check out this story of a young safecracker on the case at her new school.

What were your favorite February YA releases?! Which of these titles are you most excited for?! Hope you have all had a fabulous month!

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

18 Feb

It seemed impossible to fit all the people she’d ever been into a single body…. (p.228)

It is the summer of 1929 when we meet Elsa Emerson, a resident of Door County, Wisconsin where her family houses and runs a theatre company. The youngest of three daughters, nine year old Elsa is desperately in love with the stage and jumps at every opportunity to be involved although it is her sister, Hilly, who assumes the beautiful starlet role. Beauty is as much a curse as it is a blessing and it is through Hilly that Straub first offers perspective on the roles we play: as women, as daughters and the ever evolving identity of our “self.” When the theatre’s leading man impregnates and then denies her, Hilly takes her own life leaving a gaping hole in the family unit and in young Elsa’s heart.

Looking for a way out, with a strong resolve to fulfill Hilly’s dreams as well as her own, Elsa marries aspiring actor, Gordon Pitts. Together they travel to Hollywood where Elsa is left to a traditional life of domesticity and motherhood while Gordon has moderate success as an actor. Pregnant with her second child and accompanying Gordon to a cast party, Elsa catches the eye of studio head Irving Green. Green quickly becomes her mentor, her confidant and, eventually, her second husband. Committed to making her a star, Elsa gives herself up to Green who, after a complete makeover, re-introduces her to the world as Laura Lamont.

Movie lovers will enjoy Straub’s journey into the golden era of film – a glamorous and innovative time in our nation’s collective consciousness. For the rest of the novel, we follow Laura’s rising star, as she becomes a successful, award-winning actress and the inevitable fall of that star in the fickle world that is Hollywood. Straub’s narrative, while eloquent and rich with detail, is as predictable as Hollywood itself. Laura’s success develops from her relationship to a powerful man and studio owner yet is sustained by her beauty – a “look” created by Green – and her ability to follow the unwritten rules of women in Hollywood: Be beautiful, Be agreeable, Be quiet. The women around her fit neatly into stereotypical boxes and, as she ages, she struggles to find work.

For most of her life, Laura lives in quiet conflict with the person she is on the outside and the girl from Door County who resides within her soul. It is these moments where the novel sings. Through the lens of Laura/Elsa, Straub invites us to consider the many roles we play in this life and the value each has for ourselves and for others.

Alicia’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Emma Straub
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (September 2012)
Note: ARC received from publisher for honest review

Two New Releases to Get You Through The Week

13 Feb

I love how short February is. Granted it’s only a few days shorter than other months, but it feels short, and that is all that matters as I’m trying to make it through the cold, dark winter. Looking ahead at the exciting books coming out this month, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll be able to get through all the ones that I am looking forward to in this short month. With such an extensive list of highly anticipated February releases, I decided to do things differently this month by highlighting not a month of new releases, but rather week by week. So, here are the two releases of the week that I am most excited about!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Philomel (Feb. 12)

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

Pivot Point by Kasie West
Harper Teen (Feb. 12)

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

What new releases this week are you excited to read?

The Prey

11 Feb

WARNING: there will be SPOILERS for Andrew Fukuda’s The Hunt in this review

In The Hunt, a young man named Gene lives among vampiric creatures, passing as one of their own, and living by a strict set of rules that his father taught him before he disappeared. When he is chosen as one of the lucky few to take part in the annual Heper Hunt, a competitive hunt for humans, he is whisked away to The Institute to prepare for and take part in the games. Keeping his secret safe at The Institute is hard enough, surviving the Heper Hunt, seems nearly impossible. But when his secret gets out, the hunt begins sooner than planned and he becomes one of the prey rather than one of the hunters. On the run with a group of heper youth raised at The Institute, Gene learns that the man that had been helping the hepers, the one known as The Scientist, was none other than his long lost Dad. [cliffhanger y’all!]

The Prey picks up just where The Hunt left off, diving the reader right back into the action. Gene and the heper youth, lead by the tough, dagger wielding Sissy, make their escape on a riverboat, while the creatures try to track them downstream. The Scientist had talked about a place he called “the land of milk and honey, fruit and sunshine”, and the crew dreams that this is where the river leads them. Eventually they find their way to The Mission, a community of humans living high in the mountains, separated from the dangerous world outside. The crew feels an immediate sense of relief and are welcomed, wined, and dined by the community’s elders. The boys feel that this might be the place that The Scientist had spoken so highly of, but Sissy and Gene notice that not everything is as it seems. As they search for the truth about The Mission, they begin to question whether this “safe haven” may be even more dangerous, more evil, than the world they left behind.

I really appreciate what Andrew Fukuda did with this second installment of The Hunt Trilogy. While the 2nd book in a trilogy often suffers from feeling like “just more of the same” or an interlude before the big finale in book 3, here Fukuda really changes things up and keeps the danger, mystery, and action building to yet another thrilling cliffhanger of an ending. It’s in this installment too, that the love triangle hinted at in the first book, comes to life. While Gene is growing closer to Sissy every day, the growing distance between him and Ashley June, the girl he had to leave behind at The Institute, weighs heavy on his mind. I’ll admit, I’ve frequently caught myself rolling my eyes about love triangles in YA, but Fukuda does it well and though it isn’t what I’m most anticipating in book three, I do want to see what happens next for these three. All in all this is a fun and exciting series that is perfect for those who prefer their monsters terrifying rather than sexy. I’m scared (in a good way) to see where Fukuda takes us next.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Andrew Fukuda
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (January 29, 2013)
Note: Copy sent from publisher for honest review

Five New Releases to Get You Through the Week

5 Feb

I love how short February is. Granted it’s only a few days shorter than other months, but it feels short, and that is all that matters as I’m trying to make it through the cold, dark winter. Looking ahead at the exciting books coming out this month, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll be able to get through all the ones that I am looking forward to in this short month. With such an extensive list of highly anticipated February releases, I decided to do things differently this month by highlighting not a month of new releases, but rather week by week. So, here are the five releases of the week that I am most excited about!

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Feb. 5)

It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Sophronia Temminnick at 14 is a great trial more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners — and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Her poor mother, desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady, enrolls the lively tomboy in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But young ladies learn to finish…everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage — in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

Hysteria by Megan Miranda
Walker Childrens (Feb. 5)

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can’t remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn’t charged. But Mallory still feels Brian’s presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Roaring Book Press (Feb. 5)

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood?

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Feiwel & Friends (Feb. 5)

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

The Ruining by Anna Collomore
Razorbill (Feb. 7)

Annie Phillips is thrilled to leave her past behind and begin a shiny new life on Belvedere Island, as a nanny for the picture-perfect Cohen family. In no time at all, she falls in love with the Cohens, especially with Libby, the beautiful young matriarch of the family. Life is better than she ever imagined. She even finds romance with the boy next door.

All too soon cracks appear in Annie’s seemingly perfect world. She’s blamed for mistakes she doesn’t remember making. Her bedroom door comes unhinged, and she feels like she’s always being watched. Libby, who once felt like a big sister, is suddenly cold and unforgiving. As she struggles to keep up with the demands of her new life, Annie’s fear gives way to frightening hallucinations. Is she tumbling into madness, or is something sinister at play?

I’m currently reading Scarlet and listening to Etiquette & Espionage. The Ruining is next on deck. What books are you reading this week?