Monthly Archives: January 2015

ARC Review – Blues for Zoey by Robert Paul Weston

22351166Title: Blues for Zoey

Author: Robert Paul Weston

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: She walks in with her music, and walks out with his wallet Kaz Barrett should be saving for college. Instead, he saves his pay from the Sit’N’Spin Laundromat to send his mother to a very expensive sleep clinic in New York. His mother suffers from a rare neurological disorder, and both Kaz and his kid sister worry that one day, maybe tomorrow, their mother will fall asleep and never wake up.

But when pink-haired Zoey walks past the laundromat’s window, Kaz’s ordered life begins spinning out of control. Smart, mysterious, and full of music, Zoey is unlike anyone Kaz has met…but there’s another side to her that he can’t quite figure out. When he goes looking for answers, he finds a whirlwind of lies, half-truths, and violence.

Huge thank you to Flux and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review: 

Blues for Zoey was an unexpected book for me. When Kaz introduced the story as a puzzle, I was a bit nervous at the challenge level the story could face (I admit to be dippy when it comes to puzzles). However, something about his voice just pulled me into the story and I found myself floating along to the words on the page.

Kaz and Zoey really interesting protagonists if only because they have so gross similarities but are also drastically different. Kaz wants to earn money to help his mother with her sleep disorder and Zoey wants to grift people for the sake of her own survival and because of a huge spoiler. That being said, these are wonderfully well fleshed out characters who do feel like real teenagers who are living on hard times. The novel does a great job of building these characters up, and having them fall so hard that it’s difficult to get back up and keep going.

I wish more had been done with the backstory at times. There’s parts where it just ends up in your face and it feels like it’s missing some context. The insertion of it felt a bit awkward. Sometimes I was a little confused as to where the puzzle was going to move, it’s definitely a book you can’t just nod in and out of because it’s easy to missing things.

I really enjoyed the build to the ending, and even the ending itself. It was interesting to see in such a short period of time what happened to everyone living around the laundromat, and I was a bit surprised by some of the fates of the other characters within the story. I feel like Blues for Zoey is a great story that really does do a great job of keeping you guessing from start to finish.

ARC Review – Strong Female Protagonist Book One by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag

23131550Title: Strong Female Protagonist Book One

Author: Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag 

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: With superstrength and invulnerability, Alison Green used to be one of the most powerful superheroes around.

Fighting crime with other teenagers under the alter ego Mega Girl was fun – until an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch enemy, showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy, and suddenly battling giant robots didn’t seem so important.

Now Alison is going to college and trying to find ways to help the world while still getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past, however, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a hero….

Huge thank you to TopShelf Productions & Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

We need more comics like Strong Female Protagonist and we need them now. Comic books are still in this strange place where female inclusion exists but the portrayals could be a lot better. I think strides have been made with works like the new Ms. Marvel, but we can go further.

Strong Female Protagonist is sassy, quirky, and it looks at the ups and downs of being a superheroine in a world that seems more accepting of them. Alison is a wonderful heroine and she wears her flaws on her sleeves. The writing is hilarious, and it sucks you right in and doesn’t pull any punches. There’s a lot of breaking of the fourth wall at the bottom of every page, each with a snarky remark or two. It also looks at the idea that superheroes might not be as amazing as we think they are. Hell, Alison doesn’t always think she’s doing the right thing and she’s very thoughtful about her feelings in being Mega Girl.

Overall, Strong Female Protagonist is just plain fun. There’s a great ensemble cast, the writing is snappy, and the charm drips right through it. If you want something fun with capes, this will fit the bill and even have you in gigglefits.

ARC Review – Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

22477286Title: Listen, Slowly

Author: Thanhha Lai

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

Huge thank you to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this ARC!

River’s Review:

Wow. This book is beautiful. And if y’all want diverse books, this is one to add to the list and try out. Mai (or Mia in the USA) is a 1st generation Vietnamese, American born, California girl. Her Grandmother and parents (as children) fled Vietnam after the war, and she’s wholly American. She’s just turned 12 and has the beach and boys on the brain. But her father drags her to Vietnam for the summer to help her Grandmother put her missing Grandfather to rest.

Now, if you know me, you know that I just spent seven years in Japan. While I am not Japanese, I do have experience leaving my own culture and experiencing a new one. I connected with Mai on this… she doesn’t really consider herself to be Vietnamese, and she doesn’t know much about her parents & grandmother’s home country. And boy oh boy does she not want to go. She wants to stay home and flirt with boys and make sure her BFF (now with boobs!) doesn’t steal the boy she has a crush on.

But away they go and wow, does Mai ever whine about the trip. I know she’s 12, and my only real complaint about this book is that her voice is SO MUCH OLDER than her actual maturity. I kept forgetting that she was only 12 a times, and when she’d speak or think and sounds SO mature and then throw herself on a bed and have a tantrum… I just had trouble with that. I do think that’s she’s more mature than most 12 year olds because her parents are both well off (Mom’s a lawyer, dad’s a Doctor) and her mother is constantly thrusting SAT words on her (she talks about it a lot in the story). There were times I wanted to shake Mai and tell her to stop being a brat. But she does grow and mature and I think even grow into her voice.

I loved the setting. I’ve never been to Vietnam, but I could totally relate to things like the heat, the food, the different customs (especially the sun masks and trying to stay pale in the summer!) because they were similar to things I’ve experienced in Japan. I also liked that Mai could totally understand Vietnamese by listening, but was horrible at speaking (I’m the same way with Japanese). I really loved how she slowly came to terms with being there, and even started to fall in love with the country.

This is a slow read and while it’s supposed to be MG, I think that younger readers will have to be patient with reading this. I actually think that adults would enjoy this a lot more, and it definitely fits well in the YA crowd. The writing is rich, the descriptions make you feel like you’re there, and the relationships between the characters are so touching. I loved how important family was, and how the main love story was between the grandmother and her dead/missing husband.

ARC Review – Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

17900792Title: Not Otherwise Specified

Author: Hannah Moskowitz

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

Huge thank you to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for this ARC!

Sam’s Review: 

This book wasn’t entirely on my radar at all, despite having heard good things about Hannah Moskowitz’s writing. It was actually seeing Courtney Summers’ tweets about the book that made me intrigued to check this book out. It’s a shame that this book doesn’t release until next year, but having now read it, I wish it would be coming sooner so you all can experience how thoughtful and smart this novel in.

Etta isn’t the most likeable protagonist, but I found her completely charming. Like the title states, she’s “Not Otherwise Specified” and has no place to truly call her own. She’s not butch enough for the lesbian clique (and is in fact, bullied by this group for hooking up with a dude), she’s not tiny enough to continue ballet with the same passion she once had, and she’s not sick enough to be anorexic. However, it’s meeting someone who is, in a lot of ways, her exact opposite, and that is what really gets the story moving.

I actually love both Etta and Bianca. I love Bianca because she is someone who means so well and yet she struggles with her own imperfections. Etta wears her imperfections loud and proud, yet she can’t seem to catch a break with anything in her life. Despite being snarky and sassy, Etta struggles in a lot of ways to love herself, and that really is the main connection the two girls have. It made me love their relationship throughout the story because even when they didn’t agree with one another, there was this air of understanding between them. I also love how the two girls are constantly teaching each other about friendship, privileges and hardship. It made for great characterization and strong story telling.

Also Natasha was horrid, but did not read like she was a one-dimensional kind of horrid. It’s interesting that she’s the lead bully and yet Etta always can get under her skin and strikes back. We need more of this in YA, the push back, the “I’m not afraid.” Why isn’t there more of this? Seriously, we need this so much in YA. We do, we do, we do.

There is an intense amount of richness in this story, and one I could go on about forever, but that would likely spoil this book. If you love wonderfully flawed protagonists and gritty contemporary, then this mustbe checked out when it releases next March. As for me? I now plan to check out more of Hannah Moskowitz’s books

Cover Reveal – Nobody’s Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McNulty #M9BFridayReveals

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 Sign-up for a Month9Books Friday Reveal with Chapter-by-Chapter!

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Nobody’s Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
by Amy McNulty
presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Hi, everyone! River & I feel insanely privileged to reveal the cover for Nobody’s Goddess. Amy is a dear friend of ours and we couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishment of getting this book finally out there into the world. With the help of Month9Books and Chapter-by-Chapter, we get to share this little bit of gorgeousness with you all. Are you ready to see it?

…three…

…two…

…one…

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Nobody’s Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McMulty
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Add it on Goodreads

Let me tell you how in love I am with this cover. First off, it is beautiful. I am completely enchanted by it. I also may want that purple dress… and I don’t even like dresses. Want to know what it’s about? Let me tell you:

In a village of masked men, each loves only one woman and must follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Where the rest of her village celebrates this mystery that binds men and women together, seventeen year old Noll is just done with it. She’s lost all her childhood friends as they’ve paired off, but the worst blow was when her closest companion, Jurij, finds his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever loved her: she is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a Byronic man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him and who has the power to fight the curse. Thus begins a dangerous game between the two: the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither Noll nor the veiled man is willing to lose.

author

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Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
(Winners will receive their book on release day)
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION: (if you choose to include it)
• One (1) digital copy of Nobody’s Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McNulty
• Open Internationally
• Winner will be drawn January 30, 2015
• Winners will receive their book on release day

Rafflecopter Giveaway!

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ARC Review – First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

21853633Title: First Frost

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis:  It’s October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree… and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store. Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley’s Candies. Though her handcrafted confections—rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds—are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.

Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby— a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.

Sydney’s daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to…if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke? When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

Huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press & Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review: 

If you’ve never read a Sarah Addison Allen book, it’s like being embraced by a big warm hug. The kind of hug that is tight, comfortable, and one you sink into. Garden Spells was a book recommended to me years ago, and one I read and received the same feelings towards. First Frost takes readers back to the Waverley family, and it was like seeing old friends who I haven’t heard from in a long time.

First Frost focuses mostly on Bay and Claire Waverley, particularly Bay’s mysterious abilities of being able to know an item or person’s place, and Claire, who has decided to pursue a new venture in candy. Sarah Addison Allen’s books will make you hungry, as food is always a huge part of the narrative — there was one line in particularly that made me giggle, which was about a tree that threw apples. Both Bay and Claire are delightful to follow, each with their own passions and problems. But I loved them just the same.

Sarah Addison Allen always makes family a huge part of her stories, and First Frost is no exception. One thing she manages to avoid that other authors often pitfall themselves in is the level of melodrama, which doesn’t exist here. A lot of the emotion the story deals with is raw and yet very subtle, while the magical elements really pop and shine. The romances in the story made me so happy, because the author does an amazing job showing the give in the take, plus I loved Josh — He was adorable clueless in some ways.

I could ramble on about First Frost, but I really don’t want to spoil it for people. Was it necessary to revisit the Waverley’s? Not really. Was a happy to? Absolutely. Sarah Addison Allen’s books make you want a warm blanket and a cup of tea, and being able to see old friends and where they are at in life was pleasurable enough for me.

ARC Review – Inked by Eric Smith

22511892Title: Inked

Author: Eric Smith

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin. And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

Huge thank you to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I am insanely torn on Inked by Eric Smith. I really enjoyed his non-fiction work, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, but this book took me so long to get through. When you read the blurb it has such a dynamic blurb, and yet when you read the book, it just doesn’t live up to the expectations that it boasts.

To be honest, Inked‘s premise was so promising and yet, I never felt entirely captured by it. I didn’t connect or care about the characters or Caenum’s overall cause. I feel like his rebellion came across more like a hissy fit and I suppose that is a valid response, but I just didn’t care. I didn’t care that he didn’t want to do it. I never got the sense from the book that the tattoos were evil or bad, so I didn’t feel like I cared about what Caenum’s deal was. The pacing was also weird, as I found I’d zoom through some bits, and struggle to turn pages the next. It felt all over the place.

I admit, the writing is decent (though there’s a few awkward sentences that made my eyebrow go up), but these characters just didn’t make me connect. I felt like I was trying too hard to like these characters, and the characters weren’t trying at all. There’s some moral issues that also become prevalent in the story, but it just resolves itself when it could have been a good opportunity for character growth. I think that’s ultimately what bugged me with the cast of this novel — there’s no growth. There’s no movement or change within them that gives you a sense that they are learning or understanding the world around them. I mean the world building is iffy at best, but more growth from the cast really would have benefited in the long run for this narrative.

At the end of the day, I wanted more, and I didn’t get it. The story felt flimsy a lot of the time, like it didn’t have a solid leg to stand on. That being said, when the action was on, it was actually pretty great and I found myself speeding through the novel. I think the ideas are really great, but the execution left a lot to be desired in some cases. I think there were just more misses in this book than hits, which is such a shame because I REALLY wanted to love this one.