Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Sinner ~ Amanda Stevens (earc) review [@AmandaStevensTX @MIRAEditors @HarlequinBooks]

The Sinner (Graveyard Queen #5)
September 27, 2016
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

I am a living ghost, a wanderer in search of my purpose and place…

I'm a cemetery restorer by trade, but my calling has evolved from that of ghost seer to death walker to detective of lost souls. I solve the riddles of the dead so the dead will leave me alone.

I've come to Seven Gates Cemetery nursing a broken heart, but peace is hard to come by…for the ghosts here and for me. When the body of a young woman is discovered in a caged grave, I know that I've been summoned for a reason. Only I can unmask her killer. I want to trust the detective assigned to the case for he is a ghost seer like me. But how can I put my faith in anyone when supernatural forces are manipulating my every thought? When reality is ever-changing? And when the one person I thought I could trust above all others has turned into a diabolical stranger?

At first, I was a little disappointed that there weren't more ghosts in The Sinner. It is, after all, something I've come to expect with the Graveyard Queen books. As the story progressed, though, I not only didn't mind, I liked that this tale was a bit different. There are absolutely still otherworldly, supernatural things that Amelia experiences, sees, hears - it's just a bit different.

It works not only for The Sinner's specific story in Ascension and around Seven Gates Cemetery but also for Amelia's character and her development. She's no longer just the ghost-seer we met in The Restorer. During the series, especially in the book prior to this one The Visitor, both we readers and Amelia herself have learned more about her abilities, some oft he 'why' and about who and what she is - that it's a lot more than she ever expected. This book was a great follow-up to The Visitor with her still figuring some of those things out.

Devlin's absence from this book was noted and (as much as I did miss him), what that meant for and to Amelia during the book and what we learn about some of the, possible, reasoning has me really hoping to see it all explored more in the next book. (And hopefully for him to be back!)

The author did a fantastic job introducing us to new characters, while still involving some of the ones we're familiar with the story in unexpected but really smart ways. Amelia's job as a  cemetery restorer is not only one I want, but it gives her a unique knowledge base that always lets her know things that are really interesting and that you're not likely to hear elsewhere. It also lets her travel to new locations with each book that pull her into a new town, with new lore and secrets -- and characters.

I really enjoyed reading The Sinner, Amelia's summer in Ascension with all of its unexpected occurrences, secrets, supernatural history and even the danger. Her character has undergone some excellent growth and development since the series started and I'm really looking forward to where things end up for her, both personally and with her 'ghostly' abilities.

review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall TBR List [@epicreads @merit_press @hmhkids @randomhousekids @simonteen @FierceReads @RP_Kids @SourcebooksFire]

This week's Ten:
10 Books On My Fall TBR List

Speed of Life by J.M. Kelly
(October 11th ~ HMH Books for Young Readers)
Twins Crystal and Amber have the same goal: to be the first in their family to graduate high school and make something of their lives. When one gets pregnant during their junior year, they promise to raise the baby together. It’s not easy, but between their after-school jobs, they’re scraping by.

Crystal’s grades catch the attention of the new guidance counselor, who tells her about a college that offers a degree in automotive restoration, perfect for the car buff she is. When she secretly applies—and gets in—new opportunities threaten their once-certain plans, and Crystal must make a choice: follow her dreams or stay behind and honor the promise she made to her sister.

Feminist readers in particular will appreciate this strong young woman who doesn’t conform to gender norms.. -Kirkus

Replica (Replica #1) by Lauren Oliver
(October 4th ~ HarperCollins)
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. 'A sickly child', her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father's connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she's always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father's name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute's walls, Lyra - or number 24 as she is known as at Haven - and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven's purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever...

Look Past by Eric Devine
(October 4th ~ Running Press Kids)
Someone brutally murdered Mary Mathison, daughter of a prominent and very conservative local pastor. Whoever it was is now taunting Avery, a transgender boy, with disturbing messages, claiming that Mary’s murder was revenge for her relationship with Avery. The killer’s demands are simple and horrific: Avery must repent for changing his gender identity, or he will be the next one killed.
Can Avery deny who he is to catch Mary’s killer? Or will sacrificing himself be the ultimate betrayal?

What Light by Jay Asher
(October 11th ~ Razorbill)
From Jay Asher, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Thirteen Reasons Why, comes a romance that will break your heart, but soon have you believing again. . . .

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other.

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What Light is a love story that's moving and life-affirming and completely unforgettable.

The Homecoming by Stacie Ramey
(November 1st ~ Sourcebooks Fire)
Forced to return to his estranged family, John discovers how hard it is to truly go home.

It's been a year since John lost his girlfriend, Leah, to suicide. Living with his uncle keeps his mind from the tragedy and his screwed up family-until he gets into trouble and a judge sends him back home. With a neglectful mother and abusive brother, John's homecoming is far from happy.

As he tries to navigate and repair the relationships he abandoned years ago, Emily, the girl next door, is the only bright spot. She's sweet and smart and makes him think his heart may finally be healing. But tragedy isn't far away, and John must soon face an impossible decision: save his family or save himself.
Teach Me to Forget by Erica M Chapman
(December 2nd ~ Merit Press)
Ellery's bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place.

Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over--return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows--the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

Colter quickly uncovers what she's hiding and is determined to change her mind. After confessing a closely held secret of his own, he promises not to tell hers. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as the shadows of her past cling tight around her, but when she's faced with another tragedy, she must decide whether her love for one boy is more important than a lifetime of pain.

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
(October 4th ~ Greenwillow Books)
Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
(October 18th ~ Knopf Books for Young Readers)
The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
(November 8th ~ Feiwel & Friends)
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

and I'm leaving #10 open because I know there are a lot of fall books I forgot to add to my Goodreads shelves!

Please leave a comment and let me know the top books from your TBR list this fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday [@MindyMcGinnis @PenguinTeen]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

GIVEN TO THE SEA by Mindy McGinnis

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

published April 11th by Putnam Children's

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


It's Mindy McGinnis. Honestly, that's about all the initial reason I need, but more than that it's about a girl who doesn't want to do what's expected of her. After A Madness So Discreet and The Female of the Species I am more than ready for some more girls-not-doing-what-they're-supposed-or-expected-to-do from this author! (I'm also excited that it's a fantasy series and looking forward to seeing what sort of world and characters she creates.)

That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Female of the Species ~ Mindy McGinnis review [@MindyMcGinnis @EpicReads]

The Female of the Species
Katherine Tegen Books
September 20, 2016
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

"Sugar and spice and all things nice, That's what little girls are made of."

That may just be part of a nursery rhyme, but let's face it, girls are expected to be sweet and smiling and nice. They're not supposed to be angry or violent or dangerous. Or kill someone.

Alex Craft isn't what a girl is supposed to be, though.

But this book? The Female of the Species is everything you need.

Sure, someone who knows how to kill someone may not be the optimal example, but Alex and this novel deal not only with rape culture, but also gender stereotypes (and slut shaming). They live in a small town where everyone knows everyone - and everyone's business - yet there are still some definite secrets. Some bigger than others.

There is a great juxtaposition of birth and life and death and destruction in the book. There's the obvious of Alex knowing how to kill, but then there's her work at the animal shelter, there's the way different characters help others find a new life, a new perspective and lots of little (and some bigger) examples. The contrast and the unexpected ways they appeared really added to the story.

I had thought that this was going to be wholly different from McGinnis's last book A Madness So Discreet but it actually wasn't. They both do a superb job challenging what that day's society expects from and allows of women. The way that we see what the characters, their friends and their peers find acceptable, the way they then react to things and the changes we see take place were all incredibly well done.

I don't think I ever would have put Alex Craft's character together with the commentary the novel was able to offer nor would I have expected it to work so, so well. This book is one I am going to recommend and remember for a long time to come.

"But boys will be boys, our favorite phrase that excuses so many things, while is the only thing we have for the opposite gender is women, said with disdain and punctuated with an eye roll." (pg 202)

thank you to the publisher for my copy of the book to review
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