Sunday, June 16, 2013

Brief Hiatus

I've been trying my best to avoid doing this, but unfortunately I need to put this blog on a brief hiatus. I'm getting married in about a month and there's so much that still needs to be done. With a full-time job, I'm finding that I just don't have the time to devote to both wedding planning and book blogging. I will still be reading and I will post reviews as I finish books, but I won't be keeping up with my usual weekly posts like new releases and memes. I apologize to my readers, but I'll be back to my regular blogging as soon as I possibly can!

Hope you all are having a great summer! See you again when I'm a Mrs.! :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Release Round-Up: June 10-16, 2013

Young Adult

Another Little Piece
by Kate Karyus Quinn

Release date: June 11, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 422
Publisher: HarperTeen
Suggested tags: young adult, horror

From Goodreads:
"The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn's haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

Born Of Illusion
by Teri Brown

Release date: June 11, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 384
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fiction, paranormal

First in the Born Of Illusion series. From Goodreads:
"Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?"

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel
by Diana Lopez

Release date: June 11, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 336
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction

From Goodreads:
"It's summer before eighth grade, and Erica "Chia" Montenegro is feeling so many things that she needs a mood ring to keep track of her emotions. She's happy when she hangs out with her best friends, the Robins. She's jealous that her genius little sister skipped two grades. And she's passionate about the crushes on her Boyfriend Wish list. And when Erica's mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, she feels worried and doesn't know what she can do to help.

When her family visits a
cuarto de milagros, a miracle room in a famous church, Erica decides to make a promesa to God in exchange for her mom's health. As her mom gets sicker, Erica quickly learns that juggling family, friends, school, and fulfilling a promesa is stressful, but with a little bit of hope and a lot of love, she just might be able to figure it out.

Confetti Girl author Diana Lopez returns with this sweet, funny, and utterly honest story about being a girl in a world full of good (and bad) surprises."

Pi in the Sky
by Wendy Mass

Release date: June 11, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 256
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Suggested tags: middle grade, science fiction

From Goodreads:
"Joss is the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord of the Universe, and all he gets to do is deliver pies. That's right: pies. Of course these pies actually hold the secrets of the universe between their buttery crusts, but they're still pies.

Joss comes from a family of overachievers, and is happy to let his older brothers shine. But when Earth suddenly disappears, Joss is tasked with the not-so-simple job of bringing it back. With the help of an outspoken girl from Earth named Annika, Joss embarks on the adventure of a lifetime and learns that the universe is an even stranger place than he'd imagined.

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Review: Under Shifting Glass by Nicky Singer

Under Shifting Glass
by Nicky Singer

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 320
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication date: February 19, 2013
Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction

From Goodreads:
"Jess has a secret: a mysterious glass flask she finds in an heirloom desk's hidden compartment. Its surface swirls with iridescent colors, like something's inside, something almost like a song, something with a soul. No one else sees anything under the shifting glass, but Jess is convinced there must be some kind of magic in there. And when her twin brothers are born critically ill, Jess begins to believe that the force within the flask just might hold the key to saving her brothers-and her family. In this emotionally rich novel, award-winning author Nicky Singer crafts a world of possibility that is steeped in hope and the power of love."

{ I received an ARC for free through Early Reviewers on LibraryThing. }

Wow. This book was beautiful. I wasn't expecting it to really touch my heart like it did. I kind of thought it would be a book about Jess's family troubles with a paranormal twist in the form of the flask. But it was so, so much more than that. I really am just in shock with how fantastic this book was.

Under Shifting Glass does deal with Jess's family - her mother (pregnant with twins), her stepfather, and her grandmother. But it also deals with Jess's beloved Aunt Edie, who has recently passed away, and throughout the book we see Jess progress through her grief over her aunt's death towards acceptance and peace. As if this wasn't enough for a young girl to deal with, her father has also passed away, and she's struggling with her relationship with her stepfather now that he'll have children of his own when the twins are born. Her friendship with her closest friend Zoe seems to be falling apart, and Jess doesn't know how to fix it. And then her twin brothers are born conjoined, and the outlook is grim.

It's hard to classify this book. Is it realistic fiction? Fantasy? Magical realism? Even when you reach the end of the book, you're not quite sure (more on that in a bit). Under Shifting Glass is labeled as Young Adult on Goodreads and Barnes & Noble, but I can see where a Middle Grade label would fit too. Jess is 12 years old, and at times I felt like her thoughts and actions might appeal more to younger readers. But then again, she is facing some very grown-up problems as well, and she does show some incredible maturity which brings her story right back to the YA level. I finally had to force myself to stop trying to label the book and just read.

Singer has a stunning way with words. Jess is a sweet narrator who wraps you up in her world; I felt her pain over the loss of her Aunt Edie, her joy at seeing her brothers for the first time, her hopelessness when her problems seem to stack up endlessly. She is dealing with so much and she's handling it as best she can, but she's looking for a reason behind it all, or a way to fix it all. As she learns more about the flask, she realizes that perhaps the flask itself the solution. There is a beautiful mix of something mysterious, something supernatural, a bit of desperate superstition on Jess's part, and a touch of religion. After everything is resolved, Singer leaves it up to the reader to decide what really happened... Was it a miracle? Was it the flask? Was it nothing special at all - just the way of things? I thought this was wonderful, as each reader can take away whatever they wish from the story.

In the middle of the book, Jess and her friends learn about Buddhism for a class assignment. To be honest, as I was reading that part, I was wondering where Singer was going to go with it or why exactly she chose to include it in the story. But I thought the way Singer tied it in at the end was quite nice, with Jess's gift of eucalyptus to her Aunt Edie. The Buddhism aspect may be a little much for some readers ("much" being perhaps a little too heavy on the religious/spiritual side for those who prefer not to read about religion, or being perhaps a little too complicated for younger readers), but it hit me just right.

I can see where this book wouldn't appeal to everyone, but in the hands of some readers it will become a new favorite. I'll certainly be on the lookout for other books by Singer.

Final verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Freebies: June 7, 2013

Click on each title to go to the Amazon Kindle edition listing. Be sure to double-check the price before you download!

by Brenda Pandos

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 322 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Obsidian Mountain Publishing
Publication date: July 29, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, mermaids

First in the Mer Tales series. From Amazon:
"She wanted her life to change ... he wanted his to stay the same.

Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Swimming and spending time with Tatiana, her best friend, are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college, and Ash hopes to finally ditch her longtime crush for Finley, Tatiana's twin brother. But when Tatiana and her family fail to return home after a family emergency, Ashlyn chooses to do something drastic to find them.

Finley Helton and his family are good at blending in as they run their sailing charter business in Lake Tahoe. But together, they guard an ancient secret. When a not so routine meeting forces Finley, Tatiana and their mother to return to Natatoria and Fin's father on a dangerous mission, Fin can't stay caged up for long.

Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, and a simple lifesaving kiss could change their lives forever.

Marking Time
by April White

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 442 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Corazon Entertainment
Publication date: October 30, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, time travel

First in The Immortal Descendants series. From Amazon:
"Seventeen-year-old tagger Saira Elian can handle anything... a mother who mysteriously disappears, a stranger who stalks her around London, and even the noble English Grandmother who kicked Saira and her mother out of the family. But when an old graffiti tag in a tube station transports Saira to the 19th Century and she comes face-to-face with Jack the Ripper, she realizes she needs help after all.

Saira meets Archer, a charming student who helps her blend in as much as a tall, modern American teen can in Victorian England. He reveals the existence of the Immortals: Time, Nature, Fate, War and Death, and explains to Saira that it is possible to move between centuries – if you are a Descendant of Time.

Saira finds unexpected friendships at a boarding school for Immortal Descendants and a complicated love with a young man from the past. But time is running out for her mother, and Saira must embrace her new identity as she hides from Archer a devastating secret about his future that may cost him his life.

Open Minds
by Susan Kaye Quinn

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 340 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication date: October 23, 2011
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia, paranormal

First in the Mindjack Trilogy. From Amazon:
"When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can't read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can't be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf's mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she's dragged deep into a hidden underworld of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her."

by Jessica Barksdale Inclan

Available as: Kindle edition
Pages: 319
Publisher: unknown
Publication date: May 17, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia

From Amazon:
"PRIME is set in a flooded world where global warming and other natural disasters have forever shifted the balance in society. It is up to a reluctant heroine to help right it. Lia Meloy is learning to swim, even though it’s outlawed for her kind. Lia is a Homesteader (nicknamed a “Norm”), meaning her ancestors stayed on dry land when the floods hit, but eventually had to seek help and shelter from the Aqua Primes, who had developed better biology and technology for an oceanic world.

When Lia’s family moves to Prime land, she knows she should feel lucky, but life amongst the privileged set isn't easy, especially at Berkmont High, where the students are constantly reminded that one wrong move could get them deported. Lia seems to be making wrong moves all the time. Training with her father to swim, for instance. Or falling for Trey Schaeffer, the son of the Property owner, whose sister Molly despises everything Norm.

But things are not always as they seem on the outside. When Lia’s father passes away, Lia discovers he was part of something bigger, something mysterious, and that there is much more at stake than she previously thought. Closely guarding her father’s greatest secret, Lia will have to reevaluate her worldview and make tough choices to keep her family, friends, and all of her people safe.

Friday Finds #40

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."

The Candymakers
by Wendy Mass

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 453
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: October 5, 2010
Suggested tags: middle grade, mystery

From Goodreads:
"Four children have been chosen to compete in a national competition to find the tastiest confection in the country. Who will invent a candy more delicious than the Oozing Crunchorama or the Neon Lightning Chew?

Logan, the Candymaker's son, who can detect the color of chocolate by touch alone?

Miles, the boy who is allergic to merry-go-rounds and the color pink?

Daisy, the cheerful girl who can lift a fifty-pound lump of taffy like it's a feather?

Or Philip, the suit-and-tie wearing boy who's always scribbling in a secret notebook?

This sweet, charming, and cleverly crafted story, told from each contestant's perspective, is filled with mystery, friendship, and juicy revelations.

Falling In
by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 256
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: March 2, 2010
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

From Goodreads:
"B z z z z z z z

The buzzing sound?

Do you hear that?

There it is again.

B z z z z z z z

No? Well, I really shouldn't have asked. Most people can't hear it, anyway. But, if you could, you'd think it sounds like you're teetering on the edge of the universe. That's what Isabelle Bean thinks...and she's not that far from the truth.

B z z z z z z z

You really don't hear that?

Well, it's actually not that great to have a buzzing in your ear. It's distracting for one thing. And when Isabelle starts listening to the buzz instead of, say, her boring teacher, strange things happen. She gets sent to the principal's office (
that's not so strange), but then while awaiting her punishment, she tumbles into an adventure—into another world that's a little bit different, a little bit Hansel & Gretel-y, a little bit like a fairy tale, which would be great, but...did I mention that Isabelle is an unusual dresser? When she shows up in fairy-tale land wearing her favorite high, pointy boots, the fairy-tale people start thinking that Isabelle is a witch -- and not just any witch, but the witch!

From Edgar Award-winning author Frances O'Roark Dowell comes the unlikely story of Isabelle Bean—an ultimate misfit, an outsider extraordinaire, and
not a witch!"

Touch Blue
by Cynthia Lord

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 186
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication date: August 1, 2010
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction

From Goodreads:
"The state of Maine plans to shut down her island’s schoolhouse, which would force Tess’s family to move to the mainland--and Tess to leave the only home she has ever known. Fortunately, the islanders have a plan too: increase the numbers of students by having several families take in foster children. So now Tess and her family are taking a chance on Aaron, a thirteen-year-old trumpet player who has been bounced from home to home. And Tess needs a plan of her own--and all the luck she can muster. Will Tess’s wish come true or will her luck run out?

Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord offers a warm-hearted, humorous, and thoughtful look at what it means to belong--and how lucky we feel when we do. Touch Blue, sure as certain, will touch your heart.

The Unidentified
by Rae Mariz

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 296
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: October 5, 2010
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia, science fiction

From Goodreads:
"Fifteen-year-old Katey (aka Kid) goes to school in the Game—a mall converted into a “school” run by corporate sponsors. As the students play their way through the levels, they are also creating products and being used for market research by the sponsors, who are watching them 24/7 on video cameras.

Kid has a vague sense of unease but doesn’t question this existence until one day she witnesses a shocking anticorporate prank. She follows the clues to uncover the identities of the people behind it and discovers an anonymous group that calls itself the Unidentified. Intrigued by their counterculture ideas and enigmatic leader, Kid is drawn into the group. But when the Unidentified’s pranks and even Kid’s own identity are co-opted by the sponsors, Kid decides to do something bigger—something that could change the Game forever.

This funny, sharp, and thought-provoking novel heralds the arrival of a stunning new voice in teen fiction.

Monday, June 3, 2013

New Release Round-Up: June 3-9, 2013

Young Adult

The Moon and More
by Sarah Dessen

Release date: June 4, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 435
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Suggested tags: young adult, romance, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

The Testing
by Joelle Charbonneau

Release date: June 4, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 336
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Suggested tags: young adult, dystopia

First in The Testing series. From Goodreads:
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

by Melanie Crowder

Release date: June 4, 2013
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 144
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Suggested tags: middle grade, dystopia

From Goodreads:
"A mesmerizing debut about a girl, a boy, and a dog struggling to survive in a parched and barren land.

Sarel is a girl with secrets. She knows which tree roots reach down deep to pools of precious water. But now she must learn how to keep herself and her dogs alive. Nandi is the leader of those dogs. She knows they can’t last long without water—and she knows, too, that a boy is coming; a boy with the water song inside him.

Musa is that boy. His talent for finding water got him kidnapped by brutal men, yet he's escaped, running away across the thirsty land that nearly claims his life. And so Sarel, Musa, and the dogs come together in what might be their last hope of survival.

The Quirks: Welcome to Normal
by Erin Soderberg

Release date: June 4, 2013
Available as: hardcover
Pages: 240
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Suggested tags: middle grade, paranormal

First in The Quirks series. From Goodreads:
"Molly and her family have moved around for years. Every time they think they've found a home, one of the Quirks slips up and sends them packing - because the Quirk family is a bit, well, quirky. Each family member has a magical power that makes them unique, and highly unusual. Mom can control minds; Grandpa twists time; Molly's twin sister Penelope has an all-too-real imagination; and Finn is the pesky kid brother -- who happens to be invisible. Then there's Molly, the most unusual Quirk of all. Molly is completely, utterly normal. Molly's greatest desire is to fit in, and she's found the perfect spot: Normal, Michigan. With its cookie cutter houses, welcoming committees, and all-town competitions, it seems like just the place for an ordinary new life. But the Quirks aren't known for fitting in -- especially in a place like Normal..."

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week: