Mon, September 22, 2014

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Review

Falling into Place book cover

Falling into Place book cover

Falling into Place
By Amy Zhang
Publication date: Sept. 9, 2014
Greenwillow Books, 304 pages
Source: Publisher

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

— Goodreads.com description

Despite the fact that I hated/didn’t remotely “get” the “unexpected and surprising narrator” mentioned in the blurb…this book was quite good overall.

Falling into Place is a fascinating look into depression, suicide and some really, really mean girls. I thought it was so interesting to get into Liz’s brain and see how she came to regret being a major B. Though they were quite flawed, I really enjoyed getting to know some of the people in Liz’s life as well — Kennie and Julia and dear, sweet Liam.

The short chapters made it so readable, but the timeline jumps threw me off at first. Don’t worry — I caught on. I was definitely very impressed by this debut from a writer who is a teen herself. (I KNOW!!! CRAZY!)

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: amy zhang, death, friendship, suicide
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Thu, September 18, 2014

The Falconer by Elizabeth May Review

The Falconer book cover

The Falconer book cover

The Falconer
By Elizabeth May
Publication date: May 6, 2014
Chronicle Books, 378 pages
Source: Library

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

— Goodreads.com description

I don’t even know how to describe this book. Historical Scottish faery steampunk fantasy?

Yeah, like I said: I don’t even know. And here’s the weirdest part: It works.

I had no clue going in this book had anything to do with fae…and if I’d known there was any steampunk I wouldn’t have bothered. But — and I’m still in shock that I’m writing this — it didn’t bother me at all. I know! Who am I?

Aileana was a little too murderous rampagey and she and Kiaran kept an unhealthy amount of secrets from one another…but darn if I didn’t love them both. I got swept up in the Buffy-esque vibe and true uniqueness of the story.

This is one of those reviews that is super hard to write. Intellectually, I had plenty of issues with The Falconer (Such as: Where was the falcon? How can you have no falcon?!). Emotionally, I could not put it down and I’m dying to read the rest of the trilogy. Gahhh!

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: elizabeth may, fairies, fantasy, romance
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Wed, September 17, 2014

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White Review

Illusions of Fate book cover

Illusions of Fate book cover

Illusions of Fate
By Kiersten White
Publication date: Sept. 9, 2014
Harper Teen, 288 pages
Source: Publisher

Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.

— Goodreads.com description

Illusions of Fate reveals quite a different side of author Kiersten White — where her Paranormalcy trilogy is effervescent and funny, this new venture is mature and dark.

Which is really great. I appreciate an author who tries something new and takes risks and, you know what a big risk is? HISTORICAL FANTASY! Whaaaaat! It was a cool mix.

And — hello — main character Jessamin is a person of color. It’s nice to see some diversity for once in YA.

But my favorite favorite favorite part of the book? Eleanor, an unforgettable best friend, written in that Kiersten White voice we’ve all come to love. She is such a standout.

So, yes, some exciting stuff. But, big ole warning: The book gets off to a weird start — the two main characters meet in a really bizarro way that totally turned me off. Honestly, I put the book down twice before it sucked me in.

I never 100% recovered from that awkward first start in terms the romance stuff — I think you’ll either love Finn or hate him. I definitely see his faults…but whatever, I totally swooned when he and Jessamin were together. I have no spine.

Another bummer was the big “reveal.” I didn’t quite guess it, but let’s just say things were tied up in a quick and pretty predictable way.

Clearly not a favorite-of-all-time read for me, but Illusions of Fate is definitely a book this serial book quitter is glad she gave another try.

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: fantasy, historical, kiersten white, romance
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Tue, September 16, 2014

Megan McCafferty’s Back-to-School Advice + Giveaway

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Jessica Darling's It List #2 book cover

By Megan McCafferty
Author of Jessica Darling’s It List 2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends (Jessica Darling’s It List #2)
AKA ANNA’S FAVORITE EVER

Junior high was an awful, awkward time for me. None of my elementary school friends were in my classes. My designer clothes were all the wrong brands or if they were the right brands they were the weird Irregulars from Marshalls that couldn’t be sold at the cool department stores. I had a haircut unsuitable for ANYONE’S face shape. The harder I tried, the worse it got. I’d prove it to you by showing off my seventh grade school picture but ALL DIGITAL AND HARD COPIES HAVE BEEN DESTROYED.

So here’s my back-to-school advice: DO NOT TRY SO HARD TO BE COOL.

You’d be amazed by how much more you can get done if you stop wasting your time trying to be cool. Put that energy toward more worthwhile pursuits! For me, these activities were running, theater, and writing. And guess what? When you do what you love THE FUN WILL FOLLOW. It’s no coincidence that my fondest memories of my teen years involve track team sleepovers, opening nights and creative arts festivals.

Pursue your passion and I promise you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who appreciate what you do. And that is the coolest thing ever.

To get you in the back-to-school mood with JD & crew, Megan shared her back-to-school advice, and now I’m sharing a treat of my own: An autographed copy of the second Jessica Darling’s It List book for giveaway.

I KNOW.

Here’s mine:

Photo-3

BIG SMOOCHES to my darling friend Jamie for getting it signed for me. Want your own? Enter to win! And long live Marcus Flutie!

About the book:
Jessica Darling is getting the hang of seventh grade — finally! While her old BFF, Bridget, is busy talking (nonstop) about her new boyfriend, Burke, Jessica tries to fit in with her new friends, Sara, Manda, and Hope. The IT List instructions from her sister, Bethany, and an epic slumber party may help Jessica secure her spot in the cool clique, but does she even want it?

Megan McCafferty’s It List series introduces readers to Jessica Darling, an unabashedly brainy seventh grader who stays true to herself, even if it means being (totally not) cool.

Check it out on Goodreads

xoxo2-1

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And PS just because I never get sick of the geektastic hilarity that is this gif of me meeting Megan and spazzing:

Megan4Megan2

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: giveaway, megan mccafferty
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Mon, September 15, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley Review

Rites of Passage book cover

Rites of Passage book cover

Rites of Passage
By Joy N. Hensley
Publication date: Sept. 9, 2014
Harper Teen, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty…no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust…and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

— Goodreads.com description

If Rites of Passage doesn’t have a sequel — or even a novella followup — I’ll scream. And right now, I don’t see one listed on Goodreads.

Yup, it was THAT good for 3/4 but also THAT abrupt and torturous of an ending. Which makes me not even know how to respond to the book as a whole…gah!

I loved the storyline — it’s very much a better, more grownup Cadet Kelly. (Please tell me someone else gets this reference!)

And I liked Sam. Her tenacity and those who supported her really shined in Rites of Passage.

As upsetting as it was to read, I also think Hensley did a really great job detailing how ridiculously intense and, yes, literally torturous things got for Sam.

It’s the type of book you flinch at and devour and can’t put down…but lord, there had better be a sequel or I can’t even…

Anna Reads young adult book blog

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Posted by: Anna   •   In: angst, boarding school, joy hensley, romance, torture
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