What If It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera #bookreview #YA #LGBT

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

The category for one of my book clubs was to choose a book from a genre I don’t usually read.  For me, that’s a YA romance.

I’d read Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and adored Simon’s voice, so another Albertalli book was an easy selection for me.  Ben and Arthur are just as charismatic and super nerdy in their own ways.  After their meet cute, they finally locate each other in an amusing way.  I laughed over some of their conversations and first dates – yes, plural – that were awkward and disastrous.  The friendships are done so well, and one of my favorite things about the book, as are the characters’ relationships with their parents.

Yes, it was a bit predictable, but I was so pleased with the ending.  No spoilers here.  What If It’s Us is heartwarming and amusing with characters you’ll fall in love with, and a pleasure to read.

 

 

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Between getting the book to my editor and now doing edits, this has been a slow couple of reading weeks for me.  According to Goodreads, I’m four books behind on my challenge.  I’ll make it up once I get the book turned in!

I’m currently reading Containment (Sanctuary #2) by Caryn Lix.  I’m about halfway through, but this one hasn’t been quite as compelling for me as the first.  There’s quite a bit of repetition, but this is an ARC and that’s something that may be taken care of in the final draft.

They may have escaped Sanctuary, but Kenzie and her friends are far from safe.

Ex-Omnistellar prison guard Kenzie and her superpowered friends barely made it off Sanctuary alive. Now they’re stuck in a stolen alien ship with nowhere to go and no one to help them. Kenzie is desperate for a plan, but she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. Everyone has their own dark secrets: Omnistellar, her parents, even Cage. Worse still, she’s haunted by memories of the aliens who nearly tore her to shreds—and forced her to accidentally kill one of the Sanctuary prisoners, Matt.

When Kenzie intercepts a radio communication suggesting that more aliens are on their way, she knows there’s only one choice: They must turn themselves in to Omnistellar and destroy the ship before the aliens follow the signal straight to them. Because if the monstrous creatures who attacked Sanctuary reach Earth, then it’s game over for humanity.

What Kenzie doesn’t know is that the aliens aren’t the only ones on the hunt. Omnistellar has put a bounty on Kenzie’s head—and the question is whether the aliens or Omnistellar get to her first. 

I recently finished House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig.  With its atmospheric tones and Gothic feel, this book is perfect to curl up with on a stormy night.

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. 

Next, I’ll read The Warehouse by Rob Hart.  This novel has been getting some fantastic reviews on Goodreads, and Blake Crouch, one of my auto-buy authors blurbed it.

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

Paxton never thought he’d be working for Cloud, the giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. Much less that he’d be moving into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities. 

But compared to what’s left outside, Cloud’s bland chainstore life of gleaming entertainment halls, open-plan offices, and vast warehouses…well, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s more than anyone else is offering. 

Zinnia never thought she’d be infiltrating Cloud. But now she’s undercover, inside the walls, risking it all to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets. And Paxton, with his ordinary little hopes and fears? He just might make the perfect pawn. If she can bear to sacrifice him. 

As the truth about Cloud unfolds, Zinnia must gamble everything on a desperate scheme—one that risks both their lives, even as it forces Paxton to question everything about the world he’s so carefully assembled here. 

Together, they’ll learn just how far the company will go…to make the world a better place. 

Set in the confines of a corporate panopticon that’s at once brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, The Warehouse is a near-future thriller about what happens when Big Brother meets Big Business–and who will pay the ultimate price. 

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates #bookreview #YA #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

A plague, called Wicked, is pulsing through the world; and in its wake, it’s dividing the population into thirds:

The WICKED: Already infected by the droves of Singers, the ultraviolet mosquito-like insects who carry the plague, the Wicked roam the world freely. They don’t want for much—only to maim and dismember you. But don’t worry: They always ask politely first.

The TRUE: The True live in contained, isolated communities. They’re the lucky ones; they found safety from the Singers. And while the threat of the Wicked may not be eliminated, for the True, the threat has certainly been contained…

The VEXED: The Vexed are the truly fortunate ones—they survived the sting of the Singers, leaving them immune. But they’re far from safe. The Vexed hold the key to a cure, and there are those who will do anything to get it.

I’m always up for a post-apocalyptic plague story.  I’ve read several, but this novel puts a fresh spin on the typical version.

Some reviews have referred to the Wicked as zombies.  I didn’t see them that way at all.  They’re almost childlike, but retain most of their memories and are able to function and take care of themselves.  It’s unnerving, because it can be difficult to tell they’re Wicked.  They’re lethal and, given the chance, will kill you in spectacular ways.  However, as with children, their attention can usually be diverted – at least for a little while.  Maybe enough time to get to safety.  Maybe not.  Don’t underestimate them.

There’s a clever plot twist toward the end.  It’s something I suspected early on, but that didn’t make it any less ingenious, and it gives the whole story a new perspective.

How We Became Wicked isn’t just a post-apocalyptic story, it’s also about the sacrifices we make to save our loved ones.  And how some people can so easily sacrifice others to save themselves.  The ending leaves me to believe there may be a sequel.  If so, I’ll definitely be looking for it.  This novel is scheduled for release July 23, 2019.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

#AmWriting, Book Title, and #Memphis

I have three different levels of good news to share with you today.  Good news – I finished Book 3 and sent it to my editor on Thursday.  Fantastic news – she sent it back to me on Saturday night!  Staci, you’re an editing rock star.  About damn time news – I think I have a title.  I’m mulling it over this week while doing edits, and I hope to share it with you next Monday.  Woohoo!!!

This past weekend, hubby and I traveled with friends to Memphis.  Half of us had visited before, but it was a new experience for the rest of us.  It didn’t start off in the most promising way.  On Wednesday, the IHG hotel we had reservations with emailed all of us.  Their AC was out, and we were instructed to call their customer service line for assistance.  Long story short, IHG needs some serious remedial training in customer service.  They were absolutely no help, and we were on our own to find another hotel.

Anyhoo, we made it, and Friday night was spent eating BBQ, dropping by the Peabody Hotel for dessert (you knew it had to be chocolate), and listening to music on Beale Street (sorry the pic’s so crappy).  Saturday, we toured Graceland.  I’m not an Elvis fan, but I was in the minority – hubby and a couple of friends with us were huge fans.  The grounds were beautiful, but the house is much smaller than you’d think.  Visitors were permitted to tour the first floor and basement, and the 70s decor (lots and lots of shag carpet!) brought back some memories of the house I grew up in.

If you’re thinking of traveling to Memphis, I’d highly recommend City Tasting Tours.  We chose the Arts District Food Tour, and it was sensational.  Not only were we treated to some delicious, appetizing food from four different restaurants, we learned fascinating details about the area and history of the district from Christina, our fabulous tour guide.  By the end, the six of us were well-stuffed, and had throughly enjoyed outselves.

Well – I’ll be busy on edits, acknowledgements, and a book description this week.  Happy writing and reading!

 

Christmas in July #BookSale! #YA #SciFi #Fantasy

The Gemini Connection has a new and immensely improved book description – yay!  But I have a stack of books with the old description printed on the back, so let the Christmas shopping commence – after all, it’s only 168 days away!

I’m selling paperbacks for $10.00 (sorry, US only), and I’ll ship it to you media mail.  Or if ebooks are more your thing, it’s $3.99 on Amazon.  Get your Christmas or birthday shopping done early and check something off your to-do list!

If you’d like to purchase a copy, email me at tpolen6@gmail.com and I can invoice you through PayPal.

Here’s what reviewers are saying:

“…an intriguing world that will appeal to fans of Stranger Things and The Giver…”

“(The LGBT plot line) is shown in such a healthy, positive way and I loved it.”

“The characters were amazingly well-written and balanced.”

“The idea of Benders being able to infiltrate the minds of sleepers and interact with dreams and nightmares was mesmerizing.” 

Planet Tage is dying, and the best hope of saving it is gone.

Seventeen-year-old identical twins Evan and Simon share an extraordinary bond, a trait that’s both useful and invasive. They use their connection in their work at Scientific Innovations. Evan is a Mindbender, someone who enters the minds of scientists to spark ideas, join thoughts, and battle nightmares. Simon is a science prodigy and Tage’s best chance of survival.

Unfortunately, their unusual link often bleeds into their private lives. When Evan discovers his brother is keeping a secret from him, he lashes out and ignores requests to talk, and even pleas for help. By the time Evan tunes back in, he finds their connection severed and Simon missing.

He suffers a terrible case of survivor’s guilt. Moreover, he’s desperate. The fate of the world rests on Simon’s return, and Evan is willing to do anything to get him back—even working with his greatest rival, who also happens to be Simon’s boyfriend.

Evan finds allies among enemies and adversaries among friends. When nothing is as it seems and everything is depending on him, he must explore a dangerous aspect to his twin connection he never knew he had.

If he fails, he’ll lose both his brother and his world.

Heartwood Box by Ann Aguirre #bookreview #YA #mystery #TuesdayBookBlog

A dark, romantic YA suspense novel with an SF edge and plenty of drama, layering the secrets we keep and how appearances can deceive, from the New York Times bestselling author.

In this tiny, terrifying town, the lost are never found. When Araceli Flores Harper is sent to live with her great-aunt Ottilie in her ramshackle Victorian home, the plan is simple. She’ll buckle down and get ready for college. Life won’t be exciting, but she’ll cope, right?

Wrong. From the start, things are very, very wrong. Her great-aunt still leaves food for the husband who went missing twenty years ago, and local businesses are plastered with MISSING posters. There are unexplained lights in the woods and a mysterious lab just beyond the city limits that the locals don’t talk about. Ever. When she starts receiving mysterious letters that seem to be coming from the past, she suspects someone of pranking her or trying to drive her out of her mind. To solve these riddles and bring the lost home again, Araceli must delve into a truly diabolical conspiracy, but some secrets fight to stay buried… 

I’ve never read this author before, but when the book description mentioned a small town with secrets, and suspense with a sci-fi edge, I knew it was time to become acquainted with her work.

This book grabbed me right away.  Araceli feels a presence in the attic, and actually sees the string attached to a light bulb turn on by itself – I was all in.  Mysterious lights in the forest, loads of people missing, a box that transports letters to a recipient decades earlier – it just got better.  A lot goes on in this novel, and that’s something I enjoyed about it.  It’s also an usual blend of contemporary, romance, suspense, and sci-fi, something that should attract readers of several genres.

Traveling with her journalist parents for most of her life, Araceli has experienced things most teens can’t imagine, so it’s understandable that she dives into these mysteries head first.  While I admire her bravery and determination, she also comes across as selfish and headstrong, since she doesn’t always consider the consequences of her actions – especially when they involve the lives of other people.  Then again, these are the actions of a teenager.

I don’t generally read YA contemporary, but with sci-fi, suspense, and time travel tossed into the mix, I plowed through this book in a couple of days.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

#AmWriting, #BookSale, and #StrangerThings3

Happy Monday, guys!  Not sure about you, but we’re roasting here.  I feel like we live inside a dryer turned on high – the heat and humidity are miserable.  When it’s like this, I stay inside with the AC.

My beta returned her notes a week ago – she had some fantastic ideas, and confirmed some things I already suspected in the back of my mind – and I’ve been hunkered over the laptop for the past eight days deleting, rewriting, and adding/deleting POVs.  We’re going out of town this weekend with friends to Memphis (first time for me), so my goal is to get this done, sent off to my editor, and enjoy the weekend without thinking about the book every second.  This is also why I’m so behind on visiting blogs – I promise I’ll get to yours!

I’ll post more about it this week, but with some expert help from a friend (thanks, Staci!) The Gemini Connection now has a new description on the back:

Planet Tage is dying, and the best hope of saving it is gone.

Seventeen-year-old identical twins Evan and Simon share an extraordinary bond, a trait that’s both useful and invasive. They use their connection in their work at Scientific Innovations. Evan is a Mindbender, someone who enters the minds of scientists to spark ideas, join thoughts, and battle nightmares. Simon is a science prodigy and Tage’s best chance of survival.

Unfortunately, their unusual link often bleeds into their private lives. When Evan discovers his brother is keeping a secret from him, he lashes out and ignores requests to talk, and even pleas for help. By the time Evan tunes back in, he finds their connection severed and Simon missing.

He suffers a terrible case of survivor’s guilt. Moreover, he’s desperate. The fate of the world rests on Simon’s return, and Evan is willing to do anything to get him back—even working with his greatest rival, who also happens to be Simon’s boyfriend.

Evan finds allies among enemies and adversaries among friends. When nothing is as it seems and everything is depending on him, he must explore a dangerous aspect to his twin connection he never knew he had.

If he fails, he’ll lose both his brother and his world.

What does this mean for you?  A Christmas in July sale!  I have a stack of books at home with the old description I’m selling for $10, and will ship them to you media mail.  If you’d like to purchase one (or more!) email me at tpolen6@gmail.com

I usually mention what I’m watching, but this week, it’s what I’d like to be watching.  I’ve been waiting for so long – Stranger Things is back!  Season 3 dropped last week, but because of the rewrites, I haven’t been able to get to it yet.  I forsee bingeing in my future.