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

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Wrap Up (40)

On the Blog:


Lanna:
I'm going through a bit of a WW2 phase with books, so expect to see some reviews of those on the blog at some point... Although, it does seem like any time I settle down to read a book my annoying neighbour starts blasting awful music way too loud to the point where I can't focus so actually finishing books has been difficult recently.

Anyway, on a brighter note...
New books


This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (netgalley)
Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye by Marius Gabriel (netgalley)
Demons Daughter by Amy Braun (Story Cartel)


[pictures from my bookish instagram -- I post book hauls on there way more frequently]

Poldark and Demelza by Winston Graham - Because I got a little obsessed with the show and binge watched the first series.

The Dead Days omnibus by Marcus Sedgwick - Don't know much about this one, but it was only £1, so...

You by Caroline Kepnes - This one sounded wonderfully creepy

Tropic of Carpicorn by Henry Miller

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern - So I can finally read it and watch the movie

Yes Please by Amy Poehler - Which I already listened to (and loved) on audiobook, but I wanted a hard copy for my shelves.

Before the Fall by Juliet West

Kindle

I've kind of accumulated a lot of Kindle Books over the past couple of weeks (I blame people recommending free ones, or telling me ones that are on sale...), some I don't even remember what they're about, I was going purely on rating/recommendation.

Shooter by Dahlia West
Freak of Nature by Julia Crane
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Starstruck by Brenda Hiatt
The Girl in Between by Laekan Zea Kemp
Frey by Melissa Wright
Blood and Snow by RaShelle Workman
Bound by Duty by Stormy Smith

...Yeah. o.O

So what've you all been reading the past few weeks? :)

Later.


Friday, 24 July 2015

Everything You & I Could Have Been if We Weren't You & I

Everything You & I Could Have Been if We Weren't You & I
by Albert Espinosa


Summary: Can you imagine a future where everyone has given up sleeping?

From the creator of the television series Red Band Society and author of the international bestseller The Yellow World comes this uniquely special novel.

What if I could reveal your secrets with just a glance? And what if I could feel with your heart just by looking at you? And what if --in a single moment-- I could know that we were made for each other? Marcos has just lost his mother, a famous dancer who taught him everything, and he decides that his world can never be the same without her. Just as he is about to make a radical change, a phone call turns his world upside down.
I went into this book blindly, knowing nothing about it except that the author was the same guy who created a TV show that I really enjoyed (Red Band Society) and yet, somehow, even though I went into it not knowing anything about it, it still wasn't quite what I was expecting.

The book was wonderfully odd but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would have. The writing was good -- the writing hooked me from the first page really, but the rest of it fell a little flat.

I didn't like the main character much, I'm not sure why exactly, I just found it incredibly difficult to care about him or empathise with him or feel any sort of connection to him at all (same with the other characters, none of them felt fleshed out, they were just like furniture -- just there). I wasn't fond of the stuff about his mother either. Perhaps because it didn't come across like grief or love, it just seemed like an unhealthy obsession he had that was verging on creepy and, worst of all, it always seemed to derail the rest of the story because he'd go off on these boring tangents about her all the time.

The plot was unusual and there were things about it that I found really interesting (like the sleep thing) but when you combined all the individual plot elements it just seemed like this strange mash-up that didn't quite work. Instead of making one thing the focus and doing it well, it tries to cram in too much and the effect is a disjointed story that doesn't flow particularly well or have the depth it could have (should have) had given the subject matter.

The ending (and I mean the very end, the last page) was good, I did like the twist, but it wasn't enough to make up for the other stuff.

Overall, I did enjoy the book but it was more for the writing than anything else -- Albert Espinosa has wonderful writing, the kind that has me marking down quotes as I'm reading, but the story and the characters fell a little short of the mark for me. I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of 5 (if I had to round it, I'd round it up to 3).

Later.

Monday, 20 July 2015

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Summary: A pilot forced to land in the Sahara meets a little prince. The wise and enchanting stories the prince tells of his own planet with its three volcanoes and a haughty flower are unforgettable.

A strange and wonderful parable for all ages, with super illustrations by the author.
This is one of those books that I've always meant to read but never quite got round to, so when I decided to join in with the #cramathon read-a-thon I thought now would be as good a time as any...a decision I'm now very glad about, because I adored it.

It's an odd little book and I don't actually have much to say about it really. In the beginning, it was simultaneously enjoyable and thoroughly weird -- page after page would have me thinking "What did I just read...and why did I love it?" but then, gradually, all the oddness starts to make a weird sort of sense.

There's so much universal truth in the story, things about life and love and loss and what really matters, things about growing up...and it was done beautifully. I loved that it's both a children's book and a book for adults but it would be enjoyed in different ways by both.

And it's just... It was a lovely story. And I lovelovelove the writing.

I'd rate it 5 starts out of 5.

Later.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine

Fire Colour One
by Jenny Valentine


Summary: A teenage girl will soon discover, there are some things which burn even brighter than fire.
Iris’s father Ernest is at the end of his life.
Her best friend Thurston seems like a distant memory to her.
Her mother has declared war. She means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection so that she can afford to live the high life.
But Ernest has other ideas.
There are things he wants Iris to know. Things he can tell her and things that must wait till he’s gone.
What she does after that is up to her.
So. Hi. Allow me to introduce you all to the newest addition to my favourites shelf...

I've only read one other Jenny Valentine book before (Broken Soup) and I remember loving it but I'm not sure how I managed to forget how much I love her writing. But this book? It has definitely made sure I won't forget again in a hurry -- her writing is incredible.

And the characters... What can I say about the characters except that I loved them (although a couple were more of a love-to-hate type situation). Iris was such a unique character and it was so interesting reading about all the complex relationships in her life (with her best friend, with her parents, and also with fire...she has a very complex relationship with fire in the book that was fascinating to read about).

There's not much else I can say about the book really. The story and characters got under my skin in a weird way -- I didn't even realise it had happened until I reached a certain point in the book and my eyes were welling up and my heart was breaking for Iris and Ernest.

Basically, I loved the book. I'd rate it 5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Launching the #quietYA Celebration - An Interview with...Me!

Well hello there!

As some of you may know, back in April I started the #quietYA tag on twitter and it's become pretty popular. A few weeks ago, Rachael Allen got in touch with me and asked about doing a giveaway. And here we are today - launching three Rafflecopter giveaways, plus a twitter giveaway, featuring 21 authors across three days and a number of different blogs. Rachael and I agreed that a really good way to help kickstart this event would be for me to be interviewed by her to talk about how all of this happened. So, without further delay, I'll turn it over to her.


I’m so honored to be writing this kick off post with Julie because I love #quietYA and everything it has been doing for some really wonderful books. I have a bunch of questions for you, Julie, so here goes!


Quiet YA can be defined in different ways. As the creator of #quietYA, how do you define it?

Well, officially, quiet YA is all about books that are more literary/character based. Less action and less intense - Eleanor & Park is a great example of a quiet book. But #quietYA isn't quite the same. For me, it's about the books that don't get a lot of attention. My official rules have always been no bestsellers, no (major) award winners, just to keep it simple. A lot of quiet books also fit into the #quietYA category, but not all, which is why there's been some confusion. I've felt kind of bad about that, but I was really just trying to think of the shortest hashtag possible.

I’m really glad you explained that because I think a lot of people have been wondering. Side note: Does anyone else think of this whenever they hear the words “major award”? Just me? Okay, then, on to the next question…How did you come up with the idea for #quietYA?

It was a combination of things, honestly. For one, I was a publicity intern for a major publishing company at the time, but most of their YA didn't get a lot of attention. I've been a blogger for a long time and I've also been in the publishing industry and worked with authors for a few years, so I've seen what a struggle it is for everyone to get coverage of a lot of titles. I've also noticed a lot in recent months that the blogosphere is so supportive of books, but we're a bit of an echo chamber. It's the same handful of books that get tossed around all season. Older books and books that didn't pick up steam fall off.


The real tipping point - and I even scrolled through the entire tag to see if the dates matched up - was this Buzzfeed article about "underrated" YA books, as suggested by community members. Many of them were bestsellers. A good number of them had been adapted as movies, or had sold rights for it. A decent number weren't actually YA books. Essentially, this list is a mess and an insult to actually underrated YA books and authors. But it wasn't viciously meant - I think these people just genuinely don't realize how many books really ARE underrated because they'd never HEARD of them. I was so angry that night when I read the article, having put it off all day. I knew I had to counter with ACTUAL underrated books, but decided to wait until the next day since it was so late. It didn't take long for people to start going with me.



Silly question: What were you doing at the EXACT moment you got the idea? Reading Quiet YA? Eating ice cream? Reading Quiet YA while eating ice cream (FTW)?

Man, now I wish I was eating ice cream. But instead I was doing something I do almost as often as I eat ice cream - ranting on twitter about an article when I probably should've been asleep (literally, it was TWO IN THE MORNING) (I did go through a few of my first suggestions in the tag and apparently I did stay up after my rant and finished reading a quietYA title I fell in love with - SILVER IN THE BLOOD by Jessica Day George.)

What are 3 Quiet YA books that you wish every human would read?

I'm gonna cheat a little bit here, but:

a. Every book that Jaclyn Dolamore has written. She's always my go to recommendation and I'm actually rereading one of her books now. So far, she's written a steampunk duology with a WoC heroine, a historical fantasy featuring mermaids and "winged people", a love of books, and an adorable romance, and an alternative history duology featuring zombies, political conspiracies, and diverse sexualities. She's been writing these magical, feminist, quietly diverse books for years and she deserves so much more attention than she gets.

b. The HOURGLASS trilogy by Myra McEntire. It's one of the first time travel YA books I ever read and I completely fell in love. Snark, smarts, and swoony boys in each book, and again, there's a quiet diversity in the main characters. I adore Myra and these books and they're probably my favorite books ever.

c. Because I have to represent my contemporary love - Leigh Ann Kopans writes incredible contemporary upper YAs that explore class issues, privilege, sexuality. They're fun and sexy and so true to life and I completely, 100% adore them.

None of these authors have announced any new published projects which is obviously a concern to me, so I'm just going to have to keep shoving them in everyone's faces until there's news.

Oh, man, I love me some Myra McEntire! Also, Jaclyn Dolamore is doing a guest post AND giving away BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY as part of this #quietYA event, so stay tuned!

Next question: Is there a Quiet YA debut that you've really loved so far this year (because I am all about showing love to our debut authors!)?

Several! TRACKED by Jenny Martin is an incredible sci-fi and I'm going to be begging for the sequel as soon as it exists. WRITTEN IN THE STARS by Aisha Saeed is so devastating and beautiful and important. THE CONSPIRACY OF US by Maggie Hall is an amazing read-a-like for fans of Ally Carter that I'll also be begging for a sequel to. MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia is an incredible read about a girl with schizophrenia and mental health is underrepresented in YA, but schizophrenia in particular is one that needs more intention. And I read it before it had an editor, but WE'LL NEVER BE APART by Emiko Jean is an incredible psychological thriller that could only have gotten better since I read it.

These picks make me so excited because I’ve had the chance to meet both Jenny Martin and Aisha Saeed this year, and they are two of the most lovely people. Also, you guys are gonna have a chance to win TRACKED later!

I have one more question, and I’m going to end it on a feels kind of note. Is there a Quiet YA book that changed your life? 

Well, depends on what you mean by "changed my life." I could make arguments that a number of books changed my life because in reading those books, I was able to connect with the authors and I've had a lot of authors do incredible, generous things for me that have helped me with school and my future career and making new friends. More authors than I could possibly list without missing someone. THE SEASON by Sarah MacLean is a book I loved so much I started reading romance novels because I was just so desperate to read more of Sarah's books. SPIES AND PREJUDICE by Talia Vance convinced me to watch Veronica Mars, since it was a comp title, and I think that watching Veronica Mars is pretty life changing. VIXEN by Jillian Larkin changed me because the paperback was the first blurb I ever had. I hadn't even graduated high school and I was blurbed on a book and that does incredible things for your psyche. 

More traditionally, THE LOST GIRL by Sangu Mandanna forced me to really examine grief and what it does to people and the lengths people will go to avoid that level of pain. It also pushed me to think about identity and personhood. CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge got me thinking about monsters and good and evil and that very thin line between them. DARK METROPOLIS by Jaclyn Dolamore made me think about mortality and immortality. LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley was a much needed, heartbreaking reminder to me of the not-so-long-ago history of segregation. DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy, which isn't out until fall, is the book I needed as a teenager because it's such a wonderful reminder that you don't have to be skinny, or in any way traditionally attractive, to have value as a person and to be someone people could be romantically interested in. It was the most honest portrayal of what it is to be a fat girl I've ever experienced.

I just read DUMPLIN’ this week and completely agree that it belongs in the life-changing category. I also think my life won’t be complete until I go karaoke-ing with Julie Murphy, and someone sings Jolene. Just not me. Because I’m tone deaf. And I am bumping all the rest of these to the top of my TBR pile! Thank you so much for sharing these book recs and your thoughts on quiet YA. And thank you for creating this hashtag.

On behalf of everyone writing Quiet YA, I’d also like to say a huge thank you to every blogger, publishing professional, librarian, and book lover who has participated in #quietYA, or who, in any other way, champions Quiet YA books. These books don’t get the same amount of buzz as some of the giants in YA do – it would be impossible for every book to get that kind of buzz.

But what that means is this: Every time someone leaves a review on Goodreads or cross-posts a review to a retailer, every time you tweet about a new book you loved or gush to your best friend about it over ice cream, it means the world to us. We wouldn’t be able to keep writing books without people like you, and boy, do we love writing books a whole lot. So, thank you. And please don’t ever stop. :)

Julie is a college student generally based near or in New York City. When not in class, she's a publishing intern, freelance editor, occasional bookstore employee, avid Mets fan, and eater of mac and cheese across Manhattan. And when she's not in New York City, her life revolves around her cats and ranting on twitter at @DailyJulianne. Maybe someday she'll actually finish writing a book.

Rachael Allen lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband, two children, and two sled dogs. In addition to being a YA writer, she's also a mad scientist, a rabid Falcons fan, an expert dare list maker, and a hugger. Rachael is the author of THE REVENGE PLAYBOOK (HarperTeen, June 2015) and 17 FIRST KISSES (HarperTeen, 2014). Follow her on twitter @Rachael_Allen.
 
I want to thank Rachael SO much for pulling this all together and getting in touch with me about it. It's becoming such an amazing project to really celebrate something that's become a shockingly large part of my life and I'm thrilled we get to have this little party for it. I also learned just how hard interviews can be.

And now, the part you're all really excited for, the giveaway! Not only is there a Rafflecopter here, but there's also one launching on four other blogs today, each with different guest posts from some of the authors featured in the giveaway. And tomorrow and Wednesday will each feature NEW blogs with NEW giveaways So be sure to check out:

Monday: 
A guest post with Jaclyn Dolamore at Watercolor Moods 
A guest post with Amber Keyser at Her Book Thoughts 
A guest post with T.A. Maclagan at ReadWriteLove28 
A guest post with Maria E. Andreu at A Bit Behind on Books

Tuesday:
A guest post with Sarah Tomp on My Not So Real Life
A listopia from Read.Sleep.Repeat. 
An interview with Helene Dunbar on The Fox's Hideaway
More recommendations on The Forest of Words and Pages

Wednesday: 
Melody's top five recommendations on Hollywood The Write Way 
More recommendations from Chloe on Writer on Wheels
An interview with Mary Crockett on YAdult Review  
A guest post with Ann Redisch Stampler on Read My Breath Away

And without further ado...the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Good luck everyone!

--Julie

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger

Lying Out Loud
by Kody Keplinger


Summary: Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with - secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder's the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can't stand - a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually 'like' him. Only there's one small catch: he thinks he's been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she's the girl he's really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?
Louis, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship... 


Basically, I loved this book. So much of the book had me laughing and smiling, even on the verge of tears at certain parts -- it kicked me right in the feels is what I'm trying to say, ALL of the feels!

I was thoroughly hooked. And I may of stayed up all night just to read it in one sitting. Maybe. Possibly. Yes, yes I did. I regret nothing.

I've been talking on the blog recently about a lack of good female friendships in books, and then I read this one and a good female friendship was one of the main things the story focussed on and it was just -- fkdjhglkjhf. I loved that. The friendship between Sonny and Amy was far from perfect, but not all friendships are perfect and they had excellent BFF-chemistry -- I adored that aspect so much.

Sonny... Well, she was interesting. She was funny, she was frustrating, and I really liked her in spite of all her flaws. She's one of those characters that has you going "Don't do the thing. Oh god, you're going to do the thing aren't you. Why are you doing the thing?! No, that is literally the opposite of what you should do right now--WHY ARE YOU STILL DOING THE THING!? WILL YOU DESIST!" and yet you can't help but root for her anyway and feel so happy when things work out.

And the romance. I really, really liked it. My only issue there was that I wasn't a big fan of where it ended... I wanted to see more of it. Which, I suppose, is a good sign. I wanted to see more of Sonny and Ryder, because they were funny and they were cute and I loved their banter (and I especially loved that they didn't dissolve into quivering balls of mush the instant they developed feelings for each other -- that happens way too often in hate-turns-to-love romances, I like it when the teasing banter remains).

The only thing about the book that I actually didn't like much was the cameos. Wesley and Bianca made sense because Amy is Wesley's sister, so I liked that part...but the others seemed a little too contrived. I prefer when those kinds of cameos are subtle, just little details that only big fans of the other books would pick up on. But, they didn't take up that much of the book anyway...

So, really, there wasn't much about the book that I didn't enjoy.

...I think I've fangirled enough for one review. I'd rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5.

Later.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Discussion/Book Recs: Books with Great Female Friendships

I wrote this discussion post about how I was getting really irritated by girl hate in books and how it was too often paired with a lack of good female friendships. So I wanted to do a post dedicated to featuring books that actually get it right and have awesome, healthy female relationships.

It was surprisingly difficult coming up with books for this list. There are plenty of books that aren't guilty of girl-on-girl hate or bad female friendships, but I also don't remember many for specifically portraying good female relationships either. There aren't nearly enough that stand out for that reason or they're often really overshadowed by the romance (and as a result usually have the girls talk about nothing but guys).

Anyway...in the order I remember them, not in order of preference, here are my recommendations:

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - This one... This book. Not only is it well written and genuinely fantastic in its own right, and not only is is about female spies and female pilots in World War 2, but it's also about best friends. That's the main relationship in this book and it is beautiful and fantastic and...ldfjhglkjfh. I love it. And this is coming from someone who likes romance in books, it didn't bother me that romance didn't play much of a role in this one, I loved it.

Rose Under Fire, the companion novel to this was also pretty good, it just didn't wow me in the same way Code Name Verity did (in general or with the female friendships).
2. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - All of her books in general have really well written female characters and complex female relationships but this one specifically has a group of female friends and we get to see them again in The Piper's Son being just as awesome as ever and fiercely protective of each other.

The mother/daughter relationship also plays a big part in this one too, just while we're on the subject of women and their relationships with other women...
3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I love this series, but one of the things I loved most about it was the friendship between Rose and Lissa. It was really well done -- they were protective of each other, they argued (which is great because friendships aren't always perfect), they were there for each other when it counted most, they had fun together.

And while the book did have some catty girl stuff in it at times, it wasn't badly done from what I remember -- that character actually later becomes one of my favourites and she's given depth and becomes friends with the main characters.

4. Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen - I'd almost forgotten about this one until Liz (mentioned below) reminded me. I'm not going to say much about it because I read it so long ago and my thoughts on it are all muddled up with the movie adaptation (How to Deal), but friendship is a big part of the book and I do remember it was done well.

I also really recommend the movie (which actually combines the plot of this book with another Sarah Dessen book, That Summer). And Sarah's other books probably do the female friendship thing pretty well too.

5. Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer  - I was hesitant to add this one because the series has issues and the female friendships are kind of overshadowed by the romance. 

But, as far as female friendships in books go, I did like the Alice/Bella friendship. I also liked that Alice loved shopping but wasn't treated like an airhead with no depth because of it. And I liked Bella's friendship with Angela and the fact that while Rosalie wasn't exactly Bella's biggest fan their relationship wasn't written in that catty sort of way that gets under my skin. Again, the books are far from perfect but I do think it deserves some credit for this.

6. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - This is an odd one, because the female friendship in this case is mostly just shown through email exchanges and through the eyes of the male main character...but I loved it, their friendship reminded me a lot of my own with my best friend (especially during a time when she was living further away and we would exchange emails all the time).


7. The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty - This series in general really. It's in an odd format (told through letters and that sort of thing) but it's so good and so well written and the female friendships in the book are excellent. They're hilarious and so protective of each other and just -- I love this book, and the friendships are a big part of that reason.
8. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series by Ann Brashares - I love the friendships in this, because the girls are all so different...different people, different backgrounds. Their friendship goes beyond just common interests (because they're all so different that they don't actually have many overlapping interests) and I love that. And I love that we get to follow them from their teens until they're adults, and we see how their friendships change over the years in ways that so many girls will relate to. It's such a good series for female friendships.




9. The Drake Chronicles series by Alyxandra Harvey - I really liked Lucy and Solange's friendship in this series, it reminded me a bit of Lissa and Rose from Vampire Academy. I can't say much more than that because it's been so long since I read any of the books, but I do remember that being one of the highlights.

10. Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger - I actually just read this one recently (review will be up tomorrow) and it was great. The female friendship was a
big part of the story and it was done really well -- they had fights, they weren't perfect but that just made them more realistic. And even when there's jealousy, it's not the catty, cliche, girl-hate kind of jealousy and I loved that.

...It is really irritating me that I had such a hard time coming up with 10. I mean, I can think of others where female friendships happen (The Sky is Everywhere? A Little Wanting Song? Sloppy Firsts? Love Letters to the Dead?) except I don't remember those because of the female friendships...in some cases, I don't even remember the names of the female friends, which isn't a good sign (either because they weren't memorable or because my memory sucks -- either way, not a good sign!).

And since I was having such a hard time coming up with recommendations, I asked people on twitter if they had any and these lovely people have given a bunch of others (some even reminded me of a few books I'd forgotten about or mentioned some I'd chosen myself):





Goodreads links for all the books mentioned:

Emery Lord books (mentioned by Angie, Julie also recommended these ones)
I'll Meet You There
Since You've Been Gone
Written in the Stars
Pretending to be Erica
The Never series
Sorrows Knot
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Throne of Glass
How to be Bad
My Best Everything
Dahlia Adler's books (not shown in the tweets, but Julie recommends these)

Can you think of any books with good female friendships? Or a book where the romantic rival for the main character isn't horribly vilified? I really couldn't think of examples of that one off the top of my head (except maybe the Vampire Academy one).

Later.

p.s. If there's any tweets not included it's because I didn't see it until after I'd scheduled the post, but thank you anyway! :)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

An Announcement: #AtMyBookstore

As bloggers, we all love books. The smell and texture and weight of them. As beloved as our ereaders can be, there's still something incredible about holding a book. One of our best resources for getting books and finding new titles are our local bookstores. Walking in and browsing the shelves always reveals new treasures. And many of our bookstores are in danger from lack of business and need us now more than ever. We're all proud of our favorite bookstores and love them, so why not celebrate them?

That's why, partnered with YA Interrobang, we're introducing #AtMyBookstore, an initiative to get you to your local bookstores - indie, used, or chain - show them off and maybe get to know them a bit better. We want you, as bloggers, to visit your local bookstores between August 17 and August 31. Check out the shelves, talk to your booksellers about ordering in books or getting events in or just what they recommend! Let us see what cool, unique displays your stores have or what your favorite section is. Tell us why your bookstore is amazing.

And we want you to share your experiences using the hashtag #AtMyBookstore. Tweet about them, Instagram them. Hit up tumblr and Facebook. And definitely post all about it on your blogs! Connect with your stores in person and online so we can all see why your store is so amazing.

As a bonus, you can get rewarded just for participating. We want to see your shelfies (selfie+shelves)! If you post a shelfie on twitter and include the hash tag, you can be entered to win one of several prize packs being offered up by some publishers. For an extra entry, show off the books you picked up while you were there! And you can do this in as many of your local stores as you'd like.

Join the #AtMyBookstore campaign!
Pick up this button over at Interrobang!

I hope you'll all join us in talking about this campaign and participating in it and I'm excited to see all your bookstores!

--Julie

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Wrap Up (39)

So, we haven't done a wrap up post since, what, mid-June? Something like that? Woops. So yeah, this will be wrapping up everything since then...

On the Blog

Julie posted a Romance Review of two Megan Frampton books
Lanna reviewed Of Mice & Men by Steinbeck
Julie posted a review and give away for Beautiful Little Fool (open for a few more days)
Lanna had conflicting feelings about Bully by Penelope Douglas

Lanna:
Before I get to the book haul, I've made a book instagram if anyone wants to follow (or have me follow them): lannaheartsbooks (I will post mostly bookish things, but the occasion picture of my dog or my face or Scotland or other things will appear every now and then too).

Some book-ish people had tried to follow my personal instagram, which is fine, I just couldn't accept because I only use that to post pictures of me and my best friends (as poor Julie gets spammed with from time to time) and I'm not sure if they'd be cool with strangers seeing those.

Book haul


Everything You and I Could Have Been If We Weren't You and I by Albert Espinosa (netgalley) - Awffy long title, but I like it. I requested this because it was by the same person who wrote the show Red Band Society. 

The Good Girls by Sara Shepard - This is the second book in the series, I'll have to buy the first before I get to this one but it sounds fun.

Bully by Penelope Douglas - I've already read and reviewed this one (linked above)

Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola - I want to read the book before I see the movie, so...

I did get a few Kindle books too, but I can't for the life of me remember what they are right now and I've left my Kindle at my mums.

What've you guys been reading recently? :)

Later.


Friday, 3 July 2015

Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Witch Hunter
by Virginia Boecker


Summary: Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn't look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn't know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the king's elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.

When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she's arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she's to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor - Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him.

As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas's curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate... and life and death.
I have kind of mixed feelings about the book. I went into it expecting it to be great but I didn't love this book quite as much as I thought I was going to, but in the end I did enjoy it.

It started off well -- I loved the writing, the world, the characters but then about 6 chapters in it started to go downhill.

It started with the main character, I liked her a lot in the beginning but then she got really annoying, she was ridiculously naive and ignorant (which was understandable to a certain extend but also irritating to read about) and by the time she started to grow on me again I just felt this disconnect from her and her relationships to the other characters. Like I was entertained by the story but not really emotionally invested in it.

I wasn't really a fan of the pacing, and the plot -- the plot was enjoyable enough but it didn't really bring anything new to the table, it was all just shades of things I've seen before in other books in this genre. The only thing I really hated was something that happens near the beginning, it mentions something happening to her but it's just used as a plot device to get her put in prison then it's barely mentioned again -- I wish it had been handled better than it was.

The side characters were my favourite part really, they pretty much stole the show in any scenes they were in, especially in the second half of the book -- they are the main thing that kept me reading and the biggest reason I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Basically, I liked the book, it just didn't quite live up to expectations. I'd rate it 3 stars out of 5.

Later.

The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Fixer
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Bloomsbury Children's
[July 7, 2015]
ARC via publicist

When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 “fixer,” known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens.

Secrets pile up as each sister lives a double life. . . . until their worlds come crashing together and Tess finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy with one of her classmates and a client of Ivy's. Suddenly, there is much more on the line than good grades, money, or politics, and the price for this fix might be more than Tess is willing to pay.

Perfect for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Heist Society, readers will be clamoring for more in this exciting new series.

Okay, ignore that last line, because really this book is Scandal meets Veronica Mars and it's so perfect. It's suspenseful and exciting and fun and I really couldn't figure out what was going on.

I loved Tess. She was angry and she just let herself be angry. She was honest with herself and how she felt and expressing that. I liked that she wasn't likable all the time and frankly, that made her more likable to me. She really popped from the page as she made mistakes and I loved her so much. And man, IVY. So many feelings about Ivy.

The plot was incredibly twisty and totally drew me in. I couldn't put it down because it was so engrossing and such a great mystery. It got very complicated as a mix of the usual high school drama and the more high stakes world of international and political drama combined and it made it impossible to see where the story would go next or to solve the mysteries on my own. There were some things at the end that I definitely could not have predicted at the start of the story.

Honestly, I just don't want to spoil anything for you since the summary is perfectly vague enough to intrigue without giving anything away and I don't want to give anything MORE away, but this is one of the best books I've read for the year. It was incredible, fun, fast paced, and hard to put down. I highly, HIGHLY recommend picking this one up when it releases next week.

--Julie

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bully by Penelope Douglas

Bully
by Penelope Douglas


Summary:  My name is Tate. He doesn't call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he'll barely even speak to me.

But he still won't leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I've been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I'm done hiding from him now, and there's no way in hell I'll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It's time to fight back.

I'm not going to let him bully me anymore.
I have very conflicted feelings about this book. But before I get to that, I want to explain why I picked it up in the first place.

A few days ago, a post resurfaced on my tumblr dash about guys who bully girls. The way people would explain it away as "he's just doing it because he likes you" and how messed up it is to teach girls that it's okay for a guy to be abusive towards her if he's too scared to admit he likes her, and how it shouldn't justify it and it isn't okay... The post was more articulate about it, but that's the gist of it.

And then this book showed up on my goodreads (a friend read it) and it was titled Bully and had lots of glowing reviews and... I don't know. I was interested to see if it would be a story where a bully successfully redeems himself and if the author could turn him into a good love interest.

...So that's why I read it. And it was pretty disappointing as far as that goes.

I will say, on a positive note, that the book was entertaining and I read it in one sitting so it must've done something right. It's like one of those TV shows that you know is bad and all kinds of problematic and yet you keep watching anyway because there's something mindlessly addictive about it.

As for the bad stuff...well, Tate bugged me a lot of the time. The way she was so down on other girls and slut shamed the ones who slept with Jared was just - no. Not cool at all. I don't like that sort of catty, high-and-mighty attitude in a main character. And it didn't help that even her relationship with her best friend was terrible -- they barely talked about anything except for guys, they stabbed each other in the back over a guy, her friend defended the guy who tormented her best friend for years just because he was attractive...it was more like a friendship of convenience rather than one that was genuine (which is fair enough, those friendships exist, but in a book where it had all the other anti-feminist attitudes, it irritated me more).

The bully stuff had its moments. At times, it showed really well the emotional trauma it can cause but then at other times it felt like she was too forgiving of the stuff he had done because she was attracted to him. As for Jared's redemption -- it was pretty poorly done. His reasons for behaving the way he did weren't even close to good enough and it was frustrating how easily he was forgiven.

Basically, the book was problematic in a lot of ways that will likely infuriate a lot of people who read it (you'll know if you're one of those people). But it's entertaining -- if you know you can overlook its flaws, it's a quick read that delivers a predictable hate-turns-to-love romance.

I will probably read the sequel, although I'll go into it cautiously with low expectations (I think the love interest in the sequel is the character in this who helps bully Tate and sexually harasses her on multiple occasions -- I'm not sure how that can be redeemed, but it'll be interesting to see the author try).

I'd rate the book 2.5 stars out of 5 -- it gets points for entertainment value.

Later.

p.s. Silly thing, but it also had one of my bookish pet peeves... Band name drops. It irritates me unless it's actually relevant to the story and in this case it wasn't (it even mentions a specific song that plays during a sex scene which just made me cringe so much -- I like that song, but just...no).

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