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 bit...off. 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 }

Karen Ann Hopkins's Goodreads profile
Follow Karen Ann Hopkins on Twitter

{ 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: