Waiting on Wednesday: Gilt Hollow

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases… This week I’m waiting on Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon (author of Doon), a YA Romantic Suspense novel, being published by Blink on the 27th September.

Synopsis:

Willow Lamott’s best friend is a convicted killer, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it. 

Over four long years, she’s tried to fade into the background—but none of that matters when Ashton Keller comes striding into school, fresh out of juvie and fueled by revenge. The moment their eyes meet, Willow no longer feels invisible. Drawn to the vulnerability behind Ashton’s mask of rage, she sinks deeper into his sinister world and begins to question whether he’s a villain, a savior, or both.

Ashton thought he wanted vengeance, until Willow Lamott stepped back into his life. Now he longs to clear his name and become the person she sees in him. But the closer they get to uncovering the truth, the darker the secrets become, and Ashton wonders if his return to Gilt Hollow will destroy everyone he loves.

Early Review:

“A romantic page-turner that will keep you guessing until the very end! – Melissa Landers, author of the Alienated and Starflight series

 

Spotted: Mexican Brujas in Brooklyn

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On the Back Cover:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives…

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin. The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Inside the Book:

Characters and relationships: Alex suffers from crippling self-doubt at the start of the novel and at times, comes across as a little self-centred. But when faced with the realities of Los Lagos, she turns into a smart, practical, loyal and courageous main character. In fact, she’s kind of kick-ass! Alex’s family seemed interesting (lots of mystery there!) and I think getting to know them better, is one reason why I’d read a sequel. I also really liked Alex’s punchy best friend – which is good, because she becomes a love interest (*necessary spoiler*).

Action: Fun, inventive villains, cool twists and magical high jinx – but nothing too gory or anxiety inducing. The author did a great job at building suspense and creating tension; I never quite knew what was coming next for Alex!

Romance: I felt like the chemistry could have been ramped up a little more, but then again, I love a steamy romance…

Settings: I loved the way each scene began with a quote from a different magical ‘canto’ (song). I liked the gothic, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ feel of Los Lagos. And Alex’s home… with the chicken feet and vials of earth, stored next to the flour and the sugar, was great fun.

Keywords: 

Family, culturally diverse, LGBT relationship, high school, Brooklyn, magic and fantasy.

Expected publication: September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire Books.

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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Series Rating: 4.5 STARS

Recommended Reading Age: 13+ 

Read: via Audible

Short Series Review:

Privileged Gansey has always been told he’s destined for greatness and his quest to fulfil this prophesy has brought him to Aglionby School in his old orange Camaro, in search of a buried Welsh king who legend says can grant wishes. Here he meets Adam, the scholarship student with a humongous chip on his shoulder the exact size of his abusive father’s fists; and Ronan Lynch, a blunt-speaking boy who seeks out risk and excitement in any form. And maybe everything could have been simple, but then the boys meet Blue. Blue comes from an eccentric family of psychics, who have predicted that if she kisses her true love, he will die.

Once they’ve all met, a story unfolds. It’s about about lost souls and magic. It’s about family, friendship, loyalty and relationships (gay and straight). It’s about myth and legend, growing up, finding your voice and your purpose. It’s about a small Virginia town on a ley line and the mystery and intrigue related to that. It’s about car chases and hitmen, thieves and liars, demons and fey. It’s beautifully told, with wry observant descriptions and atmospheric settings. If you start reading this series, you won’t want to stop until it’s over. And even when it is over, you’ll want another book…

Tagline: A very modern fairytale.

If you’ve already read this series, what did you love/hate about it? 

Miranda Kenneally’s A Woman On A Mission

Backstory:

While introducing her new book Miranda explains that during her early twenties she was working 15 hour days, with no opportunity to go to the gym or do drinks after work… And she doesn’t want her readers to make the same mistakes, especially whilst still in high school.

The main character in Defending Taylor, is so worried about ‘earning her way’ and getting into the right college, that she does every extracurricular she can and takes AP class, after AP class. And when this becomes too much for her she abuses prescribed medications to stay awake – putting herself and her future at risk. 

The story opens as Taylor’s world comes crashing down, when she’s caught with drugs on school property and expelled. At the same time Taylor breaks up with her boyfriend Ben, but she can’t tell her friends why. She won’t share that secret. To top it all off, Taylor’s senator father is not happy; he’s up for re-election and now her actions have effected his campaign. To force her to buck up, he sends her to the local state school, Hundred Oaks, where the soccer team sucks and the girls are mean, mean and meaner. The only bright spot in Taylor’s days is Ezra, her brother’s best friend, who for reasons unknown is home from college. 

My Thoughts:

This series just works for me. I usually beatle through these books in a day and this book was no exception. I read late into the night in order to finish it. It’s a compulsive read. And of course, our favourite guidance councillor makes a couple fun appearances! As do a few other familiar couples… 

The soccer elements weren’t as prominent in this novel as I expected them to be (do not anticipate another Catching Jordan style read) and the terminology/mechanics of the game were definitely dumbed down. I’d be interested to know if this last part was the author’s choice or an editor’s…

The romance was ramped up in Defending Taylor. I would not give this book to a younger teen! It borders on being a New Adult book, rather than YA. #sexytimes

Fortunately Erza was pretty crushable – I’d like a yummy construction worker boyfriend too please Miranda! And he was patient with Taylor, which I appreciated. So often romance authors write bolshy, pushy male characters who dominate the story… But Ezra’s the kind of guy you and I would actually want to get to know. #real #READit!


Sourcebooks Fire will be publishing Defending Taylor on July 5th 2016.

What did you prioritise in high school – fun or grades? And do you regret your choice?

7 Mostly Annoying Things about ‘The Problem with Forever’

1. It kept me up reading until like 3AM… I’d recommend it for readers who loved:

2. Mallory is the sweetest main character, seriously, and like me, she has trouble verbalising stuff sometimes, making her a little introverted, but she wants to participate more. #tooperfect And you know, her bestie Ainsleigh is like the most supportive person on the planet too. #jealous

3. Rider. Oh my god. I want one! But he’s fictional… #frustration He does have a girlfriend when we first meet him, but he totally drops everything to big-brother Mallory. #supersweet #sexyYA
4. Heartbreak. Rider and Mallory have the most heartbreaking history together and seeing the scars that left, broke me at times. #needtissues

5. The fact that the book had a final page… #nooooooo! That ending. ❤️ Thank god for Hector, Rider’s sort-of, dirty mouthed Puerto Rican brother. #companionbookfodder

6. The setting. High school romances are my jam people! Who told JLA that? Am I being stalked? Freaky…

7. This book reminded me of some pretty serious stuff: Everyone is human, no one is infallible, we all hurt sometimes. But life is always richer with love. #majorlifelessons

“Forever was knowing that moments of weakness didn’t equate to an eternity of them…. Forever was Carl and Rosa, Ainsleigh and Keira, Hector and Rider…. Forever was simply the promise of more. Forever was a work in progress.”

Something Witchy This Way Comes…

The story:

Poppy has always known she was different – cats follow her everywhere and mysterious things happen when she gets angry, bad things, like windows shattering and random fires. There’s usually blood involved. So exactly the kind of things that get you expelled from eleven schools in a row and which eventually drive her mother into a mental institution…

What Poppy doesn’t know is that there is a very reasonable explanation for all of this: her evil witch aunt swapped her out with a regular mortal – Ember – when she was less than a day old. Making Poppy, ta-da!, a witch… And poor Ember, a talentless mortal in witch clothes. (It’s difficult to say which character feels the most sorry for themselves at the beginning of the story.) Then there’s Leo, the young homeless boy who steals Poppy’s heart.

You can expect:

– Dark, gothic undertones. #myjam

– A cute, magical romance…. A love triangle of sorts. #SOmean

– Multiple p.o.v characters.

– Dark family secrets. #yeahbaby!

– High school drama.

– A brutal ending. Seriously. I need a sequel stat. This ending CANNOT stand! #obsessed #really?

Orchard Books is publishing The Hawkweed Prophesy on June 16th.

The Book Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

Publishing June 6th, ARC curtesy of Netgalley.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sophie and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, his soon-to-be wife and his stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie’s dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Still, after a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s.

Review:

Camille was a typical bully, the type we’ve all met before as young girls and know to dread. #evilstepsister Though this is probably one reason why I connected so well with the story, it also kind of sucked for Sophie!

I loved how Sophie’s life in Paris was built up slowly, brick by brick – with each new place explored, each new pastry tasted and each new phrase she learns. I really felt like I was learning how to live in Paris, whilst reading One Paris Summer.

Piano-obsessed Sophie grows up a lot during the course of the novel, in large part because of Camille’s actions. Her impression of her childhood crush is reformed, her relationships with her brother and estranged father mature and she learns to believe in herself more. 

Sophie’s less inclined to cry and mop around by the end of the novel. So I definitely liked and respected her more as the story progressed.

Matthieu was a typical French love interest – alluringly aloof and yet suitably romantic. His scenes definitely made me swoon a time or two, not something that YA usually does for me… Expect cute texts, sexy French lessons and the Eiffel Tower! 

The only negative thing I’d say is that Matthieu’s reasons for staying away from Sophie in the beginning, became rather tiresome after a while. I sort of felt like if the author had used maybe a smidgen more of her imagination, then she might of have solved this issue.

A Week In San Francisco With Nina LaCour and David Levithan…


We listened to beat poetry and Lehna’s poem, that one about friendship, reminded me of my best friends from high school and what leaving them behind felt like.

What we really were,
Were twins.
The kind that feel it
When the other is cold.
The kind that always hears
Two heartbeats
Instead of one.
Pinch me
And you’d say
Ouch.

We attended pride and watched the Dykes on Bikes. And we revelled in the openness. In the love.

Mark spent most of that week figuring himself out, when his closeted best friend found somebody else. But that was cool.

Mark: “I have this thing inside me, and it’s angry and it’s scared and it’s uncertain and most of all it’s so completely in love with him, and it would do anything to keep him, even if it means things staying the way they are now…. I don’t love him for who he is now. I wouldn’t love him for who he is two years from now. I love him for all the hims he’s already been with me.”

Katie ‘call-me-Kate’, the under-confident artist, ran away from her dream girl time after time, but what she was really running from, who knew? Only she did. Only her fears did.

And Garrison took our pictures, forced us to stare at our truths. To try to live them. He was safe, he was wise, he was honest and knew a little something about hearts. He told us, “Most lives are long, and most pain is short. Hearts don’t actually break; they always keep beating…. As that famous homosexual Winston Churchill once said, if you find yourself heartbroken, keep walking.”

That time I spent in San Francisco with Nina LaCour and David Levithan, that time was amazing.

It taught me that it was okay to not have stuff figured out. Any of it. Because that’s life.

But, funnily enough, eventually Kate did figure some important stuff out. And so did Mark.

Kate: “Hiding and denying and being afraid is no way to treat love. Love demands bravery. No matter the occasion, love expects us to rise…”

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (St Martin’s Griffin) publishes June 7th.

Mini Book Review: Star Flight by Melissa Landers 

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Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe… 

I love YA sci-fi, so it’s funny that this was my first ML read. I don’t think it will be my last though, especially since there’s going to be a sequel to Star Flight!

This first book introduces us to an eclectic set of characters, all with their own backstories and arch-nemesises, which made this an addictive and action-packed adventure – from the half-robotic captain, to a runaway Princess, Solara’s new flight companions are quite the motley crew and even pampered Doran was kind of entertaining when taken out of his element and dumped onto a clunky old frigate of a spaceship.

Book Strengths: a gutsy heroine, wicked BANTER, laugh out loud moments, the chemistry, the intrigue, armed spaceships a la Star Wars, PIRATES who hold duals and offer to parlay! An interesting but unlikely twist at the end… The book even briefly paid homage to Firefly (does anyone not love Joss Whedon?!), with a set of crazy, blood-thirsty, metal pierced assassins cast as the scary bad guys of space.

Pet Peeve: We didn’t really get any resolutions to the main characters’ problems, which meant this book was very much an ‘intro’. The only thing this book really achieved was to deliver a romance and set up the world/characters for book two…

Book Review: Unmade by Amy Rose Capetta (Entangled #2)

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Having lost Xan, Cade and her friends flee across the galaxy in an effort the escape the machinations of the Unmakers and to find Cade’s mother. However, the Unmakers cannot afford to let Cade succeed in her plan to bring humanity back together… And so they resolve to wipe out humanity completely, orchestrating a series of bombing raids on human colonies. After surviving one such raid, Cade and her friends encourage the few lone survivors to take to the skies themselves, in a small armada of ships. But time is running out for humanity – if space sickness doesn’t claim Cade’s friends, then the Unmakers will.

Fun Factor: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

This felt very much like a re-worked book-version Battle Star Galactica at times (right down to the Cylon chips and the search for Earth), which was fun… but I liked the TV show better.

Pace: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

Let it never be said that Cade and her friends had a predictable journey across the galaxy…

Suspense / Mystery: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I loved the Xan poetry and the entanglement science and pulse-pounding space fights and the problem of space sickness and SO MUCH else.

But the questions surrounding the Unmaker’s motives were all answered in Entangled and we learnt nothing new about them in this instalment.

World-Building: ❤️❤️❤️❤️ 

I liked travelling the galaxy with Renna and her crew, but I would have liked to have met more alien species and see more ‘foreign’ worlds (swamp worlds) etc in this second book. It all just felt a bit too comfortable and familiar, which is not what I want from a sci-fi read. 

Romance: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘 

Rennik. Be still my beating heart. I guess I have a ‘thing’ for intellectual types who aren’t completely human and who can wield a sword!  Who knew? Thanks A.R.C for letting me know. Not that there are many Renniks here in the UK… 

I was also really impressed by how Lee and Ayumi’s relationship developed in this book. We need more LGBT couples like this in YA!

Characters: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

I loved Renna, the idea of a ship that’s alive (Farscape anyone?) works really well – she definitely felt like another character in the book! And Cade is Cade, still brutally honest with herself, still doing the ‘right’ thing, when all the evidence would suggest she should do otherwise. I liked how close the characters have grown, how comfortable they are with one another in this book; I LOVE that they all got drunk together! What author makes time for that? #booklove

Overall Rating / Addictiveness: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

You can check out my review of Entangled (book 1) here.