1/16/2015

Candlewick's Top Teen Books Giveaway




As you may have heard, TIME Magazine recently put out a list of the 100 Best Young Adult Titles of All Time. Well, today I want to celebrate the fact that one of the most wonderful publishers out there, Candlewick, has not one, not two, but SIX titles on the YA list. I was especially excited to see that two of the books are by one of my all-time favourite authors, Patrick Ness -- A Monster Calls, arguably his best and most moving novel, and The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first of his Chaos Walking trilogy, which is one of my top favourite trilogies.

Here are all six books in all their glory:


They are: The Tiger Rising and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane both by Kate DiCamillo, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Jim Kay, The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, Feed by M.T. Anderson and Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci.

To help celebrate this fantastic achievement, Candlewick is offering an awesome prize pack: one lucky US/Canada reader will win a copy of all six of these titles. Pretty great, right? I'm totally jealous of whoever wins this one because these are clearly some excellent titles.

To enter, just go through the Rafflecopter below.

Some Rules (aka the not so fun but important part):
~ This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada only (void where prohibited).
~ No P.O. boxes.
~ Must be 13 or older to enter.
~ Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted. The winner has 48 hours to respond, otherwise they forfeit their prize and I will choose another winner, who must abide by the same rules.
~ Candlewick will be shipping the prize, thus you must be comfortable with providing me your address to pass along to the publicist at Candlewick.
~ Candlewick and I are not responsible for lost or damaged packages.
No cheating! In this case, I have the right to disqualify entries as I see fit.
~ By entering the giveaway, you are agreeing to these rules.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1/14/2015

Waiting on Wednesday #95: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.

Expected Publication: March 24, 2015
by: Algonquin Young Readers.

Goodreads Synopsis:
“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.

We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.

Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

Why I'm excited:
After reading Nova Ren Suma's 17 & Gone, I knew that I was going to want to read basically anything else she wrote, so this is a clear choice because of that. It also just sounds like a fantastic read with a lot going on and a lot to uncover. I'm wildly intrigued so of course I have to know what happens. And since it's Suma, I have a feeling it's going to be intense.

What are you waiting on this week?

1/07/2015

Waiting on Wednesday #94: Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud.

Expected Publication: July 21, 2015.
by: Viking Juvenile.

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

Why I'm excited:
Just try to tell me that you're not intrigued by that synopsis. This girl literally takes the place of another girl in order to serve her con man father. Imagine how crazy that's going to get. And imagine the range of emotions Violet is sure to go through. This one is sure to be a wild ride!

What are you waiting on this week?

1/06/2015

Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015

A new year and a new set of prompts for Top Ten Tuesday, created and hosted by The Broke and Bookish! This week, we're talking about our Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015.

Excluding those from my 2015 Feature, since I've already highlighted those, here are my most anticipated 2015 debuts!

1. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Releasing in February.
Synopsis:
Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Why am I so excited? Aside from all the fantastic things I've already been hearing about this one, I'm really looking forward to having more high fantasy in my life and this sounds like it could be the epic, fascinating trilogy to start this year!


2. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Releasing in May.
Synopsis:
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Why am I so excited? I mean, inspired by A Thousand and One Nights? A smart, brave girl who finds that there's more going on than it seems? I am SO intrigued.

3. Scripted by Maya Rock
Releasing in February.
Synopsis:
Reality TV has a dark future in this thought-provoking thriller

To the people suffering on the war-torn mainland, Bliss Island seems like an idyllic place. And it is: except for the fact that the island is a set, and the islanders’ lives are a performance. They’re the stars of a hit TV show, Blissful Days—Characters are adored by mainland viewers, yet in constant danger of being cut if their ratings dip too low. And no one really knows what happens to cut Characters.

Nettie Starling knows she’s been given the chance of a lifetime when a producer offers suggestions to help her improve her mediocre ratings—especially when those suggestions involve making a move on the boy she’s been in love with for years. But she'll soon have to decide how far she's willing to go to keep the cameras fixed on her. . . especially when she learns what could happen to her if she doesn't.

Why am I so excited? I'm really interested by books examining reality tv and how we interact with it (and books that take it to extremes) -- and yes, I have Something Real out from the library right now -- so I'm especially curious about this look at the fight to stay relevant (/alive?) in a world all about reality tv.

4. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Releasing in April.
Synopsis: 
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Why am I so excited? As if you need an answer to that after reading the synopsis. It's all there. Seriously. All kinds of things that draw me into a book are right in that synopsis.

5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Releasing in June.
Synopsis:
Happiness shouldn't be this hard

The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto -- miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough. 

Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he's can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.

Adam Silvera's extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.

Why am I so excited? 1. The wonderful human being that is Adam Silvera. 2. Everyone who has touched this book has been talking about how great it is. 3. All the complex issues at play in this one are bound to suck me right in.

6. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Releasing in April.
Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Why am I so excited? Again, the outpouring of amazing feedback for this one has been incredible. I feel like I hear something new every single day about how much people are loving this book and I can see why they would. It sounds charming and fun while still dealing with some serious stuff. Plus, if I'm remembering correctly it was originally brought to my attention as a YA You've Got Mail with gay boys. Gimmie gimmie gimmie! 

7. Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius
Releasing in September.
Synopsis:
Anne
Wild, brazen, mischievous, bewitching

Henry
Driven, haunted, charming, magnetic

Apart, they are bound to destroy themselves. Together, they are bound to destroy each other.

Henry Tudor's life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father's. But ever since the death of Henry's brother—perfect, high-achieving Arthur—his family has been twice as demanding. And now Henry's trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who's not Tudor approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Anne is wild, brash and outspoken. She is everything Henry is not allowed to be—or to want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, yet his desire for Anne consumes him. Henry is willing to do anything to be with her. But once he has her, their romance could destroy them both.

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Why am I so excited? Well, I will admit to being a liiiittle nervous about this one because I really, really hope the source material (mostly Anne, really, and their relationship) is treated with respect. But if this one really pulls off what it says it will, it could be fantastic.

8. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Releasing in June.
Synopsis:
When seventeen-year-old Minnow stumbles out of the woods one winter morning, she is haunted and handless and covered in someone else’s blood. She has just escaped the strict religious commune run by a cruel man named the Prophet. In exchange for freedom, she leaves behind her family, her home, and Jude--an outsider boy who changed everything. 

But the real world isn't the sanctuary Minnow imagined. Soon, she gets arrested and placed in juvenile detention. Now, Minnow is being questioned by an FBI psychiatrist about the night she escaped, the same night the Prophet was burned to death in his own home—a murder Minnow may be responsible for.

A modern retelling of the Grimm fairy tale, "The Handless Maiden," in which the Devil orders a girl's hands cut off, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is the story of a girl growing out of the wreckage of corrupted faith.

Why am I so excited? For starters, "haunted and handless and covered in someone else's blood" is a good way to get people intrigued from the get-go. I'm really interested in seeing the clash between Minnow's commune upbringing and the "real world" and I definitely want to know everything about what her life was like before and how she escaped. A little morbid curiosity? Maybe. But the curiosity is there all the same. 

9. Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira
Releasing in December.
Synopsis:
In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Why am I so excited? Basically because a girl using her favourite YA novels to try to win over a guy sounds like it could be adorable and hilarious and full of all kinds of fun mishaps and references. I'm pretty sure my heart NEEDS this book.

10. 5 To 1 by Holly Bodger
Releasing in May.
Synopsis:
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, India now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, making women an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of marrying off their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women who form the country of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife.

Sudasa, though, doesn't want to be a wife, and Kiran, a boy forced to compete in the test to become her husband, has other plans as well. As the tests advance, Sudasa and Kiran thwart each other at every turn until they slowly realize that they just might want the same thing.

This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view-Sudasa's in verse and Kiran's in prose-allowing readers to experience both characters' pain and their brave struggle for hope.

Why am I so excited? Another one that I'm a little bit nervous about because of potentially delicate subject matter, with the whole "guys competing for brides" thing, but if handled well this could be a fascinating look at a future problem that could very well spring out of today's world. Plus I'm interested in the alternating of verse and prose for the two narrators.

SO. Clearly lots to look forward to! And this list doesn't even include some of the really exciting debuts I featured in December, like The Witch Hunter, Dead To Me, The Storyspinner and Monstrous, which I am obviously super looking forward to! Any of these books on your list? (Add them to your TBR, if not! Do it!). What else should I be really excited about?

1/05/2015

Most Anticipated of 2015

Welcome, 2015! I expect nothing but excellence from you, new year. At least on the book front, it looks like that's what we'll be getting.

So obviously I spent all of December sharing 2015 books that I'm excited for but for book nerds, there are always more. Always. So I'll start off this post by linking you to the features because those 2015 releases are definitely high on my list. However, I wasn't able to cover all the upcoming books I wanted to, so I'm going to give them a little shout out here. Please note that tomorrow I'm doing the Top Ten Tuesday Most Anticipated Debuts, so my top ten debuts coming this year won't be on this list, they'll be up tomorrow. Also please note: this list might be a little overwhelming. I'm excited for so. many. books.

Features:



Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (Currently Coverless)


Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman (Currently Coverless)

Other 2015 Most Anticipated Reads:

January




February





March





April







May







June








July




August





September




October



November




December




Unknown Date




SO. Obviously that was a long list but also not exhaustive. Like I said, I'll be covering my top ten anticipated debuts tomorrow, but I'm sure there's something I've missed between the two lists. Anything you think I'm crazy for not having on here? Anything you're also extremely antsy for? Let me know!

12/31/2014

Top Books of 2014

Since today is New Years Eve (!?!?!?), I thought I would share my favourite books that I've read this year. I read some really fantastic books and I loved them for various reasons and honestly there was no way I was going to get it narrowed down to just ten. So here are my thirteen favourite books I read in 2014 and four 2014 releases that I read and loved in 2013. This post is me officially vouching for all of them. 


2014 Releases:


A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan


The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Nil by Lynne Matson

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley


The Unbound by Victoria Schwab

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Previously Released:


Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

2015 Release:


Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Most Unique, Unexpected Love of the Year: 



Fave 2014 Releases Read in 2013:


Cress by Marissa Meyer

Starling by Fiona Paul

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

12/30/2014

2015 Feature: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

On the last day of Christmas -- I mean, my 2015 feature -- the book gods gave to us...... a preview of a super exciting historical fantasy that I am DYING to read! Virginia Boecker, author of The Witch Hunter, was kind enough to agree to be interviewed about the book. But first, here's a little intro:

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker.

To be published June 2, 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Synopsis:
The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. When she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can track down the person who laid a deadly curse on him.

As she's thrust into the world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and all-too-handsome healers, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Virginia is here to answer a few questions I had about some of the things we can get excited about for when The Witch Hunter comes out this summer! Welcome, Virginia!

Jess: Describe The Witch Hunter in 5 words or less.

Virginia: The hunter becomes the hunted.

J: What would you say is your main character Elizabeth's best quality? What is her worst?

V: Elizabeth’s best quality: Fortitude. She’s got a great deal of courage and mental strength, and that sees her through the conflicts she finds (and puts) herself in. She’s also fiercely determined: she never gives up.

Elizabeth’s worst quality: She’s self-absorbed! She has a tendency to be preoccupied with herself and her own drama, so much so that she can sometimes miss things that are happening right in front of her.

J: Which of your characters besides Elizabeth are you most excited for readers to meet?

V: Fifer Birch. She’s a witch, and she’s irreverent, smart and smart-mouthed, but she’s also fiercely loyal. I also like John Raleigh. He’s a healer, and he’s studious, quiet, and self-possessed. He’s also very conflicted, and very attractive. :)

J: They definitely sound like people I'm interested in meeting... especially Raleigh!
Say I wake up in the middle of your story's world. What do I experience when I first awaken?

V: That would depend on where you woke up! At one end of the spectrum, you could wake up in prison on a cold stone floor strewn with straw and rat-droppings, waiting for the king’s guards to take you to the square to be chained to a post and burned alive. On the other, you could wake up in a nobleman’s house on a feather-mattressed tester bed, waiting for a servant to feed you, bathe you, and dress you. Obviously, the latter is better.

J: What was the strangest thing you came across in your research for The Witch Hunter? What was the most interesting?

V: I was living in London at the time I researched, and really, I didn’t think of it as research! I was fascinated with British royalty, and I read everything I could get my hands on, from the 1100s to early 1600s. From Eleanor to Elizabeth, I like to say. I read biographies and historical fiction about kings,
queens, knights, wars, and wives, then I’d hop on a train and go visit whatever towns, castles, cathedrals, prisons, museums I could reasonably get to. Seeing in person the places where history took place really set them firmly in my mind, and made details easier to recall once I sat down to write.

The most interesting thing? Castles and palaces are a lot smaller than you’d think. The great hall at Hampton Court, for example. It looks huge in pictures but in truth, it’s really not that big--or at least, not as big as I had envisioned it to be.

I think the most amazing (if not strange) thing to me, in everything I’ve read, is that Henry VIII created his own religion in order to divorce Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. You’ve really got to unpack the euphemisms to get to that, though: it’s always he “initiated the English Reformation” or he “appointed himself Head of the Church of England.” But let’s not mince words: he created his own religion. That act would seem insane today, imagine how it must have seemed then! And all that, only for him to execute the very wife he upended his country over just two years later. The turmoil of those times, both politically and socially, it’s endlessly fascinating to me.

J: Henry VIII was indeed, ahem, unique. I'm very fascinated by those times as well. There's so much to explore there!
How did you work at coming up with your rules for the magic that takes place in the world of The Witch Hunter?

V: To create the magic in this book, I borrowed a bit from the Buddhist principle of the middle way: the idea that magic is a reconciliation of extreme opposites, that there are consequences to every action. That in order to create magic, you must achieve balance. Of course, much of what happens in the story are consequences of not maintaining that balance.

J: Ooh, that's intriguing! 
Can you share a favourite quote from the book?

V: “Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.”

J: Can you share any secrets or fun facts about the book?

V: Many of the names of towns, villages, palaces, harbors, even people, are borrowed from the names of stops on the London Underground.

J: That's so cool! I'll definitely be on the lookout for those. Thank you so much, Virginia, for answering my burning questions about the book! 

I think this will give people plenty to look forward to as we patiently (or not so patiently, in some cases *cough* me *cough*) wait for June and the release of this exciting fantasy!

Preorder The Witch Hunter here: Amazon Canada // Amazon US // Barnes & Noble // Chapters Indigo // The Book Depository

Find Virginia here: Twitter // Website