Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
"In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden's tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden's turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe's leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family's position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden's heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden's heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb's increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden's every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family's survival on the line, Jayden must finish the deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find true love for herself."- summary from Amazon

I am not usually one for historical fiction, but this book really captured my attention. It's just written so beautifully and is such a compelling, suspenseful story. I will admit though that I am a bit of a sucker for ancient cultures so with this being set in Mesopotamia, it was easier to get me to read it. Jayden is a great main character and I loved reading her journey through the desert and dealing with all the obstacles that come up in her path. I do wish I had known from the start though that this was the start of a trilogy; for some reason, I thought this was a stand-alone book and was expecting it to end as such. It does not because there are still two more books, which is fine though because I'm really enjoying being in this world with these characters.

Overall, a fantastic start to a new trilogy and I'm really excited to see where things go from here!!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
"Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe's Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer's car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the "drowned rat" look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees— of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe's list of Top Ten Best Moments."- summary from Amazon

If you haven't yet read Czukas' extremely awesome debut, now you have two amazing books of hers to read. If you love quick, funny, page-turning reads, these are the books for you. I absolutely loved her sophomore effort and read it very quickly considering how long it takes me to read books lately. I finished it in just a day or so, and may have taken more than my allotted time for breaks at work because of how compelling the story was.

Chloe is a funny, realistic character that I think readers will relate to. I definitely related to her as a retail worker during the holidays and how crazy and stressful that job is. It was interesting to see how very right Czukas got it. And all of Chloe's co-workers were written very well and made for such an engrossing story. And of course the simmering romance between Chloe and Tyson was such fun to read.

Overall, a fantastic follow-up to Czukas' debut Ask Again Later and I am so excited to read whatever she writes next, both as herself and as her NA counterpart, Ellie Cahill.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Zodiac by Romina Russell

Zodiac by Romina Russell
"Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?"- summary from Amazon


and here's an interview with Romina:
1) How did you get the idea for Zodiac?

My editor, Liz Tingue, and I came up with the concept for ZODIAC by combining my love of Space with her passion for astrology. Liz and I met ten years ago, in a college class that was pretty much “math for English majors,” and we always knew we wanted to team up on a creative project. I think ZODIAC was written in our stars. J

2) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s)? Or, if you don’t like those, do you have a favorite snack to eat while writing, or as a reward for writing?

I like strawberry Jelly Belly beans, but my favorite things to snack on are dark chocolate bars, chocolate chip cookies, and salty French fries.

3) What do you do in your free time when you’re not writing?

…annnd I just realized I have no life. (Blogger's note: She has a life!! She does a lot of cool things, like write newspaper columns, produce movie trailers, photography, and potentially plays the drums, though her bio is a bit unclear on that front though I don't know why you would dream of a new drum set if you didn't play, lol.)

4) What are you currently reading, or are about to start? Are there any 2015 books you’re excited about?

I’m reading Winter Falls by Nicole Maggi who is another December debut author. As a member of the Fearless Fifteeners, I’m excited about tons of books in 2015, like Dove Arising by Karen Bao, Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee, and An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, to name a few.

FTC: Received hardcover from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
"Sam McKenna has never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She's expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don't think girls belong there. What she's not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so trivial . . . no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don't just want her gone—they won't rest until she gives up. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active . . . and determined to force her out.

At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust . . . and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences."- summary from Amazon

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!!! And, like Lies We Tell Ourselves from earlier this week, made me so angry at the Neanderthal sexist military guys in this book (and I read those books back-to-back). I would constantly get the urge to punch someone. It's just crazy that anything like this could happen in this day and age, but I know it definitely still does. A lot of archaic thinking is still in some major institutions.

Aside from the anger, this was a wonderful debut book and I loved the character of Sam- extremely strong (both in strength and will), loyal, and fierce. I loved being in her perspective and reading her journey through a semester at the DMA, which also included some romance with her young, hot drill sergeant. I LOVED Drill (you do find out his real name in the book, but I'll leave that for you to find out) and their scenes together were alternately sweet and hot. Hensley knows how to write a fantastic realistic love connection.

The secret society is absolutely crazy and that whole aspect of the book had me on the edge of my seat. I wish more had been done (or more had been written) in regards to the ending, but I do think it was handled realistically, which I guess is how it should be (though I would not be opposed to an unrealistic ending if it meant good completely won out over evil).

Overall, a highly recommended debut that deals with something very different from what we see in YA. I know I've never read a book set at a military academy. I am looking forward to seeing what Hensley does next!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
"In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal."

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another."- summary from Amazon

I was angry during a lot of this novel, not because I hated the book or anything, but because of how bigoted and ignorant many white people were during this time in our country's history. It made my blood boil reading how African-Americans were treated and what sorts of things they went through to make integration and equality happen. But it is inspiring to be reading from Sarah's point of view, going through the days with her and feeling her thoughts and emotions during this whole process. And Linda's perspective is great too- seeing her change over the course of the novel and making realizations about herself, her family, her peers, the black students, and others around her was handled so beautifully by Talley.

Talley's writing is engrossing and compelling, and she makes both Sarah and Linda very distinct and their attraction to each other very real. The book is told in five different parts (Parts 1 and 3 are Sarah alone, Part 2 is Linda, and Parts 4 and 5 go back and forth between the two) and takes place over the course of a few months.

Overall, an extremely stellar debut and I urge everyone to go check it out. I cannot wait to see what Talley writes next!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.