Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday #5

Hosted by Breaking the Spine
A while ago, I showcased several Disney-Hyperion titles that I am extremely excited to get my hands on this year. This week, I thought I'd put the spotlight on Harper. Spoiler alert: 2014 is going to rock.

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Imprint: Balzer + Bray
Series: First in trilogy

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Why? Magic, a girl warrior, wars, kingdoms, and in love with her best friend...I AM FLAILING.

Title: The Jewel
Author: Amy Ewing
Publication date: September 2, 2014
Imprint: HarperTeen

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.

Why? Trained as a surrogate for the royalty? I want this. I want this SO MUCH.

Title: Don't Touch
Author: Rachel M. Wilson
Publication date: September 2, 2014
Imprint: HarperTeen

A powerful story of a girl who is afraid to touch another person’s skin, until the boy auditioning for Hamlet opposite her Ophelia gives her a reason to overcome her fears.

Step on a crack, break your mother’s back. Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good.

Caddie can’t stop thinking that if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, her parents might get back together…which is why she wears full-length gloves to school and covers every inch of her skin.

It seems harmless at first, but Caddie’s obsession soon threatens her ambitions as an actress. She desperately wants to play Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet. But that would mean touching Peter, who’s auditioning for the title role—and kissing him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn't sure she's brave enough to let herself fall.

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson, this debut novel from Rachel M. Wilson is a moving story of a talented girl who's fighting an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, and the friends and family who stand by her.

Why? I seem to be drawn into books involving disorders. They fascinate me. 

Title: Kiss Kill Vanish
Author: Jessica Martinez
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Imprint: Katherine Tegan Books

Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.

Why? The two men in her life committed a crime and now she basically makes me her own witness protection program. Sounds good? YES.

Title: The Swap
Author: Megan Shull
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Imprint: Katherine Tegan Books


ELLIE spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. JACK spent it training in “The Cage” with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they’re both ready for a change. And just as Jack’s thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie’s wishing she could be anyone but herself.

Then, BAM! They swap lives—and bodies!

Now Jack’s fending off mean girls at sleepover parties while Ellie’s reigning as the Prince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on—and their feelings for each other grow—Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.

Why? I haven't read a MG book in YEARS, but I've always wondered about this scenario and I can't help associate this with Freaky Friday, which I adore. Book, come to me.

What Harper books are you waiting for?

Note: All titles, that I know of, except for The Jewel are now available on Edelweiss as of yesterday! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top 10 Books for People Who Like Reality TV

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week, we get to pick Top 10 books that would be good for people who like X, such as The Naturals for people who like the TV show Psych. As you can see, I chose the topic reality TV, my guilty pleasure.

If you like reality TV...

 Something Real by Heather Demetrios
I always knew reality TV wasn't actually REALITY, but I am now way more suspicious while watching my guilty pleasures after reading this. This is such a horribly good take on reality TV. 

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
I wasn't much of a fan of this while reading, but have appreciated it more as time goes on. The concept, however, is still very intriguing.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
One word: Duh. 

Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway
Technically, not reality TV. I love Robin Benway and in this, a girl becomes famous after her ex-boyfriend writes a song about her and it becomes a hit. She still has to deal with fame and all the crud along with it. 

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
While I didn't like this as much as the one before, this involves an actor in disguise, which is like reality TV, okay? *starts singing Happy by Pharrell*

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Again, technically not reality TV. But she's a PRINCESS. We get to read her diary, she has a bodyguard, and part of the royal family. 

It's about an actual actress, but hey, reality TV is mostly scripted anyways. 

All-American Girl by Meg Cabot
Another normal girl-turned-famous story. It counts.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
I actually didn't like this, but MAN, just like reality TV, it's so sickeningly addicting. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. And yes, it does involve a reality TV aspect of competition. 

Airhead by Meg Cabot
Cabot rules this story plot, how did I never notice this before? 

Do you watch reality TV?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Books and Me: A Look-Back

A few weeks ago, I posted a Top Ten Tuesday post about my reading journey, what authors and books have been key points in progressing as a reader. Yesterday, I had my open house for high school graduation. One of the highlights of the party was the slideshow my dad made of all the different pictures of me with family and friends through the years, highlighting various memories. So I realized I wanted to mash the two together. Instead of showing the authors and books through my "reading journey," I'd go fully nostalgic on the books I remember the most growing up (okay, with authors added at the end). Beware.

I couldn't find my family's copy even though it better still be with us, but that book definitely looked used. Mom incorporated "Bible class" into our homeschooling and this was my "textbook" of choice. I've always been a sucker for illustrations.

Tiger and Tom-Early age
"And Other Stories for Boys" HA! Mom used to read to all of us kid frequently at night before bed. Those stories? Only one boy was present, so yes, girls can like them too. 

The How and Why Library: My Stories - Mother-daughter bonding
THIS BOOK. There's a whole series, but this specific one was my favorite. My mom used to read this one to me all the time. Classic. 

The Princess and the Kiss-Elementary grades
Another great memory I have with reading is my mom reading great (and illustrated) storybooks to my younger sister and me. Obviously, my mother has played an instrumental part in my love for reading (which I already knew and appreciated). 
Other books include: Pink and Yellow, You Are Special, and The Three Trees

American Girl-Elementary school
As you can see, Samantha and Addy were my favorites. I always liked to think that Samantha and I were alike, but I loved Addy's time period and the focus on civil rights. During that foolish period of rebelling against Sunday naps, I would sit in the corner of our "school/book room" and read this series. 

Mandie series-Elementary/MG grades
Oh, Mandie. I loved this series and all the characters so much. I actually read this around the same time as my younger sister and we shared in the excitement together. The bad part is that the author only got to the first book in the spin-off (where Mandie goes to college) before she dies. My heart still yearns.

Elizabeth Gail series-Elementary/MG grades
The only other elementary/MG series I remember reading and LOVING. So many boys, so much tension for me in this. Of course, I look back now at the books and cringe at how awful the writing is (or maybe that's all MG?). But I don't care because I'm keeping those until I can force them on my own kids.

Adult authors-Middle school
I didn't even bother to list them all because I basically read every single book off my mother's shelf. I didn't know any books for my age group and craved romance. Hence, my mom's Christian adult books.

Janette Rallison-Early high school (?)
Hey, we're starting to get to present time period! In, I think, early high school I started reading Janette Rallison and others like her (Sarah Dessen, Meg Cabot, and so on). I finally found books in the teen section of my library that looked interesting.

Ally Carter-High school (?)
I couldn't NOT add Ally Carter in here. Duh. After lots of contemporary, I found The Gallagher Girls. Yes, still contemporary, but with a twist. 

Suzanne Collins-High school
Since I added Ally, I had to add Suzanne. The woman who showed me that there was more to reading than contemporary in high school. 

Don't we look so cute? In 2012, Shae pressured me to start blogging. So I did. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would end up with an eclectic taste of books, some favorites being sci-fi and fantasy and dystopian (i.e. Seraphina, Under the Never Sky, The Lunar Chronicles),

What are some books you loved growing up?

Note: I couldn't find acceptable pictures in that time period I wanted for each book, but hope you enjoyed!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: THE HUNT by Stacey Kade

Title: The Hunt
Author: Stacey Kade
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review

Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life. 

But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.

Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

Disclaimer: Being a sequel, there may be spoilers for the first book, but NOT for this one. Also, any quotes may be changed from ARC to publication.

First line: Until I crawled beneath the designated dumpster behind the abandoned Linens-N-Things and felt the brush of rough canvas against my fingertips, I really wasn't sure that the emergency bag would be there, as my father had promised.

Middle books are difficult. Trilogies are super popular, but authors still have a hard time trying to get from Point A to Point C because they have to cross Point B without falling to the death. I'm sure there's a lot of planning, groaning, headaches, and coffee involved when writing book two. For the most part, I think Kade succeeded in this one. She avoided the alligators and all that jazz. Mostly, what I loved about this book was that at times it felt like Kade knew me. She seemed to know the littlest things that, if fixed, would make a book so much better for me. Below is proof.

Exhibit A: No rehashing. If you're like me and forgot to reread the first book, keep in mind that you may feel a little lost at first. Some people demand recaps in sequels and depending on the book, I might too. Most of the time, however, I wish authors wouldn't recap so much. I already read all that, come onnn, you know? Well, the characters rehashed some, of course, making references to what her father and GTX did and what happened with Jenna and Rachel from the first book. That's to be expected since everyone makes references to the past. But we weren't overwhelmed with boring recaps of the previous book, basically being given a summary to what happened in The Rules. "But what if I forgot what happened?" You can 1. Reread The Rules, 2. Ask someone, or 3. Just read The Hunt and everything will come back to you. I remembered some of what happened, but since it was a year ago since I read The Rules, I did forget a couple specifics. Once I started reading, though, my memory was restored. 

Exhibit B: Characters addressing their tropes. I've come to realize that in fiction, tropes will be made. Characteristics, dialogue, and plot points are all aspects of the story that seem to make a little visit into Tropeland. This book wasn't swimming in Lake Tropey, but a couple elements seemed to veer into that area. What separated this one from other books I've read is that the characters realized it and tried to fix it. I repeat, they addressed the tropes. 

"This isn't your problem," she said finally. "I can't ask you to take any more risks."
"Here's the thing: you didn't actually ask me anything. You just left." 

Ariane and Zane found themselves thinking or acting a certain way sometimes and addressed it. The trope of pushing away someone you care about so they won't get hurt? He called her out on it. 

Exhibit C: Conversational tone. This whole review is subjective, obviously, but this exhibit is even more so. Each book is different and each book has different elements involved. Some are narrated first person, some are third person. Some are spoken conversationally, some a little more proper. Certain narrations are needed for certain books. With this one, I felt like my current need for a book with an informal, conversational tone was met. Parentheses and inner musings were involved, and I liked it. (That first sentence is really long though.)

Because I always want to know the negative before I jump into something, I thought it would be only fair to give a warning of the negatives I came across. One was the middle book syndrome. "But I thought you said that she succeeded with this sequel?" Oh, she did. At the same time, this drifted into the Land of Middle Book Bridges. You know what I'm talking about. When the pacing is a little wonky in parts and it feels like you hurried to eat the pre-meal salad so you could get to the MEAT or the breadsticks before the pasta although Olive Garden breadsticks can hold their own. Characters on the run are a hit or miss for me, depending on a variety of things. With The Hunt, it wasn't a miss, but I didn't feel as satisfied as I did at the end of the first book. 

With that said, once I finished it, I instantly wanted the third book. SO WHERE IS MY COPY?

Verdict: Not as good as the first book, but still very worth reading.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I'd Like in My Fictional Family

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Imagine yourself being able to pick who's in your family. Now imagine that you get to pick fictional characters. What a plethora of choices. I love my family, but it is fun to imagine being related to my favorite characters.

The Hubermanns from The Book Thief
Role: Grandparents
How cute would these two be as grandparents? Sure, they're not that old, but Hans is so sweet with Liesel and underneath her tough exterior, Rose is too. I can picture visiting them and having him play the accordion while she cooks. 

Matthew from Anne of Green Gables
Role: Great uncle
MATTHEW! Sweetest old man ever. Of course, when you get Matthew, you get Marilla. Fine by me. 

Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars
Role: Parents
One of the best examples of PRESENT parents. Not absent, dead, or dealing with problems of their own. They rock.

Finnick from Catching Fire
Role: Uncle
Let's just forget about how swoon-worthy Finnick is and focus on the fact that he'd make one awesome uncle (or even brother). Plus, I'd get sugar.

Celaena from Throne of Glass
Role: Cousin (source)
She's killer (literally), but is also in touch with her feminine side. We'd have fun hanging out, that's for sure. And Chaol would be a great inclusion to the family as well.

Role: Cousin
Oh, the adventures we'd have. But I want Gil.

Role: Brother
Totally stole this picture from my sister who fan-casted Matt Bomer as Roar (perfect). Another fictional guy I have a crush on, but he'd be an amazing brother. 

Role: Sister
I initially went with Elizabeth, but then thought 1. Mr. Darcy is mine and 2. Mr. Bingley would be a GREAT brother-in-law. Caroline Bingley can go die somewhere.

Jo from Little Women
Role: Sister
Or the whole March family except Amy. But mainly, I think Jo and I would have fun together if we don't clash. 

Liz from Gallagher Girls
Role: Sister (source)
LIZ IS SO CUTE. She'd make an adorable little sister. One that I might feel too over protective of or jealous of her smarts, but adorable nonetheless.

Kat's family/crew from Heist Society
Role: Extended family (source)
I just want all of Kat's family and crew to be in my extended family somewhere. Italian families seem fun. Crazy, but fun.

But no matter how awesome these fictional characters are, I do love my family. 

Who would you like in your fictional family?