Review: Taken by Erin Bowman

Sunday, March 31, 2013
Title: Taken
Author: Erin Bowman
Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction, science fiction, young adult
Series: Taken #1
Pages: 352
Published: expected April 16 2013
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 1/5

There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

I am so disappointed. I had such a good streak going. Three, nearly four, months and eighty books into 2013, I'd only had one 1-star read before this. I started Taken with high hopes - that cover! that synopsis! - that quickly, and I mean QUICKLY, plummeted from "this is going to be good!" to "Oh, no..." to "To DNF or to not DNF?" to "I just want this to be over." Thankfully, my pain was rather short lived this time. Taken is three hundred odd pages, but there's so little depth to the world or the characters that it's a thankfully fast-moving read. In the end, I have to recognize that this was just a book that was not meant for me and abandon the series.

I knew thirteen pages into Taken that this was going to be a rocky road. My main and first issue was with the main character and narrator, Gray Weathersby. Erin Bowman can write an authentic male voice, but she utterly failed to create a likeable, or even interesting, one. Gray is a jerk, and Gray is rather short-sighted. He was awful, and he was where the cracks started to show. If you can get around Gray's 'tude, you will find Taken a more fun read than I did. I can see my way to loving some awful characters, anti-heroes (Jaime Lannister, anyone? I adore him. Don't judge me.) and even villains (Sepp dan Teufel is my favorite character from The Blade Itself trilogy, and he is a horrid, broken man). But they, unlike Gray, manage to be interesting, complex in their moral failings and errors. They are more than the worse of them. Alternatively, Gray is just a brat. With lifelong insecurity issues.

The other characters don't do much to take the heat and focus off of Gray's long list of shortcomings. Everyone in the book is so one-dimensional and flat. Emma, the *first* love interest, flipflops from one side of an idea to the other in pages. Her affection does the same, and her characterization is pretty much null. Blaine, the brother, is a Larry Stu, and thus practically perfect. There's no complexity or intricacy to the characters or their relationships with one another. It's alllll surface. I need more, and the book needs more - I need depth and real characterization to care about what's going on to the characters. Otherwise, I get bored and start counting down the pages til: a. everyone dies or b. the book ends.

I kept running into issues with the plot and the progression of the story as it went along. There are too many tropes (instalove! Love triangles!), cliches, and conveniences to be found in Taken. It's just too much to be believable. I have a great suspension of disbelief, but after a point, I just... can't. Gray's entire motivation and actions are too easy, and almost of the twists and conflicts he runs into end quickly, usually in a deux-ex-machina kind of way. The plotholes in the story also started to add up as more and more is revealed about the world Gray exists within. All of that adds up to more than I can buy into. And if I can't identify or relate or even care about the characters, if the plot falls apart with closer examination, and if it's a passionless, easy affair, I'm out.

Taken is a great idea that falters out of the gate with its muddled execution. The long and short of it is that a good, original and mysterious concept is not enough to carry a novel, especially one that's hundreds of pages. The novelty and curiously wear thin, and then out completely. The series will continue with books two and three, but I will not be reading to see how it all plays out.

Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Saturday, March 30, 2013
Title: Gameboard of the Gods
Author: Richelle Mead
Genre: dystopia, post-apocalyptic, fantasy
Series: Age of X #1
Pages: 472 (ARC edition)
Published: expected June 4 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

My first -- and far from last -- Richelle Mead novel, Gameboard of the Gods could not have been a better or more fun introduction to this popular author. A mix of futuristic science fiction, mystery, old school mythology, dystopia and post-apocalyptic genres, this book is weird and odd, and above all, really, really good. It takes a while to build into the tour de force of awesome it is, but the slow start is more than worth the time and wait. Gameboard of the Gods is creative, fast-paced, full of action and just plain fun. As the first in a new series, it's a promising beginning and one that leaves the reader eagerly anticipating what else Mead will cook up next for her adaptable protagonists.

The first hundred pages present the hardest challenge - there are a lot of terms, ideas thrown around and this is an author that doesn't believe an infodump of explanations are the way to immerse her readers into a new world. Rather, Mead doesn't immediately lay out her worldbuilding, but slowly reveals it through the characters' dialogue, actions, and inner monologues. And this created world, post-"Decline" - is a fascinating, thoroughly original one. There are still some gray areas left in how the Republic of United North America formed and operates, but with the first in the series, a remarkable amount of information is subtly dispensed to the audience. I have faith and the patience to see how Mead further carries the ideas she's laid the foundation for here with the sequels that are forthcoming.

Character-wise, this book is just as strong as it is in writing and plotting. Lead characters Mae and Justin complement each other very well, despite (or maybe because of) their many differences. They have palpable chemistry, and a complicated relationship that evolves just as much as the two of them do individually. Tjeir interplay and banter are consistently top-notch. I loved the typical-role reversal between the two as well. Usually it's a strong man protecting a brilliant woman, but Mae is the muscle (and has her fair share of brains), with Justin relying on her to protect them as they race to solve a mystery that tests everything both of them have been raised to believe.

If you like a well-crafted mystery, with two likeable and flawed protagonists (with intense chemistry), or if you like mythology with a fresh spin, or if you like well-done and thought-out dystopias with a side of post-apocalyptic world-building, Gameboard of the Gods is your newest best book friend. Great action scenes, a clever mystery and two great characters make this a very involving and compelling book. If this is how the series begins, I am very curious to see what happens next for the praetorian and the servitor. I only hope the next book isn't too long in coming!

Review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Title: Unremembered
Author: Jessica Brody
Genre: science fiction, young adult
Series: Unremembered #1
Pages: 320 (ARC edition)
Published: March 5 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

To go along with the title of Jessica Brody's latest novel, here are a few words and phrases that work to describe my impressions of Unremembered:   Unlikely. Unnecessary. Unmet-potential. Unsatisfying. Unemotional. Unsubtle. Underachieved. Uncanny. Unadorned. Unamused. Unbelievable (and not in a good way...). Unimpressive. To say the least, I expected so much more from this read, and I got flat, one-dimensional characters acting out a plot that has been done so many times before. By no means subtle or original, Brody's latest does have its moments of pure fun, but amidst all the other dross and predictability, it wasn't enough to make Unremembered anything other than a forgettable novel.

I guess I can start with the good about Unremembered - it falls prey to some YA tropes (instalove, especially, but Violet/Sera is one hell of a Mary Sue..), but it somehow manages to avoid others. There is no love triangle, there are no magically missing/absent parental units, and the love interest isn't abusive or a total creeper. And while I was disappointed by a lot of how this book played out, it moves fast and it's an easily read and digested bit of teen fiction. Brody's prose is serviceable, if plain and unremarkable. At least she is consistent? This is no Laini Taylor, Gayle Forman or Melina Marchetta or any other wordsmith. Jessica Brody is an able author, but her subject and plot leave a lot to be desired and detract from her strong points.

One of the main problems with Unremembered is that it tries to ask Important Questions about Life, like: what makes a person human? and what makes up a reality - experiences or memories? Unfortunately (another un-word!), Unremembered doesn't fully explore the answers or nuances of the questions it raises. It's a rather shallow but occasionally fun romp with time travel, "true love", and some pseudo-science to pull it all together. Contemplative themes and ideas are abandoned in favor of a romance that has no chemistry and time travel that raises more questions and complications than it solves.

Unremembered ends with an almost literal cliffhanger, and I couldn't care less. It's not a bad book - it's not objectionable or infuriating like Wasteland or Twilight, but it could have been so much better.  The unmet potential is one of the most frustrating aspects of the entire exercise. It's highly and amusingly appropriate to me that a novel with that name could be so entirely forgettable once one finishes the last page.

Top Ten Tuesday (on Wednesday) #5: Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.

The Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most:

1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.

Why: Melina Marchetta can write. She can write girls, boys, teens, adults - it doesn't matter. The master of characterization and plotting, this is an author that has never failed to move me to tears. I think everyone should be able to experience the pleasure and emotions that come with reading a Marchetta novel.

2. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

 In his most brilliant and powerful novel, Pat Conroy tells the story of Tom Wingo, his twin sister, Savannah, and the dark and violent past of the family into which they were born. 
Set in New York City and the lowcountry of South Carolina, the novel opens when Tom, a high school football coach whose marriage and career are crumbling, flies from South Carolina to New York after learning of his twin sister's suicide attempt. Savannah is one of the most gifted poets of her generation, and both the cadenced beauty of her art and the jumbled cries of her illness are clues to the too-long-hidden story of her wounded family. In the paneled offices and luxurious restaurants of New York City, Tom and Susan Lowenstein, Savannah's psychiatrist, unravel a history of violence, abandonment, commitment, and love. And Tom realizes that trying to save his sister is perhaps his last chance to save himself. 
With passion and a rare gift of language, the author moves from present to past, tracing the amazing history of the Wingos from World War II through the final days of the war in Vietnam and into the 1980s, drawing a rich range of characters. Pat Conroy reveals the lives of his characters with surpassing depth and power, capturing the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina lowcountry and a lost way of life. His lyric gifts, abundant good humor, and compelling storytelling are well known to readers of The Great Santini and The Lords of Discipline. The Prince of Tides continues that tradition yet displays a new, mature voice of Pat Conroy, signaling this work as his greatest accomplishment

Why: An intricate, twisty tale about family lies and secrets, Conroy's most famous novel is absorbing and hard to put down from the first line ("My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.") With immense talent and depth, this story of the Wingo family is unforgettable. It's one of those books I reread every year for the sheer pleasure of a master author at his best.

3. Soulless series by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire—and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

Why: Gail Carriger is talented and witty, creative and fun. Her books sparkle with witty banter, clever uses of steampunk and well-developed romances, brimming with chemistry. The earlier books are my very favorites, but this is a series that's fun and imaginative.

4. Anything by Kate Morton: The Distant Hours, The House at Riverton, The Secret Keeper, The Forgotten Garden

 A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

Why: Kate Morton has continued to impress me as I've worked my way through her all-t00-short bibliography. Her talent for beautiful prose, complex characters and sense of place is unparalleled.
5. Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

An utterly captivating reinvention of the Rapunzel fairytale weaved together with the scandalous life of one of the tale's first tellers, Charlotte-Rose de la Force.

Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-four years later. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition, retaining her youth and beauty by the blood of young red-haired girls.

After Margherita's father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off unless he and his wife give away their little red-haired girl. And so, when she turns seven, Margherita is locked away in a tower, her hair woven together with the locks of all the girls before her, growing to womanhood under the shadow of La Strega Bella, and dreaming of being rescued...

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

Why: A large scope, a tight narrative, and above all, a highly imaginative retelling of Rapunzel, Bitter Greens is immersive and detailed. I couldn't put it down over the day it took me to read, and once I finished, I immediately wanted to read it again.

6.  Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.

The hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.

Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.

But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire.

Why: Ambitious. Original. Creative. Pure awesome and totally fun, Kristoff doesn't shy away from important themes, nor a body count. This is a talented author and a great start for a steampunk series without any of the stumbles a lot of debut authors make. It entertains you all the while making you think.

7. The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

Paul Iverson's life changes in an instant. He returns home one day to find that his wife, Lexy, has died under strange circumstances. The only witness was their dog, Lorelei, whose anguished barking brought help to the scene - but too late. In the days and weeks that follow, Paul begins to notice strange "clues" in their home: books rearranged on their shelves, a mysterious phone call, and other suggestions that nothing about Lexy's last afternoon was quite what it seemed. Reeling from grief, Paul is determined to decipher this evidence and unlock the mystery of her death. But he can't do it alone; he needs Lorelei's help. 

A linguist by training, Paul embarks on an impossible endeavor: a series of experiments designed to teach Lorelei to communicate what she knows. Perhaps behind her wise and earnest eyes lies the key to what really happened to the woman he loved. As Paul's investigation leads him in unexpected and even perilous directions, he revisits the pivotal moments of his life with Lexy, the brilliant, enigmatic woman whose sparkling passion for life and dark, troubled past he embraced equally.
Why: This is a novel about grief and love, and life. It takes a very unpredictable turn midway, but Parkhurst makes it work. It's one of my very favorite novels, and still makes me tear up every time I reread it.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery....

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.

With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids, as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Why: Haunting, beautiful, thoughtful, The Book Thief is one of the best pieces of YA literature I've ever come across. With one of the most original narrators, Zusak crafts an unforgettable story with some of the most colorful characters in his genre.

9. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter.

Why: Do I really even need to say why everyone should read this series about bravery, and friendship, and triumphing over endless adversity? If you haven't read it by now, it's obviously on purpose and you are missing out on so so much. And for those that just watch the movies: you're missing out on something magical (I can't resist a good pun.)

10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone/Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why: Laini Taylor's words are beautiful. I just love how she writes; it's vivid and compelling and wholly unique. The fact that she tackles themes like love and war and betrayal only make the juxtaposition even more striking.

Honorable mentions: Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Chime by Franny Billingsley, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, Dune by Frank Herbert, A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin

Book Tour Review: The Bruges Tapestry by P.A. Staes

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Title: The Bruges Tapestry
Author: P.A. Staes
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
Series: N/A
Pages: 252 (ARC edition)
Published: August 2012
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for review
Rating: 3/5

Following a 500-year-old mystery concerning a Flemish tapestry is routine work for Detective Claire DeMaere, since she's employed by the Newport Beach Art Theft Detail. But, unlike past cases, this one involves arresting Paolo Campezzi, lover to her best friend Nora. Mr. Campezzi is a distant descendant of a Florentine Duke, who commissioned the tapestry in 1520 in Bruges, Belgium. Claire finds that she must explore the true provenance of the tapestry, free Mr. Campezzi in order to re-establish her friendship with Nora and depend on the expertise of a textile expert she doesn't know. 

All this must occur in 72 hours, before the Vatican takes the tapestry back. But Claire isn't the only one with the Vatican looking over her shoulder. Claire's story intertwines with a 1520 diary by Beatrice van Hecke, the tapestry-weaver's daughter. Only Claire can discover the secret that is woven in time.

The first novel by author P.A. Staes, The Bruges Tapestry is a tale of resentment, revenge, and abuse of power woven with care and detail. A rather short novel at only 250+ pages, this historical mystery interweaves two alternating POVS: that of Beatrice van Hecke, a young woman in Bruges during the early 16th century, and of Claire DeMaer, an art detective in present-day California.  Both characters narrate in first person past tense, but there are more substantial parallels between their very different lives, as Claire discovers as she races to prove the provenance of the eponymous tapestry at the heart of both women's stories.

Corruption, conspiracy, lies and deception all play their part in each respective timeline. Beatrice's tale of woe is even sadder than Claire's, for as a woman in the sixteenth century Europe, she controls nothing in her own life. Her quests for vengeance and punishment of the men who ruined her life only endangers her further and keeps her ultimate goal out of her reach. Claire is more active in her story - she's an empowered and smart detective, one who will do what is right even if it costs her a dear friendship. Neither character is the most dimensional I've ever come across, but Staes makes each distinctive and compelling as the novel carries on. 

The author casually mentions further historical fiction mysteries to come, and while I wasn't in love with The Bruges Tapestry,  I will be sure to seek out her future efforts and see how her talent matures.I had fun with this - it's a quick, fast-paced story with creative villains and plot, I just wished for more depth for everyone involved, from Nora to Marie to the antagonists of each timeline. A short read, but not without merits, P.A. Staes has a strong start for her new series.

Newish Arrivals!

Sunday, March 24, 2013
It's been a while since I posted one of these, so it's for a few weeks and will run on the longish side. 


Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar's cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere's walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock--to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she'll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin's faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.

I actually have owned this on Nook for several months, but I decided I love Marchetta so much, I really needed a physical copy. I hope to get to this soon - I've been dying to read one of my favorite contemporary author's fantasy efforts. 

Froi of the Exiles (Lumatere Chronicles #2) by Melina Marchetta

Blood sings to blood, Froi . . .
Those born last will make the first . . .
For Charyn will be barren no more.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...

Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

Gripping and intense, complex and richly imagined, Froi of the Exiles is a dazzling sequel to Finnikin of the Rock, from the internationally best-selling and multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road and The Piper's Son.

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Courtney Summers has rapidly become one of my very favorite contemporary authors. I'm really eager to see how her first novel measures up.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

Throne of the Crescent Moon (The Crescent Moon Kingdoms #1) by Saladin Ahmed

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings.

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time—and struggle against their own misgivings—to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

How freaking fantastic is that cover? And a fantasy story not based in faux-England? SIGN ME UP. This looks and sounds so good --- AND one of my very favorite fantasy authors (Scott Lynch) highly recommends it. That's more than enough for me. 

All Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen

Inspired by two of the most beloved works by literary masters, "All Men of Genius "takes place in an alternate Steampunk Victorian London, where science makes the impossible possible.

Violet Adams wants to attend Illyria College, a widely renowned school for the most brilliant up-and-coming scientific minds, founded by the late Duke Illyria, the greatest scientist of the Victorian Age. The school is run by his son, Ernest, who has held to his father's policy that the small, exclusive college remain male-only. Violet sees her opportunity when her father departs for America. She disguises herself as her twin brother, Ashton, and gains entry.

But keeping the secret of her sex won't be easy, not with her friend Jack's constant habit of pulling pranks, and especially not when the duke's young ward, Cecily, starts to develop feelings for Violet's alter ego, "Ashton." Not to mention blackmail, mysterious killer automata, and the way Violet's pulse quickens whenever the young duke, Ernest (who has a secret past of his own), speaks to her. She soon realizes that it's not just keeping her secret until the end of the year faire she has to worry about: it's surviving that long.

Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell #1) by Hilary Mantel

'Lock Cromwell in a deep dungeon in the morning,' says Thomas More, 'and when you come back that night he'll be sitting on a plush cushion eating larks' tongues, and all the gaolers will owe him money.' 

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey's clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

 From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall is that very rare thing: a truly great English novel, one that explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters, and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion and suffering and courage.

Peony in Love by Lisa See

“I finally understand what the poets have written. In spring, moved to passion; in autumn only regret.”

For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amid the scent of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

Peony’s mother is against her daughter’s attending the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony’s father assures his wife that proprieties will be maintained, and that the women will watch the opera from behind a screen. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave–and is immediately overcome with emotion.

So begins Peony’s unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow–as Lisa See’s haunting new novel, based on actual historical events, takes readers back to seventeenth-century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed.

Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place–even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence, a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors offer guidance, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth. Immersed in the richness and magic of the Chinese vision of the afterlife, transcending even death, Peony in Love explores, beautifully, the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, Lisa See’s new novel addresses universal themes: the bonds of friendship, the power of words, and the age-old desire of women to be heard.

Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan

San Francisco art patron Bibi Chen has planned a journey of the senses along the famed Burma Road for eleven lucky friends. But after her mysterious death, Bibi watches aghast from her ghostly perch as the travelers veer off her itinerary and embark on a trail paved with cultural gaffes and tribal curses, Buddhist illusions and romantic desires. On Christmas morning, the tourists cruise across a misty lake and disappear.

With picaresque characters and mesmerizing imagery, Saving Fish from Drowning gives us a voice as idiosyncratic, sharp, and affectionate as the mothers of The Joy Luck Club. Bibi is the observant eye of human nature–the witness of good intentions and bad outcomes, of desperate souls and those who wish to save them. In the end, Tan takes her readers to that place in their own heart where hope is found.

Amy Tan is probably one of my very favorite historical fiction authors. Every novel is impressive, detailed, and so lovely. I can't wait for this.

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

I wasn't the biggest fan of Moran's earlier Egyptian historical fiction novels, but I figured I might as well finish off the rest of them. Here's hoping this one picks up for me.

A Breath of Eyre (Unbound #1) by Eve Marie Mont

In this stunning, imaginative novel, Eve Marie Mont transports her modern-day heroine into the life of Jane Eyre to create a mesmerizing story of love, longing, and finding your place in the world... Emma Townsend has always believed in stories-the ones she reads voraciously, and the ones she creates. Perhaps it's because she feels like an outsider at her exclusive prep school, or because her stepmother doesn't come close to filling the void left by her mother's death. And her only romantic prospect-apart from a crush on her English teacher-is Gray Newman, a long-time friend who just adds to Emma's confusion. But escape soon arrives in an old leather-bound copy of Jane Eyre...

Reading of Jane's isolation sparks a deep sense of kinship. Then fate takes things a leap further when a lightning storm catapults Emma right into Jane's body and her nineteenth-century world. As governess at Thornfield, Emma has a sense of belonging she's never known-and an attraction to the brooding Mr. Rochester. Now, moving between her two realities and uncovering secrets in both, Emma must decide whether her destiny lies in the pages of Jane's story, or in the unwritten chapters of her own...

Reviews for this seem to be fairly mixed, and though the title makes me laugh, I only picked this up because it was on sale for kindle for $2.99 and because I have an ARC of the second (A Touch of Scarlet). 

Sent for Blog Tour/From Author:

The Queen's Rivals by Brandy Purdy

Their ambitions were ordinary, but they were born too close to the throne...

As cousins of history's most tempestuous queens, Ladies Jane, Katherine, and Mary Grey were born in an age when all of London lived beneath the Tower's menacing shadow. Tyrannized by Bloody Mary and the Virgin Queen, the sisters feared love was unthinkable —and the scaffold all but unavoidable...

Raised to fear her royal blood and what it might lead men to do in her name, Mary Grey dreads what will become of herself and her elder sisters under the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. On their honor, they have no designs on the crown, yet are condemned to solitude, forbidden to wed. Though Mary, accustomed to dwelling in the shadows, the subject of whispers, may never catch the eye of a gentleman, her beautiful and brilliant sisters long for freedoms that would surely cost their lives. And so, wizened for her years, Mary can only hope for divine providence amid a bleak present and a future at the whim of the throne — unless destiny gains the upper hand.

A gripping and bittersweet tale of broken families and broken hearts, courage and conviction, The Queen's Rivals recounts an astonishing chapter in the hard-won battle for the Tudor throne.

I was really excited for this one - and it came signed! I can't wait to get to it later on this year.

His Dark Lady by Victoria Lamb

London, 1583. When young, aspiring playwright William Shakespeare encounters Lucy Morgan, one of Queen Elizabeth I's ladies-in-waiting, the two fall passionately in love. He declares Lucy the inspiration for his work, but what secret is Will hiding from his muse? Meanwhile, Lucy has her own secret - and one that could destroy her world if exposed.

The author was kind enough to send me the first in this series (The Queen's Secret), and now that the secod is out in England, she sent me a signed copy! I've really enjoyed all Lamb's novels, so I have some high hopes for this.

ARCs for Review:

Parallel by Lauren Miller

Abby Barnes had a plan. The Plan. She'd go to Northwestern, major in journalism, and land a job at a national newspaper, all before she turned twenty-two. But one tiny choice—taking a drama class her senior year of high school—changed all that. Now, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Abby is stuck on a Hollywood movie set, miles from where she wants to be, wishing she could rewind her life. The next morning, she's in a dorm room at Yale, with no memory of how she got there. Overnight, it's as if her past has been rewritten.

With the help of Caitlin, her science-savvy BFF, Abby discovers that this new reality is the result of a cosmic collision of parallel universes that has Abby living an alternate version of her life. And not only that: Abby's life changes every time her parallel self makes a new choice. Meanwhile, her parallel is living out Abby's senior year of high school and falling for someone Abby's never even met.

As she struggles to navigate her ever-shifting existence, forced to live out the consequences of a path she didn't choose, Abby must let go of the Plan and learn to focus on the present, without losing sight of who she is, the boy who might just be her soul mate, and the destiny that's finally within reach.
 First: awesome cover is awesome. And secondly,  I love the synopsis for this. It sounds like a fun mix of contemporary with a slight sci-fi twist. 

Stormbringers (Order of Darkness #2) by Philippa Gregory

The second book in a YA quartet filled with intrigue, mystery, and romance, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory.

Italy, 1453. Luca and Isolde grow more and more attracted to each other as they continue their journey to unravel the mysteries throughout Christendom. But their travels are delayed by the uprising of an intense religious crusade that threatens the balance of the civilized world. Death lingers in the air as war ravages on, but this religious conflict is nothing compared to the arrival of an intense and deadly storm.

Caught in the midst of unimaginable chaos, Luca and Isolde must rely on one another in order to survive.

The second in Philippa Gregory’s four-book series delves further into a forbidden romance and an epic quest. And the tension builds as secrets about The Order of Darkness are finally revealed...

I honestly am surprised I was sent this ARC after my less-than-kind review of the first, Changeling. Oh well - here goes nothing. Maybe it gets better. Except it totally won't.  

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani 

At the School for Good and Evil, failing your fairy tale is not an option.

Welcome to the School for Good and Evil, where best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she'll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie's dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are . . . ?

The School for Good and Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

I'm not one for book trailers, but the one for this book is awesome. Really. I was iffy on this, but as soon as I saw it, I ran to download a copy from edelweiss.  I may or may not have just watched that trailer another two times right now.

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

This is another that I've heard so, so much about. First a few reviews, then EpicReads got in on talking about this... it sounds like is going to be right up my alley. 

Night School (Night School #1) by C.J. Daugherty

Allie's world is falling apart...

She hates her school. Her brother has run away. And she's just been arrested.


Now her parents are sending her away to a boarding school where she doesn't know a soul.

But instead of hating her new school, Allie finds she's happy there. She's making friends. And then there's Sylvain, a suave French student who openly flirts with her. And Carter, the brooding loner who seems to have her back.

Soon, though, Allie discovers Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Nothing there is as it seems. And her new friends are hiding dangerous secrets.

I've been waiting for this to come out in the US for about a year. Now that it finally is, I am so happy to have been given an ARC. I love the new cover, though the old one was great too. 

September Girls by Bennett Madison

When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.

Holy cover, Batman. This is creepy and lovely and sounds fantastic.

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

Born of Illusion is the first book in a new series. Each book in the series will introduce a new historical figure, whose legend is shrouded in magic, along with the young woman whose fate is irrevocably tied to his. The through line in each of the books will be The Ghost Club, the real life secret society that was founded in 1862 by the likes of Charles Dickens, Sir Conan Doyle, and W. B. Yeats to advance mankind’s knowledge of the paranormal. The first three books in the series will deal with Houdini, Aleister Crowley and Rasputin.

Since reading The Diviners, 1920s New York has rapidly become something I wish was featured more in YA. Add in historical figures, and maybe some magic? I am THERE. 

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

The spine-tingling horror of Stephen King meets an eerie mystery worthy of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series in Kate Karyus Quinn's haunting debut.

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese's fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

While I am not a fan of Stephen King, I am a hatewatching fan of PLL. So that comparison and a lot of hype is going for this.  

Rush (The Game #1) by Eve Silver

So what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?

When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.

In the After by Demitria Lunetta 

They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty 

The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot's dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds -- through an accidental gap that hasn't appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called "color storms;" a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the "Butterfly Child," whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses..

I'm so so excited for this - the synopsis, cover, and reviews all seem to agree - this is not one to miss. 

The Endgames by T. Michael Martin 

t happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein

No one crosses the wall of light . . . except for one girl who doesn’t remember who she is, where she came from, or how she survived. A harrowing, powerful debut thriller about finding yourself and protecting your future—no matter how short and uncertain it may be.

The Arclight is the last defense. The Fade can’t get in. Outside the Arclight’s border of high-powered beams is the Dark. And between the Light and the Dark is the Grey, a narrow, barren no-man’s-land. That’s where the rescue team finds Marina, a lone teenage girl with no memory of the horrors she faced or the family she lost. Marina is the only person who has ever survived an encounter with the Fade. She’s the first hope humanity has had in generations, but she could also be the catalyst for their final destruction. Because the Fade will stop at nothing to get her back. Marina knows it. Tobin, who’s determined to take his revenge on the Fade, knows it. Anne-Marie, who just wishes it were all over, knows it.

When one of the Fade infiltrates the Arclight and Marina recognizes it, she will begin to unlock secrets she didn’t even know she had. Who will Marina become? Who can she never be again?

This sounds fantastic - I love the originality! And the cover is amazing. 

And finally - if you made it this far, major kudos to you! -

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer

From Sarah Strohmeyer, author of Smart Girls Get What They Want, comes this romantic comedy about one girl's summer job from hell. Think The Devil Wears Prada set in Disney World.

When cousins Zoe and Jess land summer internships at the Fairyland Kingdom theme park, they are sure they've hit the jackpot. With perks like hot Abercrombie-like Prince Charmings and a chance to win the coveted $25,000 Dream & Do grant, what more could a girl want?

Once Zoe arrives, however, she's assigned to serve "The Queen"-Fairyland's boss from hell. From spoon-feeding her evil lapdog caviar, to fetching midnight sleeping tonics, Zoe fears she might not have what it takes to survive the summer, much less win the money.

Soon backstabbing interns, a runaway Cinderella, and cutthroat competition make Zoe's job more like a nightmare than a fairy tale. What will happen when Zoe is forced to choose between serving The Queen and saving the prince of her dreams?

Smart Girls Get What They Want was fun and charming, and a very fast read. I expect pretty much the same for this - even if the cover is not my favorite.
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