Sunday, March 23, 2014

Short Blogging Break

Hey everyone!

I have to take a short blogging break - for one week or so, maybe more - in order to catch up in school. I spent a few days last week / weekend out of town to attend my grandmother's funeral, and I fell a bit behind on my homework (plus, I have a super-stressful group presentation this week, despite the fact that my group still haven't finished their parts).

Hopefully all of you have been having less hectic weeks! I'll be back soon, but you might catch me over on Twitter (@YABookQueen) every now and then during my break.

Have a lovely week!

- Lea

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (137): NEARLY GONE

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

March 25th, 2014 from Kathy Dawson Books

Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.

I'm a huge mystery fan, so I've had my eye on this one for quite some time...excited for the release next week! 

What are you waiting on? 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books On My Spring 2014 TBR List

1.  Revolution: The past / present structure sounds fascinating.
2.  Ask the Passengers: I've heard this is King's best work, so I'm excited to see what it's like. 
3.  The Murder Complex: This book sounds amazing! 
4.  The Body in the Woods: Can't go wrong with a mystery. 
5.  My Last Kiss: Suspenseful ghost story? Yes. 
6.  Eon: High fantasy!! 
7.  Eleanor & Park: I'm curious to see if it's as great as everyone says it is. 
8.  Second Chance Summer: Seems like a good, emotional summer story. 
9.  The Kiss of Deception: Secrets, sounds great. 
10.  Froi of the Exiles: This has been sitting on my shelf for so long, it's time to read it!

What's on your to-be-read list?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

Author: E. Lockhart
Published: May 13th, 2014
Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 240
POV: 1st person
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley / Publisher
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

On the outside, the Sinclair family is perfect. Just ask anyone. But for Cadence Sinclair, life is anything but perfect after an accident she cannot remember. For her, life is one big show of acting like she's okay, she's fine, even as she suffers from severely crippling migraines and the lingering uncertainty of what exactly happened her fifteenth summer on the island - the summer she can barely remember and the summer that changed her life completely. We Were Liars is simply captivating, and the type of story that demands you set everything aside in order to finish reading in one sitting.

We Were Liars is a quiet type of story, and it quickly became a story that I did not expect to read. From the very beginning, I was not sure what to make of Cadence. From the title alone, the possibility of having an unreliable narrator is high, but Lockhart shapes Cadence into a character you want to trust and fully believe. With each new reclaimed memory from Cadence and all of the little confusing moments, I was hooked, curious, and eager for more. This is a genuinely challenging story to discuss, but it is one worth reading and rereading. Smart, evocative, and surprising, We Were Liars is a thrilling puzzle to piece together, tear apart, and put back together again and again. 

Highlights: Lockhart's writing style is simplistic yet evocative. Cadence's voice is a nice mixture between a familiar YA-style prose and bare, revealing poetic lines. Despite the numerous hints, I guessed the wrong ending, which made the reveal more shocking and intense. Cadence, as an MC, was great simply because of her imperfections - she's a spoiled rich girl, and even though she tries to be better, her privileged side shows through in some moments. 

Lowlights: I wish it was longer, and that the side characters had been developed a bit more. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf. We Were Liars swept me away right from the beginning with its mesmerizing writing style and tantalizing mystery. This is one story you need to check out. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: OBSIDIAN by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout (@JLArmentrout)
Published: November 2011
Series: Lux #1
Genre: YA Sci-fi
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
POV: 1st person
Pages: 294 
Format: Kindle eBook
Source: Bought
Rating: The Great Hall
Starting over sucks. 

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring…. until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up. 

And then he opened his mouth. 

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something…unexpected happens. 

The hot alien living next door marks me. 

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades. 

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

Highlights: New town, new school, new friends, and a few new problems – Katy is off to quite a start. Katy is an amusing narrator, not to mention a book blogger, so it was easy enough to enjoy and relate to her character. OBSIDIAN is an entertaining story to read, and I can see why so many readers love this book. I was grinning, laughing out loud, scoffing, and utterly unable to contain my wide variety of reactions once I began this novel. While I found the romance to be underwhelming, I highly enjoyed character interactions and Armentrout's type of humor. 

Lowlights: Predictable, with an overall plot that is reminiscent of other stories, and some clichés are thrown in as well. Daemon was a frustrating love interest, what with his constant need to act like a jerk. The summary states that there are aliens, but it took what felt like an eternity for Katy to figure it out1. The alien "reveal" had too much info-dumping, too. 

Rating: The Great Hall (high 3 out of 5). OBSIDIAN was very likable, but honestly, the only reason I bought this book was because it was on sale for Kindle. While there are some flaws, I do think I would read it again, but I'm not sure if I'll ever read the rest of this series. But, anyone who is interested in OBSIDIAN should definitely check it out, because it is a humorous and fun story. 

1 Which sucks, because then you're all "Katy, they're aliens! ALIENS!!" until she finally figures it out. And then once the alien reveal happens, you're like "Duh, I've only been been telling you that they're aliens for how many pages?"2
2 Umm, I mean, there was no talking to fictional characters. I would never do that, because that would be crazy. *walks away innocently*

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (136): RUIN & RISING

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

June 17th, 2014 from Henry Holt & Co. 

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Excuse me while I freak out. SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK!!

*waits impatiently for June 17th*

*glares at calendar*

Well, I'm sure the wait will be worth it!

What are you waiting on? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Favorite YA Contemporary Novels

Top Ten Favorite YA Contemporary Novels

1.  The Truth About Forever: My favorite Dessen book! READ IT.
2.  The Fault in our Stars: This book. So much more than I expected.
3.  Jellicoe RoadHave tissues handy. Trust me.
4.  The Book of Broken HeartsBeautiful story about family and first loves.
5.  Everybody Sees the Ants: A stark portrayal of bullying, coming of age, and family.
6.  Just One Day: Romantic and plenty of traveling!
7.  Wanderlove: Very fun, and the artwork is fabulous.
8.  The Sky Is Everywhere: This is a touching story about falling in love and family.
9.  Speak: An emotional read.
10.  Before I Fall: A bit outside of contemporary, but still amazing.

Bonus!! Two More Excellent Stories

We Were Liars (a very surprising and wonderfully written novel) and Split (gripping, emotional, and uncomfortable, this book is an important story).

What's your favorite YA contemporary novel?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Highlights / Lowlights: FIND ME by Romily Bernard

Title: FIND ME
Author: Romily Bernard (Twitter)
Published: September 2013
Series: Find Me #1
Genre: YA mystery
Pages: 307
POV: 1st person
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: ARC
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf

“Find Me.”

These are the words written on Tessa Waye’s diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa’s just been found . . . dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target.

Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick. Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick’s deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she’s going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

Highlights: Find Me is a story that readers will easily devour, thanks to the short chapters that are bursting with action. The romance was likable, if only because it did not overwhelm the story. This is first and foremost a mystery, and Bernard does not disappoint readers. Even though I guessed the culprit, a few red herrings made me second guess myself at every turn of the page. A strong sense of family (blood or not), and learning what it means to be family, is present. From the sugary sweet to the intimidatingly terrifying, characters were realistically written. Every single time I told myself I'd stop at the end of the chapter, I'd keep going. This was, truly, a hard novel to set aside. Wick's voice is sharp, fresh, and likable - she's no cookie-cutter heroine, and I enjoyed her character all the more for it. If you're looking for a fast-paced mystery that will keep you hooked, Find Me is the perfect story. 

Lowlights: I guessed the killer from the beginning1. Sometimes it felt a bit too fast-paced, it would have been nice to slow things down and get to know the characters a bit more – connect with them more.

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf (high 4 out of 5). Find Me is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed Find Me very much, despite a few small issues, and would recommend this story to other readers who want to read an intriguing and surprising YA mystery. 

1 But, I'm very good at solving mysteries in novels. I should be a detective!2
2 Okay, maybe not. I'd probably accuse a bunch of innocent people, and it would just be terrible. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (135): STRAY

WOW is hosted by Breaking the Spine

October 7th, 2014 from Greenwillow

Epic and provocative, STRAY is an original fairy tale in which magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict religious doctrine called The Path.

Princess Aislynn knows all about the curse. Its magic is a part of her, like her awkward nose and thin fingers. It’s also something she can’t control. And girls who can’t control their abilities have a tendency to disappear. So for her own protection, Aislynn is sworn into the order of Fairy Godmothers where she must spend the rest of her life chaste and devoted to serving another royal family.

Tasked with tending to the sweet, but sheltered Princess Linnea, Aislynn also finds a reluctant friend in the palace gardener, Thackery, who makes no secret of his disdain for her former life. The more time they spend together, though, the more she begins to doubt the rules she has observed so obediently. As Aislynn’s feelings threaten to undo the sacred vows she has taken, she risks not only her own life but Linnea’s as well. With the princess engaged to a devoted follower of The Path, there are some who would do anything to keep Aislynn from straying.

I was sold at "original fairy tale." This book sounds very intriguing!

What are you waiting on?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 4th, 2014
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 368
POV: 3rd, multiple
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Format: Printed ARC, e-ARC
Source: Publicist
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

I knew going into The Winner's Curse that this would be a novel worth reading, if only because of how much I loved the creativity featured in Rutkoski's The Shadow Society. But even knowing that, I was still amazed by how outstanding this novel turned out to be. The story revolves around two main characters: Kestral, a Valerian and the daughter of a great military General, and Arin, a Herrani slave whom Kestral buys on impulse at an auction. Kestral is expected to join the military, while Arin must do whatever it takes to survive as one of the Herrani slaves. Despite their different stations in life, Kestral and Arin slowly form a forbidden friendship that could change the fate of their world's future.

Rutkoski excels at painting a vivid picture within her readers' minds – the characters, the world, the culture, everything proved to be easy enough to envision and imagine. But, it was the characters who stole the show. From Kestral's observant and strategic nature to Arin's subtle intelligence and sharp personality, it was easy to root for both of them. Even the side characters were wonderfully developed, and continually intriguing. I went into this expecting a good story, but Rutkoski delivered a quiet, stunning tale that pleasantly surprised me. The Winner's Curse is a surprising, captivating tale of family, love, and honor. This book? It should be on your to-read list. Or, better yet, your bookshelf.

Highlights: The romance is slow, subtle, and almost barely beginning. This story focuses on the intelligence of main characters, rather than their ability to be physical threats. I loved how this story was written in a 3rd person POV, because it allowed Rutkoski to go into detail and really show off the fantasy world she crafted. While this as a quieter story, there are bursts of action-packed moments, strategic manipulations, and a couple surprising revelations. Worldbuilding, characters, story – it was all fantastic.

Lowlights: It has a slightly slow beginning and a couple moments felt slightly rushed, but I have no big issues with this story. The ending was pretty brutal, emotionally. It leaves you wanting the sequel, desperately! 

Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelflove this book, so it is going on the top shelves in the royal library where everyone can see it. I'd highly recommend The Winner's Curse, because it is an incredible story.