Sunday, 2 August 2015

Throwing My Hat In - ARC August

So, this is just a quick post to announce I'll be joining in ARC August, hosted by the lovely ladies at Read.Sleep.Repeat. I had been pretty much intending to do this as it was - I've been in a massive slump for most of the summer, but I've finished moving and I've got five weeks until I leave for England and I'm not bringing a single physical book besides my travel books and anything I might need for school, so I need to kick my butt in gear on my fall ARCs!

I'll post a picture at some point this week on Twitter and Instagram, but for now, I'll be mostly focusing on my BEA books, which you can find here. I've got 22 reads left from BEA, plus a few ARCs that have come in since or just before BEA and an egalley or two. I don't think I'll actually get to them all, but I'm definitely going to be trying!

I know, this is super boring and simple, but sign ups close in a couple of hours, so I don't have the light or timing to make this pretty (plus I think some of the ARCs are still at the old house - oops!). 

Anything in particular you think I HAVE to get to this month?

--Julie

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

Rebel Mechanics
Shanna Swendson
Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux Books for Young Readers
[July 14, 2015]
ARC from publisher

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

So, I was excited for this book for a long time. As in, I first heard about it when I was an intern there in winter 2014. It sounds totally my speed and I requested a copy when the opportunity came. Then in the month or so before pub, a lot of my Trusteds brought it back to my radar with their excitement. In my intense summer slump, I had to read it. My love for this read was so, so unexpected. 

I adored Verity and her voice. She had this fun, light voice that made her stick out from a lot of other rebel heroines. Usually, they're dark and gritty and unwillingly take on their role. Verity was bubbly and naive and didn't even realize what was happening. I know that happens fairly often with these rebels, but seriously. The execution here made such a difference. Verity just was a shining light of a heroine.

The premise is incredibly intriguing to me. Alternative history like this just isn't popular in YA and I don't know why. This alternative history mixed with rebel groups and machinery and magic mixed with The Nanny and I'm just SO PLEASED by what happened. There were twists involved, some that were obvious and one in particular was just SHOCKING to me. I had no idea it was coming but it totally made sense.

Also the romance was super adorable. I mentioned The Nanny earlier, which is still one of my favorite shows, and the dynamic played in to it heavily. I loved it and I loved them together and I think that's what really clinched the deal for me. I'm a sucker for adorable romances and this one was really an A+ job in that department. I'm dying for book two mostly so I can read more about it.

Honestly, this book was fun and adorable and exciting and romantic and gripping. I read it in one day, which is the highest compliment I can give to a book these days. I'm so incredibly excited about the next book and highly recommend picking this one up as soon as possible! It definitely stands out as a favorite for me.

--Julie

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

Pretending to Be Erica
Michelle Painchaud
Viking Books for Young Readers

[July 21, 2015]

egalley via publicist

We Were Liars meets Heist Society in a riveting debut!

Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again.

Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its very specific precision. Violet shares a blood type with Erica; soon, thanks to surgery and blackmail, she has the same face, body, and DNA. She knows every detail of the Silvermans’ lives, as well as the PTSD she will have to fake around them. And then, when the time is right, she “reappears”—Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle.

But she is also Violet, and she has a job: Stay long enough to steal the Silverman Painting, an Old Master legendary in the Vegas crime world. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it for, Violet is an unforgettable heroine, and Pretending to be Erica is a killer debut.
I was pretty excited about this book going in. It's such an interesting concept and a few of my Trusteds really liked it, so I had high hopes. The actually book leaped over all those hopes and ran past it, taunting them for being so stupid. This book was so amazing and twisty and wonderful and you're all fools if you don't pick it up.

Violet/Erica is amazing. The narration makes it very clear that Violet and Erica are not the same person and they have different thoughts and feelings and reactions to events, but Violet has to stay quiet and let Erica win over. Those moments where they overlap are incredible and one of the few times we get to really see Violet in action.

The side characters were what really made the story, though. Violet has Sal, her "father," her "friends" at school, some of whom aren't totally convinced, some who are fully willing to believe. And of course, there's a boy. Each one of these characters is so richly built, the believers and the non-believers, and we come to know them so well throughout the story. They're all essential to the con working as it does and I loved them all. And the romance was so sweet and adorable and perfectly awkward to honor Violet/Erica's weird situation.

The premise itself is so fascinating to me. I mean, a little girl raised to take the place of a kidnapped heiress? How cool is this idea? And how do you end it? And it played out as brilliantly as any mystery/thriller book could. The comp titles here are incredibly spot on. I was getting to the end of the book, had about 10% left, and I had no idea how it was going to finish out. There was just no possible way for it all to work out for Violet/Erica. So when it did end, the way it finished was a total shock and it was perfectly managed.

I just absolutely loved this book and was blown away by how amazing it was. It was the perfect thriller and I'm incredibly excited to see what's next from Michelle.

--Julie

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