Monday, July 30, 2012

The Waiting Sky ~ Lara Zielin arc review

The Waiting Sky
Putnam Juvenile
August 2, 2012
224 pages

While it's incredibly unlikely that you'll ever find me chasing any tornadoes - for fun, for research, or some combination of the two - I do have to admit that fictionalized accounts of those that do are interesting to me. (The 'reality' versions, oddly less so.)

Lara Zielin's The Waiting Sky uses the storm chasers and their quest to find the next great, big tornado and gather information from it as a backdrop to telling seventeen-year-old Jane McAllister's story. Living all of her teen, as well as most of her childhood, years alone with her alcoholic mother, Jane's learned how to take care of her mother.

In their troubled relationship, Jane makes as much money as she can babysitting - even to the detriment of her school work - pays the bills, lies for her mother and manages as best she can. Her mother, meanwhile spends all of the money (mostly on alcohol), forgets about bills, spends too much time in bars, and puts Jane in danger.

Jane's older brother, Ethan, left when she was just a kid and she's forever blamed him for (as she sees it) abandoning not only her but their mother as well. Now, he - after some urging from her best friend, too - has finally convinced Jane to spend the summer with him -  and the tornado chasing team he's a part of.

While everyone else, including the gorgeous, charming Max, is sure that time apart is what Jane's mother - and more importantly, Jane - need for a real chance at healing, Jane's not so sure. She's used to watching out for her mother.

Will she stay with Ethan - for the whole summer and maybe even past it - or will she return home to Minnesota and the dysfunctional relationship with her alcoholic mother, even if it means losing her best friend and continuing the same life?

I've never really thought before how perfect that chaos and ultimate unpredictability of tornadoes are to be paired alongside a story of someone dealing with addiction. The tornadoes the teams chase parallel, in a way, Jane's mother - or her relationship with her mother. There are false starts, things that seem like they're going to be more than they ultimately are, things that cause more damage than is first known.

The two work together extremely well, both for readers and for Jane. Both story lines - the team chasing the tornadoes and Jane working out her relationship with her mother (and brother) while quite different, are both very strong and blend together nicely in The Waiting Sky

As a story about addiction or a character dealing with someone with addiction, The Waiting Sky is different than any I've read; it removes Jane from the situation.We don't as much of her in the every day, routine of coping with her mother. That's also where I think The Waiting Sky is strongest and most unique, however. Jane deals with her guilt, mixed emotions and uncertainty away from her mother, with people not completely familiar with the situation and without the constant presence of her mother. All without the novel losing any depth or impact - possibly gaining a new kind.

With a great cast of characters (you might even want to start talking like a pirate a bit - it's safer than tornado chasing), the right touch of romance, fantastic family relationships and a great complex main character The Waiting Sky is one not to miss!

A great contemporary, realistic fiction novel you'll want to run out and pick up - it's out Thursday.

Rating: 8/10

My Spring Break Blog Spectacular interview post with Lara Zielin, author of The Waiting Sky (from April)

Thank you to Stacey Barney at Penguin/Putnam for my arc and to Stacey and Lara for participating in/helping with my SBBS (for which the arc was received)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Apologies for the slight wane in post/reviews this week. Some personal stuff has come up the past two weeks that's interfered with my reading/reviewing time and ability.

I'm looking to have everything back on track very soon and have reviews of some great books planned very soon - and my July New Release Giveaway Hop giveaway ends closes on the 31st!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme
hosted by Breaking the Spine

Here's another book that should have already been a WoW pick for me, but somehow has not yet been: 

Level 2 (The Mystery Chronicles #1) by Lenore Appelhans, otherwise known as the Lenore Presenting Lenore is presenting :)

Even if I hadn't already planned to read Level 2 based off loving Lenore's fantastic reviews, great book recs and overall awesomeness on her blog (one of the first I book blogs I started reading, I think), the synopsis and then the bit of the first page she posted a while ago would have absolutely convinced me (as it should you) - here's that post if you missed it!

Here's the synopsis though

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next. Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours downloading memories and mourning what she’s lost—family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil. 

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place. Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian—a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life—comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: a rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2. 

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but then he promises what she wants the most—to be with Neil again—if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between Heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake… but the salvation of all mankind.
Are you not in love . . . and is the cover not to die for?

Also, this post is now late because I thought there was a mention somewhere of a model of the Level 2 world being built and I thought that was cool but now I'm thinking I imagined it, so . .. carry on

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cold Fury ~ T.M. Goeglein (arc) review

Cold Fury (Cold Fury trilogy #1)
Putnam Juvenile
July 24, 2012
313 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

Sara Jane Rispoli knows that it's only looking back that you remember the warning signs. The little things, the thoughts and feelings that should would have told you something was wrong. And it's only in hindsight that she wishes she'd waved goodbye to her father.

Sixteen-year-old Sara Jane's life changed in an instant.

One minute she was just a teenage girl, with a loving family - two parents and a cute (if somewhat eccentric) younger brother - plans to attend the school dance and hopes she might actually keep her classic movie club alive.

The next she's on the run from assassins, (seemingly) dishonest cops, and maybe even her uncle; learning things she never expected to about her family - and that maybe the bakery they ran wasn't their only 'business.' Attacked, bruised and not knowing where to turn, Sara Jane has to adapt to this new life without her usual support system - all while school still hasn't let out for summer break yet.

As Sara Jane endeavors to find her family, a briefcase filled with nearly 100,000 thousand dollars, a .45 and a notebook full of decades of information and secrets will be her only protection (and possibly another liability).

Cold Fury is set in Chicago and I tend to have a weakness for at least picking up books set in Chicago (I used to live there and I miss it . . .) so there's a good possibility I would have picked this book up even without receiving it as an arc despite it being different from what I usually read.

There's an incredibly strong possibility - actually, it's definitive that I would not have been able to put it down if I had.

Though this is T.M. Goeglein's debut novel he's been a screenwriter and - also blogs for the Huffington Post (and you can read his guest blog and interview from my Spring Break Blog event here) - and that comes through in Cold Fury. I've read several novels where the back cover/jacket praised the novels 'cinematic' writing but never quite thought so myself, until now.

Despite Cold Fury not having a very linear story line, it was incredibly easy to picture the events playing out. Even with action sequences or things that all but (hopefully) a select few individuals are likely ever to experience, the writing writing was such that it was not at all hard to imagine Sara Jane doing them - or having them done to her. While the story jumps into and out of flashbacks, different times and scenes quite often, it's not the least bit confusing and adds to the story with giving not only different parts of Sara Jane's life at the current time, but glimpses into her (and her family's) past.

There are some fantastic secondary characters. Some that you would expect to be colorful, given either what they do or who they are - and others who are just well imagined characters. Sara Jane's brother is one who is particularly enjoyable as is another character who may not be in the next book but I do hope so.

Knowing Chicago, I caught most of the Chicago things that were referenced, but thought it was great that things were explained, mostly in appositives, for readers who might not.

This novel's tone is different than anything I've read lately, if not ever. I wasn't reminded of anyone elses's writing - and I mean that in the best way. Sara Jane has her own, unique voice that stays true until the end. Goeglein, it would follow, has a unique voice that I'm interested in hearing (reading) more of in future books - both the latter Cold Fury books and others.

Rating: 10/10

As a July YA new release, this eligible for my July New Release Giveaway Hop giveaway! (ends July 31)

arc received from Penguin/Putnam for review and SBBS - review not affected by the arc reception or author's participation (slash-general-awesomeness-with) SBBS

(First three chapters available online)

Monday, July 23, 2012

In My Mailbox Monday

I haven't done an In My Mailbox Monday (Mailbox Monday started by The Printed Page) in forever and I've gotten some really amazing books recently so I decided I need to, here are just some of them:

from NetGalley and their respective publishers: (some I've read/am reading and some I can't wait to start!)

by Spencer Quinn
by Maggie Stiefvater
by Sarah J Maas
by Annabel Pticher
by Katie McGarry
by Theo Lawrence
by Heather Anastasiu
by David Leviathan
by Jessica Warman

from Edelweiss and Harper:

by Emily Hainsworth

(will review closer to the October release!)

galleys received from publishers:

by George Ella Lyon
(from Macmillan)
[my review here]
by Jenn Ashworth
(from Harper)
by Jim Gorant
(from Gotham Books)
by Jennifer Banash
(from Putnam)
[excerpt here]

I'll have to get another one of these together sometime for the finished copies I've gotten (and am reading) once I round them all up . . .

I'll try to get back to being more regular with posts about the books I've received!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

You Remind Me . . .

I love the cover for Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly (out July 24th) just realized today what it reminded me a bit of: the art for the TV show Revenge, the first season DVDs specifically . . .

Revenge: First Season DVD Something Strange and Deadly (#1)
by Susan Dennard
I love that the 'G's are loopy and different from the other letters on both of them, too! They're both very evocative covers and I think it's fabulous that the plot of Revenge is so different from that of Something Strange and Deadly (or what I think it is - can't wait to read it!) yet the covers have these similarities.

What do you think? Any other book, movie/TV covers that look similar or remind you of each other?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Video Veneris

This was my already scheduled Video Veneris post for today and I've decided to go  with it (despite the news from Colorado this morning) . . .

When the campaign seasons seem to only get crazier each go round, there's finally a movie to really make fun of it all: The Campaign. I love it (and this is from someone who thinks it's really a responsibility to vote, knowledgeably.)

Starring Will Ferrell (as a four term North Carolina Cogressman) and Zach Galifianakis (as his first opponent) The Campaign opens August 10th (IMDb).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme
hosted by Breaking the Spine

Pivot Point by Kasie West

Reminiscent of the movie Sliding Doors, Pivot Point is about a girl who has the power to Search alternate futures. When faced with a life changing decision, she lives out six weeks of two different lives (in alternating chapters), both holding the potential for love and loss, and must ultimately choose which path she is willing to live through.

I remember liking Sliding Doors back whenever I saw it and I've always wished there were more 'what if you made choice x instead of y' books, movies or shows.

Aside from time travel, alternate futures is my favorite underutilized plot device. The two can overlap, but I do love them individually.

So, there's great potential for me to enjoy Pivot Point when HarperTeen releases it on February 12, 2013.

add Pivot Point to your Goodreads / pre-order from TBD / or from Amazon

What are you Waiting On this week?

Promo: Taken by Storm series ~ Angela Morrison

Author Angela Morrison is doing a huge promo blitz today, July 18th, to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the characters of her Taken by Storm series making their way onto the page . . .
taken by stormTen years ago this week, Taken by Storm's scuba-diving hero, Michael, swam out of Angela's brain and onto her page. Join the anniversary celebration! Win your own copy of the brand new paperback!  Snag Taken by Storm's Kindle ebook for only $ .99! Unbroken Connection (Book 2) and Cayman Summer (Book 3) are free on Kindle! Hurry. The promotion ends Friday, July 20th.

Haven’t read Taken by Storm or either of the other two books yet? Don’t worry, not only do I have the (above) link to the contest for you, I also have two excerpts, some author info, and links to where you can buy Angela Morrison’s books!

Here is a short excerpt from Taken by Storm (look for a longer one at the end of the post):
I’m lost to his firm chest,
his slender fingertips, his long wavy hair,
his mouth sucking my bottom lip—
The world spins, the stars shift,
and I can’t see anything except his smoky
gray eyes gazing into mine.
You scare me, whispers
from my mouth across his.
Good, he breathes into me.
I need you to save me.

About the Author:

Angela Morrison is the award-winning YA author of Taken by Storm (Books 1-3) and Sing me to Sleep. She graduated from Brigham Young University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Eastern Washington on the wheat farm where Taken by Storm is set. She's an advanced NAUI, Nitrox certified scuba diver. The hurricane that kills Michael's parents was inspired by a real-life diving accident.

After over a decade in Canada, Switzerland, and Singapore, Angela and her family are happily settled in Mesa, Arizona. She enjoys speaking to writers and readers of all ages about her craft. She has four children--mostly grown up--and the most remarkable grandson in the universe.

Find Angela on these sites: 
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Blog

Or her blog of opposite poems for younger readers

Ready to buy the books? (Books 2 & 3 are free 'till Friday - at least US Kindle versions)
Taken by Storm paperback / Taken by Storm on Kindle / Unbroken Connection (#2) / Cayman Summer (#3) / Angela Morrison Amazon page  (Angela Morrison books on TBD)

Need a bit more convincing or just want more? Here’s a longer excerpt for you . . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Unquiet ~ Jeannine Garsee (arc) review

The Unquiet
July 17, 2012
388 pages
add to your Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

Last fall, Jeannine Garsee interested me in her upcoming book with one sentence: "Sixteen-year-old Rinn Jacobs has secrets: One, she’s bipolar. Two, she killed her grandmother." Pair that with The Unquiet's gorgeous cover and I'm not sure how anyone could want to pass this up.

If, somehow anyone's still unconvinced, rest assured, the content will meet, exceed and then, likely, blow your expectations.

Following the aforementioned grandmother's death, her own failed suicide attempt, and her parent's separation, Rinn and her mother move to her mother's hometown in Ohio. The snow and cold weather, so different from the California she's used to is more of an issue for Rinn than the fact that the home's previous owner hanged herself in Rinn's bedroom.

With Rinn trying to stay sane, a school where nearly everyone believes a girl's ghost haunt's the locked up school pool (where she died) might not seem like the best choice, but she's determined to stay. She's found friends.

Friends who convince her to take part in a seance to contact the spirit of the dead girl.

But when things go wrong bad, horrible things start happening to those involved . . . except for Rinn. Needing to find out if she can be affected by Annaliese, the school's ghost girl, Rinn concocts crazy seeming plans and enlists the help of Nate, her neighbor - who's also the hot "Opie" she's falling for. Her plans may seem dangerous to him, but she has to know . . . she has to know if the ghost is real and find a way to stop everything.

Normally I like books set in the autumn/winter (especially those that give specific dates in the book) to be released in the same time period so that I can read them at the same time things happen. With The Unquiet, though, I absolutely didn't mind reading about snow and Halloween while it was 90 degrees outside. Despite it's blustery setting, this was a book made for summer nights. (Someone made a brilliant decision releasing it in the summer.)

It's a book that will keep you up way past your bedtime reading just a little bit more. Then just a little bit more than that. And then maybe than that.

All the while you'll be happy you're (I hope) far away from cold, long high school hallways.

The setting of The Unquiet is just about perfect. While Southern Gothic and haunted, anything Southern is vastly entertaining, I'm always up for some spooky ghost stories set in the Midwest. Maybe it's due to having lived there? Maybe not. Either way, the small town Ohio setting of The Unquiet fit the story - and the characters, who likewise fit the setting - to a tee.

Rinn had just enough 'outsider,' what-is-this-small-town-tininess, I'm-from-somewhere-developed-with-a-Nordstrom's, without having too much. It didn't get to the point of being annoying (except when it was acknowledged) or condescending and the small town wasn't mocked, either.

Rinn being bipolar adds a great layer to the story as well. Not only is there everything that's happened to her and her family that led to the move to River Hills, there's also an added level of questioning her (by Rinn, herself as well as everyone else) when it comes to things with Annaliese.

As The Unquiet unravels, slowly, slowly never quite letting you figure everything out until the end, it just gets creepier and creepier. Major points to Jeannine Garsee for a great YA psychological thriller, perfect for some late night summer reading!

Rating: 9/10

Thank you to the author for the knowledge of arc's back in the fall and to Bridget for sending me one!

and don't forget, it's a July YA New Release so it's part of my New Release Giveaway Hop giveaway here

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

 • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
 • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's teaser:

Light was seeping from Diana Bishop's body--all around the edges, escaping from her pores. The light was a blue so pale it was almost white, and at first it formed a cloudlike shroud that clung to her for a few seconds.

-pg 28 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The release of Shadow of Night (#2 in the trilogy) reminded me I'd meant to give this book a look but never did . . . so I got it from the library the other day and I'm just, just starting it . . .

Monday, July 16, 2012

Holding on to Zoe ~ George Ella Lyon (arc) review

Holding on to Zoe
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
July 17, 2012
176 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

When sixteen-year-old Jules gets pregnant, she thinks up a myriad of possible reactions her mother could have when she tells her - denial is not one of them. It doesn't matter, though, because Jules is going to have her baby.

And once she does, the other things don't matter anymore. That her boyfriend has skipped town is irrelevant,  her mother thinking she's doing it all for attention couldn't matter less, work at the Toyota plant while figuring out how to finish school is hard, but it's what Jules has to do for Zoe and their future. But why does her mother still refuse to believe that Zoe's real?

Holding on to Zoe  is not only unlike any other book I've read, it was unlike what I expected it to be. I'm incredibly glad I won a copy from Macmillan Children's on Twitter, I may not have found out about this one as quickly otherwise. I know I wouldn't have read it as quickly!

At the start it is reminiscent of some other books dealing with teen pregnancy: the girl lives with her single mother, her father abandoned them when she was much younger, she feels lonely/alone, she has a boyfriend that promises her things, and then when she's pregnant he's gone.

That's where things diverge with Holding on to Zoe . . . and where it gets difficult to say just how without spoiling the book. At a short - but definitely not too short - 176 pages, things happen quickly in Zoe.  Lyon's also written some poetry and that not only comes through in the writing of Zoe but is, at least part of, what makes the short length work so well.

With Jules carrying for Zoe and her mother denying that Zoe is even there, readers are put in an interesting place. What works so well is that readers do get Zoe's view of everything but also with an outside perspective. Some books work because they keep everyone out of the loop, just letting you in at the last second; this one works because it keeps you so in the loop, instead letting you see the characters and their interactions and workings.

The only thing I could have wanted even a bit more from was one scene towards the end that I think was maybe a bit too quick for me as I'm not sure I quite grasped all of what went on in it. Otherwise, I greatly enjoyed this novel and love that it got brought to my attention!

Rating: 9/10

If you want a chance to win this - or any July YA book - you can enter my July New Release Hop Giveaway

Thank you to Ksenia and @MacKidsBooks for my galley

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July New Release Giveaway Hop

I've had such a great time entering the giveaways from the past months of this hop that I decided it was (past?) time I took part and hosted a giveaway on my blog . . .

My Giveaway:

Drain You / Something Strange & Deadly / Team Human / The Forsaken

Such a Rush / Holding on to Zoe / Cold Fury / The Unquiet

(covers link to US Amazon page, titles link to Goodreads page)

Because of three things: this being my first New Release Giveaway Hop, how long the list got when I tried to pick which July books I wanted as options, and the books I didn't know enough about yet . . . 

You can win one of the above books 
a book a YA July release of your choice, less than $13US
(open internationally so long as TBD ships to you, check here if you're not sure)

as GFC follow is the required entry, if GFC is being odd (blank icon/no name when you try to follow) - let me know in the comments

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other blogs offering giveaways - and come back this month when I hope to review some of these great July books!

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