Friday, October 30, 2015

October Wrap-Up and November TBR

The books I managed to read in October:
 -A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern
-A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
-The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens
-Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
-Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
-Popular by Lauren Urasek
-The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
-Things I Can't Explain by Mitchell Kriegman

My favorite of the month was Wolf by Wolf!  It surprised me in such a great way.

The books I plan to read in November:

Can you tell that I'm in the mood for contemporary?  This will probably change throughout the month, but right now, these are the titles that are on my mind.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Title: The Accident Season
Author: Moira Fowley Doyle
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Magical Realism
Release date: August 18th, 2015
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. They know what they need to do—stock up on bandages and painkillers, cover sharp table edges with padding, banish knives to locked drawers, switch off electrical items. They buckle up, they batten down. 

But this accident season—when Cara; her ex-stepbrother, Sam; and her best friend, Bea, are seventeen—none of that will make a difference. 

Because Cara is starting to ask questions. And the answers were never meant to be found.

This Accident Season started out with a bang (literally) when Alice, Cara's older sister, was admitted to the hospital after a nasty spill down the stairs.  Their mother constantly tries to protect them, but in some ways, she know she can't.  Even the most impossible accidents tend to happen during October, and no one outside their family seems to understand, except Cara's best friend, Bea.  When a girl from school disappears, Cara and Bea team up to solve the mystery of why no one else seems to remember her.  Even though it's accident season, this group of teens take risks they're not supposed to and find something more haunting along the way.

Each relationship in this book was special in its own way, from the sibling ties to the strong friendship, adding a little budding romance.  Throughout the story, you get a look into their past and when the accident season started.  Could it be purely coincidence?  Superstition?  Readers learn that there isn't always a simple conclusion.  The accident season is a mix of all of those things and more.  As the story begins to unravel, so do the characters, learning more about themselves and each other than they thought they knew.

I really enjoyed this story.  Magical realism is one of my favorite genres and there aren't very many young adult books that dabble in it.  Cara and Sam were definitely my favorite characters, although everyone was quite unique, including the mother, who had an affinity for dying her hair crazy colors.  After losing three close family members in past accident seasons, it's clear that they're no strangers to heartbreak.  While this story may be confusing at times, the author wraps everything up nicely.  Not everything is as it seems, and that made the story worth the read.

This book was beautifully written, imaginative and even a little creepy at times.  Moira Fowley-Doyle explores magic and ghosts, showing the creativity behind our main character, yet doesn't stray too far away from the reality of the family's situations.  The twists may surprise readers, mostly because there are a lot of secrets that need to come to the surface in order to understand everything.  Overall, this story gave me chills and haunted my dreams.  I would definitely recommend it, especially around October!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Favorite Wicked Reads for Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner, which means that I'll be curling up with some scary stories and marathoning horror films over the next week!  Today I wanted to share a few of my favorite spooky reads so you can join in on the fun.

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. They know what they need to do—stock up on bandages and painkillers, cover sharp table edges with padding, banish knives to locked drawers, switch off electrical items. They buckle up, they batten down. 

But this accident season—when Cara; her ex-stepbrother, Sam; and her best friend, Bea, are seventeen—none of that will make a difference. 

Because Cara is starting to ask questions. And the answers were never meant to be found.

I'm currently reading this one and it has just the right feel for this time of year!  The Accident Season is great for those who don't like to be scared.  Although it's not as nightmare-inducing as some of the others on this list, the story is perfectly eerie.

Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. 

It can. 

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.

There is. 

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. 

She's wrong.

I read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer a few years ago when it was released, but it's still one of my favorite psychological thrillers in YA. You will not be able to put this book down! Oh yeah, and the first scene starts off with an Ouija board. So creepy.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. 

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay. 

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. 

Yet she spares Cas's life.

I LOVE this duology. If you haven't read it yet, I urge you to get on it ASAP.  It might be my favorite on the list because it is genuinely spooky. I remember the first time I read it, I actually got chills. That's what every scary read needs to be able to do!

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her overprotective mom, by Matt Quinn, the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, the voices are demons - and Bridget possesses the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from. Literally. 

Terrified to tell her friends or family about this new power, Bridget confides in San Francisco's senior exorcist, Monsignor Renault. The monsignor enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession, but just as she is starting to come to terms with her freakish new role, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. And when one of her oldest friends is killed, Bridget realizes she's in deeper than she ever thought possible. Now she must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone else close to her winds up dead - or worse, the human vessel for a demon king.

Anything having to do with demonic possession has always creeped me out. Probably since I was scarred for life when I accidentally watched The Exorcist as a child.

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. 

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder. 

Then Eli’s dream comes true. 

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

The Nightmare Affair isn't scary, but the main character is literally a nightmare. Filled with supernatural creatures and a mystery that will grab a hold of you, this one is definitely worth a read!

Philadelphia 1876. 

The Dead are rising. 

A zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor Fitt. Whoever controls the Dead Army has her brother. She avoids her mother's choice of husband for the lab of Spirit Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel. The situation threatens her reputation, and the lives of everyone in the city.

Steampunk.  Zombies. Need I say more?

It's the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won't stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn't sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she's failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she's forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group's fate is determined less and less by what's happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life--and death--inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

More zombies! This  one is pretty emotional, so it's great for readers looking for that type of connection with the characters.

Alexis thought she led a typically dysfunctional high school existence. Dysfunctional like her parents' marriage; her doll-crazy twelve-year-old sister, Kasey; and even her own anti-social, anti-cheerleader attitude. When a family fight results in some tearful sisterly bonding, Alexis realizes that her life is creeping from dysfunction into danger. Kasey is acting stranger than ever: her blue eyes go green sometimes; she uses old-fashioned language; and she even loses track of chunks of time, claiming to know nothing about her strange behavior. Their old house is changing, too. Doors open and close by themselves; water boils on the unlit stove; and an unplugged air conditioner turns the house cold enough to see their breath in. 

Alexis wants to think that it's all in her head, but soon, what she liked to think of as silly parlor tricks are becoming life-threatening--to her, her family, and to her budding relationship with the class president. Alexis knows she's the only person who can stop Kasey -- but what if that green-eyed girl isn't even Kasey anymore?

Bad Girls Don't Die is one of those books that will make you look over your shoulder while you're flipping the pages.   I've seen this one around the internet a lot lately, and for good reason!

Over the next week, Penguin Teen will be running a Twitter sweepstakes in which you could win a prize pack of their newest Wicked Reads (including The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle!).  All you need to do is write a spooky story in 140 characters or less and include #TwitterGhostStory in your post.  This event will take place from October 26th to the 31st!

What are some of your favorite spooky stories?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October Book Haul

-The Fall of the House of West by Paul Pope, J.T. Petty, & David Rubin
(Paperback from First Second)

-Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
(ARC from The Novl newsletter)

-The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner
(ARC from G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers)

-Popular by Lauren Urasek
(Hardcover from Sterling)

(Hardcover from Thomas Dunne Books)

-The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
(Hardcover from Kathy Dawson Books)

-Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester
(Hardcover from Confessions of a Book Addict)

-Duplicity by N.K. Traver
-The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough
-Virgin by Radhika Sanghani
-Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz
-Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
(Box of books from Books and Swoons)


-This Song is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
-You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
(eGalleys from Sourcebooks Fire)

-These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
(eGalley from Random House Delacorte)

-How to Be Brave by E. Katherine Kottaras
(eGalley from St. Martin's Press)

Friday, October 23, 2015

Review: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Title: Wolf by Wolf
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Release date: October 20th, 2015
Pages: 400 (ARC)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball. 

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Yael knows what it's like to fight for her life.  When she was only 6, she and her mother were dragged to a concentration camp, and if that wasn't bad enough, she became the Angel of Death's favorite human experiment.  As he shot her with poison and chemicals to change the pigment of her skin, hair, and eyes, she discovered that she had another reaction to it.  Yael can shift into looking like anyone she imagines, and that one hidden power may be the only thing to save her from the fate of so many others.  Fast forward ten years, Yael is out for blood.  If she can just get near Hitler, she knows that she could be the one to take him out.

Wolf by Wolf surprised me.  If I was judging it by the cover alone, I know I probably would have never picked it up.  Even the description made me a little hesitant, but I dove in anyway.  I'm so glad that I did, because this story isn't one I'll forget.  I'm absolutely loving the sudden burst of vengeance stories and badass chicks who can hold their own surrounded by nothing but guys.  Yael is confident and determined throughout the entire book, even though there are a few hiccups along the way.

Pretending to be one of Germany's beloved Axis Tour champions, Adele Wolfe, Yael enters the race with her eyes on the prize- one dance with Adolf Hitler at the Victor's Ball.  It wouldn't take her longer than that to slip a blade into his heart.  Unfortunately, Adele's twin brother, Felix, enters the race in order to keep an eye on her.  Between him and Luka, an enemy who clearly had a relationship with Adele in the past, her plans aren't as smooth as she hoped.  Fortunately, Yael has spent more than half of her life training for this.  If anyone could do it, it would be her.

This story jumps from past to present, showing what Yael has had to go through in order to become the person she is at 17.  From the experiments to losing the most important people in her life, it truly was heartbreaking to read and imagine yourself in her place.  The skinshiftinng was so unique to add to a story like this, and it made it that much more intense.  Ryan Graudin did an outstanding job with Wolf by Wolf.  Her writing just grabs you and won't let go until the very last page.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Review: This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

Title: This Monstrous Thing
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Retelling/Steampunk
Release date: September 22nd, 2015
Pages: 384 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon Author

In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits. 

His brother, Oliver—dead. 

His sweetheart, Mary—gone. 

His chance to break free of Geneva—lost. 

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead. But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship. 

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Alasdair Finch is something special.  He's done what no one has ever been able to accomplish.  Out of grief, he makes the decision to bring his older brother back from the dead using his knowledge from being a Shadow Boy, one of the few who illegally create mechanical parts for those missing limbs.  Because his brother needed more clockwork pieces than most living normally require, Alasdair fears that he's changed him too much and that Oliver may never be the same.  He does what he can to protect Oliver from being attacked by those who don't understand, but keeping him locked up doesn't seem to be helping him as much as Alasdair thought it would.

Since this is a retelling of the classic, Frankenstein, I found This Monstrous Thing to be an interesting novel.  When Alasdair gets a book in the mail from a woman named Mary Shelley, his first love, he's horrified to find that this work of fiction is based on his brother's resurrection.  The author is anonymous, but it's clear that someone else knows of his secret, unless Oliver is writing it to get back at him for being locked up all this time.  Suddenly, his life is thrown into a whirlwind when his parents are arrested for their secret side business, but Alasdair manages to get away and find protection with Dr. Geisler, a scientist he's always looked up to.

The tension is heavy between characters, and there's a very real prejudice against those with clockwork parts.  Clemence, Dr. Geisler's assistant and Alasdair's confidant, is my favorite character by far.  Mary Shelley, the actual author of Frankenstein, is a character in this as well, which got me a little excited, although she wasn't the greatest or most loyal person to have around.  Since most readers will already know the mystery behind who actually wrote the book, the time the author spent on building it up fell a little short.

This Monstrous Thing is dark and mysterious, filled with gritty scenes and beautiful writing.  This was one awesome retelling!  I loved the Victorian setting and steampunk elements included.  Ultimately, I think that's what made this story so unique.  Lies, betrayal, and deceit will keep readers hanging on, but the overall sense of hope and forgiveness will make the story worthwhile.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Review: The Distance from Me to You by Marina Gessner

Title: The Distance from Me to You
Author: Marina Gessner
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: October 20th, 2015
Pages: 352 (ARC)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

McKenna Berney is a lucky girl. She has a loving family and has been accepted to college for the fall. But McKenna has a different goal in mind: much to the chagrin of her parents, she defers her college acceptance to hike the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia with her best friend. And when her friend backs out, McKenna is determined to go through with the dangerous trip on her own. While on the Trail, she meets Sam. Having skipped out on an abusive dad and quit school, Sam has found a brief respite on the Trail, where everyone’s a drifter, at least temporarily. 

Despite lives headed in opposite directions, McKenna and Sam fall in love on an emotionally charged journey of dizzying highs and devastating lows. When their punch-drunk love leads them off the trail, McKenna has to persevere in a way she never thought possible to beat the odds or risk both their lives.

McKenna has spent the last few months saving up every penny for her hike through the Appalachian Trail.  Nothing sounded better than spending the next few months alone with her best friend, slowly making their way across the east coast.  This plan was set in stone, or so she thought, until Courtney backed out  because she couldn't stand to spend time apart from her boyfriend.  McKenna makes the decision to go alone without telling her parents, because she knows that they would do anything to stop her.  When her journey begins, she realizes that she's in way over her head, and she's unsure if she'll even be able to survive one day on her own, let alone several months.

I chose to bring this book along on my first solo journey.  Though I wasn't trekking across multiple states on foot with a backpack almost half my weight, I could relate to McKenna in a way that I don't think I would have if I'd read her story in the comfort of my own bed.  I shared her excitement and her fears and I got completely wrapped up in the adventure.  She's not alone the entire time, though, because not long after she began her trip, she met a boy named Sam, who keeps running into her at almost every rest stop.  Sam isn't anything like her, and that's what made both characters and their relationship so interesting.

While McKenna originally began this trip with optimism, Sam is using the trail as an escape, wandering from state to state because he has no where else to go.  Although these two might normally clash, the understanding they have is unique and they push each other to achieve greatness.  The most important thing that I took away from this story is that you can care for and help someone without sacrificing your own goals.  In many Young Adult books, romance can become a main focus, but McKenna never loses track of why she wanted to take this trip in the first place.

The Distance from Me to You quickly became a new favorite of mine.  I found it difficult to put this book down, as McKenna was much stronger than I think I'd ever be.  There's no way that I'd choose to spend a long period of time on my own in the wild, especially knowing all of the dangers that come along with hiking the Appalachian Trail.  This was an excellent story about self discovery that I think any contemporary book lover should read!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday #103

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: The Rose and The Dagger
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust. 

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan. 

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

Earlier this year I fell in love with Renee Ahdieh's debut novel,  The Wrath and The Dawn.  After meeting her, she became one of my new favorite people.  Her writing is incredibly unique, and words cannot explain how much I'm looking forward to the sequel in this series.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Review: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Title: A Step Toward Falling
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publisher: HarperTeen
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Pages: 368 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Sometimes one mistake can change everything. 

Emily doesn’t know why she froze. Or why Lucas did too. Afterward, she thought of different ways to rationalize it. But the truth is, they could have helped Belinda, and they didn’t. It’s a mistake they’ll both have to live with. 

Sometimes doing nothing is the only way to cope. Belinda doesn’t want to talk about what happened. Because when she does, it feels like it’s happening all over again. 

Sometimes good can come from bad. 

Emily and Lucas’s punishment is community service at a center for people with disabilities. People like Belinda. Soon they feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. Like they could help not only those at the center but also each other. 

But when Belinda returns to school, Emily and Lucas have to figure out if they can do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt most.

Belinda has never done anything to deserve what happened to her one Friday night underneath the bleachers at a high school football game.  Emily and Lucas witnessed the unfortunate event, but they froze.  They knew what they needed to do, yet both of them figured that someone else would be the one to take care of everything.  Because of this, both students are sentenced to community service working with other people with disabilities like Belinda.  In their own ways, they each begin to understand how to interact with those different from their typical group of friends.

I enjoyed that this story is told from the point of view of Emily, a 17-year-old teenage girl who has never really fit into the popular crowd.  The second point of view is Belinda's, a 21-year-old student enrolled in the special education program.  At first, it's clear that Emily and Lucas aren't exactly learning much from their community service, but once Belinda comes back into their lives, they do whatever they can to try and make amends.  While Emily and Lucas are still figuring themselves out, they learn a few important lessons in how to care for others.

Belinda is a sweet girl who typically asks for very few things in life.  One of them is to act and the other is to be with Colin Firth, lead actor in the Pride & Prejudice mini series.  When she comes back to school after 6 weeks of trying to cope on her own, Emily and Lucas find that this may be the only shot they have at making it up to her.  They take her two true joys in life and decide to put on a mini play of Pride and Prejudice, starring Belinda herself.  What they don't realize is how much she'll open up after her grandmother tried hard to keep things buried deep inside.  She's an intelligent and charming character, and I'm glad that the author chose to make her a narrator.

Overall, A Step Toward Falling was more than I expected it to be just from reading the description.  The mystery behind the assault pulled me in, but the nature of each character and how well they worked together made me hold on until the end.  This story is honest and well-written.  Cammie McGovern gives voices to those I haven't gotten to hear much of in YA so far.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Pages: 384 (eGalley)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Grace Mae knows madness. 

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum. 

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

The only thing that Grace has done wrong is trust the wrong people.  Coming from a very wealthy, important family, our main character has been locked away to keep certain secrets from leaking out.  She chooses not to use her voice, as if it was taken from her, along with the rest of her rights when she was put in the insane asylum.  When she gets herself into deep trouble, she makes connections that help save her from the life her family meant for her to live, but she does everything she can to make sure that her younger sister never suffers the same way she did.

I enjoyed so many aspects of this story, from the gothic theme to the fact that the line between sane and inside can be quite thin.  Grace meets a doctor who routinely performs lobotomies on the most difficult patients, but he disagrees when she proposes that he should "fix" her.  He sees that she has a brilliant mind and devises a plan to get her out of the asylum so she can become his assistant in the search for a murderer.  While out of the confining walls of the hospital, away from those who abuse her, Grace becomes a whole new person.  She finds her voice again and begins to take control of her life.

Grace is a strong character.  She isn't like many that I've come across in my usual reads.  She goes from looking forward to death to finding another escape, dealing with her monsters in her own way, and helping others, even if only by being their friend.  In a way, she even helps Dr. Thornhollow in more ways than solving the mystery behind each new death.  While there isn't any direct romance within the pages of this book, I definitely felt something between Grace and Thornhollow, which only added to the thrill of reading the story.

A Madness So Discreet is a dark, fast-paced read that will leave you hanging on until the very end.  Historical fiction isn't my favorite genre, but I can't imagine this story taking place in any better period.  Mindy McGinnis has a very unique touch when it comes to writing, and although this is my first of her books, it certainly won't be my last.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Review: Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Title: Juniors
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: September 22nd, 2015
Pages: 320 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon Author

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. 

Part Hawaiian, part Mainlander. Perpetual new girl at school. Hanging in the shadow of her actress mother’s spotlight. And now: new resident of the prominent West family’s guest cottage. 

Bracing herself for the embarrassment of being her classmates’ latest charity case, Lea is surprised when she starts becoming friends with Will and Whitney West instead—or in the case of gorgeous, unattainable Will, possibly even more than friends. And despite their differences, Whitney and Lea have a lot in common: both are navigating a tangled web of relationships, past disappointments and future hopes. As things heat up with Will, and her friendship with Whitney deepens, Lea has to decide how much she's willing to change in order to fit into their world. 

Lea Lane has lived in between all her life. But it isn’t until her junior year that she learns how to do it on her own terms.

Lea Lane doesn't quite fit in.  She followed her actress mother to Hawaii during her junior year of high school, where everyone already knows everyone else.  The only attention she seems to get is from the West family, who invite Lea and her mother to stay in their guest house during her latest project, a popular upcoming drama that the entire island seems to be buzzing about.  Once she steps into this new territory, there's no going back.  Over the next few months, secrets begin to unravel and surprising bonds are made.  Not everyone is what they seem, but some definitely are.

The setting for Juniors is beautiful. I believe this may be the first book I've read which is set in Hawaii, but I thought that the author did a great job bringing readers into the tropical climate, relaxing space and ultimate vacation destination.  Though I've never been to Hawaii, I could imagine every part of the island that Lea wandered.  This book gives you just the right summer feelings.

Friendship is the most important part of the story and it's done well, because each character had their flaws, although some weren't as obvious as others.  As Lea got to know Will and Whitney as friends, she realizes that they're more alike than anyone could have guessed.  The Wests come from a wealthy family, and it's no secret that Lea and her mother have significantly less.  While they've never struggled or gone without anything they need, they don't exactly own a beach side mansion, either.

Throughout the book, we see Lea blossom.  Although she was a little hesitant to get close to Whitney, they end up with a true friendship that could last a lifetime.  There are a lot of feelings in this book, from self doubt, judgement, and the value of others to love, excitement, and true happiness.  Juniors is a great beachy read for summer or just for when you want to get away from the chill of those colder months.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Release Day: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

It's no secret that Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors.  I first fell in love with Eleanor & Park, then I got wrapped up in her second young adult novel, Fangirl.  This is where readers are introduced to Simon Snow, a fictional character within another fictional book.  He's almost like Harry Potter to Rowell's main character, Cath.  In Carry On, we get to dive deeper into Simon Snow's world and see why Cath became so obsessed.


Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. 

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.


RAINBOW ROWELL writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love. When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things. She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.

I'm so excited for this release that I'm giving away a copy of the book.  This giveaway is open internationally!  Good luck, everyone!

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