Monday, May 26, 2014

New Release Round-Up: May 26-June 1

Young Adult

One Man Guy
by Michael Barakiva

Release date: May 27, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 272
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Suggested tags: young adult, romance, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Funny and heartfelt, One Man Guy serves up the raucous family humor and gentle romance of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, as told with David Sedaris–style wit

Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshman year of high school. He never could’ve predicted that he’d meet someone like Ethan.

Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.

We Are the Goldens
by Dana Reinhardt

Release date: May 27, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 208
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Suggested tags: young adult, realistic fiction, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Nell knows a secret about her perfect, beautiful sister Layla. If she tells, it could blow their world apart.

When Nell and Layla were little, Nell used to call them Nellaya. Because to Nell, there was no difference between where she started and her adored big sister ended. They're a unit; divorce made them rely on each other early on, so when one pulls away, what is the other to do? But now, Nell's a freshman in high school and Layla is changing, secretive. And then Nell discovers why. Layla is involved with one of their teachers. And even though Nell tries to support Layla, to understand that she's happy and in love, Nell struggles with her true feelings: it's wrong, and she must do something about it.

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

New Beginnings
by Victoria Schwab

Release date: May 27, 2014
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 208
Publisher: Scholastic
Suggested tags: middle grade, paranormal, angels

First in the Everyday Angel series. From Goodreads:
"Meet a guardian angel like no other, from a writer like no other. Bold rising star, Victoria Schwab, makes her whimsical, inspiring, and clever middle-grade debut.

At a first glance, Aria seems like your average twelve-year-old girl. She has coppery hair, colored shoelaces, and a passion for cupcakes. But there's more to Aria than meets the eye. She can dream things into existence, use her own shadow like a door, and change the world in small, important ways. Aria is a guardian angel. She's been sent here to earn her wings. But to do that, she'll have to help three different girls.

Aria's first mission is Gabby Torres. Gabby's always been quiet, but ever since her brother got sick, she's barely said a word. When a new school offers her a fresh start, Gabby wants badly to be someone new, but she quickly learns it's hard to make friends while keeping half her life a secret.

And then Aria shows up. Aria, who knows exactly what to say and do to make Gabby feel better. Will she be able to help Gabby find her voice? And will Gabby still trust Aria when she finds out exactly what she is?

Think John Green for middle grade, with a touch of magic!

The Swift Boys & Me
by Kody Keplinger

Release date: May 27, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 272
Publisher: Scholastic
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction, contemporary

From Goodreads:
"Nola Sutton has been best friends and neighbors with the Swift boys for practically her whole life. There’s the youngest, Kevin, who never stops talking; the oldest, Brian, who’s always kind and calm; and then there’s Canaan, the ringleader and Nola’s best-best friend. Nola can’t imagine her life without the Swift boys — they’ll always be like this, always be friends.

But then everything changes overnight.

When the Swifts’ daddy leaves without even saying good-bye, it completely destroys the boys, and all Nola can do is watch. Kevin stops talking and Brian is never around. Even Canaan is drifting away from Nola — hanging out with the neighborhood bullies instead of her.

Nola just wants things to go back to the way they were — the way they’ve always been. She tries to pull the boys back to her, only the harder she pulls, the further away they seem. But it’s not just the Swifts whose family is changing, so is Nola’s, and she needs her best friends now more than ever. Can Nola and the Swift boys survive this summer with their friendships intact, or has everything fallen apart for good?

Nola’s struggle to save her friends, her unwavering hope, and her belief in the power of friendship make Kody Keplinger’s middle-grade debut a poignant story of loss and redemption.

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pinterested in Books #6

According to Urban Dictionary, you're "Pinterested" when you're "too distracted by Pinterest to be bothered to do anything else." I find I have this problem quite a bit. I also find that I get too distracted by books to be bothered to do anything besides read. So I thought, why not share some book-related finds from Pinterest on my blog?...

You can check out my Pinterest, where I've got bookish boards as well as lots of other assorted collections. Feel free to share links to your own bookish pins and boards in the comments!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke

The Neptune Project
by Polly Holyoke

Available as: hardcover, paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 340
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication date: May 21, 2013
Suggested tags: middle grade, dystopia, science fiction

First in The Neptune Project series. From Goodreads:
"With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.

But there are some big challenges ahead of her: no one ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.

Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.

{ I received a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. }

This is the first book I've read which takes place mostly underwater, and once I finished it left me wanting to get back to that ocean world as soon as I could. In The Neptune Project, a group of kids have been genetically altered to live underwater, and they're traveling through the ocean to get to the Neptune colony where they'll be safe. There is adventure, danger, and drama as they make their way through the seas and its hazards while getting to know each other and their new abilities.

I found myself immediately hooked on The Neptune Project, and it kept me interested the whole way through. The kids have to learn to work with each other, to adjust to their new water-based lives (which some of them resent, as they had no say in the matter), and to survive the dangers that they find themselves facing at nearly every turn. Plus, they find there are other kids like them in the ocean, and they have to decide who can be trusted and who is an enemy. There is a little innocent romance also, but their focus is on survival. They get into life-threatening situations, which don't always end with everyone safe and sound. I loved Nere - she's brave, kind, and determined, and although she's not sure of herself at first, she's a strong leader.

I think The Neptune Project would be perfect for middle grade readers, both boys and girls, who prefer their books to have a lot of action and adventure within a unique setting. It also has great interactions between the characters as they try to form a mini society and sort out what everyone's role will be. Readers who are interested in the ocean will probably love it, as there is a lot of detail about their underwater world. It would be great for dolphin lovers also, as a pod of dolphins are important characters in the story and have a really unique way of communicating with Nere. The Neptune Project is a great introduction to the series of the same name, and I can't wait for the next book to come out! According to Holyoke's website, it will be called The Neptune Challenge and is scheduled for release in April 2015.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

{ The Neptune Project book trailer }

More about Polly Holyoke }

Polly Holyoke's Goodreads profile
Polly Holyoke's website
Follow Polly Holyoke on Twitter
Follow Polly Holyoke on Facebook

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

by Amanda Sun

Available as: paperback, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 369
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: June 25, 2013
Suggested tags: young adult, paranormal, mythology

First in the Paper Gods series. From Goodreads:
"On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

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

For me, Ink's strengths are its dedication to sharing Japanese culture and its use of such an intriguing mythology. First, the detail that Sun put into bringing Shizuoka to life was so great. I've been fascinated with Japanese culture for quite some time, so I really enjoyed seeing Japan through Katie's eyes, a gaijin learning her way around a new school in a new city with a completely different way of life.

Second, the mythology. Paper gods? That's pretty awesome. I loved the scenes where ink dripped and drawings came to life. I haven't read a book with a paranormal aspect quite like this one before, which made it really interesting and exciting.

But I hate to say I kind of lost interest in Ink towards the end when Katie and Tomo got mixed up in two different groups fighting for Tomo's powers. Which is weird, because I feel like this is where the book was really picking up and I should have been really into it. But I kept wanting to just flip back and sit with Tomo and his drawings again.

From the synopsis for the next book in the series, Rain (due out in June 2014), it sounds like the attention is back on Tomo and his connection to the gods (and Katie's connection too), so I feel like I might like Rain more than Ink. Not that Ink was bad - I just didn't really like the direction it took at the end. I know it needed conflict and I'm sure plenty of readers found the run-in with a notorious Japanese group really exciting, but it just didn't do it for me. But I am looking forward to reading Rain and seeing where things go from here.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

{ Ink book trailer }

More about Amanda Sun }

Amanda Sun's Goodreads profile
Amanda Sun's website
Follow Amanda Sun on Twitter
Follow Amanda Sun on Facebook

{ Paper Gods series }

Book 1: Ink 

Book 2: Rain 
Expected release date: June 24, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Release Round-Up: May 5-11, 2014

Young Adult

After the End
by Amy Plum

Release date: May 6, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 336
Publisher: HarperTeen
Suggested tags: young adult, contemporary

First in the After the End series. From Goodreads:
" "I have no idea what is truth and what is fiction. I'm all I've got now. I can't trust anyone."

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

The Falconer
by Elizabeth May

Release date: May 6, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 336
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fantasy, fairies

First in The Falconer series. From Goodreads:
"Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

Other YA new releases for this week:

Middle Grade

A Bird On Water Street
by Elizabeth O. Dulemba

Release date: May 7, 2014
Available as: paperback, Kindle edition
Pages: 270
Publisher: Little Pickle Press
Suggested tags: middle grade, realistic fiction

From Goodreads:
"A Bird on Water Street is a coming of age story about Jack, a boy growing up in a Southern Appalachian town environmentally devastated by a century of poor copper-mining practices and pollution. Jack is opposed to the mine where so many of his relatives have died, but how can he tell that to his Dad who wants him to follow in the family trade? Jack just wants his dad safe and the land returned to its pre-mining glory with trees, birds, frogs, and nature—like he’s learning about in school. After Jack’s uncle is killed in a mining accident and the Company implements a massive layoff, the union organizes and the miners go on strike. It seems Jack’s wish is coming true. But the cost may be the ruin of his home and everything he loves."

The Thickety: A Path Begins
by J.A. White

Release date: May 6, 2014
Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook, audiobook
Pages: 496
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Suggested tags: middle grade, fantasy

From Goodreads:
"Hand in hand, the witch's children walked down the empty road.

When Kara Westfall was six years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic . . . except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr's Realm. But mostly it's called the Thickety.

The black-leaved trees swayed toward Kara and then away, as though beckoning her.

The villagers live in fear of the Thickety and the terrible creatures that live there. But when an unusual bird lures Kara into the forbidden forest, she discovers a strange book with unspeakable powers. A book that might have belonged to her mother.

And that is just the beginning of the story.

The Thickety: A Path Begins is the start of a thrilling and spellbinding tale about a girl, the Thickety, and the power of magic.

Other Middle Grade new releases for this week: