Release Date: October 1, 2012 Title: Skinny Author: Donna Cooner
Available: Barnes and Noble I got this ARC from BEA 2012
From the Publisher: Find your voice.
Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.
But there is another voice: Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has been silenced by Skinny. Partly in the hopes of trying out for the school musical – and partly to try and save her own life – Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.
With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.
Donna Cooner brings warmth, wit, and startling insight to this unforgettable debut.
This ended up being a very difficult book for me to read. In the end, it inspired a blog post that triggered a bout of depression that left me in a funk for days. For a book to have that kind of effect on me, it absolutely deserves a 5.
I turn thirty this year, yet I still see myself in this fifteen year old girl. The way she looks at herself is the way that I look at myself. The way that she pushes away the world is the same way that I push away the world.
Ever is me.
And the thing I learned the most from reading this book is that just because your outside changes doesn’t mean your inside does. And your insides don’t always match your outsides. It sounds like common sense, but this is something that so many young girls – and even young adults – struggle with. It’s always if I can lose 5 more pounds. Or my life will begin once such and such happens.
Ever’s story is about embracing who you are while you strive towards becoming the best you that you can be.
Release Date: June 12, 2012 Title: Lies Beneath Author: Anne Greenwood Brown
Publisher: Random House/Delacorte
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.
Mermaids are the new vampire.
Or so the publishing world would have us believe.
I’m not quite convinced of that. And I think that has somewhat colored my perception of this book.
The mermaid mythology in this book is certainly not of Disney lore. These vampires mermaids prey on humans, killing them to absorb their emotions. The story is a good one, I must admit. But it wasn’t the kind of story that grabbed and held my attention. It was easy for me to put down and do other things without thinking of the book at all.
And that cover? Why is it of a girl when the main character, Calder, is male?
The love story was predictable. The action was vague and mostly nonexistent.
Overall it was just a very mediocre read. Though I will probably read the sequel at some point once it’s released.
From the Publisher: “There is no pain in this death, only peace, knowing I am going to die with the one I love the most.”—Katriona Wilde.
Katriona Wilde has never wondered what it would feel like to have everything she’s ever known and loved ripped away, but she is about to find out.
When she inadvertently leads her sister and best friend through a portal into a world she’s dreamed of for six years, she finds herself faced with more than just the frightening creatures in front of her. Kate’s forced to accept a new truth: her entire life has been a lie, and those closest to her have betrayed her.
What’s worse, she has no control over her new future, and it’s full of magic and horrors from which nightmares are made.
Will Kate discover and learn to control who she really is in time to save the ones she loves, or will all be lost?
I’m sad to say that while the premise of this book held promise, the execution didn’t really work for me.
Once Kate goes through the portal, there is no hesitation on her part to accept the truth and her role in saving this new (to her) world. She just embraces it and has no normal person freak out that 1) there’s another world/dimension 2) her family is from said world and lied to her all of her life and 3) she is supposed to be a super hero who will save it.
I just can’t suspend disbelief that much.
THEN. On top of all of that, she falls in love with Arland immediately since she’d been dreaming about him all of her life. And it’s unclear if he’d been dreaming about her or not (I think not), but he falls in love with her within 2 seconds as well. Then they kiss, bathe together, and share a bed for weeks – but they never sleep together.
Sorry. Uh uh. I just can’t get there. Everything in this book happened way way too fast.
Character development. World building. These are basic building blocks of a great book that were simply missing from this one.
However, it was still a somewhat enjoyable read because the premise of the story was interesting to me. I won’t actively seek the next in the series, but if I happened upon it I would read it.
Release Date: May 10, 2011 Title: One for the Murphys Author: Lynda Mullaly Hunt Pages: 256 Publisher: Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books Available:Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: A moving debut novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family’s love
Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she’s blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong–until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She’s not really a Murphy, but the gifts they’ve given her have opened up a new future.
I was honestly surprised at how well Hunt was able to write the internal monologue of a teenager going through hell. My reaction to it was different from most books. Ordinarily, I become the characters I’m reading about (in my head at least). And no, I’m not crazy.
But that didn’t happen with Carley. I saw Carley. I felt her pain, but it was not internalized as reading a character would normally be. Hunt made me see Carley as a separate being; someone hurting and in need of love, compassion, and for something good to happen in her life.
I even shed a few tears.
But you’ll have to read it yourself to find out if they were good tears or bad ones.
And trust me, if you like Contemporary YA, you should read this one.
Release Date: May 8, 2012 Title: Hemlock Author: Kathleen Peacock
Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
Since then, Mac’s life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac’s hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy’s killer:
A white werewolf.
Lupine syndrome-also known as the werewolf virus-is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.
Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy’s murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy’s boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.
Kathleen Peacock’s thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
I was unprepared for this book. Completely.
When you see a book that’s about werewolves, there are certain assumptions you make about the content of that book.
I’m not talking quality here; I adore werewolf books. But you expect it to be paranormal. Supernatural.
This wasn’t that.
I spent most of the book feeling nauseous. It was dark. It was bleak. It had such a ring of truth to it that I almost couldn’t stomach it.
You see, when I think of werewolves “coming out” in this country, I think of books like Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series or Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series- where the “other” are stronger than humans, therefore they quickly rise to the top of the food chain. They are, in short, left alone (for the most part).
Not so in Hemlock. In this world, those with “lupine syndrome” are shipped off to “rehabilitation camps” with all constitutional rights stripped. Frankly, they’re lucky if they even make it that far- they are far more often exterminated before they get there. Those who don’t turn in their friends or neighbors who are infected are labeled traitors.
And Mac gets caught up right in the middle of it.
She sees how bleak the world is.
People lied. That’s just what they did.
But it doesn’t stop her from standing up for what’s right. It doesn’t stop her from helping her friends. And it doesn’t stop her newfound determination to find the werewolf who killed her best friend.
Hemlock isn’t a paranormal romance. It’s a murder mystery thriller with a bit of political intrigue thrown in.
Release Date: April 10, 2012 Title: Lexapros and Cons Author: Aaron Karo
Publisher: Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available: Barnes and Noble
From the Publisher: Chuck Taylor’s OCD has rendered him a high school outcast. His endless routines and habitual hand washing threaten to scare away both his closest friend and the amazing new girl in town. Sure he happens to share the name of the icon behind the coolest sneakers in the world, but even Chuck knows his bizarre system of wearing different color “Cons” depending on his mood is completely crazy.
In this hilariously candid debut novel from comedian Aaron Karo—who grew up with a few obsessions and compulsions of his own—very bad things are going to happen to Chuck. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because with graduation looming, Chuck finds himself with one last chance to face his inner demons, defend his best friend, and win over the girl of his dreams. No matter what happens, though, he’ll have to get his hands dirty.
I admit; I was hesitant to read this. I wasn’t sure it would really be my speed. Then I opened it up and pretty much didn’t move until I was done.
Chuck’s voice pulled me in from the beginning- even if was kind of weird to open up by talking about masturbation. Nothing graphic mind you- it’s just that Chuck keeps a tally of how often he does, thanks to his OCD. Chuck is authentic- he’s not the kind of boy you ordinarily find in a YA novel, all swwon-worthy and broody. He’s a 17 year old boy with OCD. That’s it. He’s not perfect. He’s not the guy who sweeps the girl off her feet and they become embroiled in a passionate yet ill-fated romance. He’s a senior in high school. He’s the real thing.
I don’t suffer from OCD, though I have known people who do. And Karo brilliantly took me inside of the mind of a young man who does- and did so in such a manner that even though this was a fiction novel written by a comedian, I feel as if I understand the disorder in ways I didn’t before.
The best part? This wasn’t a deep and serious novel; it was light-hearted and fun.
This is definitely a novel to put into the hands of reluctant teen readers – especially boys. But even the girls should find it entertaining and informative.
From the Publisher: Sherry has lived with her family in a bunker for more than three years. Her grandfather’s body has been in the freezer for the last six months, her parents are at each other’s throats and two minutes ago, they ran out of food. Sherry and her father must leave the safety of the bunker. What they find is an empty Los Angeles, destroyed by bombs and haunted by Weepers – savage humans infected with a rabies virus. While searching for food, Sherry’s father disappears and Sherry is saved by Joshua, a hunter. He takes her to Safe-haven, a vineyard where a handful of survivors are picking up the pieces of their other lives, before the virus changed everything. Sherry must find a way to help her family, stay alive, and decide whether Joshua is their savior or greatest danger as his desire for vengeance threatens them all. This debut novel is a page-turner that is not easy to forget.
After swearing I’d never read a zombie book, I seem to be reading lots of books like this lately. The fun thing is that while the genre is definitely picking up momentum, I don’t feel like each book I read is simply a retelling of the last. They are all fresh and new.
The zombies in this book aren’t true zombies, per se. They are mutated humans (aka Weepers, named for the milky fluid that leaks from their eyes), not the walking dead. But once they have transformed, they start jonesing for meat and blood and will eat you in a flash.
But really, the story is less about the Weepers and more about the survivors. Which is really how any good story should be.
And truth be told, the only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it was so danged short. While the hardcover may be 256 pages, my eGalley was only 180. It ended before the story really had time to get started. It was just long enough to introduce us to all of the characters and throw in a plot twist that won’t be resolved until later in the series.
And I liked it well enough that I’m kind of annoyed it ended so soon. I want more. And I want more now.
Release Date: December 18, 2011 Title: Embrace Author: Cherie Colyer
From the Publisher: Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.
Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.
Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.
Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.
Dangerous, intoxicating, and darkly romantic, Embrace is a thriller that will leave you spellbound.
I really went into this book blind. I had no idea what it was about because, as you can see above, the blurb is mostly vague.
I ended up absolutely delighted with it! My favorite books are of the witchy variety, so I was very pleasantly surprised to discover the witchcraft that this book is centered around.
Madison is a natural witch; but she doesn’t know it yet. And that’s pretty much how I’ve wished my entire life to be! I’d love to discover one day that I’ve got all of these innate powers coursing through my veins.
That would rock.
Just like this book did.
It’s not the best written book in the world. But the characters are genuine. Madison and Isaac’s relationship developed in that too-fast stereotypical fashion that often plagues YA novels, but it worked in this book. In fact, I hope that this book turns into a series, because I’d love to see more of them. Plus, any witchy series automatically ends up on my TBR list.
Check out the Blog Tour page for links to other reviews, author interviews, and guest posts.
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From the Publisher: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
This is another one that wasn’t what I expected. The reviews are so mixed; but on the other hand, someone thought it was good enough to cast a television show based on it before the book has even been released.
It’s been billed as a dystopian novel, but that’s a misnomer. While the society the novel is set in is decidedly dystopian, the plot of the story does not fit the bill of a dystopian novel. It may come later in the series, but this first novel was strictly a love story. There was no rebelling against society, no rebuilding of society, nothing that comes with a traditional dystopian.
That being said, I adored the love story. Truth be told, I fell a little bit in love with Maxon myself. I am firmly planted on his team- I truly dislike Aspen. It probably helps that Aspen was missing for the majority of the book, but he ended up on my bad side, and I really don’t see how anything could change my mind on that front.
It seems like the series will be straightforward and predictable- America will fall for Maxon and they will live happily ever after in the end; but I’m not entirely convinced of that. Cass is a much better writer than that. And while I do hope they get that happily ever after, I’m also hoping the series goes a little more full on dystopian, with the Caste system dissolved thanks to America and Maxon.
But regardless of how the series ends, it has certainly begun with quite the bang. Definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.
If you’re a fan of well-written love stories- the kind that happens between best friends, not the kind that happens at first sight- then this is absolutely the book for you.
Slight Disclaimer: I’ve never watched the Bachelor. I never intend to. Though many comparisons have been drawn between this book and that show, they are not the same though they may have a single similar theme. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this book, since I very obviously did so.
From the Publisher: Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.
Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.
Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.
Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.
First, this book made me realize that I need to re-evaluate my rating scheme. In the past, a 3 has been a book that I recognize as being a good book, but one that wasn’t particularly for me, a 4 was a book I really enjoyed, and a 5 was a book I couldn’t get enough of.
But that doesn’t leave any room for books like Slide - a book I enjoyed, but didn’t love. So I’m changing what a 3 means to me.
This book was a good book. It’s not my favorite genre – and I found the plot slightly cliche – but it wasn’t badly written, and I wanted to find out what was happening.
I did, however, find myself able to put this book down for long stretches of time – that’s something that almost never happens to books I give 4s and 5s to. This book wasn’t memorable. It didn’t grab ahold of me and keep me locked into the story the way I like my books to do.
Instead, it meandered along and was still waiting for me when I came back to it.
I wish Vee’s ability had been explored more. Instead of reading like a supernatural/paranormal thriller, it felt like a contemporary novel where the MC just happened to have this random ability. An ability that was never explored, merely used. The part where she realized she could actually control the person she slides into should have been a much larger part of the story.
This was yet another story where I found myself exasperated with the MC because of her secrecy and unwillingness to trust those around her – if she had only talked to Rollins about what was going on, things could have happened differently.
That’s one trend in entertainment that I simply don’t understand; why have a best friend if you can’t trust them with your life? It doesn’t make for good books/movies when the reaction from the audience is frustration.
Overall, it was a decent book. You shouldn’t run out to get it right now, but if you are looking for a light mystery, this one probably won’t disappoint.