Friday, April 29, 2016

The Square Root of Summer ~ Harriet Reuter Hapgood (earc) review [@MacKidsBooks @hapgoodness]

The Square Root of Summer
Roaring Brook Press
May 03, 2016
304 pages
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This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It's a little bit like a black hole. It's a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she's hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone's heart is about to be broken.

"It's hard, being the straight one in a house with Dumbledore,and Peter Pan and Axl Rose, being friends with bangle-wearing glittered artists." (pg 29)

Gottie Oppenheimer loves physics. The theories, equations and numbers all make sense to her. In a family where her grandfather Grey endorsed walking barefoot, kept Buddha statues around and was known to throw laundry into the apple tree to dry; her brother is like an eighties rocker with his band, his eyeliner, leopard print and spandex; and her father's there but not there, facts and rules don't always fit.

When wormholes start appearing, taking Gottie to moments from her past she isn't sure she can figure it out, even with physics.

I loved that The Square Root of Summer gave Gottie the equations, the how, what and why of the wormholes to figure out, but her emotions and relationships to figure out. The first summer since her grandfather died and the return of both Thomas and Jason would be enough for her to figure out, without experiencing her past again.  The author does a great job,though, making it apparent that if it were just one or the other (the wormholes or life), Gottie wouldn't figure it out.

It is the combination of the emotions - grief, pain, anger, confusion, love, loss - that she does not understand or know how to deal with and the physics equations that she loves so much that make it work. For her character and the story.

I don't think I fully understand the what or how or why of Gottie's wormholes - and not just the literal math and science of it, but how it worked for the book - but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. The colorful cast of characters, Gotie's intelligence but inability to cope with her grief, with losing Grey, her theories and explanations on the time travel (cannoli included) combine for an insightful, humorous touching and enjoyable read.




Oh, also? I know there's the mention of Dumbledore in relation to Grey, but I definitely read him much more like Jeff Bridges:







received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen ~ Roshani Chokshi (earc) review [@NotRashKnee @stmartinspress @MacKidsBooks]

The Star-Touched Queen
St Martin's Griffin
April 26, 2016
352 pages
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Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned with The Star-Touched Queen is the writing. The novel is filled with magical prose and fantastic descriptions. They definitely were not often how I would have imagined something described but there's no doubt about the picture they paint.

"The room had never felt this empty. Like I was trapped between the space of an echo and a scream." (pg 14)

In this world, with its horoscopes, harems, war, powers - magical and political - lives Maya. She knows that her horoscope means there won't be any suitors looking to marry her and she's accepted it. A life spent learning, without someone to answer to is what she dreams of. Until her father suddenly announces her planned marriage.

It's everything she always thought she would hate but with Amar it seems . . . different. Certainly not what she expected but maybe better.

If only there weren't so many things unknown to her, so many secrets kept and truths untold.

Maya's life in the new kingdom has just the right bit of strange. When it is put next to the magical, fantasy elements already present - the  Night Bazaar, the stories and myths, the magic - you aren't sure exactly what is making it different or why or how. When readers (and Maya) discover some of the truth about her new home it makes sense without having been obvious.

Possibly (probably?) because I am unfamiliar with Indian mythology, I was expecting The Star-Touched Queen to go in a different direction than it did. This turned out to be a fantastic thing because it left me really questioning different characters and their motives, even when scenes, undoubtedly, gave me a certain feeling and the surprises. The plot went a way I didn't see coming, included characters I hadn't imagined, in ways I didn't anticipate.

The Star-Touched Queen with its magical prose, mythology not often used in Western literature, unexpected characters (wit possibly more unexpected personalities), fantastical places and Maya, a character who's strong, smart and resourceful but still has doubts and insecurities, is a brilliant read.






digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@lbkids @CLLFirestone]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



THE LOOSE ENDS LIST by Carrie Firestone
A refreshing, funny, and moving debut novel about first loves, last wishes, and letting go.

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

published June 7th by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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


Why?

I love that this book has first love, a cruise to fabulous locales and Maddie's 'over-the-top family' but also her Gram's illness and death. I think the contrast between all of those emotions, the light and dark, the levity and somberness could make for an intriguing, emotional read.

I am looking forward to Maddie's character, who she is and how she deals with everything.



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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Art of Not Breathing ~ Sarah Alexander (earc) review [@SarahRAlexander @hmhkids]

The Art of Not Breathing
HMH Books for Young Readers
April 26 2016
288 pages
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Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.

When Elsie's brother, her twin, Eddie died five yars ago, it broke her family and its members. Some ways are immediately apparent to readers, others revealed as you read.

Elsie's life, aside from the death of her brother and her dysfunctional family is not easy. She is overweight and she is bullied at school. The girl, Ailsa who's her main tormentor even says to her, "Ergh, you're still here. We all hoped you'd died over the holidays." (pg 27)

When a chance meeting brings Tay into Elsie's life - and she's introduced to freediving, it's both everything she should avoid and exactly what she feels she needs. It isn't only how she feels about Tay, about the boys and Mick, how it feels to finally have people seem interested in her, she hopes it will bring her answers about the day Eddie drowned.

That secret life of Elsie's starts but her family life doesn't become some static thing or drop to the background. There is still something 'off' about her older brother Dillon. Something that, even once she's discovered it, Elise isn't sure how to handle. Then, of course, there are her parents and their troubles both individually and as a couple.

I liked that The Art of Not Breathing was a mystery, with Elsie trying to piece together what happened the day her twin died, but that it was almost something you don't notice at first. As you read, you're more focused on Elsie, her loneliness and isolation, the dysfunction of their family and what it means for and to each of them, and then Elsie's introduction to diving. At first it isn't even clear there's anything to discover about that day five years ago.

When truths to begin to come out: about Elsie, her diving, what's 'off' about Dillon, her father, her mother, the day Eddie died, and even more (though not in that order), it could seem like a lot but because it's all so tied to that one day, that one incident, it works.

I loved all that the author worked into this story and who Elsie's character was, who she became and how the people and circumstances around her changed both because of and independent of her, but with it all tying together so well.







digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Last Boy & Girl in the World ~ Siobhan Vivian (earc) review [@siobhanvivian @simonteen]

The Last Boy and Girl in the World
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
April 26, 2016
432 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

From the critically acclaimed author of The List comes a stunning new novel about a girl who must say goodbye to everything she knows after a storm wreaks havoc on her hometown.

What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost always outweighs the risk.

Almost.

It’s the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley’s first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it’s not always clear what’s worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.
This book's description and its prologue had me expecting something different, I think. While I don't have to like a main character to like a book, I do have to understand why they are how they are and/or care about them. The Last Boy and Girl in the World's protagonist Keeley, was someone I found irritating and obnoxious, but more than that I didn't fully get why she behaved how she did and there wasn't enough change in her character.

Keeley was wildly uncomfortable with anything remotely or heavy. She had a need to make a joke, to try to make people laugh. Even when it was incredibly inappropriate (and she recognized that it was, but still did whatever). As much as I did not like how she behaved, if I'd understood the why I think it would have been okay. (The way she couldn't let people be sad or something be negative, even as there were very legitimate reasons brought to mind a character who'd had an abusive childhood and needed everyone smiling or happy. Only, there didn't seem to be that history for Keeley.)

The book description mentions that, "Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang," but having read the book that feels misleading. Yes, Keeley and one other character do want to have fun, there is the goal of spending all the time they can together but it's not 'her friends' and I don't think there were any canoe races, at all.

The Last Boy and Girl in the World was a long book and, for me, it was slow. There was not enough change in the plot or in Keeley. The changes that were there seemed to long in their coming. The book also, perhaps ironically given Keeley's personality, was not as fun as I had been expecting.

It does handle some of the friendships in the novel, the history of families, friends and the town realistically and in ways that were not always expected, or the easiest choice.




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Epidemic ~ Suzanne Young (earc) review [@simonteen @suzanne_young]

The Epidemic (The Program #0.6)
Simon Pulse
April 19, 2016
384 pages
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Can one girl help others find closure by slipping into the identities of their loved ones? Find out in this riveting sequel to The Remedy and companion to the New York Times bestselling The Treatment and The Program.

In a world before The Program Quinlan McKee has spent her life acting as other people. She was a closer, a person hired to play the role of the recently deceased in order to give their families closure. Through this process, Quinn learned to read people and situations, even losing a bit of herself to do so. But she couldn’t have guessed how her last case would bring down her entire world.

The only person Quinn trusts is Deacon, her best friend and the love of her life. Except Deacon’s been keeping secrets of his own, so Quinn must set out alone to find Arthur Pritchard, the doctor who’s been trying to control her life. The journey brings Quinn to Arthur’s daughter, Virginia, who tells Quinn the truth about Pritchard’s motives. The former closer will start to see that she is the first step in fighting an epidemic.

But Quinlan doesn’t want to be a cure. And with all the lies surrounding her, she realizes she has no one left to rely on but herself, even if she doesn’t know who that is anymore.
The Epidemic is the second prequel of the Program series, following The Remedy. The Remedy and The Epidemic can be read before or after The Program and The Treatment.

The first prequel book, The Remedy, introduced us to closers, who they are and what they do; we met Quinn, Deacon, Aaron, Myra, Marie and Dr McKee. We saw how being a closer worked, what the process intended, how it was conducted, how society viewed closers and what it all meant for Quinn, Deacon and others. Now, it's time to work more on connecting the world with closers to that with the Program.

Quinn thought that the lies she'd unearthed in The Remedy brought everything into question - her identity, her past, her family, even Deacon. As The Epidemic starts, though, there are even more questions, only a few answers and most of them very unsettling.

When we do see how it goes from closers, those beliefs and practices to the Program and that methodology and those beliefs, it seems almost sudden. At the same time that it felt like there should have been more steps, more to connect a to b, it was obvious that there couldn't have been. Especially, if you've already read The Program and The Treatment the reasoning and emotion behind the transition make sense. A long, thought out, drawn out, move from one to the other wouldn't have fit.

While I now know how things got to be the way they were in The Program (something I wondered many times while reading it), it doesn't make me feel any better about it.

Quinn is the perfect character to be at the center of these prequel books. Who she is - whether she she thinks she knows who that is or not - her past, her relationships what she'll do to find the truth and keep herself safe, is just right for all that happens. Deacon and his secrets, his love for Quinn and how he approaches the same situations make them a great pair.

This does a perfect job explaining how the world of the Program came to be. I am happy, though, that I read them after the fact. I think knowing more of what was to come for Sloane and James would have broken me (oh how I love, love them). Both pairs (of characters and books) certainly give you a lot to think about, long after you've finished reading.

Now, I have to go back to The Program and The Treatment and see which characters I now know more about!




The Series:

#0.5 The Remedy
#0.6 The Epidemic 
-------
#1 The Program
#2 The Treatment
#2.5 "The Recovery"







received for review from publisher, via Edelweiss

Monday, April 18, 2016

Love, Lies and Spies ~ Cindy Anstey (earc) review [@CindyAnstey @SwoonReads]

Love, Lies and Spies
Swoon Reads
April 19, 2016
368 pages
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Juliana Telford is not your average nineteenth-century young lady. She’s much more interested in researching ladybugs than marriage, fashionable dresses, or dances. So when her father sends her to London for a season, she’s determined not to form any attachments. Instead, she plans to secretly publish their research.

Spencer Northam is not the average young gentleman of leisure he appears. He is actually a spy for the War Office, and is more focused on acing his first mission than meeting eligible ladies. Fortunately, Juliana feels the same, and they agree to pretend to fall for each other. Spencer can finally focus, until he is tasked with observing Juliana’s traveling companions . . . and Juliana herself.

If you are looking for a Victorian-set YA novel with (more than) a bit of romance and snark, Swoon Reads has you covered. First with These Vicious Masks and now with Love, Lies and Spies.

This book is great. Juliana Telford has no plans to get married - and no plans to make those plans, either. Yet, she is excited to be spending the Season in London with her cousin, Carrie. It's not hte balls, the young men or the prospect of matrimony that entices her, but the chance to publish her and her father's research.

While other young women are doing the more conventional pastimes of the era, Juliana and her father are researching lady beetles, ladybugs.

So it would seem that she and Spencer Northam are a perfect match. Not that sort of match, of course, as he secretly works for the War Office and intends to stay a bachelor, working his missions. Their arrangement benefits them both, allowing them to continue their pursuits while keeping up appearances.

But when do things go exactly as planned? Especially when love, lies and spies are involved?

Though other books I have read never felt anachronistic while I was reading them something about Love, Lies and Spies felt more true to the time period than anything else I've read. Whether it was the  characters reactions to things and each other, how they viewed certain things or some combination of everything, it felt very much like they were Victorian characters. All while Juliana was certainly not your conventional Victorian miss.

The inclusion of spies in this novel, along with who they were spying on and any, makes it unique. For me, at least, it was a new vocation for a character. With Juliana's love of insects, her cousin Carrie's personality (which I found very pleasantly surprising) and how these all impact the plot, it's a terrific read.

The progression of Love, Lies and Spies, with how Juliana and Spencer first meet; the excitement over the Season, the social hierarchy, rules and expectations; the lies they try to tell, to themselves and each other; the unexpected twists and turns; and, truly, the characters themselves make for a very enjoyable read.



Other Books You May Also Enjoy: These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas & Tarun Shanker and The Lovegrove Legacy #1 and #2 by Alyxandra Harvey


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Poisonous ~ Allison Brennan (earc) review [@Allison_Brennan @MinotaurBooks]

Poisonous (Max Revere Novels #3)
Minotaur Books
April 12, 2016
384 pages
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*some character/relationship-centric spoilers for Notorious and Compulsion - Books 1 & 2*

Teen-aged Internet bully Ivy Lake fell off a cliff and few people cared ... except her mentally-challenged eighteen-year-old step-brother, Tommy. He loved her in spite of her cruelty. He's distraught and doesn't understand why his blended family is falling apart. After a year, the police still have no answers: Ivy could have jumped, could have been pushed, or it could have been an accident. With too many suspects and not enough evidence, the investigation has grown cold.

Tommy thinks that if someone can figure out what happened to his step-sister, everything will go back to normal, so he writes to investigative reporter Maxine Revere. This isn’t the type of case Max normally takes on, but the heartbreak and simple honesty in Tommy's letter pulls her in. She travels to Corte Madera, California, with her assistant David Kane and is at first pleased that the police are cooperative. But the more Max learns about Tommy and his dysfunctional family, the more she thinks she’s taken on an impossible task: this may be the one case she can’t solve.

If Ivy was murdered, it was exceptionally well-planned and that kind of killer could be hiding in plain sight ... planning the next act of violence. Max believes the truth is always better than lies, that the truth is the only thing that matters to gain justice for victims and their families. But for the first time, she wonders if this time, the truth will kill.
Poisonous is the third Maxine Revere Novel following Notorious and Compulsion (both of which I have read - but not reviewed - and recommend). Maxine Revere is an investigative journalist and host of the crime show Maximum Exposure on NET. The recognition hosting a national television show has given her means Max can no longer do undercover work but she can still travel the country tryng to solve cold cases.

Many of the cases she investigates deal with missing persons but the one that has piqued her interest this time deals with the murder of Ivy Lake. It's not the details of Ivy's death that have Max travelling to California, rather it's the plea from her step-brother, eighteen-year-old Tommy who is mentally challenged. He wants Max to find the killer so his family can go back to how they were.


Poisonous has a lot going on. From the cyber-bullying, the blended families (of several characters), the how Tommy is treated and viewed, to Max's own past - the recent and not so recent.

Some of the parallels are more readily apparent: David and Nick's acrimonious relationships with their respective exes, how Max wants to 'fix' things for them and how they then view Tommy family so differently. Other things only come to light once truths are uncovered, secrets revealed and most of the story is known.

One of the things I really liked about Compulsion was that it clearly followed Notorious and if you had read the first book you would see how, but there were a lot fewer spoilers for it than with most series books. There were few mentions of what had happened and no specifics. (Except, of course, that Max's relationship with Nick was a carry-over from what happened in the earlier book.)

To a somewhat lesser extent, that was also true with Poisonous. There were more mentions of what had happened, more details given (still without being very specific). It is great for anyone who picks the books up out of order (though I still suggest reading in order) yet it also fits with Max's character. Moving on and trying not to think about those events makes sense for her.

I really enjoy that these books are such great mysteries. Everything unfolds, with different secrets and truths coming to light in unexpected ways, in just the right order, at just the right time. There is enough reason to suspect multiple characters, reasons you don't want to suspect some characters, and things that will lead you in the wrong direction. Once everything is revealed it's both surprising, not something you see coming, but also makes perfect sense.

I loved that Max's past - the time that we saw in the two earlier books and prior to that, as well - played into how she investigated, what she believed (or wanted to) and how she reacted, more so than in either previous book.

Max Revere, David, Emma, Ben, and Nick are characters I am really coming to love and, though some of their relationships have me worried, I really look forward to reading more with them.




Other Books You May Also Enjoy: Notorious and Compulsion by Allison Brennan and Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver




digital copy received, for review from publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Fierce & Subtle Poison ~ Samantha Mabry (earc) review [@samanthamabry @algonquinyr]

A Fierce and Subtle Poison
Algonquin Young Readers
April 12, 2016
288 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


In this stunning debut, legends collide with reality when a boy is swept into the magical, dangerous world of a girl filled with poison.

Everyone knows the legends about the cursed girl--Isabel, the one the senoras whisper about. They say she has green skin and grass for hair, and she feeds on the poisonous plants that fill her family’s Caribbean island garden. Some say she can grant wishes; some say her touch can kill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucas lives on the mainland most of the year but spends summers with his hotel-developer father in Puerto Rico. He’s grown up hearing stories about the cursed girl, and he wants to believe in Isabel and her magic. When letters from Isabel begin mysteriously appearing in his room the same day his new girlfriend disappears, Lucas turns to Isabel for answers--and finds himself lured into her strange and enchanted world. But time is running out for the girl filled with poison, and the more entangled Lucas becomes with Isabel, the less certain he is of escaping with his own life.

A Fierce and Subtle Poison beautifully blends magical realism with a page-turning mystery and a dark, starcrossed romance--all delivered in lush, urgent prose.

“A breathtaking story in which myths come to frightening life and buried wishes might actually come true. This is a hypnotic debut by a remarkable talent.” —Nova Ren Suma, author of The Walls Around Us and Imaginary Girls

I loved A Fierce and Subtle Poison so much more than I ever expected I would. Something about the description left me unsure if I really was interested or not. Since it was on NetGalley at the end of last year, though, I knew I had time before the April release to read it.

I read this in November and adored it. I was only going to read a few pages and see what I thought but I couldn't put it down.

The setting, that it's in Puerto Rico but partially at the fancy hotel of Lucas's father and partially in the surrounding town, with all of the differences between the two, was great. Lucas's father cares not for the land and its people but for the money he can make from them. Lucas, on the other hand, likes being part of the local life. He has his friends, things to do and enjoys hearing the senoras' stories.

Their stories about Isabel, the girl who lives in the mysterious, walled home, who survives thanks to her poisonous plants, particularly interest Lucas. Though, it's the letters that begin showing up in his hotel room that really capture his attention.

I loved the writing of A Fierce and Subtle Poison. Although it has a modern setting, the novel felt very much like one of the stories the women in the book would tell; like a fairy tale or a fable. The way that readers - and the characters - question if there is magic and if so, what is magical and what's just fantastic, skilled storytelling made for a great read.

Lucas' character, the way the blend of (and contrast between) Caribbean, island life and the more structured, ordered world was present in his personality and his current situation in several, layered ways, was great. I liked that his family and his upbringing played into it, especially in his relationship with his father and it made his a unique person there. Thanks to the summers he spends there, Lucas isn't completely an outsider, but he's also not not one, either.

The story went in quite a different direction than I was anticipating but it worked so well. The truth about Isabel, the lore of the house at the end of the street and the scientist, and how Lucas fits into it all was fantastic. 

A Fierce and Subtle Poison and Samantha Mabry's writing really do make you feel like you're in the middle of a sticky, hot, humid Puerto Rican summer, about to uncover something magical.






review copy received, via NetGalley, from publisher

Friday, April 8, 2016

Broken Crowns ~ Lauren DeStefano [@LaurenDeStefano @simonteen]

Broken Crowns (The Internment Chronicles #3)
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
March 22, 2016
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon


War rages everywhere and Morgan is caught in the middle in the haunting conclusion of The Internment Chronicles, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Chemical Garden trilogy.

The city is falling out of the sky…

Morgan always thought it was just a saying. A metaphor. The words of the dying. But as they look up at the floating island that was their home, Pen and Morgan make a horrible discovery—Internment is sinking.

And it’s all Morgan’s fault.

Corrupted from the inside by one terrible king and assailed from the outside for precious resources by another, Internment could be destroyed because Morgan couldn’t keep a secret. As two wars become one, Morgan must find a way to bring her two worlds together to stop the kings that wage them…

Or face the furthest fall yet.

In Perfect Ruin and Burning Kingdoms, the first two Internment Chronicles books, Morgan, Pen and the others discovered what both Internment, their floating island of a city and the ground were like. Contrary to what they had been told or what they wanted to believe, neither was quite a utopia. In fact, neither seemed safe for them or others.

There's the threat of war in Havalais from Dastor, the bombings they already endured. Havalais, neighboring Dastor, and Internment are all under the rule of kings who seem more interested in oower than protecting their people.

The other things they have discovered about the ground, though, is that while it's rulers may not be any better, the people themselves are not to be feared.

With the knowledge that the Havalais' king's trips to Internment are causing it to sink, they will need to find a way, working with some from the ground, to correct things. Try to save everyone.

Broken Crowns is, in some ways, a bigger book than the fist two. It is definitely still about the characters, their relationships and their choices, but now it's focused around the two kingdoms, their rulers and the desire to save each of themselves - form each other and themselves. Neither the ground nor Internment can be a refuge from the other place, its laws, restrictions and dangers. It is time for change.

Only attempting that change can very likely lead to treason changers, death, or both. Morgan will have to decide how much she's willing to risk - and how much she wants things to be different.

I really liked how in Broken Crowns you can really see how much the characters have grown up since the beginning. They aren't as idealistic as they once were, but they also aren't jaded and willing to let things stay as they are. In the end, characters made decisions you wouldn't have expected from those Perfect Ruin characters but that fit with who they've become and what they've experienced.

Broken Crowns does a very nice job bringing together all that's happened or was learned in the first two books and giving it a conclusion. I don't think I agree with one part of the ending but I do understand it.  These books have shown us a world far different than what I expected when I first started Perfect Ruin and I loved it, the characters and how they ended (well, except for one bit but Im working on that).






review copy received, from publisher, via NetGalley

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Memory Jar ~ Elissa Janine Hoole (earc) review [@elissajanine @fluxbooks]

The Memory Jar
Flux
April 08, 2016
312 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Since the accident, Taylor's memory has been fuzzy. But at least she's awake. Who knows what her boyfriend, Scott, will remember when he comes out of the coma. Will he remember that Taylor was driving the snowmobile when it crashed? Will he remember the engagement ring? Her pregnancy?

Will he remember that she tried to break up with him?

Taylor doesn't know. And she doesn't know if she wants him to remember. Plenty of things happened that night and before—secrets wrapped in secrets—that she'd prefer be forgotten.

Facing choices she'd rather ignore, Taylor searches for something more solid than whispers and something bigger than blame to face the future and forgive herself.

"Sitting in this hospital, waiting in uncertainty, makes time go all funny. It rewinds and fast-forwards at the whim of something unseen." (ebook at 7%)

Though the above is about how Taylor views time, it works as well for reading this book can feel with its 'Now' and 'Then' vignettes. As each episode can be very short, sometimes just a scene or two, it takes a little while to get used to the switching.

Later, though, once we know the characters more, know the situation and understand how, why and to whom Taylor's relating the 'Then' stories, it's easier to get into it.

Only having her boyfriend in a coma and her own memory effected as the result of a snowmobile crash would be a lot for a seventeen-year-old, or anyone, to handle. When you add in that Taylor's secretly pregnant and has the engagement ring Scott gave her, it becomes a whole other level of hard to deal with. She can't remember what - or who - caused the crash but knows some blame her. Should they? Should she?

You want Taylor to have this great support network. To have people who are going to be there for her no matter what and help her figure things out. That's not quite the case. She does have a great best friend, Dani (whose tree fort bed I want!) but Taylor's mother isn't exactly the helpful, supportive, caring idea of a mother.

The back and forth, now and then, really does a great job (once I got used to it) showing readers what Taylor and Scott's relationship was like, how it started, how it continued, what it was supposed to become what her life at home was like. More than that, though, I loved how we really got to see who Taylor was, as she herself seemed to finally realize a lot of it.

The inclusion of one character still feels weird to me. I know their presence and even their personality was required for a lot of things plot- and character-wise to happen but . . . they were odd.

Taylor, Dani and Joey made this an enjoyable read and I liked the story's structure and how it allowed us to learn about the characters, past, present and maybe even future.






review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tragedy Girl ~ Christine Hurley Deriso (earc) review [@CHurleyDeriso @fluxbooks]

Tragedy Girl
Flux
April 08, 2016
240 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Of course Anne would be drawn to Blake. He’s good looking, he’s friendly, and they both bring sob stories to the table: her parents died in a car wreck, his girlfriend, Cara, drowned. Of course Blake would understand what she’s gone through. And of course they can help each other work through the pain. It’s like it was meant to be.

But just as Anne starts to feel she’s finally found something good in all the tragedy, she can’t ignore signs that something’s off. Her friends rarely let her be alone with Blake. Even those closest to Blake seem uneasy around him. And then there are the rumors about the death of Cara, whose body was never recovered. Rumors that suggest Blake’s pain is hiding something darker than Anne can even begin to comprehend . . .

Now, after the fact, I have no real explanation but when when I started Tragedy Girl, I was expecting something similar to What You Left Behind. No idea if it was the similarly themed covers (the lone figure on a beach, the large font title over them) or just some random, illogical decision my brain made. Whatever the reason (or lack thereof), it made for a surprising read.

The 'Tragedy Boy . . . Meet Tragedy Girl," idea sounds, at once, like something that could be right and healing, a perfect fit and something troubled and unhealthy.

What makes Anne and Blake Tragedy Girl and Tragedy Boy is really executed very well here, for who it makes the characters and how it draws them together. They have each, recently, experienced tragic loss, Anne with the deaths of her parents and Blake with his girlfriend's drowning death. While their experiences and losses are different, they have more in common with each other than with just about anyone else. They understand the other; they know what it's like to get pity stares, to have no one sure what to say.

The author did a great job creating Anne's character. Not only in how the death of her parents created that connection with Blake but how it affected her personality which impacted the development of their relationship. She really is the perfect fit for a relationship with Blake, at least for the sake of the novel and its story.

The way Anne is still adjusting to living with her aunt and uncle, to thinking of it not as 'their' home but hers as well, her questions over her new friends and their personalities, and if she's still her in this new life was great. It is a whole new life for her, without her parents or best friend, so you understand some of her questionable decisions. Even wonder if maybe they are right.

I liked the progression of her character from a confused girl living in her aunt and uncle's house, thoughts full of Blake to, well, who she became. (Spoilers are no fun.) It was smart and really fit her character, the story, the mystery and how one might grieve and begin to heal over time.

Tragedy Girl is not an outstanding mystery, thriller but for how the focus was on Anne, her character and figuring things out, I think it was done correctly. It does add some tension to things as you hope she isn't making a mistake.







review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

Waiting On Wednesday [@CosDrift @abramskids]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:



DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD by Jennifer Mason-Black

“Devil-at-the-crossroads” folklore finds its way to YA via this moody, magical tale

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.

published May 17th by Amulet Books

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


Why?

The 'devil-at-the-crossroads' always makes me think of Supernatural and of Robert Johnson:



Which is why I am happy that music is a part of Devil and the Bluebird. Though in quite a different way . . . 

One thing I really love about the idea is that it is a literal devil the deal's being made with. Nothing figurative or supposed here, ti's the real thing.

Even better is that it's one girls desire to find her sister that sets things into motion. I am interested in finding out what type of person Blue is that she's willing to risk so much to find her sister and what type of person Cass was to make the deal in the first place!



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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Alight ~ Scott Sigler (earc) review [@scottsigler @DelReySpectra @randomhousekids]

Alight (The Generations Trilogy #2)
Del Rey
April 05, 2016
448 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

**contains spoilers for Alive, The Generations Trilogy Book 1 - my review**

In Alive, Scott Sigler introduced readers to an unforgettable young heroine and a mysterious new world reminiscent of those of The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Red Rising. Now he expands his singular vision in the next thrilling novel of this powerful sci-fi adventure series.

“If it’s war they want, they messed with the wrong girl.”

M. Savage—or Em, as she is called—has made a bewildering and ominous discovery. She and the other young people she was chosen to lead awoke in strange coffins with no memory of their names or their pasts. They faced an empty, unknown place of twisting tunnels and human bones. With only one another to depend on, they searched for answers and found the truth about their terrifying fate. Confronted by a monstrous enemy, they vowed never to surrender—and, by any means, to survive.

The planet Omeyocan may be the sanctuary Em and her comrades seek. But the planet for which they were created turns out not to be a pristine, virgin world. Vestiges of a lost civilization testify to a horrifying past that may yet repeat itself. And when a new enemy creeps from the jungle shadows, Em and her young refugees learn there’s nowhere left to run. They face a simple choice: fight or die.

In the midst of this desperate struggle, their unity is compromised from within—and a dangerous zealot devoted to a bloodthirsty god moves to usurp Em’s command, threatening to lead them all down a path to violent doom.

Praise for Scott Sigler’s Alive

“Suspenseful . . . [Alive] lives up to its hype, packing plenty of thrills. . . . A page-turner that whets the appetite for volume 2.”—Entertainment Weekly

“Fascinating and intriguing . . . a cross between Lord of the Flies and The Maze Runner and yet . . . so much more.” —Fresh Fiction

“A ripping, claustrophobic thunderbolt of a novel.”—Pierce Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Red Rising

“Unstoppable and real, M. Savage is one hell of a heroine. Get ready to be left breathless.”—Kristin Cast, New York Times bestselling author of the House of Night series

“Sigler has created a wonderful and engrossing character in M. Savage. Strong and smart, but with the naïveté and misgivings of any teenage girl, she’s someone you’ll definitely want on your side when s**t hits the fan, which it most certainly does.”—Veronica Belmont, host of Sword & Laser

“The puzzle unfolds masterfully, right down to the last page.”—Phil Plait, PhD, author of Bad Astronomy

I loved Alive, the first book in the Generations Trilogy. It was full of twists and turns and definitely some surprises. In Alight we know who Em and the others are, why they woke up in the 'coffins,' who was responsible for them being there and what was planned for them. We also know just how well they accepted that plan.

After fighting back, and leaving the ship, they have made their way to the planet where the Grownups were supposed to, eventually, live. Now, as they continue to learn about themselves and how to navigate life they have a whole new world with which to contend.

With this book on a condensed timeline, much like the first, an taking place just a few days after the characters 'woke up' we continued to learn about them through, actions and how they dealt with the (quite extreme and trying) circumstances. That continues in Alight. Things are far from settled, even if they should be 'safe,' and even if Em has been elected as their leader.

There is a lot of parallel between the two books - each place the characters in an uncertain, undefined setting where they have to work to learn the truth, while figuring out the truth not only about where they are but about themselves.

Alight takes a teenager's struggle with identity you've likely read before (is it possible to be different from your parents/who they raised you to be/what they expect) and takes it to a wonderful, sci-fi-y extreme. The characters in Alight were made to become these other people, now it's a question of if that's inevitable.

The book is action packed and exciting but poses some great questions - for readers and characters -about power, personal choice, morality, and what's right and wrong. The way the characters don't yet, fully, know each other, the doubt, the power struggles, it all made Alight a great read.

When I first read the ending, I did think it might be the ending of the series, but knowing that it's a trilogy has me very excited. The ending to Alive was pretty spectacular but I think Alight's ending may have it beat. Thankfully, we only have to wait until October for that ending ending in Book 3, Alone.








review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Monday, April 4, 2016

Dream House ~ Marzia Bisognin (earc) review [@MarziaPie @KeywordsPress @AtriaBooks]

Dream House: A Novel by CutiePieMarzia
Atria/Keywords Press
April 05, 2016
224 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

From YouTube sensation Marzia “CutiePieMarzia” Bisognin comes a debut young adult paranormal thriller about a girl whose dream house quickly becomes a nightmare.

When Amethyst stumbles upon the house of her dreams, she can’t help but be enchanted by it, even if there’s something a little…off about the place.

It’s everything she’s ever wanted in a home, so when the Blooms invite her to stay the night to avoid an impending storm, she instantly accepts.

Yet when she awakes the next morning, alone and unable to bring herself to leave, Amethyst comes face-to-face with unexpected twists and turns—like Alfred, the creepy gardener; Avery, the handsome but secretive neighbor, and a little girl who keeps appearing and vanishing within the house.

As Amethyst searches for the Blooms and tries to unravel the truth, her connection to the house only grows stronger. Will she be able to break free of the house’s allure, or will its secrets keep her trapped forever?
I am not sure just how I feel about Dream House. I liked how it began, with the description of the house by our character (yes, her name's in the description, but isn't in the book for quite a bit). The contrast between the vivid, complete description of the house and its surroundings and the little we know of our character was interesting.

That sort of detached narration - where we know what our character is doing and some of her questions about the situation, but not really her emotions or who she is - both worked and didn't work for me. I liked the way it really made you wonder why she was staying in the house. What was it that seemed to be keeping her there, why was she so quickly comfortable not only being there but settling in, and why didn't it seem to even phase her that she was staying days in these strangers' house? I wanted there to be some big twist, some revelation of what the cause of it all was.

Right about half way through, there were, what seemed to be, some very heavy handed hints dropped as to what was going on. It pretty much told me, without (I think) that being the goal, what was what. I kept reading because I wasn't sure if it did, as I though, apply to our main character or if there would be something more to it.

The ending was disappointing to me. It just sort of happened. Which is not to say that it was unexpected, more that it felt uneventful. I was left wondering if that was really it. Maybe I saw too much of it coming or maybe I was waiting for more revelations, either way I wanted something more.

There really wasn't a connection with the main character, but I thought it played into the mystery, the feeling of the novel and that neither she nor you, the reader, know what's going on. The writing style does add to the suspense. I liked some of the writing and the descriptions, as well. It was unclear if some of the discrepancies were purposeful parts of the story or not, but I think they were. I kept waiting for something bigger, something grander to be at play. I did not love this book but there was something there that I liked, with the writing and the style.








digital copy received, for review, from publisher via NetGalley

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tell the Wind and Fire ~ Sarah Rees Brennan (earc) review [@sarahreesbrenna @HMHCo]

Tell the Wind and Fire
Clarion Books
April 05, 2016
368 pages
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In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised. Lucie alone knows the young men’s deadly connection, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?
Tell the Wind and Fire is a sort of dystopian, urban fantasy, magic filled re-work of A Tale of Two Cities. " That doesn't mean you have to love - or even have read - the Dickens classic to read this story. As the author says in the Author's Note, "Tell the Wind and Fire stands as its own story, and you don't have to know anything about A Tale of Two Cities to enjoy it." (pg 358) But, she does hope it might prompt you to read the Dickens tale.

"Once you lose something, it tends to stay gone. This is especially true with chances." (pg 3)

Lucie Manette knows you may never get a second chance so if you're going to do something, do it. When her boyfriend is accused of a crime and threatened with execution, she has to act. It doesn't matter if she knows he's innocent, if even the idea of it is absurd, Lucie can't wait for the guards to figure that out, too.

What she doesn't know, though, is how the unexpected event and the seeming stranger they encounter is going to change so, so much for them. Their entire lives, really.

The two cities, Light New York and its counterpart the Dark city, the Light and Dark magics, what is believed about each and those with it and how society is divided in Tell the Wind and Fire is revealed well. We get enough information in the beginning to know that there is magic, that there's the divide and the two cities. We learn more about the differences and the divide as we also learn Lucie, Ethan, and Carwyn's stories.

Each of the characters is keeping secrets - sometimes you're aware of things they're keeping from the others (especially in Lucie's case as she's our narrator) but often you're not. I liked that the action of the story, the societal and familial rules and power structures would seem to take precedent, leaving the characters feelings or beliefs behind. Only to have that, ultimately, not be true.

The relationship(s) between Lucie, Ethan, and Carwyn was fantastically messy. Elements of it seemed like they should be simple, cut and dry, but much like the world they live in, right and wrong was not as clearly defined as it appeared.

I loved when things started to come together, all that Lucie not only learned about herself but the different light she began to see others - form both her past and present - in, what that said about them and about her.

That last chapter, though? Oh. I don't even know what to say. I loved it, I hated it, I loved it again. So many emotions all over that one. It is a fantastic ending, that I do know.






received for review, via NetGalley, from publisher

Don't Get Caught ~ Kurt Dinan Spotlight + Excerpt + Giveaway [@SourcebooksFire @KurtDinan]

Don't Get Caught
Sourcebooks
April 01, 2016
340 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Amazon/B&N/BAM/iBooks/!ndigo/Indiebound



10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. —Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he’s Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He’s Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it’s also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust…

Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students—who also received invites—are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security “catches” them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It’s time for Rule #7: Always get payback.

Let the prank war begin.

Oceans 11 meets The Breakfast Club in this entertaining, fast-paced debut filled with pranks and cons that will keep readers on their toes, never sure who’s pulling the strings or what’s coming next.



Excerpt:



Ellie calls it Operation Stranko Caper and gives each member of the Water Tower Five code names related to his or her role.

Adleta is Goon.


Malone is Shadow.


Wheeler is Potatoes.


Ellie is Crybaby.


And I’m Bleeder.


But at the moment, waiting for zero hour while standing in the back hallway where I can view the filled cafeteria, I’m feeling more like Puker because I want to sprint to the bathroom to vomit up my guts.

And to think this was all my idea. Here’s Heist Planning 101:

1.Identify your target. In this case, the target is Stranko’s phone. Clearly he’s investigating the Chaos Club; the pictures he took in the office prove that. Who knows what other evidence against them he might have? 


2.Formulate a plan. It took a week of observing Stranko during school (all of us) and after (thank you, Adleta) 
to realize he’s most separated from his phone during lunch duty. It sits on a table on the stage next to where Stranko polices the cafeteria. Now, if he were to be pulled away from the stage...

3. Practice, practice, practice. The five of us rehearsed our roles for over a week. The plan isn’t the most complicated, but we only have one shot at Stranko’s phone.

Our final run-through of the plan lasted two hours on Saturday, with Ellie and Wheeler the most excited. Even Adleta, who’s probably risking at least a thousand push-ups every day for the rest of his life, liked the idea. Malone, go figure, predicted failure.

“It won’t work,” she said. “Maybe in a movie, yes, but not in real life it won’t.”

“No, they won’t see it coming,” I said. “No one expects things like this to happen, and especially not from us. We’re trying to stay out of trouble, remember? Why would we risk getting suspended?”

“Max is right,” Adleta said. “There’ll be too much going on for Stranko to realize what’s happened. It’s going to work.”

“What if we get caught?”

“Then we do what you should do whenever you get busted,” Wheeler said. “We lie our asses off.”

I don’t mind Malone’s concerns. In fact, I appreciate them. The more I’m around her, the more I depend on her skepticism. Every heist crew needs someone to point out the weaknesses in a plan. Malone’s perfect for that. She’s also tech savvy, a brilliant artist, and athletic as hell. A jack-of-all-trades, really. Or more like a jill-of-all-trades.

A heist can go wrong for any number of reasons, the worst of which is the double cross. You can just never be sure if everyone is really on your side or if they’re working an angle. I don’t necessarily think anyone in my crew is behind the setup at the water tower, but the hint of doubt is there. Still, why would someone set us up to get busted and include him or herself in the busting? It makes no sense.

We picked Monday for our heist because that’s the school day where everyone, even the administration, just slogs through until the final bell. At the time I was excited, but now it’s nausea city. Reality sucks that way. But I’m not going to back down and hide in the theater again like I did the day after the water tower. Not that I could put a stop to our plan if I wanted to. Everyone’s in position. The pin’s pulled and the grenade heaved. All I can do is try not to get my head blown off.

On stage, Stranko reads something on his phone, then places it on the table beside him before returning to his surveillance. In a lot of ways, thinking of him as a prison guard is dead-on. The entire building is a prison, with the staff as guards, students as prisoners, and rules that dictate when we can stand up and leave, talk, and even go the to the bathroom. The school even has security cameras, which are positioned in all corners of the cafeteria. I’ve seen the room with the video monitors though and am not as worried as I might be in a newer school. The monitors here are in black and white and the images almost blurry, like it may be the first security system ever created, maybe used back in the Garden of Eden where God watched a grainy image of Eve heisting that apple.

Then, right on cue at 11:45, Crybaby, sitting at her usual table near the front of the cafeteria, pushes her tray aside and puts her head down in her arms.

Step One, the Split, has begun.



About the Author:
©Whitney Ballentine

Kurt Dinan has taught high school English for over twenty-one years, and while he’s never pulled any of the pranks detailed in this novel, he was once almost arrested in college for blizzarding the campus with fliers promoting a fake concert. He lives and works in the suburbs of Cincinnati with his wife and his four children he affectionately refers to as “the Crime Spree.” Don’t Get Caught is his first novel.





Praise for Don’t Get Caught:
“Don’t Get Caught is just everything I love about young adult fiction. It's funny and awkward and exciting and full of revelations and surprises.” -Josh Berk, author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

"Not only is Don't Get Caught the best kind of underdog story---heartfelt and hilarious---but it's filled with genuine surprises up until the very last page, which features one of my favorite endings in recent memory. I'm highly inspired to prank someone right now." -Lance Rubin, author of Denton Little's Deathdate

"Witty, charming and always surprising...Call it OCEAN'S 11TH GRADE or whatever you like, Don’t Get Caught snatched my attention and got away clean." --Joe Schreiber, author of Con Academy and Au Revoir Crazy European Chick

“Genre-savvy, clever, and full of "Heist Rules" like "If questioned, be evasive" and "Play to your crew's strengths," this twisty tale is funny, fast-paced, and full of surprises. Publishers Weekly

“This caper comedy about an Ocean's 11-style group of high school masterminds will keep readers guessing.”Kirkus

“Teen readers will delight in the way such totally different individuals begin to cooperate to triumph over their wrongs.” –VOYA Magazine



Giveaway:

-2 Copies of Don’t Get Caught:
-Runs April 1-April 30
-US & Canada only

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