Thursday, August 28, 2014

Giveaway: September ARCs

Thursday, August 28, 2014 with 11 comments
So, September is a very busy month for new releases, yeah? I have 26 ARCs and galleys alone to read before the end of the month, and that's not including the books that I want to read that I didn't score advance copies of. Needless to say, I can't get to them all so I'm not even going to stress myself out by attempting it. Instead, April's going to handle reviewing some of them, and I'm going to give some of them away.

This lovely stack you see to the left is up for grabs. (Gnomes not included.) It includes ARCs I've read and enjoyed, ARCs that I was given specifically for giving away and/or are duplicates, and ARCs that were provided for review consideration that I undoubtedly won't get to, especially if I haven't even read the previous book. There's just no way that's going to happen, unfortunately. So, I'd rather share the love with y'all.

ARC of The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block
ARC of Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts
ARC of Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
ARC of Dead Zone by Robison Wells
ARC of Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant

Thanks to Macmillan and HarperCollins for providing the ARCs for this giveaway!

  • This giveaway is US only.
  • One entry per household. 
  • Entries will be verified. Any entry found to be falsified will result in disqualification of all entries for that participant.
  • Please note that if you use your Twitter account solely for giveaway entries and you enter using the Tweet about the Giveaway entry, that entry will be disqualified. Please remember that this entry method is to spread the word about the giveaway, not simply increase your chances of winning.
  • Winner will be notified via email. Winner will then have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Please check your SPAM folder!!! 
  • We are not responsible for lost packages. 

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Happy almost September! Good luck & happy reading!

Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City # 1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Source: From Publisher via Edelwiess
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

I was a little nervous about starting The Jewel. You see, there have been many comparisons to The Selection out there. Why should this bother me? It doesn't really, because I haven't read The Selection books yet, so really what do I care? Well maybe that's why I liked The Jewel, because I didn't have The Selection to compare it to. Jen wasn't a huge fan of The Selection books, and we were supposed to read this together but we are busy, so I took on this one all by myself. 

I'm kind of glad I did! I mean, I really liked The Jewel. I had my issues, but over all it was fast paced and kept me interested. That's big guys, because I've got some things going on right now, and I'm so freaking distracted. I could not put this one down though, and when I did, I kept thinking about it. 

The whole surrogacy thing is creepy as hell. Can you imagine being forced to grow some crazy bitches baby? Um, no thank you, but that's what these girls are purchased to do. Those royals are all friggen nuts, and those poor girls.  

There is a special reason certain girls are auctioned off, and it's interesting. Interesting as in different and I still don't fully understand. I get why they are being used for those reasons.. but why are they the way they are? Why? I want to know. 

One thing I didn't buy was the romance. There was no build up. They met and bam, couldn't stay away from each other.  Even when it was the stupidest of things for both of them to do. I wanted to slap that girl, let me tell you. Their romance felt forced and fake to me. 

Overall, it was a good story. I wasn't blown away by any means, but it did suck me right in. I would probably give it 3.5 stars, but I'll round it up just for the sake of keeping my mind of things. 

I really hope that's not real. lol

About the author:
Amy Ewing, author of The Jewel

Amy Ewing is the young adult author of The Jewel, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Find Amy:

Website | Twitter FacebookGoodreads

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 with 6 comments
Title: Zac & Mia
Author: A.J. Betts
Series: n/a
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: ARC from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The last person Zac expects in the room next door is a girl like Mia, angry and feisty with questionable taste in music. In the real world, he wouldn’t—couldn’t—be friends with her. In hospital different rules apply, and what begins as a knock on the wall leads to a note—then a friendship neither of them sees coming.

You need courage to be in hospital; different courage to be back in the real world. In one of these worlds Zac needs Mia. And in the other Mia needs Zac. Or maybe they both need each other, always.

Those allegations that this is The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park aren't far off but they don't do this story any favors with the comparisons. I despise those types of comparisons, honestly, because they just don't do a book any justice. So, let's forget them. What this story is is honest and stark and hopeful and brutal and basically what you'd expect a story about kids with cancer to be...except it's not.

I loved how the author handles the dual points of view in this narrative, though at times the two voices did sound a little too similar. Still, this isn't the usual back-and-forth between two characters, getting his perspective and then hers on the same situations. No, this story is told in three parts, each of which highlights the character and paves the way for the ultimate role reversal.


We start out with Zac's perspective as the resident cool kid in the adult cancer ward. He's beating this leukemia thing and he's not letting anyone tell him otherwise, not even the newbie in room 2 who blares Lady Gaga like she's the only one in a hundred mile radius. Mia is a bit rough around the edges, to say the least, but Zac tries to remain hopeful for her sake, even when her own resentment and anger turn her into a bit of a shrew.

Zac is sweet and unassuming. He knows the math, the statistics behind his illness and recovery and what it means for his future. And yet, he still remains positive. Sometimes his character read a bit younger than the nearly 18 years he was presented as, but maybe being stuck in a hospital for weeks on end will do that to you?


Next, we get the standard dual perspective, starting again with Zac and then switching to Mia and then back again. But it's anything but standard. Though the characters may have sounded a little alike from time to time, they both handle their situations in very different ways. Each character seems different when viewed through the other's eyes, but I think it was their inner monologues that made them eerily similar to me. But maybe that's because they were going through some of the same things, no matter how they inevitably handled them.

Fair warning, if you don't enjoy characters that you're not supposed to like despite the fact that they could use a little compassion -- a la Alice from Side Effects May Vary -- you're likely to have difficulty connecting with Mia, especially even once you read from her point-of-view and understand better where she's coming from. Knowing doesn't actually make it any easier to empathize with her. Zac tries his best, though, and at times, he seems to be just what Mia needs: someone who cares enough to try, to fight for her when she's ready to give up fighting.


And then we're back to a single perspective, this time just Mia's. She's different. Things haven't miraculously gotten better for her, but she's more accepting, and a lot of that she owes to Zac. Zac, who she's pushed away for months. Zac, who she wants in her life now, more than anyone and more than ever before. How could she not have seen just how lucky she was to have someone so genuine and good in her life?

Zac & Mia is a story of friendship, love, pain, and everything in between. It's about two kids who find each other amidst battling cancer and hoping for some semblance of normalcy. Above all, it is hopeful, if not a tad bittersweet, and I appreciated the fact that the characters were flawed and not above reproach. This is not the sobfest that others that have come before it were inclined to be, but I don't think that was the author's intent. Those Aussies know how to pluck at the right strings to make you feel just how they want without inundating you with those emotions. And Zac & Mia is no different. If you like characters with faults, have a penchant for Aussie young adult novels, or just enjoy genuinely heartfelt stories with a hopeful message, I think there's something for you in this novel.

GIF it to me straight:
Sad but hopeful.

About the author:

A.J. grew up in Far North Queensland, Australia, reading Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, L.M. Montgomery, and Douglas Adams. She has taught in Brisbane and traveled the world with a backpack and a camera. When she is not writing or teaching, she rides bikes, bakes, and occasionally communes with sea lions that live near her home. She lives in Watermans Bay, Australia.

Find A.J.:

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's WoW selections are...

's Pick:

Title: Princess of Thorns
Author: Stacey Jay
Series: n/a
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 9th, 2014

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Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

Sleeping Beauty is my favorite princess, so I'm super intrigued to read this one. Plus I've been digging the fantasy's lately.

I must note that I'm super excited for Jen's pic as well. I cannot freaking wait to get my hands on both of these titles. :)

's Pick:

Title: Suspicion
Author: Alexandra Monir
Series: n/a
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 9, 2014

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Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

I can't help envisioning Labyrinth whenever I see the word maze. That movie was my childhood. And this book sounds just as stunning and dark and mysterious as that movie was to me as a kid. (Now, I'm doing good if I can focus on something other than that bulge while watching, lol.) Anyway, I've never actually read Rebecca. I bought a copy in high school for some paper or other and then changed my mind and picked an Austen book instead, and now I don't know where my copy of Rebecca is. So, I won't really have anything to compare this "twist" to, but all the same, I'm excited for it. Like Jarreth, I'll be not-so-patiently waiting for December so I can get to the creepy mystery of Rockford Manor.

What are you desperately waiting for this Wednesday? Let us know in the comments or share a link to your own WoW post!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 with 8 comments
Title: Winterkill
Author: Kate A. Boorman
Series: Winterkill Trilogy, book #1
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next. of hands. Who among us didn't add this book to our TBR strictly based off of that awesome cover and font treatment? That's what I thought. I myself was immediately drawn to the book based on the fence spelling out the title of the book and the Red Riding Hood-vibe I was getting from the cover. And it served me well because I really enjoyed this creepy tale of the unknown and what lurks there. Even if I did go into it thinking it was a stand-alone, only to find out it's the first in a planned trilogy. (Don't you hate when that happens?)

Anyway, I wasn't exactly sure which genre this book fell into when I started it, and I'm even less certain after finishing it. There's definitely an end-of-the-world-as-we-knew-it feeling, but the society in which Emmeline lives is cult-like rudimentary in nature. As in they've reverted to the way of life before electricity or any of the conveniences we know today. They don't even have some of the animals standard to that time, including horses, because they were wiped out, purportedly by the beast that roams the woods. These people don't exactly worship or revere the mysterious malmaci that resides in the woods surrounding their fortification, but they give it credence with their fear of it and the unknown. Considering no one's actually seen proof of its existence besides the Takings, they've given it a lot of power with their faith that it's real, that it's just biding its time until it snatches up its next victim. All that aside, I see this progressing as more of a survivalist story in future books, so I'm going to go with my first instinct and declare this a post-apocalyptic story, considering what I know now of the nature of these people.

It's not immediately apparent where this story actually takes place, if it's even a place that exists today or some version of it, but my best guess is Canada based on the fact that La Prise is unbelievably cold and dangerous -- hence the name winterkill -- and the fact that many of the villagers are fluent in French. Plus, the author is Canadian, so there's that. (On a side note, many conversations in this book mix English and French with little to no translation but it's easy to discern the gist of the dialogue based on the context. I actually found it refreshing to see the dialogue written in this manner, with no parroting back the translations each time French was used in conversation, but I'm sure it will annoy some readers, not knowing exactly what's being said.) At any rate, the descriptions of the setting weren't lacking, and I was immediately able to place the characters in the frozen tundra of Canada -- or near enough to it -- and far from any other civilization.

Emmeline is an outcast in her society, carrying the shame -- the Stain -- of her grandmother's past transgressions, transgressions for which her grandmother was sentenced to die. Em is also of "binding" age, which means it is time for her to agree on a life mate and be bound to that person in a special ceremony in a matter of days. And lo and behold, the society's leader has become smitten with Emmeline, against the Council's, well, counsel. But Em is right skittered by his affections and his plans for their people. Not to mention that she is Wayward, not unlike her grandmother, on a daily basis with no inkling to bind herself to anyone at this point.

Except maybe Kane, but his curiosity for what's outside those fortification walls is only surpassed by Emmeline's, making them the perfect match. Em risks certain danger every time she enters the woods, and Kane tries to keep her safe, keep her from the punishments that her would-be fiancĂ© would be responsible for doling out. Their romantic interlude was sweet, but I'm glad it didn't become all-consuming. All Emmeline is concerned with at this point is discovering the truth: about her Stain, about the First Peoples, about the malmaci, about what lies beyond the fence, about everything. Her own curiosity is insatiable and she'll risk her life for the answers. But what she finds just may set her world crumbling down around her.

I loved how the fear of the unknown proved to be such a powerful motivator for the characters in this story. Life inside those four walls is all any of them have known, and they all crave even a shred of hope for something better, though no one's throwing them a bone. Winterkill is intense and full of suspense, and it kept me thoroughly engaged. While I was hoping for a stand-alone of this nature -- finally! -- I am equally pleased to revisit this world in future installments, as my curiosity has been piqued as much as Em's ever was in this book. So many unanswered questions and so much more to learn about this world and how it came to be. I can't wait to discover more!

GIF it to me straight:
There's something out there...

About the author:

Kate is a freelance writer and artist from the often-frozen Canadian prairies. She has a nice family and a well-indulged travel bug. She also has an irrational fear of birds, so when you visit, please leave your bird at home. But do visit.

Find Kate:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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