Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

By: Richelle Mead
Published By: Razorbill
Release Date: Aug. 16, 2007
Series: Vampire Academy (#1)
Pages: 319
Genre: Paranormal
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I tend to be late to a lot of things, so I shouldn't be surprised at myself for taking so long to start this series. However, now that I've finished Vampire Academy, I don't know why I waited so long to read this book. Something about this story immediately drew me in and kept me turning pages without realizing any time had passed.

Rose and Lissa have been on the run from St. Vladimir's Academy, but they both knew it couldn't last forever. When they're brought back by school guardians, Rose and Lissa realize that returning to life there will be more difficult than they thought. They're behind in their classes, and the danger that Rose tried to help Lissa avoid certainly hasn't gone away. While Lissa contends with her own internal debate, Rose has a much more physical fight - daily training sessions with her new mentor, Dimitri. He pushes her past all limits - including those she didn't know she had. As with any high school, rumors abound, and many are about Lissa. To make matters worse, someone seems to have it out for her. Can Rose fulfill her job as a guardian and and keep Lissa safe? And will Lissa and Rose ever be able to return to the life they once knew?

I can sum up everything good about Vampire Academy in one word: Dimitri. All right, that's really not true, but Dimitri is rather great. Handsome, mysterious, a skilled fighter, and able to whisper things in another language...what's not to love? I have a weakness for guys like that, and I loved seeing Dimitri throughout the book. However, in addition to Dimitri, I enjoyed the other characters too. Rose occasionally annoyed me, but most of the time I loved her snark. I also thought it was great to see such a strong friendship in the story, and I liked her fierce determination to protect Lissa. Christian was intriguing as well, even if he couldn't quite live up to Dimitri, and I'm looking forward to seeing how his character is developed in the future books. Beyond the characters, the world brings yet another fresh perspective to vampires - Richelle Mead has her own spin on the creatures, and I enjoyed the lore associated with them. After all of the vampire novels I've read, it was nice to find a vampire story I could still appreciate.

The story itself was fast-paced with a great balance between mystery, romance, action, and introspection. The book managed to surprise me with some of the events, which doesn't always happen. Yet I still wanted more from the whole story - more information, more fleshed-out scenes, more of the world. I'm sure all of this will come as the series unfolds, but I've never been one for patience. I can't wait to keep reading this series to see what happens next.

If you've been debating about reading these books, or just never gotten around to them, move them up on your to-read list. This is definitely a series worth picking up!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Maya Gold
Published By: Scholastic Point
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: There's more than one way to be powerful . . .

It is during a routine school project that Abby Silva--sixteen and nearly friendless--makes a startling discovery: She is descended from women who were accused of witchcraft back in 1600s Salem. And when Abby visits nearby Salem, strange, inexplicable events start to unfold. Objects move when she wills them to. Candles burst into sudden flame. And an ancient spellbook somehow winds up in her possession.

Trying to harness her newfound power, Abby concocts a love potion to win over her longtime crush--and exact revenge upon his cruel, bullying girlfriend. But old magic is not to be trifled with. Soon, Abby is thrust headlong into a world of hexes, secrets, and danger. And then there's Rem Anders, the beautiful, mysterious Salem boy who seems to know more about Abby than he first lets on.

A reckoning is coming, and Abby will have to make sense of her history--and her heart--before she can face the powerful truth.

Why it's wanted:

I was hooked with the mention of the Salem Witch Trials. I love books about witches and think this one sounds really interesting.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snapshot Musings: Pick a Book, Any Book

One of my blogging goals for 2013 was to have more discussion posts. I've said this for a long time, but somehow never quite write them. Having Snapshot Musings will hopefully encourage me to post more than just book reviews and regular memes. Some posts may be long, some short, and some mainly asking for opinions of fellow bloggers. If there's any topic you'd like to see featured, feel free to email me with the idea!

I've always been one of those people who loves planning. In high school and even into college, I loved buying a new planner for the new year. I spent way too much time choosing one and then filling it out, going so far as to color-code things. And for all my efforts and all of my best intentions, using the planner only lasted for a month, if that.

Even though I've always liked systems, I never seem to have a good one in place to manage what to read next. I see other bloggers who plan out what they'll read every month, make their post and review schedules weeks or even months in advance, and publicize and stick to it. I can't seem to do that. Even when I have books that need to be read by certain dates, I can't plan specific times to read them.

I've thought of two reasons for this. The first is that I definitely fall into the category of being a mood-reader. There are times when I want something light and fun, a book that I know I can get through in an afternoon and not miss any of the story. Other times I want a book that will move me and make me cry, one that will make me think and possibly even influence or change the way I look at the world around me. And if I'm being perfectly honest, there are some times that I don't want to read. At those times, I want a book that I've been really excited about or one that I'm almost guaranteed to love to get me out of my reading slump.

The second reason is that I can't read similar books back to back (the exception being certain series like Black Dagger Brotherhood or Lords of the Underworld). I can't read all paranormal or all contemporary. Nothing will put me into a reading slump faster than reading too many similar stories that all just become "meh" after a while. I like to switch genres with every new book, or at least switch tones (light contemporary before darker contemporary, vampire story before witch story, etc).

Given how many books are in my to-read pile, it shouldn't be hard to choose one. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the books there. I want to get books read and reviewed by their release dates, but that would be impossible. Especially since I want to read older books too. Because I've been fortunate enough to attend conventions like ALA and acquire ARCs there, I've struggled a lot with letting these titles slide. But I still have older books that I want to read, many of which I've bought from signings or even to continue series. At times, however, I feel guilty when I start to reach for an "older" book. Sometimes it seems like everyone in the world but me has read that title, and in that case, what's the point of reviewing it? Even though I want to read the book, I feel like I have a responsibility to promote new books rather than post reviews of books in series that are already so well-read and well-loved. I waffle back and forth between thinking that I should be able to read whatever I want regardless of my blog and thinking that running a blog means I have a responsibility to read and review certain books.

After so much time spent thinking about this issue, I settled on a new system: read one new release, one semi-recent release (a titled released within the last year, likely with a sequel on the way), and one old release. I could switch genres with every new book. I'd get through some of the books that have been on my to-read shelf for way too long. It seemed like the perfect system.

And yet I still have my doubts. Can I keep up with that system? Am I going to miss out on being part of the hype and excitement for an awesome new release because I'm trying to play catch-up for books that became popular before I started blogging? Is there a better way to do things? I have a feeling that no matter how much I think about these questions, I'll always wonder if there's a different answer I should be looking for. As always, there are so many great books waiting to be read, and so little time.

I know one way of doing things won't be right for every person, but I'd love to hear your methods. How do you choose what to read next? Do you pass up old books in favor of new releases? Are there any secrets to balancing to-read piles?

Teaser Tuesday (71)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I tightened my grip on her arm, digging my nails in to get her attention. She flinched. 'No. It's not the same. It has nothing to do with that. Do you hear me?' I could feel both Natalie and Dimitri's eyes on us. 'It's going to be okay. Everything's going to be okay.'"

p. 99 from VAMPIRE ACADEMY by Richelle Mead

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer

By: Sarah Strohmeyer
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 26, 2013
Series: None
Pages: 348
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA Midwinter
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Gigi, Bea, and Neerja are best friends and total overachievers. Even if they aren't the most popular girls in school, they aren't too worried. They know their real lives will begin once they get to their Ivy League colleges. There will be ivy, and there will be cute guys in the libraries (hopefully with English accents)! But when an unexpected event shows them they're missing out on the full high school experience, it's time to come out of the honors lounge and into the spotlight. They make a pact: They will each take on their greatest challenge--and they will totally rock it.

Gigi decides to run for student rep, but she'll have to get over her fear of public speaking--and go head-to-head with gorgeous California Will. Bea used to be one of the best skiers around, until she was derailed. It could be time for her to take the plunge again. And Neerja loves the drama club but has always stayed behind the scenes--until now.

These friends are determined to show the world that smart girls really can get what they want--but that could mean getting way more attention than they ever bargained for. . . .

Smart Girls Get What They Want is one of those books that I thought looked cute, but then it ended up somewhere in the middle of my to-read stack. However, Anna from Literary Exploration recommended it (see her review here), so I decided to pull it from the stack. Overall I enjoyed the book, though I did have a few issues with it.

Gigi and her best friends Bea and Neerja can't wait to graduate high school and head off to college. They dream of success at Ivy League schools, the guys they will find there, and the way they'll finally come into their own. High school is only a stepping stool, a time to do work and ensure their future. But when they get a wake-up call that high school could be so much more, they decide to make the most of their time. Gigi faces her fear of public speaking and runs for student rep, Bea joins the ski team, and Neerja lands a role in the school play. After all, there's no reason they shouldn't get everything they want. But there's more at stake than just a high school reputation, at least for Gigi - her future reputation, and her heart, might also be on the line. She might be smart, but there's no textbook answer for life...

I'll be honest - the first third of this book was hard for me to get through. This wasn't because of the characters - I actually identified with Gigi right away, since I had her same attitude when I was in high school: almost everything I did was for the purpose of getting into a good college. Because of that, however, when Gigi was accused of cheating, I found the unfairness of the accusation extremely frustrating. In addition, in many ways it seemed borderline unrealistic that the characters had everything going for them, like elite prep school students on TV shows. But because a friend had recommended it, I kept reading, and I'm really glad I didn't put it down.

Gigi has a lot of admirable qualities. She was hardworking and dedicated, loyal to her friends, and willing to face her fears. The way she and her friends were willing to take risks was a good reminder that life is only what you make it (cliche, I know, but true). Bea and Neerja were great friends - friends I would have liked to have had - and I also enjoyed that they had different interests and weren't necessarily always together. However, Mike and Will surprised me the most. I wanted to dislike Mike but never quite could; at the same time, Will was almost too perfect. Aside from the characters, I really enjoyed the trivia sprinkled throughout the book as well as the Boston-suburb setting. Once I got into the heart of the story, the book was a quick read, because I wanted to know if Gigi and her friends accomplished what they set out to do. While I had originally thought the bok would be cute, it turned out to be much more than that.

This was my first book by Sarah Strohmeyer, but I'll certainly look forward to reading more from her in the future. If you like contemporary books that remind you to take risks and go after what you want, you'll definitely want to check this one out!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Opening Lines (12)

Opening Lines is a new feature here on Portrait of a Book that showcases the first lines of recent and/or upcoming releases. If you're looking for your next read, let these first lines help you decide!

By: Maurissa Guibord
Published By: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

There’s an island off the coast of Maine that’s not on any modern map.

Shrouded in mist and protected by a deadly reef, Trespass Island is home to a community of people who guard the island and its secrets from outsiders. Seventeen-year-old Delia grew up in Kansas, but has come here in search of her family and answers to her questions: Why didn’t her mother ever talk about Trespass Island? Why did she fear the open water? But Delia’s not welcome and soon finds herself enmeshed in a frightening and supernatural world where ancient Greek symbols adorn the buildings and secret ceremonies take place on the beach at night.

Sean Gunn, a handsome young lobsterman, befriends Delia and seems willing to risk his life to protect her. But it’s Jax, the coldly elusive young man she meets at the water’s edge, who finally makes Delia understand the real dangers of life on the island. Delia is going to have to fight to survive. Because there are monsters here. And no one ever leaves Trespass alive.

"Maybe I should have known from the beginning to stay away from Trespass Island."

By: Kiersten White
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: Feb. 19, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

"My dress is black and itchy and I hate it."

By: Karen Finneyfrock
Published By: Viking Children's
Release Date: Feb. 21, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

That’s the day the trouble started.
The trouble that nearly ruined my life.
The trouble that turned me Dark.
The trouble that begs me for revenge.

Celia Door enters her freshman year of high school with giant boots, dark eyeliner, and a thirst for revenge against Sandy Firestone, the girl who did something unspeakable to Celia last year.

But then Celia meets Drake, the cool new kid from New York City who entrusts her with his deepest, darkest secret. When Celia’s quest for justice threatens her relationship with Drake, she’s forced to decide which is sweeter: revenge or friendship.

This debut novel from Karen Finneyfrock establishes her as a bright, bold, razor-sharp new voice for teens.

"At fourteen I turned Dark."

By: Gordon Dahlquist
Published By: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: Feb. 21, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Four nearly identical girls on a desert island. An unexpected new arrival. A gently warped near future where nothing is quite as it seems.

Veronika. Caroline. Isobel. Eleanor. One blond, one brunette, one redhead, one with hair black as tar. Four otherwise identical girls who spend their days in sync, tasked to learn. But when May, a very different kind of girl—the lone survivor of a recent shipwreck—suddenly and mysteriously arrives on the island, an unsettling mirror is about to be held up to the life the girls have never before questioned.

Sly and unsettling, Gordon Dahlquist’s timeless and evocative storytelling blurs the lines between contemporary and sci-fi with a story that is sure to linger in readers’ minds long after the final page has been turned.

"My name is Veronika. We had been there for years, but I only remember things from part of that time."

Do any of these opening lines grab your attention? What are your favorite first lines that you've read lately?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

By: Marissa Meyer
Published By: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2103
Series: Lunar Chronicles (#2)
Pages: 452
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA
Buy the Book: Amazon

Note: Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, and the following summary may contain spoilers. To read my review of the first book, Cinder, click here.

Goodreads Summary: Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Last year, I was hesitant to read Cinder, but it surprised me in a good way. I loved seeing how the old fairy tale of Cinderella was transformed into a futuristic world of cyborgs and androids, powerful world leaders and a new evil queen. I've been excited for a long time to read Scarlet, and the book didn't disappoint.

Scarlet Benoit is searching for her missing grandmother. Most people seem to think that her grandmother left on her own - even the police have given up the case - but Scarlet knows that can't be true. On her routine deliveries, Scarlet just happens to run into someone who might have some information. He's a street fighter who goes by Wolf, full of contradictions, and yet Scarlet knows that he's her best chance for finding out what really happened to her grandmother. But can she really trust a wolf? Meanwhile, Cinder hasn't disappeared. She knows what she has to do, and she won't let a little thing like prison stop her. These two girls would never have had a reason to meet...but when someone like Queen Levana is involved, the enemy of an enemy becomes a friend...

In Cinder, Marissa Meyer took the basic outline of the fairy tale but fleshed it out with new details and characters. In Scarlet, she does the same. The story of Red Riding Hood is there, but once again this book is so much more than its inspiration. Scarlet was strong and determined, loyal and dedicated to her grandmother and the farm. But in her narrative, Wolf stole the show. He was intriguing from the beginning, shy yet strong, fierce yet lacking confidence. Even though I knew I shouldn't trust him, I couldn't keep from softening to him right along with Scarlet. I was also glad to see that Cinder's story continued here. She's trying to figure out her new life, but fortunately she has help - Captain Carswell Thorne. Thorne's larger-than-life ego really brought out Cinder's snarky side, which made for great comic relief. Another relief - Thorne is never portrayed as a love interest. The one person I really missed in this book was Kai. Although we see him briefly, it wasn't nearly enough for the prince.

One of the things I loved in Cinder and again in Scarlet is how many layers there are to the story. There are surprises, even if they aren't completely shocking, and the books are never dull. Even with hard-to-imagine sci-fi elements, the stories really come to life and the pages fly by. The world Marissa Meyer created is fascinating. I loved how the stories of Cinder and Scarlet intersected, and I can't wait to see what happens next for all of these characters.

If you like fairytale retellings, sci-fi books, or just a great story, Cinder and Scarlet are definitely books you want to pick up. I'm already eagerly awaiting the next Lunar Chonicles book, Cress!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Jessica Verdi
Published By: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Lucy never thought it would happen to her. She planned on becoming a Broadway star, living out her days with her leading man, Ty. Instead, a new girl walks off with her role and her guy. Lucy flies off the rails and does something completely out of character. Something with consequences she'll have to live with the rest of her life...

What will she tell her family? Her friends? Off script and without the comforts of her simple high school problems, Lucy must figure out how to live and even embrace a life she thought was all but over.

Why it's wanted:

From the synopsis, I really want to know what Lucy does. And I also love books that involve theater stories.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (70)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"'My name is Dimitri Belikov,' he said. I could hear a faint Russian accent. 'I've come to take you back to St. Vladimir's Academy, Princess.'"

p. 11 from VAMPIRE ACADEMY by Richelle Mead

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

By: Cynthia Hand
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: Jan. 22, 2013
Series: Unearthly (#3)
Pages: 438
Genre: Paranormal
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: ALA Midwinter
Buy the Book: Amazon

Note: This book is the last in a trilogy, following Unearthly and Hallowed. The following summary may contain spoilers.

Goodreads Summary: The past few years have held more surprises than part-angel Clara Gardner could ever have anticipated. Yet from the dizzying highs of first love, to the agonizing low of losing someone close to her, the one thing she can no longer deny is that she was never meant to live a normal life.

Since discovering the special role she plays among the other angel-bloods, Clara has been determined to protect Tucker Avery from the evil that follows her . . . even if it means breaking both their hearts. Leaving town seems like the best option, so she’s headed back to California - and so is Christian Prescott, the irresistible boy from the vision that started her on this journey in the first place.

As Clara makes her way in a world that is frighteningly new, she discovers that the fallen angel who attacked her is watching her every move. And he’s not the only one. . . . With the battle against the Black Wings looming, Clara knows she must finally fulfill her destiny. But it won’t come without sacrifices and betrayal.

In the riveting finale of the Unearthly series, Clara must decide her fate once and for all.

I was excited to read this book, but it was also bittersweet. Unearthly is one of my favorite angel series, one of the few series in which the overarching battle between good and evil isn't black and white and the love triangle makes the story more intense rather than seeming trite. Boundless brought everything to a good end, though the road of getting there certainly wasn't easy.

Clara never imagined that her life would turn out the way it has. Since learning that she was an angel blood, things have revolved around her fulfilling her purpose, but now Clara can't help but think that there may be more, that there was an even larger purpose. But what will that mean for Christian and for Tucker? As Clara tries to navigate her future, she discovers that sometimes love - even love of family and friends - means sacrificing yourself...

I mentioned before that Unearthly is one of my favorite series, and so much of that has to do with the characters. Whereas Tucker and Christian shine in the other novels, in Boundless, Clara comes into her own, embracing her abilities as an angel-blood, surrendering to her purpose, willing to do whatever it takes to protect and care for those she loves. Clara has a difficult decision to make, choosing between Tucker and Christian. For once it wasn't just a choice between guys, but a choice between following her purpose and following her heart. There were moments in Boundless that were suspenseful, sad, and sometimes even heartbreaking, but there were also moments that made me smile and fall in love with the characters all over again.

There is so much I could say about this book, but I don't want to give anything away for this book or the previous two. Although I sometimes wanted to see more of some of the different events that happened, both to keep the series alive longer and to know more about the world itself, I loved the way everything came together. And even though this was the last book, Cynthia Hand was not out of surprises. She still had a few twists to throw at us, which heightened the stakes but also helped everything in the book come to a more satisfying conclusion.

If you haven't read Cynthia Hand's trilogy and enjoy books with angels, vivid settings, and great love interests, you should definitely pick these books up. And if you've started the trilogy, this is one that is definitely worth finishing. I'll miss this world, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Cynthia Hand writes next!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Opening Lines (11)

Opening Lines is a new feature here on Portrait of a Book that showcases the first lines of recent and/or upcoming releases. If you're looking for your next read, let these first lines help you decide!

By: Yelena Black
Published By: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .

"In the harsh glare of the lights, Chloe's shadow stretched across the stage."

By: Ruta Sepetys
Published By: Philomel Books
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

"My mother's a prostitute."

By: Kasie West
Published By: Harper Teen
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

"'Heads up,' a loud voice called from my right."

By: Kate Ellison
Published By: Egmont USA
Release Date: Feb. 12, 2013
Buy the Book: Amazon

They say first love never dies...

From critically acclaimed author Kate Ellison comes a heartbreaking mystery of mental illness, unspoken love, and murder. When sixteen-year-old artist Olivia Tithe is visited by the ghost of her first love, Lucas Stern, it’s only through scattered images and notes left behind that she can unravel the mystery of his death.

There’s a catch: Olivia has gone colorblind, and there’s a good chance she’s losing her mind completely—just like her mother did. How else to explain seeing (and falling in love all over again with) someone who isn’t really there?

With the murder trial looming just nine days away, Olivia must follow her heart to the truth, no matter how painful. It’s the only way she can save herself.

"Think about a moment, a little centimeter in time you'd happily exist in forever, if time could be laid out along the spine of a ruler."

Do any of these opening lines grab your attention? What are your favorite first lines that you've read lately?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cover Reveal: Camp Kiss by J.K. Rock

I'm very excited to be one of the blogs participating in this cover reveal! J.K. Rock is a pseudonym for sisters-in-law and writing partners Joanne and Karen Rock, and their first novel Camp Boyfriend will be released on July 2 as part of the new contemporary line from Spencer Hill Press. But before Camp Boyfriend comes out, there will be a prequel released - Camp Kiss! This prequel will be available on March 26. And now, without further ado, I present CAMP KISS by J.K. Rock.

The Camp Kiss That Started It All...

Lauren Carlson, a fourteen-year-old expert on the cosmos, superheroes, and science fiction trivia has a crush on her longtime camp friend, Seth. Last summer she’d dreamed about upgrading their relationship to BF/GF status and this year she has a plan… if only her well-meaning cabin mates wouldn’t interfere before she’s ready. She hasn’t even adjusted to her new braces yet, let alone imagined kissing Seth with them. When a dare pushes her out of her comfort zone, will she and Seth rocket out of the friendzone at last? There’s only one way to find out...

Find author J.K. Rock online:
Website | Series Website | Karen's Twitter | Joanne's Twitter | Goodreads

THere's more! As part of the Camp Kiss cover reveal, and in honor of Valentine's Day, the authors are hosting lots of contests and giveaways to win books and other goodies! Be sure to go here to check out all the ways to win!

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