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Friday, March 27, 2015

Giveaway: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

While attempting to organize my bookshelves today, I realized that I have two copies of Eleanor Herman's upcoming Legacy of Kings. This book, a YA debut from Herman, is the first in what promises to be an epic new series called Blood of Gods and Royals. Find out more about Legacy of Kings below, then enter to win my extra arc!



Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Available August 25, 2015 from HarlequinTEEN
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancĂ©e, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

 WIN IT!

 One winner. Open Internationally. Ends 4/15/15.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Henry Hubble's Book of Troubles by Andy Myer




Goodreads
Title: Henry Hubble's Book of Troubles
Author: Andy Myer
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: February 10, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 9-12
Pages: 160
More by this author: Delia's Dull Day & Pickles, Please
Description:

For middle-grade readers looking for a uniquely funny, illustrated exposĂ© on one boy’s troubles in school and at home. Hand this to those searching for a book like Just Jake and Timmy Failure.

Meet Henry Hubble. He’s in a world of trouble. From class-trip bathroom breaks to Halloween-costume catastrophes to lunchroom-table love drama, Henry is always in the middle of a debacle. That is . . . until this journal (yes, the very journal you hold in your hands) makes Henry a media mogul and one of the most popular sixth graders in the world. But you’re just going to have to start reading to find out why.
Henry Harrison Hubble can't seem to catch a break. His schemes and ideas always seem to lead to trouble, even when he's trying to do the right thing. His journal is his outlet, where he records his thoughts, the events of the day, poems, and doodles. It's super private and totally off limits to anyone who isn't him, but when someone who isn't Henry's biggest fan gets his hands on it, things get even crazier than usual.

Henry has quite the personality. The entire novel is told through Henry's journal entries, so it's all Henry, all the time. I was left with the distinct impression Henry's journal was a pretty accurate representation of his general demeanor... That is, he's one of those kids that talks a mile a minute about everything - a trait that can be completely endearing and completely overwhelming. 

Henry's antics get him into all kinds of sticky situations, sometimes literally. One of the first situations Henry relates to readers is the time when he caught a squirrel using a large ball of marshmallow fluff he keeps in his backpack, then brought it to school. Of course, the squirrel escapes into the school and creates all sorts of havoc, landing Henry in - you guessed it - trouble. His stories and crazy ideas are entertaining, especially when paired with the thick-lined doodles throughout the text.

Henry Hubble's Book of Troubles is a great pick for readers who are advanced enough to move beyond early chapter books, but still a bit intimidated by books with no pictures. Readers who appreciate the humor and pacing of the Wimpy Kid, Timmy Failure, and Big Nate books will find much to like here as well.

Recommended.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder




Goodreads
Title: A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Author: Laurence Yep & Joanne Ryder
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 8-12
Pages: 160
More by this duo: n/a
Description:

Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion!

Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late.
Miss Drake is still mourning the loss of her pet, Fluffy, when a small girl named Winnie  shows up in her comfy lair. Miss Drake believes Winnie is entirely too curious to keep as a pet and, besides, she's not quite ready to replace Fluffy. Fluffy, we soon learn, was Miss Drake's nickname for Winnie's great aunt Amelia, who recounted her friendship with the dragon in letters to Winnie. But Winnie, in deference to her aunt, refuses to leave Miss Drake in peace and, before she knows it, the dragon has a new companion and a whole heap of trouble.

I loved that this novel is from the point-of-view of the dragon, Miss Drake, rather than Winnie. The dragon is centuries old and her view of Winnie and the contemporary world, juxtaposed with the magical places and stories she recounts are amusing. Winnie's Aunt Amelia was Miss Drake's most recent pet, but she has had many, many more and her tenderness when reminiscing about them will feel familiar to every pet owning reader.

Though humans are pets to dragons in this book, they are also individuals; they are not kept by dragons. Despite each chapter beginning with tips and tricks for the care of your human, they are more friends and companions than pets. Winnie is young, but she and Miss Drake are more equals than not. Like in a more traditional friendship. they compliment one another and the result is heartwarming. 

Of course, as one might assume when a dragon is present, there are some magical shenanigans afood. In the world of the novel, magic and magical creatures exist secretly beside humans. Miss Drake takes Winnie to a magical marketplace (think Diagon Alley) and gifts her with a sketchpad for her drawings. Neither realizes that the book will bring Winnie's drawings to life until they've leapt from the pages and out into the real world. Fearing discovery, the two must work together to return the sketchlings to their pages before their existence is discovered.

It is worth noting that the small illustrations throughout the book, including images of the sketchlings, as well as the cover art was done by Mary GrandPre. GrandPre was the original illustrator of the Harry Potter books, as well as the illustrator of the recent picture book The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock (one of my favorites!).

A Dragon's Guide for the Care and Feeding of Humans is a slim volume, but fans will be happy to learn there are more books planned featuring Miss Drake and Winnie.

Recommended.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cover Reveals - Young Adult - XXII



If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz
Goodreads
Is Georgia’s mind playing tricks on her, or is the entire town walking into the arms of a killer who has everyone but her fooled?

When seventeen-year-old Georgia’s brother drowns while surfing halfway around the world in Australia, she refuses to believe Lucky’s death was just bad luck. Lucky was smart. He wouldn’t have surfed in waters more dangerous than he could handle. Then a stranger named Fin arrives in False Bay, claiming to have been Lucky’s best friend. Soon Fin is working for Lucky’s father, charming Lucky’s mother, dating his girlfriend. Georgia begins to wonder: did Fin murder Lucky in order to take over his whole life?

Determined to clear the fog from her mind in order to uncover the truth about Lucky’s death, Georgia secretly stops taking the medication that keeps away the voices in her head. Georgia is certain she’s getting closer and closer to the truth about Fin, but as she does, her mental state becomes more and more precarious, and no one seems to trust what she’s saying.

As the chilling narrative unfolds, the reader must decide whether Georgia’s descent into madness is causing her to see things that don’t exist–or to see a deadly truth that no one else can.

“A remarkable page-turner . . . Keep[s] readers wondering, twist by twist, if Georgia’s universe will simply burst apart.” —Andrew Smith, author of Grasshopper Jungle
Beastly Bones by William Ritter
Goodreads

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.
Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt
Goodreads
A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town.

Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.
First & Then by Emma Mills
Goodreads
First impressions can be deceiving . . .

Devon has life pretty much figured out: she’s got her best friend Cas, her secret crush (also Cas), and her comfortable routine (mostly spent with Cas). New experiences: not welcome here. But as she enters her senior year, her parents take in her cousin Foster, an undersized weirdo who shows an unexpected talent for football, and star running back Ezra takes Foster under his wing. Devon can't figure out how she feels about Ezra. He's obviously stuck-up, but Foster adores him. Ezra has nothing to say to her, but he keeps seeking her out. And... Devon might actually like him. If only she can admit it to herself.

Funny, fresh, and layered, First and Then proves that change doesn't always tear things apart—sometimes, it brings them together.
Blood Passage by Heather Demetrios
Goodreads
A jinni who's lost everything.

A master with nothing to lose.

A revolutionary with everything to gain.


When Nalia arrives in Morocco to fulfil Malek's third and final wish she's not expecting it to be easy. Though Nalia is free from the shackles that once bound her to Malek as his slave, she's in more danger than ever before.

Meanwhile, Malek's past returns with a vengeance as he confronts the darkness within himself, and Raif must decide what's more important: his love for Nalia, or his devotion to the cause of Arjinnan freedom.

Set upon by powerful forces that threaten to break her, Nalia encounters unexpected allies and discovers that her survival depends on the very things she thought made her weak. From the souks of Marrakech to the dunes of the Sahara, The Arabian Nights come to life in this dazzling second instalment of the Dark Passage Cycle.
Other Broken Things by C. Desir
Goodreads
Nat's not an alcoholic. She doesn't have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.

Unfortunately her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.

But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life and things start looking up. Joe is funny, smart, and calls her out in a way no one ever has.

He’s also older. A lot older.

Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she's been desperate to forget.

Now in order to make a different kind of life, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.
Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus
Goodreads
A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can't shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer's behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that'll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.

Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash







Goodreads / Buy It
Title: Silent Alarm
Author: Jennifer Banash
Publisher: Penguin
Pub. Date: March 10, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 12+
Pages: 336
More by this author: White Lines, The Elite books
Description:

Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.

Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.
In her newest novel, Silent Alarm, Jennifer Banash explores the emotional topic of school shootings and their aftermaths from the point-of-view of the shooter's sister. Alys is a daughter, a musician, a best friend, and a girlfriend, but, after her brother opens fire on their school campus and then kills himself, Alys is only the sister of a murderer. Her parents, incapacitated by grief and guilt, retreat within themselves, leaving Alys to work through her complicated feelings and confusion by herself. Because Luke took his own life as well, the entire community, including Alys's best friend and boyfriend, blame Alys for not noticing her brother's dangerous downward spiral and preventing its culmination. 
“'I'm sorry,' I say for what feels like the millionth time. I know, even as my mouth forms the words, that I will say them for the rest of my life. Forever. That there will never be a time when I am not, in some small way, apologizing for the damage my brother has wrought. Luke is dead too, like Katie, I know, but this makes no difference. My grief will always be less important.” 
A large part of Alys's inner struggle centers around her inability to completely hate and revile her brother like the rest of the community does following the shooting. She is angry, hurt, and shocked, but she still loves him. Her final images of him, pointing the shotgun at her face, then turning and killing a girl nearby, doesn't match the brother she grew up with. The brother she rode to school with every morning, bickered with, and loved, even after he seemed to withdraw from their family and succumb to his dark moods, turning inward. Her confusion is pervasive, jumping off the page in an affecting way, forcing the reader to confront the difficult truth that Luke, despite her actions, is neither wholly good nor bad.
“The choir box is empty this morning, and I long for some kind of melody, the crash of the organ, the flight of angelic voices. My fingers twitch against the fabric of my dress and I close my eyes, remembering the Debussy, the Brahms lullaby I played each night before bed, my face pressed to the pad beneath my chin, arms cutting the air around me. The fact that Luke doesn't deserve music, the blissful lilt and salvation of it, make me, for some reason, saddest of all.” 
Music is an important part of Alys's life, but, after the shooting, she separates herself from her violin and the solace it provides. Not only does Alys feel that she has lost that part of herself, she feels she no longer deserves to feel the joy it brings her. She questions whether she could have prevented her brother's actions - if only she had been less involved in her own life, if only she weren't so distracted by music while her brother suffered enough that he brought a gun to school and murdered their friends. She believes that, if her brother does not deserve music, she doesn't either. I especially loved Alys's conversations with her violin instructor, an older woman who has lived a long life filled with both love and loss. She is one of the very few characters in Silent Alarm who recognizes and acknowledges Alys's pain.
“It feels like I died with Luke, alongside all of those kids who looked up from gossiping in the quad, from the useless pages of their books in the library, to meet the barrel of my brother's gun, his face filled with hate. In a way, I died the moment Luke walked into that library, the moment we came face-to-face. Now I'm trapped in the land of the dead, a barren landscape, shards of bone cutting my feet, their voices a soft chatter, telling me to follow.”
Banash's decision to tell this story from Alys's point-of-view, rather than Luke's or a classmate's, was insightful. Alys provides the reader with a singular context through which to view the shooting because she is both a victim and a relative. It's unlikely that any other narrator would have the same struggle as Alys, whose two very different mental images of Luke - one as loving brother, one as murderer - are at war. Because of Alys's distinct voice and unique view of the situation and its aftermath, I was able to connect to Silent Alarm in a very real and powerful way.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Covered: Hardcover to Paperback Redesigns (3)

Check out these Hardcover to Paperback Redesigns. Which do you prefer?
Also the images are backwards - as in, the paperback is on the left, the hardcover on the right. Oops!

Paperback                                                         Hardcover

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

First of all, this book is so fantastic. If you haven't read it - get on it! I thought the original cover was great when I first saw it, but there's something compelling about this paperback version. Both are great, but I prefer the paperback!

Paperback                                               Hardcover

 
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

I had to think about this one a bit. I like how bold the typography is on the original hardcover, but I'm really taken with the drop of water and reflection on the paperback. And the new tagline, "you thought your way here" gives me goosebumps. So, paperback, you have my vote!

Paperback                                               Hardcover

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Though I liked this hardcover too, I think the new paperback actually fits the tone of the novel better. It's stark and the girl running (and the fact that's she's wearing pink) feels spot on. Woo, new paperback!

Paperback                                                 Hardcover

Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

For this one I'm picking the paperback based solely on those trees in the background and the v-shape that the title and cover art form. They form a funnel that just pull me in.

Paperback                                               Hardcover

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey

The new cover of Buzz Kill is more eye-catching in my opinion, though the face that girl is making kind of freaks me out. Not when just looking at the book normally, but, if you tilt your head and look at her, it's just... startling. Still, the paperback would convince me to pick this one up, where the hardcover doesn't.

Paperback                                                Hardcover

Dangerous  by Shannon Hale

There are elements of the paperback that I like, but I did enjoy that the hardcover didn't have a cover model. I was also partial to the James Dashner quote on the hardcover... maybe the paperback has it on the back? I hope so.

Paperback                                              Hardcover

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Definitely the paperback! I'll be honest, I couldn't really get into this book and never finished it, but the paperback makes me wonder if I should reconsider. I am a sucker for plaid.

Paperback                                           Hardcover

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

This is actually the second paperback redesign for Revolution. The image on the paperback, the key and flowers, does make me more interested than the girls on the original. And I like the quote "genuine heart."

Paperback                                                  Hardcover

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

This new paperback is GORGEOUS. I was not a fan of the original hardcover - it looks awkwardly computer generated. But this new design? Love the color, love the castle, love everything!

Paperback                                                 Hardcover

Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake

Usually I'm not a fan of switching from illustrated to photo covers, but I think I might like this new cover for Unstoppable Octobia May better... It feels more current.

Tell me which covers you prefer in the comments!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Giveaway: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

The long awaited sequel to Rachel Hartman's Seraphina has finally arrived! Random House has kindly provided 2 hardcover copies of the novel for The Hiding Spot readers. To score one of these for yourself, all you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below! I've also included some information about the first book, my 2012 review of Seraphina, and other helpful links and information. 

About Seraphina:

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

About Shadow Scale:


The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?


WIN IT!

2 winners. Open to US addresses only. Ends 4.8.2015.