Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#WednesdayYA Wrap Up and Giveaway!

As a lot of you guys know, Misty and I started a #WednesdayYA book club, the idea of which is to read books that we own together and discuss them online with you guys.  Normally we do a monthly Twitter chat for each book we read, but this month we decided to take things up a notch and do a liveshow. If you missed it but are curious about what are thoughts are, check it out!

We also went ahead and picked out our January book, which is going to be Legend by Marie Lu.  Want to win a copy of it? Just fill out the form below.  We're doing this is a flash giveaway, so fill out by 10:00 PM EST!  Good luck!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review of Winger by Andrew Smith

Winger (Winger, #1)
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.
 With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

(Summary from GoodReads)

It’s a travesty that I am just now reviewing Andrew Smith’s Winger, because this was one of my favorite books of 2013.  Sometimes a book is just well written and doesn’t make me feel a strong emotional attachment to it, other times a book makes me feel a lot, but may not have great writing.  Winger has it all.  This was my first Smith book, and it was filled with well-written characters, humor, a great story, and themes that are relevant to teens and need to be in YA literature.

Ryan Dean West is one of the most endearing characters ever, but he’s also really well written.  In a lot of ways, this book is about what Ryan Dean wants: he wants to be a good rugby player, he wants to fit in with the guys, he wants to date Annie.  Ryan Dean West is so realistic because he wants all of these things that are like what a lot of other teenage guys want, but he never does so selfishly.  He always cares about his friends and the other people in his life.  I have to add that because some of my friends in college played rugby, pretty much all of the rugby things in this book only made me love it and Ryan Dean more.  I laughed out loud many, many times--especially at the comics, which were extremely well illustrated and gave us a ton of insight into Ryan Dean's personality.

If any of you have read an Andrew Smith book, you know that he isn’t one to shy away from tough subjects and he definitely doesn’t do so here.  Smith covers some heavy subjects, and not in a way that feels tacked on or didactic.  I loved the fact that what we see in this book is extremely relevant to teens today.

Winger is a stand out of 2013 and in young adult literature. It immediately made its way to my favorites list and I was so, so excited that I got to meet Andrew Smith recently and get my copy signed.  If you have not read this book already and basked in Smith’s talent, you really need to do that.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giveaway: Winterspell by Claire LeGrand

Tis the season of giving and since if you're here you probably love books, I thought I would give one lucky person today the opportunity to win a book.  Back in November I had a chance to attend the Virginia stop on the Futures & Fairy Tales tour, where I saw Sarah Fine (author of Of Metal and Wishes), Cristin Terrill (author of All Our Yesterdays), Lindsay Smith (author of Sekret), and Claire LeGrand (author of Winterspell).  Hearing everyone speak was great, and I decided to get a copy of Winterspell because I love all things Christmas and the hardcovers are stunning (otherwise, I am trying not to buy hardcovers unless I have already read the book or it's part of a series).  If you have no idea why Winterspell is Christmas-y and what it's about, here's a little more info.

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.

(Summary from GoodReads)

Sounds like a book you want in your life, right?  Well the good news is that one lucky winner will receive a copy of Winterspell!  If you're interested, check out the rules below and fill out the Rafflecopter form to win.

*One winner will receive a signed copy of Winterspell by Claire LeGrand.
*You must be thirteen years of age to enter.
*Open internationally.
*The giveaway will end on December 29th at 11:59 p.m. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Can't Wait to Read

I have a feeling that 2015 is going to be a fantastic year for YA releases, and there will be some great adult books, too.  This list surely won't cover everything I'm excited about.  As the year goes on and people start to read and review books that are currently being hyped, I'll only find more to be enthusiastic about.  For the time being, here is what I am most excited about.
1.) After reading and enjoying Open Road Summer, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this one. I think Lord is going to be a new favorite in contemporary YA.  Plus how pretty is that cover?
2.) I'm obviously including Winter in this one as well, but it doesn't have a cover yet.  I've loved how this series has unfolded so far and I can't wait to see how it all concludes.  Maybe we'll see a few happily ever afters?
3.)  The Devil You Know definitely sounds different from anything else Trish Doller has written--more thriller than contemporary.  Regardless, I'm pretty sure she can do no wrong, so I'm eager to dive in.
4.) My review of Seraphina may not be up yet, but if you've read it and loved it like I have, you can see why this one is a no-brainer for me.
5.) I adored Jessi's last book, Golden, so naturally I can't wait for this one.
6.) I recently read The Assassin's Blade and would now like to be signed up for anything Sarah J. Maas writes. Please and thank you.
7.) More Calpurnia Tate? Yes, please!
8.) A book about an intersex character.  How can I not be intrigued?
9.) Victoria Schwab's books always have really cool premises, and they deliver.  I'd like to get my hands on this, ASAP.
10.) A new Andrew Smith book that's a sequel to Winger? Say no more.

That's it for me!  Which 2015 releases are you excited about?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review of Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let’s Get LostFive strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.
(Summary from GoodReads)

Everything about Let’s Get Lost from the cover to the title to the premise made me believe it was a book I had to read.  Luckily, this turned out to be a great decision, and one that cemented Alsaid as an author to watch.  While Let’s Get Lost is definitely a feel good story like I had hoped, it surprised me with lovely prose and several laugh out loud moments.

At the beginning of Let’s Get Lost, there’s a bit of mystery surrounding Leila and what kind of loss she has experienced. I like Leila because as she interacts with other characters, we learn that she has an optimistic side: maybe a person call fall in love in one night, perhaps broken relationships can be fixed.  Some of the circumstances she gets into are downright hilarious, especially with Elliott, but as someone who has worked in a national park, the character Rick in Leila’s section also cracked me up.

Alsaid’s debut has very few problems.  He could’ve gotten away with slipping in about another twenty pages or so—perhaps a few at the end, and just flesh every section out a teeny bit more.  I could be saying this largely because I like the prose and wanted more of it.  The ending ties up quickly and it may have been a tiny bit predictable, but since it was heartwarming and I knew it was best for the characters, I didn’t mind too much.

Let’s Get Lost is fun, touching, and enjoyable.  It stands perfectly on its own, but it also struck me as the start of a strong authorial career.  Alsaid is only going to get better from here on out, and while I’ll always enjoy this book, I’m eager to see what he does next.

Disclosure: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher.

Other reviews:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review of Dael and the Painted People

Dael and the Painted People (Zan-Gah, #3)
A prehistoric adventure, this is the third of the Zan-Gah young adult books. When Dael, guilty and tormented, came to live with the tribe of the painted people, he longed for peace and restoration; but without knowing it, he made a powerful enemy. Luckily, Dael had friends-including a troop of crows-and his own mystical powers. The disturbed and violent hero learns from the Children of the Earth, and from his submissive wife, a new way of life that is peaceful and generous. Dael and the Painted People is a story of conflict, healing, hate, and love by the winner of the Eric Hoffer Award, a finalist for the ForeWord magazine Book of the Year Award, and the Mom's Choice Gold Seal for Excellence in a family-friendly book series.

(Summary from GoodReads)


The Zan-Gah series is definitely one that has grown on me as I have read more of it.  This book is a self discovery and coming of age story, which is where Shickman clearly excels.  In terms of writing and plot, Dael and the Painted People was my favorite and showed how much Allan Richard Shickman has grown as a writer.

Dael spends a lot of time with a character named Sparrow as he goes on a journey to find peace.  Of course, it was fascinating to learn about Sparrow and Dael’s new life.  I loved reading about Dael’s interactions with everyone around him, but especially Sparrow.

Much moreso than the other two books in this series, I felt that Dael and the Painted People was a spiritual and poetic story.  While there is still some action, it’s about healing and new beginnings.  I preferred this one to the first two books in the series is that the slower and quieter but still emotional tone better showcased Shickman’s talents as a writer.

While the Zan-Gah books may not be among my very favorites ever, I am really impressed with how much Shickman grew as a writer throughout the course of this series.  I think this would be a great series for readers ages 10-14 who are interested in this particular era or have exhausted all the other historical fiction.  I’m sure that as Shickman keeps writing his work will only get better and better. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Other reviews:
The Haunting of Orchid Torsythia 
Knits Read and Reviews
The Musings Of A Book Addict


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