Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review + Giveaway: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

Review: Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: #2 in the Daylight Falls duology
Release date: June 30th, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill
Length: 321 pages
Source: won ARC and finished copy from BEA15

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents' wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls...opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he's trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he's in the spotlight—on everyone's terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents' disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she's painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van's life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she'll have to choose between the one thing she's always loved...and the person she never imagined she could.

Double disclosure: Firstly, I haven't read the first book slash companion book in the Daylight Falls duology, Behind the Scenes. Secondly, I've had diner margaritas with Dahlia and we talk on twitter on the reg, usually about dirty things or macarons or...wait, I think that might be the bulk of what Dahlia talks about, actually. Wether or not you think this has altered my opinion, well, i don't know, because I loved this book with all the dirty macarons on top.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Valiant by Sarah McGuire

Review: Valiant by Sarah McGuire
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: I wish
Release date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Egmont
Length: 364 pages
Source: ARC/purchased finished copy
Rating: That was SOOO CUUUUUUTE. Lovely fairy tale retelling!

Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he's always prized them more than he's ever loved her. Yet when he's struck ill, she'll do anything to survive, even donning boys' clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.

Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they're marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.

Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor's triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won't deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.

Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.

I think what I love best about Valiant--you know, besides the incredibly resilient main characters, the PRECIOUS ship, and the rollicking plot--is how classic it feels. This book doesn't feel anything like the majority of the fantasy YA I read nowadays. It feels like a moreold-shool fairy tale retelling like Ella Enchanted or Shannon Hale (very accurate, blurby people, very accurate indeed). So what you get is an entirely charming twist on a not-often-retold tale, The Valiant Little Tailor, with a lady saving the day instead.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: No, ALAS
Release date: May 19th, 2015
Publisher: Del Rey (Random House)
Length: 438 pages
Source: purchased with zero regret

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Dear world,

I'm obsessed with Uprooted. Consider this my declaration of love. I'm standing atop the school coffee cart, I'm singing and dancing with the school band across the bleachers, I'm just a girl, standing in front of a book, asking it to love her.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Double Review: Kalahari and The Hidden Prince


Kalahari by Jessica Khoury
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Release date: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)
Length: 368 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Rating: Pretty entertaining adventure thriller-ma-bob

Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.

But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.

In this breathtaking new novel by the acclaimed author of Origin and Vitro, Sarah and the others must not only outrun the virus, but its creators, who will stop at nothing to wipe every trace of it.

So part of why I was really excited to read this book is twofold. One, I was actually IN Botswana last summer, so I was anxious to read about a part of the world I'm visually familiar with (Khoury def didn't disappoint in that regard). Two, I have DEEP, DEEP LOVE for stories in which people are stranded in nature and must BATTLE THE ELEMENTS and PERSEVERE against SUPREME ODDS. I've seen practically every episode of the truly gruesome I Shouldn't Be Alive, God knows why, but this shiz is my jam.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The YA Sorting Hat: Part III

Last time on The YA Sorting Hat: Book Boyfriends Edition

One day, I asked myself the not at all ridiculous question, "Which houses would I sort my favorite literary characters into?" So got Ye Olde Sorty out of the Headmaster's office and put him on the job of sorting some of my favorite non-Harry Potter characters into Hogwarts Houses. 

Yay, the YA Sorting Hat is back! It's been a while since I last plopped Old Sorty on a crop of fictional characters. But it's a whole new year, and we've got a whole new crop of first years crossing the lake. AND THEY NEED HOUSES.

Obviously, you could TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH ME, but if I were the Sorting Hat, this is where I'd put these guys:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Top Forty Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015

I just really, really didn't want to shaft any of the good books. So really I'm including pretty much all of the books that come out AFTER JUNE (since I covered all my anticipated June releases here) that I want to get my greedy little blogger hands on.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in The Leveller series
Release date: June 23rd, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 256 pages
Source: ARC from ALAMW15/eARC via Edelweiss
Rating: Fun! Quick, fast-paced, and highly entertaining.

Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

I'm pleased to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by The Leveller. That's not to say that I thought this book looked irretrievable terrible, or anything, just that it's a sad fact that Harper e-galleys don't alllllways pan out, quality-wise. But when I got a print ARC of The Leveller at ALA and saw  how slim a volume it is, I decided to slip it in between other reads, and I'm extremely glad I did. The ease of the writing and the pop of Nixy's voice let me fall right into the story. It's not the deepest story in the world, and to be honest, I think it could have used another hundred pages, but The Leveller is very quick, extremely readable, and pretty fun.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Double Review: Magonia and The Witch Hunter

Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | The Book Depository
Series: Yes, #1 in Magonia series
Release date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 328 pages
Source: ARC from ALAMW15/eARC via Edelweiss
Rating: YASSSS. It is absolutely Stardust meets The Fault in Our Stars in the best way

Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds... two races…and two destinies. 

 Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name. 

 Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Magonia is totally cracked out.

I loved every second of it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Because You'll Never Meet Me Blog Tour + Giveaway!

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour for Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas! This book came out of Tuesday from Bloomsbury, and not only is it fantastically high concept (two very isolated boys--one of whom is allergic to electricity, the other of which has a pacemaker--because friends through letters, but are destined to never meet) but it's gorgeously written. As evidenced by the sneek preview Leah herself has graciously shared for us on the blog. 

BYNMM features two wildly different boys with wildly different voices, so it only made sense for them to give us some tips on keeping in touch in their own voices. Take it away, Ollie and Moritz!

How to keep in touch even when far apart

Hey, Moritz!

So ever since we started writing these letters to each other, I’ve felt like some sort of badass wizard or something. “Oh, yes. I have friends…abroad. In the land of Deutsch. Deutschland.” I thought this was pretty damn impressive, borderline magical. I mean, that is more than four thousand miles between me and my best friend. Mailmen are basically miracle workers, like angels with cooler uniforms.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top Ten Books I Want to See as Movies

If I were Queen of the Universe, these are the books I'd demand be made into movies posthaste. (This list only includes books I didn't put on my list last time. Cinder, for instance, is still my number one pick. COME ON, HOLLYWOOD.)

I'd give an arm and a leg to see these books up on the big screen. I want to see them as movies so much, in fact, that I made some crap movie posters for them! I am by no means a photoshop expect, so most of these are cobbled together in Picmonkey, but I had ways too much fun putting them together.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Looking Forward: June

Sometimes it's really hard for me to keep track of what comes out what month, especially while juggling early reviews and publisher catalogues and all the other confusing bookish things bloggers deal with. It's just a LOT OF BOOKS ALL THE TIME. How do you ever keep them straight?! So on the last day of the month, I post a guide to what books I'm most looking forward to in the following month and that you should keep an eye on. So, since it's the first day of June, here are the June releases most tempting me.