Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Darklandia by T. S. Welti

by T.S. Welti

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 201
Publisher: Blackhill Publishing
Release date: October 22, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia, science fiction

From Goodreads:
"Manhattan, 2147

Seventeen-year-old Sera Fisk gleefully celebrates the death of her 114-year-old great-grandmother, the last Atraxian alive who still remembers what New York was like before Felicity.

There is only one principle of Felicity: Suffering is optional. Those who disagree or forget this principle, as Sera's father did, are detained and “purified”. Through the use of the Darklandia virtual reality and mandatory water rations, the Department of Felicity has transformed metropolises all over the country into happy, obedient communities.

Inspired by her great-grandmother's last words, Sera stops drinking the water rations and is soon recruited by Nyx into a rebel organization in the midst of planning a full-scale attack on Darklandia. When Nyx attempts to override the Darklandia system, he stumbles upon shocking information about Sera and her family. After years of living in a haze of virtual reality and drugs, Sera finds herself running from a powerful surge of raw emotions and a government agency intent on keeping reality a secret.

{ I received a Kindle edition for free through Early Reviewers on LibraryThing. }

My wishlist for Darklandia:

{ I wish I could come up with such an amazing dystopian idea. }
The idea of Felicity and a virtual reality amusement park are truly brilliant. So much potential behind them. I love dystopian novels that really create a sort of other-worldly atmosphere, despite the fact that they're set in familiar places. Welti nailed it.

{ I wish we had gotten to see a little more of Darla. }
As Sera's closest friend, I wanted to be shown more about her character. It was like she was there but not, always on the periphery, not really totally involved. So much so that when I got to the revelation of her fate, I read it and thought, "Eh." Which I'm pretty sure was not the reaction Welti intended readers to have. If I had gotten to know Darla a little better, I'm sure I would have had a much stronger reaction.

{ I wish we had gotten a little more romance between Nyx and Sera. }
It's pretty clear from the moment Nyx appears in the story that he's going be Sera's romantic interest. And while I did really like the slow building of their relationship, I just wanted a tiny bit more romance. I kept waiting for a big moment between them, but the romance stayed subtle and subdued. Which, under the circumstances they were facing, is understandable. But still, they were a cute couple and I just wanted to see them act on it a little more.

{ I wish I understood the ending. }
I have no idea what it meant. I read it three times and I still don't know. I have ideas (SPOILER - highlight to read: Is Sera still trapped in virtual reality? Was the entire book a dream? An extended virtual reality session? Was the final chapter just a flashback to previous events that Sera doesn't remember? But...the dates don't make sense. Sera in 2147 vs Sera in 2015?), but none of them seem like the right answer. I generally love when writers spring a surprise ending, but this one went right over my head. I really wish I understood what happened; since I don't, the whole thing feels rather incomplete.

Overall, it was a great story with a brilliant dystopian setting and I tore through it in a matter of days, which is why I gave it 4 stars despite some of my wishes. According to T. S. Welti's website, there will be a sequel to Darklandia, so I'm definitely going to pick that up and see if it explains/expands upon the ending.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Learn more about T. S. Welti on her blog,
and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


So sorry for being absent for so long! I even missed my blog's one year anniversary! :( Things have been getting a little overwhelming. I decided I would apply to grad school, which was a much bigger undertaking than I anticipated. And of course the holiday season is always chaotic, no matter how much you try to plan and prepare. But my application is due by January and the holidays are winding down (already?! where does the time go?), so hopefully I'll be back to giving this blog the attention it deserves soon!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Author Q&A: Kenechi Udogu

Kenechi Udogu, author of the YA fairy tale retelling The Other Slipper (you can find my review here), very kindly allowed me to ask her some questions about her writing and herself. The Other Slipper is a retelling of the Cinderella story which asks, what happened to that other glass slipper...?

{ About The Other Slipper... }

How did the idea for The Other Slipper come to you?
The idea for The Other Slipper came to me on my way home from work one day when I misread a cafĂ© sign that said “The Other Side” for “The Other Slipper”. This got me wondering about what might have happened to Cinderella’s other slipper after she left the ball and I came up with a story where the glass slippers have an adventure of their own.

Without spoiling anything… Jo grows throughout her journey, but she realizes she’s not the only one who’s grown. Did you start out with the idea to develop multiple characters along the way or was that something that evolved as you wrote?
The story took a life of its own pretty much after I wrote the first few chapters. I had an outline written down but once I started writing down conversations, the characters took over and drew me in a slightly different direction to what I had planned. You’ve read the story so you know what happens in the end but that was definitely not what I had in mind originally and I blame all the eclectic characters who kept popping into my head.

What do you hope readers take away from reading The Other Slipper?
That nothing is ever as it seems.

How long did it take you to finish The Other Slipper, from idea to finished work?
I work full time as an Architect so the only opportunity I get to write is at night and weekends, so most of my novels take a long time to finish. It took just over a year to complete the first draft of The Other Slipper then a little longer to get it ready for publishing.

If you wrote another fairy tale retelling, which fairy tale would you pick?
I recently read a collection of Grimm fairytales and discovered Bearskin. I was surprised I’d never heard of it as it is such a lovely but dark story. If you haven’t read it, go find a copy now.

{ About writing... }

Can you describe your writing process?
Day dream about the idea for ages, jot down notes when I finally have a coherent plot, sit in front of my PC, surf the net for facts, google unrelated nonsense as a distraction, type a few words, stare into space, watch some telly, type some more, play an online game, more typing, decide it’s time to shut down for the night. Recommence the next evening.

Where do you find you do the best work?
In my head, hahaha. Seriously though, I work best if I’m in the right frame of mind so it doesn’t matter if it’s on the train, in front of my PC or lying in bed. Recently I’ve found that I prefer writing on digital mediums than on paper because I love, love, love the undo button. So much better than crossing out bad ideas.

Did you always want to be an author?
As a child, I read a lot of books and comics and it didn’t take long for me to start forming ideas about what I wanted to read. Then I started to write the ideas down and draw comic strips in my note books. My family was always supportive of my work even when what I produced was probably laughable and I’m eternally grateful to them for that.

Do you have any words of advice for hopeful future authors?
Don’t give up! Listen to your critics but try not to get too upset when their opinions are different from yours. Instead, keep an eye out for the criticism that can make you a better
writer. Oh and edit, edit, edit.

Any projects in the works you would like to share?
I’m currently scheduled to release a new YA paranormal romance in December. It’s called Aversion and is about a girl who can push thoughts into people’s heads. There will no werewolves, angels or vampires in sight as I’m trying to make it a little different from a lot of books currently out there.

{ About reading... }

What is your favorite genre to read?
I’m a sucker for fantasy, romance and comedic fiction (even better if they’re all in one book). I also need a good horror story every now and then to get rid of all the fluffiness.

When a book is made into a movie, do you read the book first or watch the movie first?
I’d rather read the book first because if it was good enough to inspire a movie, I want to know why. The only problem is that I tend to be too critical of movies when the adaptations don’t stick to the original story.

Do you prefer to buy books or borrow them from the library?
I buy books then give them away (to a friend or a charity bookshop) when I’m done. I’m in full support of keeping libraries open though.

Do you prefer to read print books or ebooks?
E-books for my train commute to work and print books for bedtime reading or when I’m on holiday. As a result, I tend to have two books on the go.

{ About everything else... }

Do you prefer coffee or tea?
I have a special combination of a cup of tea with a quarter teaspoon of instant coffee added. Don’t question it until you try it. .

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
It sounds really boring but it’s vanilla (I’ll hang my head in shame). Let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with vanilla. But to redeem my bland favourite choice, my second favourite flavor is Pralines and Cream.

What is your favorite quote?
If you can’t beat them, form you own group.

Learn more about Kenechi Udogu and her books on her blog,
and follow her on Facebook and Goodreads!

Find The Other Slipper on Goodreads and Amazon!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: The Other Slipper by Kenechi Udogu

The Other Slipper
by Kenechi Udogu

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 268
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication date: September 27, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, fairy tales, retellings

From Goodreads:
"When Jo finds a lone glass slipper on the night of the royal ball, she realises that there is more to the seemingly ordinary object than meets the eye. Searching for its owner, she is led to the palace where the princess sets her on a journey that thrusts her into an unexpected world of magic and illusions. It soon becomes clear that there is a lot more to her mission as she discovers startling secrets about her past and struggles to embrace her destiny."

{ I was kindly provided a free Kindle edition of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. }

The Other Slipper is a fairy tale retelling based on a creative idea: what happened to Cinderella's other slipper? Jo works at the palace where the prince has just found his beloved, thanks to some magic glass slippers. On Jo's way home one night, she finds some curious items in the middle of the path, including one of the slippers. She decides to take these things home with her, which turns out to be a life-changing decision.

This is an interesting story based on a very imaginative idea. The Cinderella character is only in the story briefly as a rather minor character; Jo, the palace worker, is the heroine here. Udogu creates a world with magic and far-off mysterious lands that Jo and her traveling partners navigate to get to their ultimate destination, the Land of Ould, where the slippers need to be returned.

The Other Slipper kept me reading to find out where the story was going to go. However, the narration was a little distracting. The narrator seemed to be a bit too omniscient; we're taken into the head of every character, bouncing back and forth at times. Thoughts are shared even when they don't seem necessary to the plot. Also, Locke was a great character, but I couldn't quite tell whether he was intended to be Jo's romantic interest or not. It was like sometimes there seemed to be a little something between them, and sometimes that would fade into the background entirely. I kind of wish that something had happened between them, because it seemed to be slowly leading towards that, and I think the story would have been nicely spiced up with a little romance. I also wish that the meeting with the Lady of Ould had been a little more dramatic; we are told throughout the book how intimidating and powerful she is, and finding her is the ultimate destination on their journey, but when they finally do get there it's just a little anticlimactic.

Otherwise, I did enjoy The Other Slipper and I would read another book by Udogu, as she is clearly very creative and can weave an interesting story. A little editing would take The Other Slipper from good to great.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

{ Coming tomorrow: author Q&A with Kenechi Udogu! }

New Release Round-Up: December 3-9, 2012

Young Adult

Never Let You Go
by Emma Carlson Berne

Release date: December 4, 2012
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 240
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Suggested tags: young adult, thriller, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"A love triangle goes horribly wrong in this dark, romantic suspense-thriller from the author of Still Waters.

Megan never meant to hurt her best friend, Anna. She made a mistake, and she’s spent all year trying to regain Anna’s trust. So when Anna invites her to spend the summer on her uncle’s farm, Megan is excited…and relieved. The past is finally behind them.

On the farm, Anna quickly falls for Jordan, a rugged summer-hand. Megan and Jordan have their own spark, but Megan’s betrayed Anna once before and she’s not about to do it again.

Still, the more time that Megan and Jordan spend together, the harder it is to deny their chemistry. But Anna doesn’t like to be ignored—and she doesn’t forgive and forget. What started out as the perfect summer is about to take a very dark turn....

The Friday Society
by Adrienne Kress

Release date: December 6, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 440
Publisher: Dial
Suggested tags: young adult, steampunk, mystery

From Goodreads:
"An action-packed tale of gowns, guys, guns –and the heroines who use them all

Set in turn of the century London, The Friday Society follows the stories of three very intelligent and talented young women, all of whom are assistants to powerful men: Cora, lab assistant; Michiko, Japanese fight assistant; and Nellie, magician's assistant. The three young women's lives become inexorably intertwined after a chance meeting at a ball that ends with the discovery of a murdered mystery man.

It's up to these three, in their own charming but bold way, to solve the murder–and the crimes they believe may be connected to it–without calling
too much attention to themselves.

Set in the past but with a modern irreverent flare, this Steampunk whodunit introduces three unforgettable and very ladylike–well, relatively ladylike–heroines poised for more dangerous adventures.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie
by Jacqueline Resnick

Release date: December 6, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 272
Publisher: Razorbill
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

From Goodreads:
"Smalls the sun bear and his friends are an unusual bunch. That's why they're known as the Misfit Menagerie. The four oddball animals live on Mr. Mumford's farm, where they play games and do tricks for neighborhood children. It's an idyllic existence--until a cruel circus owner named Claude Magnificence comes to town, and life as they know it ends. The Menagerie is snatched away to a traveling circus, where Claude and his buffoonish sidekicks force them to perform death-defying tricks.

At the circus, Smalls and his friends only have slop to eat. They live in filthy, cramped cages. And they're bullied by a rough band of trained animals called the Lifers. It's worse than awful--it's despicable! But then young Bertie Magnificence comes along, and he and Smalls form the kind of friendship that inspires hope. They decide that something needs to change...and fast. With the help of an acrobat named Susan, Smalls and Bertie set in motion a heroic plan.

Can a lonely boy and a misfit bear hoodwink cruel Claude and save an entire circus of captive animals?"

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Single-handed by Veronica Blade

by Veronica Blade

Available as: Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 27 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Crush Publishing
Publication date: April 10, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, romance, short stories

First in the Single Girls series. From Amazon:

Alex single-handedly takes down a bully. A safer school has its perks, but what else did the years of martial arts training get her? Not a prom date, that’s for sure. With only a few weeks left before the big day, can she stop the tough act long enough for the boy of her dreams to see she’s still just a girl?

This is a really quick read, but it's a nice little story with a good message. Alex has set a sort of reputation for herself by standing up for those who are bullied at school. She's put her jujitsu skills into action and stepped in when other kids are being picked on. Guys might be a little intimidated by a smaller girl taking down big brawny bullies, because she hasn't had any guys show an interest in her. But she doesn't want to pretend to be "frail;" she refuses to change who she is or put on an act just so guys will like her. Which is great because Tommy, the cute guy at school, seems to like her just the way she is.

I love Blade's writing style. She writes great dialogue and she gives her characters very realistic voices. Reading Alex's conversations with her two friends Brittany and Laynie, I felt like I was right back in high school, chatting at lunch with my little circle. This is the second work I've read by Veronica Blade (here's my review of From Fame to Shame) and I wouldn't hesitate to read another.

The only thing that's keeping me from giving this a higher rating is that I didn't really understand the confrontation between Alex and Wes, the bully, which is kind of the major event in the story. Alex already beat him once (literally: she had him on the ground with a knee in his back), which is how she got her reputation...but now suddenly a year later, Wes wants to face her again? Tommy tries to talk him out of it by saying he'll be known for getting beat up by a girl...but isn't that exactly what already happened? And when Alex defends herself with a hit to Wes's neck, he jumps back in shock and retreats with his friends. Did he not remember what happened last time? Maybe he needed that first physical hit to jog his memory?

Otherwise, it's a great story. The romance blossoming between Tommy and Alex is sweet and simple, making for a warm and fuzzy read. It's short, but it's the perfect length for a little bedtime reading or to go along with a cup of coffee.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, November 26, 2012

New Release Round-Up: November 26-December 2, 2012

Young Adult

by Corrine Jackson

Release date: November 27, 2012
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 343
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in the Sense Thieves series. From Goodreads:
"The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Remy O’Malley heals people with touch—but every injury she cures becomes her own. Living in a household with an abusive stepfather, she has healed untold numbers of broken bones, burns,and bruises. And then one night her stepfather goes too far.

Being sent to live with her estranged father offers a clean start and she is eager to take it. Enter Asher Blackwell. Once a Protector of Healers, Asher sacrificed his senses to become immortal. Only by killing a Healer can a Protector recover their human senses. Falling in love is against the rules between these two enemies. Because Remy has the power to make Protectors human again, and when they find out, they’ll becoming for her—if Asher doesn’t kill her first.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Finds #31

Friday Finds is hosted by Should Be Reading. Each Friday, you share the great books you heard about or discovered over the past week: "books you were told about, books you discovered while browsing blogs/bookstores online, or books that you actually purchased."

Don't Expect Magic
by Kathy McCullough

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 256
Publisher: Ember
Publication date: November 8, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in the Magic series. From Goodreads:
"Delaney Collins doesn't believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she's stuck in California with "Dr. Hank," her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right. Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he's a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there's a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone's fairy godmother.

Even though she's not the pink and sparkly type, Delaney soon finds herself with a client: Flynn Becker, a boy at her new school who's hopelessly in love with a girl who doesn't know he exists. Flynn's wish is Delaney's command. With her customized black boots and chopstick wand, Delaney does everything in her power to make Flynn's wish come true. But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?

My Beating Teenage Heart
by C.K. Kelly Martin

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 288
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 27, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

From Goodreads:
"Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing—no memories, no self—and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.

Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breathe. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.

Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters,
My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life—a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy—and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan."

Still Waters
by Emma Carlson Berne

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 212
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: December 20, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, mystery, paranormal

From Goodreads:
"Hannah can't wait to sneak off for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend, Colin. He's leaving for college soon, and Hannah wants their trip to the lake house to be one they'll never forget.
But once Hannah and Colin get there, things start to seem a They can't find the town on any map. The house they are staying in looks as if someone's been living there, even though it's been deserted for years. And Colin doesn't seem quite himself. As he grows more unstable, Hannah worries about Colin's dark side, and her own safety.

Nothing is as perfect as it seems, and what lies beneath may haunt her forever.

Wherever You Go
by Heather Davis

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 320
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication date: November 15, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, ghosts

From Goodreads:
"Seventeen-year-old Holly Mullen has felt lost and lonely ever since her boyfriend, Rob, died in a tragic accident. The fact that she has to spend most of her free time caring for her little sister and Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather doesn’t help. But Holly has no idea that as she goes about her days, Rob’s ghost is watching over her. He isn’t happy when he sees his best friend, Jason, reach out to help Holly with her grandfather—but as a ghost, he can do nothing to stop it. Is his best friend really falling for his girlfriend?

As Holly wonders whether to open her heart to Jason, the past comes back to haunt her. Her grandfather claims to be communicating with the ghost of Rob. Could the messages he has for Holly be real? And if so, how can the loved ones Rob left behind help his tortured soul make it to the other side?

Told from the perspectives of Holly, Jason, and Rob,
Wherever You Go is is a poignant story about making peace with the past, opening your heart to love, and finding the courage to move forward into the light."

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Release Round-Up: November 19-25, 2012

Young Adult

by Michele Vail

Release date: November 20, 2012
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 272
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal

First in The Reaper Diaries series. From Goodreads:
"The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird...

Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.

Life at Nekyia has its plusses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another...except, there's something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—-Molly's got an undeadly knack for finding trouble....

by Antony John

Release date: November 21, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 320
Publisher: Dial
Suggested tags: young adult, fantasy, dystopia

From Goodreads:
"A lost colony is reborn in this heart-pounding fantasy adventure set in the near future . . .

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has always been an outsider. The first child born without the power of an Element—earth, water, wind or fire—he has little to offer his tiny, remote Outer Banks colony. Or so the Guardians would have him believe.

In the wake of an unforeseen storm, desperate pirates kidnap the Guardians, intent on claiming the island as their own. Caught between the plague-ridden mainland and the advancing pirates, Thomas and his friends fight for survival in the battered remains of a mysterious abandoned settlement. But the secrets they unearth will turn Thomas’ world upside-down, and bring to light not only a treacherous past but also a future more dangerous than he can possibly imagine.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesdays: November 14, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday, you share upcoming releases that you're eagerly anticipating.

Then You Were Gone
by Lauren Strasnick

Release date: January 8, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 224
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Suggested tags: young adult, mystery, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"In the tradition of 13 Reasons Why, a suspenseful and heart-wrenching novel from the author of Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You.

Two years ago, Adrienne’s best friend walked out of her life. One week ago, she left Adrienne a desperate, muffled voicemail. Adrienne never called back.

Now Dakota is missing. She left behind a string of broken hearts, a flurry of rumors, and a suicide note.

Adrienne can’t stop obsessing over what might have happened if she’d answered Dakota’s call. And she’s increasingly convinced that Dakota must still be alive.

Maybe finding and saving Dakota is the only way Adrienne can save herself.

Or maybe it’s too late for them both.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

by Karen Ann Hopkins

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 383
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: June 26, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, Amish, romance, contemporary

First in the Temptation series. From Goodreads:
"Your heart misleads you.
That's what my friends and family say.

But I love Noah.
And he loves me.

We met and fell in love in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview, while we rode our horses together through the grassy fields and in those moments in each other's arms.

It should be


forever, easy.

But it won't be.

Because he's Amish.
And I'm not.

{ I received this as an ebook ARC from NetGalley. }

This is how YA Amish romances should be. Temptation follows Rose and Noah as they meet, fall in love, and struggle to make it work. They're star-crossed lovers, essentially: Noah is Amish, Rose is not Amish (or "English," as the Amish would say). This is a gigantic hurdle for them to overcome, if it can be overcome at all. Hopkins keeps you on your toes throughout the book as your thoughts teeter between "It will work out! It has to work out!" and "There is just no way this is ever going to happen."

Rose is 16 and has just moved to a new town with her dad and her two brothers following the death of her mom. She soon finds out there's an Amish family living next door, and when a few of the family members make a visit, she meets their handsome son, Noah. They are drawn to each other instantly.

Temptation is written from both Rose and Noah's points of view, alternating between chapters. I love multiple POV when it's used effectively, and it definitely was here. You get to see the characters fall in love with each other, having access to their thoughts and feelings. You get to see how each character's words and actions are interpreted by the other. You get to see their frustrations too, how they view the faults of each others' societies. It's a great peek into the minds of both Rose and Noah.

Rose and Noah do fall in love at first sight, but their relationship is developed slowly and sweetly. No blinding instalove here. They agonize over the serious aspects of their relationship, acknowledging that they're up against some strong obstacles. They have to sneak away to see each other, which makes their time together all the more romantic.

There were a few parts of Temptation that I wasn't crazy about. First, there was an aspect of Noah's personality that bothered me. (SPOILER - highlight to read: His refusal to compromise in any way was irritating. I know that one of them was going to have to make a major sacrifice in order for them to have a chance of being together, meaning that one of them was going to have to give up their way of life and join the other's society. But from the start, Noah essentially says, "Well, it's not going to be me!" That's not really a great way to start off your relationship.) Second, one of their ideas to make their relationship work out kind of blew my mind. (SPOILER - highlight to read: "Let's make a baby! Then they'll have to let us be together!" Really, now. I'll chock it up to Noah being in a society where marriage and childbearing may happen at a younger age that he would even suggest such a thing. But I really didn't see a need for Hopkins to include this at all. I guess to show their desperation? That they were so set on making it work that they would ruin their own lives and potentially that of their future child by having a baby out of marriage and turning both families against them? But that wouldn't really help their situation at all. Why not forget the baby idea and just run away together, then? ... I don't know. It just rubbed me the wrong way.)

But despite those things, I still really enjoyed Temptation. Sometimes books with Amish characters tend to make them seem unrealistically moral without the thoughts and feelings that non-Amish characters would have, or they make Amish society seem so intensely different from non-Amish society that it's a little off-putting. Temptation portrayed Noah as a normal teenage boy with normal teenage emotions who happened to follow a different way of living. It portrayed Noah's Amish family and neighbors as real people; fundamentally, yes, their way of life is very different than Rose and her family's, but Hopkins also included aspects of everyday life that are shared between the Amish and the English, like playing volleyball and going to horse auctions. Basically, I think she found a nice balance that some other books I've read have missed.

The second book in the series, Belonging, is set to be released in May 2013 - I'm really looking forward to seeing how things go from here, especially after reading the teaser from Belonging that was included at the end of Temptation!

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

More about Karen Ann Hopkins }

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{ Temptation series }

Book 1: Temptation 

Book 2: Belonging 
Read my review

Book 3: Forever 

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Release Round-Up: November 12-18, 2012

Young Adult

Black City
by Elizabeth Richards

Release date: November 13, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 384
Publisher: Penguin
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia, romance

First in the Black City series. From Goodreads:
"A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war.

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable—they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash’s long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they’re caught, they’ll be executed—but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.

Meant to Be
by Lauren Morrill

Release date: November 13, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: young adult, romance, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green
by Helen Phillips

Release date: November 13, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 304
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: middle grade, adventure

From Goodreads:
"Mad's dad is the Bird Guy. He'll go anywhere to study birds. So when he's offered a bird-tracking job in Central America, his bags are packed and he's jungle bound.

But going bird tracking in the jungle and disappearing completely are very different things, and when the Very Strange and Incredibly Creepy Letter arrives, Mad can't shake the terrible feeling that her father is in trouble.

Roo, Mad's younger sister, is convinced that the letter is a coded message. And their mom is worried, because the letter doesn't sound like Dad at all. But Mad is sure it's a sign of something sinister.

The only way to get to the bottom of it is to go to Lava Bird Volcano and find their dad themselves. Though they never could have imagined what they're about to discover.

From new talent Helen Phillips,
Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green is the story of what can happen when two sisters make some unusual friends, trust in each other, and bravely face a jungle of trouble all to bring their family back together."

True Colors
by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock

Release date: November 13, 2012
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 256
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: middle grade, historical fiction

From Goodreads:
"Natalie Kinsey-Warnock's beautifully told, warm hearted novel tells the story of one girl's journey to find the mother she never had, set against the period backdrop of a small farming town in 1950s Vermont. For her entire life, 10-year-old Blue has never known her mother. On a cold, wintry day in December of 1941, she was found wrapped in a quilt, stuffed in a kettle near the home of Hannah Spooner, an older townswoman known for her generosity and caring. Life with Hannah so far has been simple—mornings spent milking cows, afternoons spent gardening and plowing the fields on their farm. But Blue finds it hard not to daydream about her mother, and over the course of one summer, she resolves to finally find out who she is. That means searching through the back issues of the local newspaper, questioning the local townspeople, and searching for clues wherever she can find them. Her search leads her down a road of self-discovery that will change her life forever."

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week: