Friday, May 29, 2015

Title: Something Real
Author: Heather Demetrios
Series: n/a
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Source: Gift from Jen <3
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show's cancellation, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it's about to fall apart . . . because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™'s mom and the show's producers won't let her quit and soon the life that she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

Heather Demetrios' Something Real is the winner of the Susan P. Bloom PEN New England Discovery Award.

I have wanted to read this book forever. Jen put it on my radar when she read it, and then she put it in my hand. I still didn't read it and do you know why? I'm lazy, and reading physical books is strenuous. lol. Not really, but it's easier to pick up my kindle, so I grabbed the kindle edition back in March and finally got to it. 

So glad I did, and Jen was so right. This book was awesome. Reality Tv fascinates me, but I've never gotten to into the dozen kids shows. I will admit, I watched John & Kate Plus Eight a few times, but the show made me mad because I couldn't get passed the fact those poor kids were on camera all the time. Plus Kate was a total bitch to John. It's a now wonder they aren't together any more. She's psycho. 

Anyhoo, I felt pretty much the same in regards to Something Real. You don't really think much about how it must feel to have your life displayed for all to see. And not really your life, just how the producers want it to look. In this situation, the family went through quite a bit, and Bonnie was the one who took it hard.. so when the Mom decides to put them back on the air.. ugh. It's just so fucked up on so many levels. 

I felt so bad for those kids.. and I think it was in part because I already have sympathy for this subject. Bonnie does find some romance with a perfect boy, and if it wasn't for the swoons, I would have thrown my kindle at the wall in sheer anger. That mom needs a hard ass slap in the face, and if she wasn't fictional, I'd be all over doing it. Holy crap, I hated her.

Overall, really loved this story, Heather Demetrios can write like no ones business. I will definitely be reading more from her in the near future. 

The funniest thing about reading this, is I finished it last week, right before that whole molestation scandal about the Duggar's hit the news. Don't even get me started on those religious freaks. But what a coincidence. There was no molestation in Something Real, but I'm sure some of those kids feel the same as Bonnie did. 

I will leave you with my favorite meme from that fiasco. I hope it doesn't offend, but I couldn't resist. While I don't find the situation funny at all, this meme made me crack up. I love the internet. 

About the author:

Heather Demetrios, originally from Los Angeles, now lives in Brooklyn and various imaginary locales. She is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award for her debut YA novel about reality TV stardom, SOMETHING REAL (Macmillan/Henry Holt), and is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN fantasy trilogy from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray), both out in 2014. She is currently working on her second novel for Macmillan, a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. When she’s not hanging out with her characters, Heather is working on her MFA in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Find Heather:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | YouTube

Thursday, May 28, 2015

SYNC Summer 2015: Week 4 #sync15

Thursday, May 28, 2015 with No comments

Man, I can't believe it's already the end of May! The kids are [almost] out of school, and summer will soon be upon us. You know what that means! SYNC recently announced the list of audiobook pairings up for grabs this summer, and today kicks off the 4th week of the program for 2015. Here's what you can grab through Wednesday of next week...for free!

This week's YA title is The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz, performed by Jennifer Ikeda for Recorded Books.

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One will rule, and one will serve.... Princess Marie-Elizabeth, heir to the Lily Throne, and Morgan Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of the Head Merlin, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen. But Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir. When Marie is promised to the heir to the Prussian throne, she turns to Morgan, desperate for help. The best friends form a perilous plan: Morgan, a powerful magician herself, will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with the boy she loves and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Morgan will get what she's always dreamed of-the chance to rule. But the hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.

This week's classic title is Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan, performed by Eloise Oxer and Paul English for Bolinda Publishing.

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On remote Rollrock Island, the sea-witch Misskaella discovers she can draw a girl from the heart of a seal. So, for a price, any man might buy himself a bride; an irresistibly enchanting sea-wife. But what cost will be borne by the people of Rollrock ‒ the men, the women, the children ‒ once Misskaella sets her heart on doing such a thing? Margo Lanagan weaves an extraordinary tale of desire and revenge, of loyalty, heartache and human weakness, and of the unforeseen consequences of all-consuming love.

I will be grabbing both of these titles posthaste. I've wanted to read The Ring and the Crown since the publisher sent me a finished copy around the time the book was released, but I never found the time for it. And Jennifer Ikeda is a fabulous narrator, so I'm sure this will be a good one. I've also never read a story featuring the brides of Rollrock Island but I've always wanted to. No time like the present, and since this one is published by Bolinda, maybe there will be some fabulous accents. :D

Will you be picking up either of these titles? Remember, they're only available through Wednesday, and new titles will be put up on Thursday for download. To download this week's titles, just click here to be taken directly to the SYNC download page.

I hope you take advantage of this program. I've been doing it for the last few years, and I've had the opportunity to listen to a ton of great audio for free.  If you've never tried audiobooks before, it's a great opportunity to do so without the obligation of buying one that you might not enjoy.  And if you love audiobooks, well, it's a great time to stock up on some titles you may have missed or discover new ones.  Win/win.  =)

Happy listening!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"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: This Is Where It Ends
Author: Marieke Nijkamp
Series: n/a
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: January 5th, 2016

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10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 The auditorium doors won't open.

10:05 Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.
This book looks fascinating and terrifying all in one. And that cover.. the chalk exploding like that.. perfect. I need this book badly.

's Pick:

Title: Ten Thousand Skies Above You
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Firebird, book #2
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 3, 2015

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Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents' invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse—even hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

Though I love time travel/multiverse novels immensely, I didn't expect to like the first book in this series very much. It was a happy surprise when I did, and now I can't wait to get to the sequel. I will need a refresher before then, though, because I don't remember how things left off...I thought there was some kind of love triangle thingy that was left unresolved, not Paul the boyfriend, though that might happen in this book? Hrrrmmm.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Title: Black Iris
Author: Leah Raeder
Narrator(s): Grace Grant
Series: stand-alone
Length: 11 hrs 33 mins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source: audio received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

This book, much like Unteachable, was very much out of my comfort zone. It's also not for the faint of heart. This is a story of revenge, of turning the tables on bullies, and some serious shit goes down before it's all over with.

If you have a morsel of humanity in your being, you will feel for what Laney suffers through. And once you know the whole story, you'll want revenge on her behalf because it is so twisted and vial and repulsive what these people did to her. Being picked on is terrible in and of itself, but these people messed with her head and her whole world. And when the motive for doing so is revealed, I wanted those people to pay for their actions more than ever.

This story is going to push some buttons because all it does is push you to your limits. I've read LGBT books before, but never one like this. And while the romance(s) in this book are so beyond anything I've read before in this particular genre -- more intense, more graphic, more everything -- I still found it beautiful in a chaotic, crazy way.

And the revenge plot line, on top of an unreliable narrator, pushed this story over the edge. The manipulating and the plotting and the violence. If the romance was intense than this aspect was acute in its execution. I've never been more afraid for the villain to get his comeuppance because when Laney goes on the attack, she's out for blood.

I loved Grace Grant's narration of Unteachable, and I appreciated her narration of this novel even more. She's not shy about getting into the story and owning the characters. In my review for Unteachable, I said, "Her inflections and intonations made each character sound different and stand apart, even the most minor characters," and I feel the same towards her narration of Black Iris. I feel as though only this narrator has the capability to represent Leah Raeder's characters. Her characters and stories are just too powerful and intense for any old narrator to do the job.

Despite driving me from my happy place, I loved this novel. Raeder's characters have considerable strength and the way the story just wraps around itself until you're only found when you're completely lost...I can't even. At this point, it's pretty much a given that I will read any and all of Leah Raeder's novels, no matter what they're about.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Leah Raeder is a writer and unabashed nerd. Aside from reading her brains out, she enjoys graphic design, video games, fine whiskey, and the art of self-deprecation. She lives with her very own manic pixie dream boy in Chicago.

(And she still writes pretentiously lyrical fiction.)

Find Leah:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest

Monday, May 25, 2015

Title: The Girl at Midnight
Author: Melissa Grey
Narrator(s): Julia Whelan
Series: The Girl at Midnight, book #1
Length: 9 hrs 55 mins
Publisher: Listening Library (Random House)
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Netgalley, borrowed audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

This is going to be one big ole contradictory review because the things I liked about this book are also the things that bothered me about this book. The comparisons to both the Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Mortal Instruments series were very apt because much of this book felt very familiar to me. And yet the author put her own unique spin on the story and characters, making them her own. I know that "new ideas" have pretty much been exhausted these days, and so I can't hold it against the author that her story seems inspired by other recent books. It's the execution of the story that makes this a worthwhile read, despite similarities to those other books.

I started out reading the review copy I had, but I was finding it difficult to get into the story. I think I got to 23% before I put it on hold in favor of waiting for the audiobook version to become available. That was probably the best decision because once I started the audio, I finished it within a day. It's narrated by the venerable Julia Whelan, and I don't think she's ever performed a book that I didn't like. This was going to be a 3 1/2 star read but because of the narration, I feel it deserves the full four stars.

Even after deliberating for a couple of weeks, I'm still not sure if my overall enjoyment of the story was due in part to the fact that it reminded me so much of one of my favorite series or if I just generally liked it. I know I enjoyed it…that much is certain. It had a snarky protagonist who went to great lengths for those she cared about. It also featured a love triangle that wasn't, which is my favorite kind…where the heroine grows and realizes that what she thought she had with one love interest was nothing compared to that which she could have, even if that love might be a bit star-crossed.

The characters themselves are very reminiscent of those in both of the aforementioned series and their dynamic was also strangely familiar, as it seemed to borrow heavily from The Mortal Instruments. You'll see what I mean when the two different groups converge and even their feelings are the same. Even the idea of reincarnation is present, though it manifests in a different way. The world was rich and fantastical, but I felt so comfortable with it because it was redolent of the two warring factions in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and even the use of portals for travel.

The Girl at Midnight was an enjoyable read but not a unique one. Even so, I find myself wanting the next book. I'm hoping that the similarities to other series will end with book one and the real world-building will really begin in the sequel.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Melissa Grey penned her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn't stopped writing since. As an undergrad at Yale, she learned how ride a horse and shoot a bow and arrow at the same time, but hasn't had much use for that skill since graduating in 2008.

Her debut novel, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT, was published by Delacorte/Random House.

Find Melissa:

Website | Goodreads | TwitterPinterest | Instagram

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