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Monday, May 23, 2016

REVIEW: The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

The newest release from YA bestselling author Richelle Mead is best described as The  Selection meets Pride and Prejudice.

Set in fictional Osfrid, an young countess poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. To do so, she must become Adelaide and join the Glittering Court, a business venture designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages. Based on her upbringing, Adelaide excels in her studies while also making friends along the way.  She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court. 

Adelaide soon discovers that Cedric is hiding his own dangerous secret.  Complications arise as does a powerful attraction between Adelaide and Cedric. Such a relationship has the power to ruin them both and tarnish the Glittering Court. Will they be able to overcome all the obstacles and build a life together or will power, intrigue and secrets lead to their demise?

There is nothing wrong with the novel per se.  The premise is fine as is character development and pacing. Overall, this just lacked pizzazz and the personality present in so many of Mead's other works.   I miss the crew of characters from the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books. I need more humor and less courtly manners.  This is a good read-a-like for fans of The Selection or similar regency novels. 

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @RichelleMead

#richellemead #theglitteringcourt #yalit #teen #regency #marriage #books

REVIEW: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What I Saw and How I Lied is the 2008 National Book Award winner telling the story of 15 year old Evie Spooner. This is a tale full of murder, mystery and intrigue set just after World War II.

As Evie's step-father, Joe, returns home from the war, everyone is happy that life fell back to normal quickly.  However, Joe seems changed, bringing back far more than war stories. When he packs up Evie and her mother for an impromptu Florida vacation, their lives will never be the same.

Setting up in a dilapidated old hotel, Evie eyes are opened as she slowly learns that everyone has secrets.  When uber handsome Peter Coleridge, a 23 year old ex-GI who served in Joe's company, arrives in Florida, Evie finds herself caught up in a tumultuous scene.  Falling for Peter, she ignores the secrets surrounding him and his connection to her family until a horrific tragedy shatters her family as well as her perceptions about the world.

This is truly a stellar book. There's plenty of mystery and deceit but what I loved was the pacing and the overall theme of growing up and self realization.  Evie begins the novel an immature girl but as the narrative concludes she's progressed into a much more intelligent and world weary young woman. My heart broken for her that this sense of clarity and awareness had to come at such a steep price. I also admire the continued conversation regarding the persecution of Jewish families in the US even after the war.  I cannot speak more highly of the premise, character development or Blundell's writing style.  This is a YA novel worthy of its accolades. If you haven't yet read it, definitely add it to your list!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @judymblundell

#whatisawandhowilied #nationalbookaward #YAlit #worldwarII #murder #mystery #identity

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

NEW RELEASE: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrount

Expected publication: May 17, 2016

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting new story about friendship, survival, and finding your voice.

For some people, silence is a weapon.

For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield.

Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.

It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

Keep reading for an excerpt!

About the Author:

#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA.

She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.




              Dusty, empty shoe boxes, stacked taller and wider than her slim body, wobbled as she pressed her back against them, tucking her bony knees into her chest.
              Breathe. Just Breathe. Breathe.
              Wedged in the back of the dingy closet, she didn’t dare make a sound as she sucked her lower lip between her teeth. Focusing on forcing every grimy breath into her lungs, she felt tears well in her eyes.
              Oh gosh, she’d made such a big mistake, and Miss Becky was right. She was a bad girl.
              She’d reached for the dirty and stained cookie jar earlier, the one shaped like a teddy bear that hid cookies that tasted funny. She wasn’t supposed to get cookies or any food by herself, but she’d just been so hungry that her tummy hurt, and Miss Becky was sick again, napping on the couch. She hadn’t meant to knock the ashtray off the counter, shattering it into tiny pieces. Some were shaped like icicles that clung to the roof during the winter. Others were no bigger than chips.
              All she’d wanted was a cookie.
              Her slender shoulders jerked at the sound of the all cracking on the other side of the closet. She bit down harder on her lip. A metallic taste burst into her mouth. Tomorrow there would be a hold the size of Mr. Henry’s big hand in the plaster, and Miss Becky would cry and she’d get sick again.
              The soft creak of the closet door was like a crack of thunder to her ears.
              Oh no, no, no…
              He wasn’t supposed to find her in here. This was her safe place whenever Mr. Henry was angry or when he—
              She tensed, eyes peeling wide as a body taller and broader than hers slipped inside and then knelt in front of her. In the dark, she couldn’t make out much of his features, but she knew in her belly and her chest who it was.
              “I’m sorry,” she gasped.
              “I know.” A hand settled on her shoulder, the weight reassuring. He was the only person she felt okay with when he touched her. “I need you to stay in here, ‘kay?”
              Miss Becky had said once that he was only six months older than her six years, but he always seemed so much bigger, older than her, because in her eyes, he took up her entire world.
              She nodded.
              “Don’t come out,” he said, and then he pressed into her hands the redheaded doll she’d dropped in the kitchen after she broke the ashtray and rushed into the closet. Too frightened to retrieve her, she’d left Velvet where she had fallen, and she’d been so upset because the doll had been a gift from him many, many months before. She had no idea how he’d gotten Velvet, but one day he’d simply shown up with her, and she was hers, only hers.
              “You stay in here. No matter what.”
              Holding the doll close, clenched between her knees and chest, she nodded again.
              He shifted, stiffening as an angry shout rattled the walls around them. It was her name that dripped ice down her spine; her name that was shouted so furiously.
              A small whimper parted her lips and she whispered, “I just wanted a cookie.”
              “It’s okay. Remember? I promised I’d keep you safe forever. Just don’t make a sound.” He squeezed her shoulder. “Just stay quiet, and when I…when I get back, I’ll read to you, ‘kay? All about the stupid rabbit.”
              All she could do was nod again, because there had been times when she hadn’t stayed quiet and she’d never forgotten those consequences. But if she stayed quiet, she knew what was coming. He wouldn’t be able to read to her tonight. Tomorrow he would miss school and he wouldn’t be okay even though he would tell her he was.
              He lingered for a moment and then he eased out of the closet. The bedroom door shut with a smack, and she lifted the doll, pressing her tearstained face into it. A button on Velvet’s chest poked at her cheek.
              Don’t make a sound.
              Mr. Henry started to yell.
              Don’t make a sound.
              Footsteps punched down the hall.
              Don’t make a sound.
              Flesh smacked. Something hit the floor, and Miss Becky must have been feeling better, because she was suddenly shouting, but in the closet the only sound that mattered was the fleshy whack that came over and over. She opened her mouth, screaming silently into the doll.
              Don’t make a sound.

Grab your copy of THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER Here:

Barnes and Noble:

A big thanks to @jlarmentrout as well as @InkSlingerPR and @HarlequinTEEN!  Happy reading!!

#theproblemwithforever #jlarmentrout #yalit #teen #books #survival #friendship #releaseday

Saturday, May 14, 2016


For the Popsugar Reading Challenge, two categories are a book you haven't read since high school and a book translated from another language.  I picked titles that brought back a bit of nostalgia for me as a reader.

The Great Gatsby is an American classic usually read in high school.  I was assigned the book as a junior.  I remembered the basics but honestly must have blocked out much of the actual plot which I find humorous. I'll chalk it up to immaturity and the passage of time.  Revisiting this I remembered primary character but nothing of the affairs, the jealous rage or the subsequent murder/suicide.

I definitely have a better appreciation for the depection of'1920s society and the greater nuances regarding the themes of the decline of the American Dream and the shallowness of the upper class.  This is never going to be a standout classic for me but it was interesting to revisit it as an adult.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Night was a book that truly changed by perspective as a reader. I'd never experienced a true story that was written is such an engrossing and haunting way.  As assigned reading in 9th grade, I remember this as one of my first "grown-up" books.  The narrative moves quickly and adeptly portrays the attrocities Wiesel and so many others endured during the Holocaust. The gravity of this book has always stayed with me even after nearly 25 years.
I remember being surprised that there are three books to Wiesel's story.  I plan to read Dawn and Day to finish the trilogy.

If you haven't experienced this on audio, I highly recommend the experience.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

#popsugar #readingchallenge #nostalgia #greatgatsby #night #holocaust #YAlit

Thursday, May 5, 2016

REVIEW: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater


The Raven King is Stiefvater's final installment in the Raven Cycle. Gansey continues his quest to discover an ancient lost king; however, evil lurks in Henrietta, Virgina with the power to unmake the world. The allies he's met along the way are still with him; a cast of magicians to his own kingly status.
“What a strange constellation they all were.” 
First there's Ronan, who steals from dreams and readers learn some startling truths regarding his own connection to mysterious Cabeswater.  Personally, he's my favorite character. There's layers of depth not usually found in most YA literature or in most other stories.  He's fascinatingly broken and dangerous but also loyal and the ultimate survivor. I love where Stiefvater takes his character and I'm more than a little upset that the journey is over. I need more!
“Dreamers are to be classified as weapons. 
Ronan already knew he was a weapon ; but he was trying to make up for it.” 
Then there's Adam. In his own way he's also broken and has to learn to find peace with his past in order to have a future.  Following the events of the series, Adam's life is not his own and that choice fuels much of the story's outcome. There are some surprises in store for him and for readers but it leads to a thoughful and satisfying conclusion.
“Adam Parrish – magician and puzzle, student and logician, man and boy.” 
One slight complaint with this book is that Blue's overall presence isn't as strong as in previous books but when she is, I adore her. We finally see her 'curse' and vision come to fruition.  I love her interactions with the boys and her family continues to be fascinating.
“Today, Blue thought, is the day I stop listening to the future and start living it instead.” 
Noah in some respects plays less of a front and center role but also a cruicial part toward the story's climax. We've known for a while that his continued presence despite Cabeswater's power isn't permanent. All the characters have been through trauma but Noah more than most, after all, he was murdered and only lingers because of the ley line. Steifvater indicates...depending on when you begin the story, it is about Noah. He's connected to all things and characters and his final sacrifice is a true gift.
“Noah crouched over Gansey's body. He said, for the last time, 'You will live because of Glendower. Someone else on the ley line is dying when they should not, and so you will live when you should not.'

Gansey died.
'Goodbye,' Noah said. 'Don't throw it away.'
He quietly slid from time.” 
Honestly, I LOVED the book and the entire series.  Some books were better than others but this ended with such a well written and satisfying conclusion that I have no complaints. Stiefvater has a true talent for writing unique, thought provoking and elevated fiction for teens with significant adult reader appeal. There are very few in her caliber. This is one of those series where finishing it hurts my heart but I feel happy but long to start the cycle all over again. Reviews are mixed but I love Will Patton's narration of the audiobooks, so give them a try!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @mstiefvater

#RavenKing #TheRavenCycle #epic #YAlit #teen #books #feelallthefeels