Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My Secret to Tell ~ Natalie D Richards (earc) review [@NatDRichards @SourcebooksFire]

My Secret to Tell
Sourcebooks Fire
October 6, 2015
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


There was blood on his hands. Where was the guilt in his eyes?

Emmie's had a crush on her best friend's brother forever. Deacon is the town bad boy who's always in trouble, but she sees his soft side when he volunteers with her at the local animal shelter. She doesn't think he's dangerous…until he shows up in her bedroom with blood on his hands.

Deacon's father has been violently assaulted and Deacon is suspect number one. Emmie's smart enough to know how this looks, but she also knows Deacon's biggest secret—he's paralyzed by the sight of blood. She's sure he didn't do this. Or did he? Because even Deacon's own sister thinks he's guilty…

Natalie D Richards' My Secret to Tell is full of surprises. In the beginning, it seems like a pretty straight forward story: Deacon ran from the scene of his father's assault, covered in blood;  now he is hiding, refusing to  go to the police or even his sister.

Is it any wonder countless people, even, it seems, his own sister think he's guilty?

Emmie, best friend to Deacon's sister Chelsea and the one he ran to, isn't so sure, though. She recognizes how it all looks, but she knows Deacon. Even if she does question some things, Emmie believes him - and wants to help.

As the story progresses, the mystery deepens and more things are called into question. It seems many aren't who they seem to be and it isn't easy to know who to trust.

Even when one or two aspects of the mystery seem easy to piece together, it does not take away from one's enjoyment of the story. Instead, knowing (or possibly knowing) something only adds to the tension you feel as you read.

The complexities or Emmie's character are fantastic Who she is and the little things that make her that way and why not only make her an interesting character to read about, a character who is easy to relate to but also sympathize with, but play into the story really well. (In unexpected but very nicely done ways.)

With its resolution, the book's mystery proved to be bigger and more complex than I could have imagined. All of the pieces came together incredibly well, with smaller things from throughout the book now making sense.

I loved the characters of My Secret to Tell even when I disliked them or their actions- Emmie, Deacon, Chelsea, Joel, Seth, her parents, even Rocky(!!). They are complex, well written characters who play great, intriguing roles not just in the novel but in each other's lives, too.

My Secret to Tell was an even better read than the author's first two books Six Months Later and Gone too Far, it is a exciting, thrilling read with great characters.







digital copy received, for review purposes, from publisher via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@hmhkids @Janet_B_Taylor]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



INTO THE DIM by Janet B Taylor

“Her future is a thousand years in the past.”

Being “the home-schooled girl” in a small town, Hope Walton’s crippling phobias and photographic memory don’t endear her to her dad's perfectly blond, very Southern family. When her mother is killed in a natural disaster thousands of miles from home, Hope’s secluded world implodes. After being shipped off to an aunt she's never met, Hope learns there's more to her mother's "death" than she ever dreamed. At her aunt's manor, high in the Scottish Highlands, Hope begins to unravel the shocking truth about her family. Her mom isn't just a brilliant academic. She’s a member of a secret society of time travelers, and is currently trapped in the twelfth century in the age of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. To stage a rescue, the sheltered teen must join the Indiana Jones-wannabe team of time-jumpers, before her mother is lost for good. In a brutal, medieval world, Hope will discover more family secrets, and a mysterious boy who could be vital to setting her mother free…or the very key to Hope’s undoing.

Addictive and rich with historical detail, INTO THE DIM (Coming Spring 2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is an unlikely heroine's story of adventure, sacrifice, and first love, in a high stakes race against time itself.


published March 1st 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers

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




Why?

Time travel.

Okay there is a bit more to it than that, but that is the definite first point in why I want to read Into the Dim. There is not enough YA time travel going on. Certainly not enough with girls from the Scottish Highlands having to go back to the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine to save their mother.

(Plus I'm loving the possibilities of 'family secrets' and 'a mysterious boy.')



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 29, 2015

A Thousand Nights ~ E.K. Johnston (earc) review [@ek_johnston @DisneyHyperion]

A Thousand Nights
Disney Hyperion
October 6, 2015
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.
The beginning of A Thousand Nights, the sort of introduction to our characters and the world, felt a bit long to me. It did not pull me into the story, though I could understand the necessity.

Once we knew that our (unnamed) main character has been taken as Lo-Melkhiin's bride and once she does not immediately die, as she's expected to, I started to like her. While something about the story was not ever my favorite, maybe because I am unfamiliar with the tale, maybe just because it was not, I liked the characters.

Having so many characters go without names, referred to as 'she' or 'my sister,' 'my sister's mother' or 'serving girl' took some getting used to. Especially since we knew Lo-Melkhiin's name. Yet, I really liked our main character. She wad determined and smart, she had a fire about her and wasn't going to give up, even when put into alife where everyone (even she) expected her to die incredibly soon, if not immediately.

The magic, the 'powers' in A Thousand Nights were hard to make sense of. Somehow it felt like I was missing some bit of information, or some something. The story didn't quite click for me.

I liked the glimpses into Lo-Melkhiin's wife's life with her father and her family. We learn about life in the desert, her relationship with her sister and how their family lived. It adds to who she is now, in the qasr and to her survival.

I am not that sure about all of A Thousand Nights but I loved the parts focused on the main character, her determination, her instincts and knowledge and who she was.






digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Top Ten Tuesday: If you Liked . . .


This week's Ten:
10 Books to Read if You Liked:
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey


If you enjoyed Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave and are looking for something to help you count down the days until the movie comes out in January, here are my suggestions. (Except for the first one, they're not in order. In the After, is my top pick, though.)

In the After (#1) by Demitria Lunetta

These Broken Stars (#1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Partials (#1) by Dan Wells

The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett

Article 5 (#1) by Kristen Simmons

Dualed (#1) by Elsie Chapman

The Program (#1) by Suzanne Young

Proxy by Alex London

Monument 14 (#1) by Emmy Laybourne

Dark Inside (#1) by Jeny Roberts





Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any books you recommend for The 5th Wave fans or if there's another book that's been popular that you have suggestions for!

Monday, September 28, 2015

We'll Never Be Apart ~ Emiko Jean (earc) review [@emikojeanbooks @HMHKids]

We'll Never Be Apart
HMH Books for Young Readers
October 6, 2015
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.
I think We'll Never Be Apart achieved something that a few other books I have read tried to do: it keeps you guessing about the truth, characters motives and what really happened.

The mix of the present day, with Alice in Savage Isle, after the fire that killed Jason and the journal entries detailing her past, growing up and life with Jason and Cellie, really works very well. We really get to know what Alice and Cellie's life, growing  in foster care, with Cellie's troubles and their promise to never be apart, was like.

Their growing up was difficult and, at times, very dark and troubling. Yet, though it all we see the sisters' relationship and their bond with Jason. We also see the trials those relationships faced.

I really appreciated that the progression into some of the darker (and, often, disturbing) pars of their past were paralleled with some growth in Alice's perception of things. I also, interestingly, really liked that those two things did not always keep pace with each other. Alice seeing things as not that bad, misunderstood or acceptable made them that much more troubling.

Honesty, I did not really like Chase, at first. I did not dislike him, I just wasn't sure what he would add to things. Oh, was I wrong. The banter and snark between Alice and Chase is something you can tell is good for them both and connects them, while still hiding a lot. I really love how things developed between their two characters - and individually, as well.

The only real downside to We'll Never Be Apart for me was that it left me with too many questions. I anticipated something like how it ended, without the ending being obvious. Some of the details were too unexplained for my liking - it's actually questioned by a character, but without sufficient answer. (Also, the very end still has be a bit . . .  unsure.)

I loved the characters and their originality, the writing and that it got disturbing and twisted when there was the need but was light, funny and quite sweet when it called for that. This is a terrific debu and I am looking forward to what Emiko Jean publishes next.






digital copy received, for review, from publisher/via NetGalley

Cover Characteristic: Suitcases [@sugar_and_snark]

This is a new meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. It came about when Sugar was wondering which cover to use for her #70 Cover of the Week post. Sugar kept on thinking of more than one, and they all seemed to have a theme/characteristic. So she decided to switch things up a bit!

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).

You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

This week's Cover Characteristic: Suitcases



In the Bag by Kate Klise

Goodnight, Beautiful by Dorothy Koomson

(hardcover cover)


favorite:

Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald
(paperback cover)

My favorite this week is a bit of a different way to pick one: I already had the hardcover cover of Sophomore Switch in my picks but when I saw the paperback cover, I knew that was my favorite. (But I'm keeping the hardcover one, too, because it's one of the few I immediately think of for 'suitcases'.) 


I think they're both cute covers and like that they kept the same theme from the original to the paperback!


Do you have a favorite cover with suitcase(s) on it? Please leave a comment and let me know! Also, let me know what you think of my picks this week. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Dead Boy ~ Laurel Gale (earc) review [@laurel_gale @crownpublishing]

Dead Boy
Crown Books for Young Readers
September 29, 2015
256 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship - and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.

Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.

Together they investigate the mysterious Meera - a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.

The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.

Laurel Gale's Dead Boy is a snarky, humorous, thoughtful tale. Crow Darlington is dead. Only, he didn't stay quite as dead as one would expect. He is back, living with his mother and continuing to grow. He's not alive, though.

I really enjoyed that Gale did not shy away from some of the more, well, disgusting parts of someone being dead but living. Crow is rotting; he smells, his hair is falling out, he has maggots. It is not a particularly pleasant sight - or smell.

With his life limited to inside his home, with his mother, Crow misses the things he used to have, like friends. When Crow is introducing us to his story, it is (darkly) funny. We find out the things he used to enjoy and be good at . . . until he died.

While it is honest and connects you with the character, a few places seem to need a, "womp womp,' soundtrack. Crow's dislike of his isolation (and being dead) work even better when Melody's character and her friendship are introduced.

I thought that her character fit the circumstances very well. She has her own interesting story, background and beliefs. It makes it more than believable that she would befriend the dead boy next door.

The magical parts of the story and the Meera were fun. They show us more of Crow's character and his abilities and talents. The quest Crow and Melody go on does a lot to show us - and them - things about each other and themselves. I liked the magic, what it revealed about the characters and the thought behind it all.

The choices Crow, Melody and the other characters have to make, what is learned about friendship, love, loyalty and integrity are nicely done and integrated into the story.



(If you've seen Corrina, Corrina, Crow's mother reminds me of Joan Cusack's character in that movie:)










digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beastly Bones ~ William Ritter (earc) review [@Willothewords @AlgonquinYR]

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2)
Algonquin Young Readers
September 22, 2015
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

* Jackaby review *

The highly anticipated follow-up to the “rich world” of the “lighthearted and assured debut,” featuring an “irresistible character” whose first thrilling and original adventure “demands sequels.”

“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
I loved venturing back into the world of R.F. Jackaby and Abigail Rook. That great blend of Doctor Who meets Sherlock (either BBC or CBS version) from the first book is undoubtedly present in this second installment.

Jackaby has a personality that you will not soon forget. He seems oblivious to some of the more logical, expected reactions and actions of people. He is full of odd, sometimes supernatural knowledge and has an incredibly unique way of approaching his life and his cases. When he's paired with his new assistant, Abigail Rook, their characters are just about perfect.

Abigail is now more acquainted with Jackaby, his behavior and his personality. Her acceptance of how he is along with her more logical, even approach is a great balance. She also seems to bring out more of the humor in his character, either through her follow-up statements and/or reactions or her presence.

I loved that we got to see more of her character in Beastly Bones. We know her background from Jackaby and that introduced her to working for Jackaby, to starting her life on her own in America. Now, though, she is past that initial adjustment phase and we see more of her personality, her wonders of the future and of love. The author does a great job of making her character serious, intelligent and inquisitive when it comes to her work with Jackaby, but also awkward and unsure of herself where Charlie is concerned. It made her an even more likable character who was easy to relate to.

The mystery of Beastly Bones is bigger and stranger than I expected - even having read Jackaby. It's full of wonderful creatures - with brilliant histories and mythos. How they come into the story, the roles they play and how it all impacts the characters and the rest of the story is fantastic.

The Jackaby series is great, it has an incredibly unique and unforgettable character, another character who gets even better in this second book, secondary characters that enhance the story and are well done and mysteries that are unexpected but well formed and exciting. This isn't a series that relies only on an extraordinary character or fantastic mysteries to be solved, it has both - and more.

I hope that there are a lot more Jackaby books to come, with Jackaby, Miss Rook, Charlie, Jenny, Douglas and somehow Hudson


[Clothing wise, I keep picturing Jackaby as bit of a blend of
 and
plus his hat, of course!)







digital copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Unquiet ~ Mikaela Everett review [@mikaela_everett @epicreads @harperteen]

The Unquiet
Greenwillow Books
September 22, 2015
464 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.
How do you live when your whole life, your whole existence has been about death?

The Unquiet was so much more than I expected. More intense, more complex, more epic, more thought provoking. It is deeper and darker, for sure, but most of all, it is so very memorable. This is one story whose character, world, revelations, and questions you are not going to forget.


It is a bit of:

plus
plus

plus

but still wholly and completely original. The author has done a fantastic job imagining this world, with two Earths, where everyone on the first Earth has a duplicate on the second Earth, but they've figured out that only one version can exist. Can survive.

Since the age of six, Lirael's life has been about death, murder and war. Raised in secret, on the parallel Earth, with other children they are being trained to kill the alternate version of themselves and take over their life.

Lirael knows it's the only way to survive, to kill the girl that looks like her, to live her life. 

The Unquiet does not try to make things nice and neat or shiny and happy. We don't get the sanitized version of what Lirael is to do, of how it all affects her. One of the reasons I loved her character so much is that we get the gritty, dark, violent, so-far-from-PC thoughts and feelings she has. We see the horrible, bad things she does.

But we also get the human side of her; Lirael's guilt, her questions, her uncertainty and insecurity. 

The book summary is incredibly on point with this one:  "The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me GoOrphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut."

There is so much I want to say, so many things I want to single out and tell everyone about, but, most of all, I want to avoid any and all spoilers. The Unquiet will leave you unsure of the characters' and the book's limits, of where that line is drawn. If there even is a line. Yet, the characters are sympathetic and, . . I love them and wanted to just take them all out of there at multiple points.

This is one novel I recommend not only to YA readers, but to adult readers, as well. (Whether or not they otherwise read young adult books.)

Read this book!



(with a few more stars stuck on the end, too)


You Might Also Enjoy: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, Seeker by Arwa Elys Dayton, and Another Earth





review copy received from publisher

Waiting On Wednesday [@mitochondrial @SagaSFF @navahw]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


OUR LADY OF THE ICE by Cassandra Rose Clarke

The Yiddish Policeman's Union meets The Windup Girl when a female PI goes up against a ruthless gangster--just as both humans and robots agitate for independence in an Argentinian colony in Antarctica.

In Argentine Antarctica, Eliana Gomez is the only female PI in Hope City, a domed colony dependent on electricity (and maintenance robots) for heat, light, and survival in the icy deserts of the continent. At the center is an old amusement park--now home only to the androids once programmed to entertain--but Hope City's days as a tourist destination are long over. Now the City produces atomic power for the mainland while local factions agitate for independence and a local mobster, Ignacio Cabrera, runs a brisk black-market trade in illegally imported food.

Eliana doesn't care about politics. She doesn't even care--much--that her boyfriend, Diego, works as muscle for Cabrera. She just wants to save enough money to escape Hope City. But when an aristocrat hires Eliana to protect an explosive personal secret, Eliana finds herself caught up in the political tensions threatening to tear Hope City apart. In the clash of backstabbing politicians, violent freedom fighters, a gangster who will stop at nothing to protect his interests, and a newly sentient robot underclass intent on a very different independence, Eliana finds her job coming into deadly conflict with Diego's, just as the electricity that keeps Hope City from freezing begins to fail.

From the inner workings of the mob to the story of a revolution to the amazing settings, this story has got it all. Ultimately, however, Our Lady of the Ice questions what it means to be human, what it means to be free, and whether we're ever able to transcend our pasts and our programming to find true independence

published October 27th by Saga Press

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


Why?


It is a domed city in Antarctica with an amusement park in the center, where androids now live. There is a female PI, androids, questions of humanity, and danger. Really, why would I not want to read this?

Plus, it keeps popping up under the 'Readers Also Enjoyed' section for just about every book I look at on Goodreads, lately.


(Also, what was the book - probably 2014 or 2015- where they travelled to another planet/part of the planet that was frozen and everyone lived in colorful towers or something? Vague, I know but this book's description reminded me of it.)

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