Thursday, February 18, 2016

Buzz Books 2016: YA Spring / Summer » Review

buzz books 2016It's a new year and that means new books on the horizon! Biannually, once in the winter and once in the summer, Publishers Lunch cooperates with big and small publishers alike to put out Buzz Books, an e-book featuring information on and excerpts of twenty upcoming titles. I love to pick up their YA editions to see what's coming out in the following months on the Young Adult scene.

In this post, I'm going to give a mini-review of all twenty of the featured 2016 YA titles in Buzz Books: YA Spring / Summer. That's about forty opening chapters of 2016 YA books. Phew!

Here's what the spring and summer has to offer for YA reads in 2016.

Eileen Cook » With Malice » HMH Books for Young Readers

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[caption id="attachment_1845" align="alignleft" width="150"]with malice June 7[/caption]

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident. . .wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

I'm very conflicted about these sample chapters.  On the one hand, it sets up an intriguing story, one that plays on a number of classic noir films and thrillers.  On the other hand, I was not a fan of the style or the tone or the writing. Nor was I jumping up and down over the petty, high school drama that saturated the excerpt.

Catherine Egan » Julia Vanishes » Alfred A. Knopf BFYR

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[caption id="attachment_1853" align="alignleft" width="150"]julia vanishes June 7[/caption]

Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses. It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding—though from what or whom? Worse, Julia suspects that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price. One that will she will be paying over this book and the two to follow.

I loved the creepy opening to the book, setting up the murders that are plaguing the un-named fantasy city. I liked Julia, who is going by Ella, a spy and thief who creeps around the house where she's posing as a maid.  There were some stumbles in the prose during an action scene, but overall, my interest is most definitely piqued over Julia Vanishes

Julie Eshbaugh » Ivory and Bone » HarperTeen

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[caption id="attachment_1855" align="alignleft" width="150"]Ivory and Bone June 14[/caption]

The only life seventeen-year-old Kol knows is hunting at the foot of the Great Ice with his brothers. But food is becoming scarce, and without another clan to align with, Kol, his family, and their entire group are facing an uncertain future.

Traveling from the south, Mya and her family arrive at Kol’s camp with a trail of hurt and loss behind them, and hope for a new beginning. When Kol meets Mya, her strength, independence, and beauty instantly captivate him, igniting a desire for much more than survival.

Then on a hunt, Kol makes a grave mistake that jeopardizes the relationship that he and Mya have only just started to build. Mya was guarded to begin with—and for good reason—but no apology or gesture is enough for her to forgive him. Soon after, another clan arrives on their shores. And when Mya spots Lo, a daughter of this new clan, her anger intensifies, adding to the already simmering tension between families. After befriending Lo, Kol learns of a dark history between Lo and Mya that is rooted in the tangle of their pasts.

When violence erupts, Kol is forced to choose between fighting alongside Mya or trusting Lo’s claims. And when things quickly turn deadly, it becomes clear that this was a war that one of them had been planning all along.

I'm a little confused about the time period of this book.  Kol starts a fire by twisting a stick against kindling, "like a drill," but they also hunt mammoths.  Could the time be in the distant future or the far past?  At any rate, this looks to be an interesting book, with fantastic detail, and I will read it, despite the hero coming across as sort of a desperate spaz and the heroine as maybe-kind-of bitchy.

Alwyn Hamilton » Rebel of the Sands » Viking

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[caption id="attachment_1847" align="alignleft" width="150"]rebel of the sands March 8[/caption]

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

I cannot even contain my excitement for Rebel of the Sands.  And I'm happy to report that the excerpts completely lived up to my high expectations.  The prose was well-written, exciting, and set up the mood and plot of the story nicely. I will be buying this book and reading it the day it comes out, no doubt about it.

Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton » My Lady Jane » HarperTeen

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[caption id="attachment_1858" align="alignleft" width="150"]my lady ane June 7[/caption]

In the tradition of The Princess Bride, a fantastical, romantical, hilarious(ical) adventure featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, True Love, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history gets it all wrong.

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a stranger—and caught up in an insidious conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. Jane’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

The fate of the kingdom rests on the shoulders of three unlikely heroes. Edward, the rightful king, is dying. Jane, his cousin, would rather be reading a book. And Gifford, Jane’s new husband, is a shapeshifter cursed to spend every day, from sunrise to sunset, as a horse. To save Edward’s crown, they’ll have to engage in some conspiring of their own… but can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

I was very relieved to hear that this book re-writes history.  Because how dour to read a book where you know the heroine will be beheaded.  The excerpt, and I assume the whole book, is written in a jaunty, casual style, which wasn't always funny, but was always light-hearted. I wasn't entirely sure I'd pick this one up, but I think I will, actually, having read the sample chapters.

Monia Hesse » Girl In the Blue Coat » Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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[caption id="attachment_1859" align="alignleft" width="150"]girl in the blue coat April 5[/caption]

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.

Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice.

This sample chapter reminded me a lot of Cat Winters, the it-girl of the YA historical fiction scene ... only better written! This isn't really a slight against Winters, I was just really impressed by the quality of Hesse's writing.  I will definitely be wanting to read Girl In the Blue Coat.

Tosca Lee » The Progeny: Descendants of the House of Bathory » Howard Books

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[caption id="attachment_1861" align="alignleft" width="150"]progengy descendants bathory May 24[/caption]

Emily Jacobs is the descendant of a serial killer. Now, she’s become the hunted.

She’s on a quest that will take her to the secret underground of Europe and the inner circles of three ancient orders—one determined to kill her, one devoted to keeping her alive, and one she must ultimately save.

Filled with adrenaline, romance, and reversals, The Progeny is the present-day saga of a 400-year-old war between the uncanny descendants of “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, the most prolific female serial killer of all time, and a secret society dedicated to erasing every one of her descendants. A story about the search for self filled with centuries-old intrigues against the backdrop of atrocity and hope.

Reading the description of this book warranted an immediate Wikipedia search of "Elizabeth Bathory." OMG. Bascially, Countess Bathory was a serial killer with victims in the triple digits — all younger girls.  She did some HORRIBLE things. I'd be horrified to be a descendant of hers. And that's just what "Emily," our protagonist, discovers in The Progeny. For all the creepiness, the book does seem kind of fun, though. 

David Levithan, Nina LaCour » You Know Me Well » St. Martin's Griffin

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[caption id="attachment_1865" align="alignleft" width="150"]you know me well June 7[/caption]

Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.

That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.

When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other -- and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.

The writer who took on Mark's voice — Levithan, I'm assuming — did a fantastic job.  I was less impressed by the voice of Kate. It was actually astonishing at how much I preferred the his writing style over hers. Mark was compelling and sympathetic, while I didn't really like Kate so much.  One thing is certain though — I'm so curious to see if Mark ends up with a happily ever after!

Kimberly McCreight » The Outliers » HarperTeen

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[caption id="attachment_1873" align="alignleft" width="150"]Outliers book May 3[/caption]

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

I had to really fight to get through this excerpt.  It was just boring, compared to all the talent that's displayed in this edition of Buzz Books. I found myself not caring one bit about the main character or what happens to her. I don't think I'll be picking this one up. There are just too many books out there vying for my time.

Richelle Mead » The Glittering Court » Razorbill

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[caption id="attachment_1880" align="alignleft" width="150"]glittering court April 5[/caption]

Big and sweeping, spanning the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies capable of arranging powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together, they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first, as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and later, when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands. . . .

I'll be reading The Glittering Court based on the virtue of Richelle Mead writing it, but I'm very aware that Mead either writes big hits or big misses for me.  I liked most everything this excerpt had to offer, especially the description and the easy style. One thing I will say is that Adelaide thinks she's cleverer than she is.  I think that, like Mead's heroine, Rose Hathaway, Adelaide needs to be knocked down a peg or two. 

Alyson Noël » Unrivaled » Katherine Tegen Books

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[caption id="attachment_1882" align="alignleft" width="150"]unrivaled noel May 10[/caption]

Everyone wants to be someone.

Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

Here's the thing about teen drama: I like watching it in bad television shows (Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries), but I get irritable quickly when reading about it.  I had a hard time getting into this excerpt because I just couldn't get myself to care about the premise — fame hungry teens who see LA as a playground to be conquered.  I'd take a high-stakes fantasy over this any day of the week. But then, am I giving Unrivaled a fair chance?

Matthew Quck » Every Exquisite Thing » Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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[caption id="attachment_1883" align="alignleft" width="150"]every exquisite thing May 10[/caption]

Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

I think a lot of people were alerted to Matthew Quick after Silver Linings Playbook was adapted into a move staring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. At least, it seemed like I saw everyone reading the edition of the book with the movie image on the cover, after the film came out.  And the publicist of Quick's new YA novel is definitely banking on that name recognition of the movie, because "SilverLiningsPlaybookSilverLiningsPlaybookSilverLiningsPlaybook" was all over the blurb and  in the author biography.  I have to say, the strategy worked on me, because the name recognition thing DID make me stop and pause and feel like I got a good mental footing.  This is the same reason why people go to Denny's over and over again, right?

Anyways, at first I was kind of over Nanette's character because she's such a stupid teen, reminding me so much of myself at that age, just really tortured and self-impressed, you know?  But then, once I got to the chapter that summarizes The Bubblegum Reaper, I started to get that insatiable, curious feeling, that's like an itch. 

So now I have to read the book. 


Victoria Schwab » This Savage Song » Greenwillow Books

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[caption id="attachment_1884" align="alignleft" width="150"]this savage song July 7[/caption]

The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.

I consider myself an intelligent person, but this summary had my eyes glazing over and my slackened mouth mumbling, "wut?" Reading the excerpt only helped me understand slightly more what was going on.  It's still a little over my head. It seems that Victoria Schwab is getting more and more out-there with her books, which is definitely a good thing — we don't need more of the same in YA lit.  I'll probably read this because Schwab wrote it, and I can't forget the magic of reading Vicious for the first time, but I'm not jumping up and down with excitement yet.

Evelyn Skye » The Crown's Game » Balzer + Bray

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[caption id="attachment_1969" align="alignleft" width="150"]crown's game May 17[/caption]

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

They say that you can learn a lot about a character by how you're introduced to them in a book, and we meet Vika..... standing in line at the bakery.  Not the most scintillating start.  But there are a few things about this book that are VERY hard to ignore.  It's being published by Balzer + Bray, for one.  They don't publish just any old rag, you know? And also, the preliminary reviews have been raves.  So I won't hesitate to snatch this book up at the first opportunity. 

Maggie Stiefvater » The Raven King » Scholastic Press

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[caption id="attachment_1970" align="alignleft" width="150"]raven king April 26[/caption]

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Kirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

I won't be reading The Raven King in the near future, not unless I pick this series back up again.  I have the weirdest time reading Stiefvater books.  I was bored to tears by The Raven Boys and put off by Shiver, but I love The Scorpio Races with complete tenacity.  It's so strange how I can vacillate so wildly in response to one author's work.

Kara Thomas » The Darkest Corners » Delacorte Press

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[caption id="attachment_1971" align="alignleft" width="150"]darkest corners April 19[/caption]

    There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.
    Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.
    Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.
    But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
    Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

I find it so hard to be impressed by YA thrillers, probably because in that realm, there's a big difference between PG-13 and R.  I don't know, it just seems discordant when teenage identity crises are caught up with life and death struggles.  Like, find some perspective, boys and girls.  You won't have a life to figure out pretty soon because YOUR LIFE IS ON THE LINE. I won't pick up The Darkest Corners unless some good reviews start coming in. (Update: Good reviews are coming in. Guess I'm reading this one. Whoops.)

Teresa Toten » Beware That Girl » Delacorte Press

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[caption id="attachment_1972" align="alignleft" width="150"]beware that girl May 31[/caption]

The Haves. The Have Nots. Kate O'Brien appears to be a Have Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she's had to snake her way out of--some more sinister than others. But she's determined to change that. She's book smart. She's street-smart. And she's also a masterful liar.
     As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ranks and land a spot at Yale. She's already found her "people" among the senior class "it" girls--specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she's always needed, the sister she never had.
     When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration as head of fundraising, he immediately charms his way into the faculty and students' lives--especially Olivia's, although she doesn't share what's going on. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can't reveal and can't afford to ignore. Mark has his own plan for a bright future and never doubts that he can pull it off. How close can Kate and Olivia get with Mark without having to share their dark pasts?

This excerpt had me reminiscing both of Prep and Gossip Girl — two books I didn't care for. There's nothing really more to say. O is after K who's after M who's after O wait I don't care.

Mary Weber » Siren's Song » Thomas Nelson

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[caption id="attachment_1973" align="alignleft" width="150"]siren's song March 1[/caption]

Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.

Like The Raven King, I won't be picking up this book without re-starting the series.  I began the first book, but put it down after it failed to hold my interest after the first few chapters.  I can't help but feel that maybe it was a mistake, that the series gets better with each book. Who can tell me?

John Corey Whaley » Highly Illogical Behavior » Dial

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[caption id="attachment_1974" align="alignleft" width="150"]highly illogical behavior May 10[/caption]

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well. 

A hilarious and heartwarming coming-of-age perfect for readers of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and All The Bright Places,Highly Illogical Behavior showcases the different ways in which we hide ourselves from the world—and the ways in which love, tragedy, and the need for connection may be the only things to bring us back into the light.

I found All the Bright Places to give an unrealistic and romanticized portrayal of mental illness, and something tells me that this book, which is compared to AtBP, might have a similar problem.  Furthermore, I did not like Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, which this book is also compared to. I'm going to go ahead and call this book a pass. 

Kiersten White » And I Darken » Delacorte Press

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[caption id="attachment_1975" align="alignleft" width="150"]and i darken June 28[/caption]

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

I had a bit of a letdown with Kiersten White's oeuvre after her Paranormalcy series finished.  I just didn't like Mind Games and the other stuff she put out.  But And I Darken promises to turn a new corner for White.  The premise is very cool.  We follow the legitimate daughter of Vlad the Impaler, who, although Vlad doesn't care because of her gender, inherited quite a bit of her father's attitude and ruthlessness.  The opening chapters describe the MC's birth and toddler-hood, and it was hilarious, in a really creepy, awesome way. I'll definitely be picking up And I Darken. 


This is definitely an impressive line-up for spring, and reading Buzz Books: YA Spring/Summer 2016 served to both increase my anticipation for books I was already looking forward to and to alert me to new titles. For instance, I was already all over Rebel of the Sands, but now I know that my excitement is warranted.  Likewise, I was excited for And I Darken, but the excerpt made me even more eager.

There are some books that I'm willing to read despite lackluster excerpts and those are The Glittering Court and The Crown's Game.  

Then there were books that I had no intention of reading, but the excerpt changed my mind: My Lady Jane, The Girl in the Blue Coat, and Every Exquisite Thing.

Thank you, Publisher's Lunch and Ingram for this great line-up of excerpts! I had a fantastic time reading them!



  1. The Raven King! A new one by Matthew Quick! Lady Jane! Girl in a Blue Coat. I can practically hear my bookshelves groaning from the added weight. Lol.

  2. Woo! I'm planning on adding Rebel of the Sands, probably without question! I also want to read Blue Coat, but might take to the library for that one and the others.

  3. I was going to name all the ones I wanted to read and am excited about and then I realized it would just be easier to say yes to them all LOL!

  4. It would be a long list for me as well! But REBEL OF THE SANDS! REBEL OF THE SANDS REBEL OF THE SANDS!

  5. I haven't read any of these yet, but now I'm looking forward to With Malice more than before - I didn't realize it had a noirish tone! :)