home           about           reviews           author insight           review policy

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine

Release Date: Dec. 31, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. 

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

Why can't I wait?
Awkward, hilarious, social misfit falls for popular kid.  I mean, it's all right there in the title.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (52)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine 
that highlights eagerly anticipated books.

Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Release Date: Dec. 24, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pre-order: Amazon / IndieBound / Barnes & Noble

It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

Why can't I wait? 
The prospect of a roommate can be terrifying and the reality, well... All bets are off. But as someone who has formed some of her longest lasting friendships online, I'm extremely interested to see how this story unfolds. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Release Date: Oct. 1, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Pages: 389
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Description: Goodreads
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

I was about three paragraphs into the first chapter of Katie Cotugnos fantastic debut How to Love when I thought, Oh, I see its going to be one of those books.  And then I canceled all of my plans for the rest of the day, because it was indeed one of those books the ones that compel you to read and read and ignore everything else.  What an enormous pleasure it was to read these words!  What an enormous pleasure to recommend that you read them too!

In theory, Reena Monteros story isnt original.  The good girl with the bright future falls for the broken boy with the checkered present (and that broken boys been the one in her heart since she was old enough to heart boys).  And the consequences?  Pregnant and apparently abandoned at 16.  However, the unique and interesting part here is that we get to find out what happened then and what happens now between Reena and her prodigal bad boy Sawyer.  Via alternating chapters of Before and After, we see Reena and Sawyer fall in love, fall apart, and fall into one anothers radar once more. 

Reenas voice is so, so rich and delicious, both Before and After.  She is sweeter and (unsurprisingly) more naive Before, but this absolutely works especially in duet with the bitter After.  I found myself bullying the highlighting feature on my e-reader, rereading passages and letting the words linger under my fingers and before my eyes.  This is one of those novels that I would love to listen to in the audiobook format.  There is a lyrical quality to the writing that I bet would sound even better out loud.  I am delighted to find out about Katie Cotugno with her first novel, but I am bummed I cant read 57 more books by her right in this instant.

And Reena, dear Reena.  You dont have to be pregnant at 16 to understand how she feels.  You dont have to be from her town to know what its like to want to run screaming and flailing from your hometown.  There is a universality to her story that keeps you coming back, keeps you from getting too angry at her Teenage Decisions.  While were on the subject of Teenage Decisions, let us not forget about baby daddy Sawyer.  As a card-carrying grown-up, its easy for me to say that I liked After Sawyer much better than Before Sawyer.  Maybe Teenage Jessica wouldve found his hotness and persona to be mysterious and (duh) hot, but Grown-Up Jessica wants him to quit crying about it already.  After Sawyer, though hes a man trying to make amends, and thats something worth reading about.

This is a definite must-read for all fans of contemporary YA romance, especially for fans of My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick or The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson.  If youre looking for a story where you can fall deep and get lost in a sea of beautiful words, Id say you need to learn How to Love.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blythewood Blog Tour:
Guest Post from Carol Goodman

by Carol Goodman 

Release Date: Oct. 8, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile

At seventeen, Ava Hall is already orphaned and working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory when her life is turned upside down by the horrific fire that kills her best friend and leaves her questioning her sanity.  After a summer locked away in a mental institution, Ava is sent to Blythewood, the boarding school where Ava's mother spent the happiest years of her life.  But Blythewood is no ordinary finishing school for young ladies:  it's a training ground for magical warriors who form the mortal world's only line of defense against the evil world of Faerie.  

As Ava develops her own powers, she seeks to solve the many mysteries in her life:  Who was the handsome young man who helped save her from the fire-- and why does she remember him having wings?  Why did her mother commit suicide?  Who is the sinister stranger who's been following her from the city, and what's his connection with the deaths and disappearances that are plaguing Blythewood?  When evil broadens its scope beyond the Blythewood campus to impact world events, Ava must decide whom to align herself with, and figure out how to stop the dark forces, even if that means going against everything she’s been taught.

Set in New York's Hudson Valley in the early 1900s, the gothic Blythewood Trilogy vividly portrays a world-- both real and imagined--on the brink of change, and one girl's quest for the truth about her world, her school, and herself. 

Carol's Blythewood Guest Post:

In Blythewood, Ava is a girl without a home. The book begins right after her mother has died, and the first third of it has her constantly displaced and moved around until she settles in at the school. The only problem is that she feels like she doesn’t belong there either. It’s not the magic that makes her uncomfortable, because all of the girls are adjusting to that together, but what’s hard for Ava is how different her background is. It’s hard for her to adjust to the values of this super-elite and moneyed society, especially when she doesn’t always morally agree with them.

What makes Ava really special when compared to other YA female protagonists is how sensitive she is. I think there are a lot of really awesome action-hero girls who are coming up in YA — especially in the realm of sci-fi/fantasy YA — and while I love to read about those girls, I could never write them well.  Ava loves to drink hot chocolate with her friends and curl up in her castle, and when the time comes to fight, she can, but it’s a very different type of fighting. She isn’t brutal, and prefers to think her way out of problems than go hand-to-hand.

Bestselling author Carol Goodman’s books have been nominated for the IMPAC award twice, the Simon & Schuster/Mary Higgins Clark award, and the Nero Wolfe Award. Her second novel, The Seduction of Water, won the Hammett Prize in 2003.

Find Carol online...

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Should Wes Read (9)

Once again, Wes is in need of a good book, and we're asking our fine readers to choose for him. There are some good choices in this batch. Just vote before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8. We'll announce the winning title and inform Wes what book he'll be subjected to enjoying this month.