What You Hide by Natalie D. Richards #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #YA #thriller

Spencer volunteers at the library. Sure, it’s community service, but he likes his work. Especially if it means getting to see Mallory.

Mallory spends a lot of time keeping her head down. When you’re sixteen and homeless, nothing matters more than being anonymous. But Spencer’s charm makes her want to be noticed.

Then sinister things start happening at the library. Mysterious symbols and terrifying warnings begin to appear, and management grows suspicious. Spencer and Mallory know a homeless teenager makes an easy target, and if they can’t find the real culprit soon, they could lose more than just their safe haven…

As a total book nerd, a library setting is what drew me to this novel initially.  Not only are there strange happenings afoot in the library, this book portrays teens dealing with devastating real-life issues such as emotional abuse, homelessness, and unsafe home environments.

In the first couple of pages, I met Spencer and immediately loved his voice.  He possesses a wicked sense of humor, is a bit mischievous, and, as a senior in high school, is trying to figure out his future and where he fits in the world.  Mallory’s situation is heartbreaking.  With a controlling and emotionally abusive stepfather who’s made Mallory’s mother practically a prisoner in her own home, Mallory chooses homelessness over staying in an unsafe environment.  It’s obvious the author performed extensive research into available resources for people in these dangerous situations, and includes a hotline number in the author’s note.

Something I particularly admire is the way the parent-child relationships are portrayed.  In Mallory’s case, the roles are nearly reversed.  As a level-headed teen with a talent for problem-solving, she senses the danger at home, researches options, and tries to convince her mother to leave.  With Spencer, he’s dealing with his own issues in addition to helping Mallory, but eventually realizes he needs his parents’ help, and is even encouraged by a friend to talk to them.  When Spencer’s future plans don’t line up with his parents’ expectations, they keep an open mind and listen to his ideas.

What You Hide is billed as a YA romantic thriller, but I’d describe it as more of a YA thriller/contemporary/coming of age story.  Maybe there’s a bit of insta-love, but the romance is adorable, and not the primary focus of the story.  Add this to your TBR today.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC.

 

 

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst #bookreview #YA #fantasy

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

Humans that turn into dragons?  Heists?  Why wouldn’t you want to read this?  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Sky’s family and friends are the most important things in her life – along with kissing and ice cream.  Her priorities are straight, and her humorous voice makes this such a fun read.  The world-building is amusing – in the wyvern culture, leading your first heist is cause for celebration.  As dragons, stealing and hoarding gold is encouraged, so in Sky’s world, her situation is pretty much a coming-of-age story.

The family dynamics make up a good portion of this story – a family mourning their mother gone missing, an overprotective father, and brothers who clearly care about Sky, but show it in awkward, yet heartfelt ways.  Most of the supporting characters are well-drawn, and Sky’s human friend, Gabriela, is like an adorable puppy you want to hug.

Fire and Heist is more of a fluffy read, but with an Ocean’s Eleven-like heist, a lovable family, and a charming and determined MC, it’s light and enjoyable.  Also, dragons!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

 

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston #bookreview #YA #mystery

Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.

Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. It’s bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac–and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.

Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets–and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past–and write a better future. 

After reading a couple of heavy sci-fi/fantasy books, I was in the mood for an intriguing mystery.  I’d never read anything else by this author, but rest assured, I plan on correcting that.

I finished this book in less than two days (while I was supposed to be working on several other projects), but just couldn’t put it down.  The dual narrative between Owen and Noah is done so well, and goes about revealing the layers of secrets at a perfect pace.  A small town setting and and secluded pecan farm only add to the years-old secrets.  With the shocking situation Owen and his mother find themselves in, being stripped of everything they own and having to endure horrible comments and treatment from both adults and teens affected by Owen’s father, it’s incredibly easy to relate to them.  Rather than wallowing in self-pity over everything he’s lost, I admired Owen’s determination to better his situation, help his mother, and find his father.

Upon reaching the end of the book, I had several theories, but the twist came as a surprise.  Warning:  Whatever you do, don’t flip to the end of this novel and spoil it for yourself!

If you’re looking for an absolutely un-put-downable mystery with deliciously surprising twists, this is your book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada #bookreview #YA #scifi

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind. 

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil, was one of my most captivating reads last year.  Any books involving genetic engineering?  Yes, please.  I was so excited to receive an ARC of This Cruel Design, but also cautiously optimistic that it would live up to my heightened expectations.  No worries – it more than delivered, and is just as addictive as the first book.

I had no trouble falling right back into Cat’s world, but still appreciated the recap in the first couple of chapters.  Strong characterization is one of the strong points of this series, and I thought I knew these characters’ secrets – wrong.  So very wrong.  More gasp-worthy secrets, hidden agendas, surprising relationship reveals – strap yourselves in and be prepared.  The coding technology continues to thrill my inner science geek, and comes across as absolutely realistic the way it’s written.

With a unique plot line, strong, likable characters pushed to their limits, a fast pace, and futuristic technology, this series will appeal to YA sci-fi fans, and is easily a crossover.  My wait for the next book will not be patient or pleasant.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky #bookreview #YA #contemporary #TuesdayBookBlog

The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

Although I’m not usually a big reader of YA contemporary, after reading the blurb for Mammoth, there’s no way I could pass it up.  I’m kind of a dino nerd – given, there aren’t dinosaurs in this book, but it was close enough for me.

Let me say up front – if you have daughters or know girls who are interested in STEM, steer them toward this book.  It strongly encourages girls to display their intelligence front and center, pursue their goals, and be themselves.  After they read it, encourage them to make better choices than Natalie.  She makes one bad decision after another and frustrated me – but she’s such a relatable, personable protagonist that I forgave her.  In her defense, she has good intentions, and also owns up to everything.  Nat’s character arc is incredible, and she’ll charm you from the first page.

Mammoth also contains some standard tropes that are difficult to get away from in YA – a love triangle, a rich, mean girl, and an awesome guy who maybe really isn’t, but all the supporting characters are well-written.

If you’re looking for a fresh, highly enjoyable read that also tackles some very relevant issues, Mammoth easily fills those requirements.

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the ARC.

Calendar Girls: Not Quite The End (Favorite Middle Book in a Series)

This is a meme I saw at Adrienne’s blog and thought it looked like fun.  She invited me to join in, and even though the Neil Sedaka song was embedded in my brain and played all day, I decided to participate.  I’m pretty late getting in on this, but better late than never, right?

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

The other fun piece to The Calendar Girls group is the Twitter chat. On the 3rd Sunday of each month, at 8 p.m. EST, Katie and Adrienne will host a chat with hashtag #CGBChat, where everyone can participate and gif away. They will get the ball rolling by asking a question or two about the theme or the picks of the month to get everyone chatting. The hashtag will be used in all tweets, so you can see all the fun!

The first book in this series, This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada, was one of my top reads last year, and I was worried the second book wouldn’t maintain the pace and intensity of the first.  Most people are familiar with ‘Middle Book Syndrome’, and I’d been burned before when going in with high expectations.

I worried for nothing.  This Cruel Design more than delivered, and is just as addictive.  More secrets, hidden agendas, and relationship reveals – plenty of shocks and surprises along the way.  And a cliffhanger that left my mouth gaping.  The last book in the series has a lot to live up to.

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

#BadMoonRising: Grey Lore by Jean Knight Pace and Jacob Kennedy #YA #paranormal #giveaway #TuesdayBookBlog

THE WINNER OF THE E-BOOK GIVEAWAY IS STACI TROILO!

I have a surprise for you – today’s authors are giving away a Kindle e-book copy of their young adult paranormal novel!  All you need to do is leave a comment below, and the winner will be chosen by random.org and announced next Tuesday.  If you’d like to know what Homer Simpson has in common with zombies, read on.  Welcome Jean Knight Pace and Jacob Kennedy!

You’re in a horror movie.  Are you the final person, the first to die, the comic relief, the skeptic, the smart one, or the killer?

Jean: Hmm, definitely the first to die. Or the comic relief. My luck, I’d probably be both.

Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, or zombies – which would you least want to meet in a dark alley?

Jacob: If I were in a dark alley, I would prefer to meet a zombie. They seem slow and stupid. In fact the whole notion of the zombie as portrayed in popular lore, is that of a slow, unthinking, ravenously hungry creature not dissimilar to Homer Simpson. However, unlike Homer Simpson, for some inexplicable reason, nothing can stop the Zombie. Even though they are a decaying, rotting and can’t reason any better than a 1-year-old child, the zombie can take over the entire world. The best strategy against the zombie? Based on my simple observation…walk away. Barring that, a baseball bat should do the trick. It’s not rocket science.

If you were paid to spend the night in a haunted house, would you do it?

Jacob: I would have to ask, how haunted is this house? Where is it (because I’m not one to take a long trip unless it’s going to be awesome)? And how much does the gig pay ?

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Jean: Pen, notebook, computer. Just the basics for me. The other things honestly start to feel overwhelming. I enjoy a good book on craft here and there, but really just give me a pen and piece of paper.

What’s your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Jean: Generally, I do my part-time job and other stuff in the mornings. Then in the afternoons I write. I start with one or two unsavory or tedious tasks (usually something technical or marketing). And then I get to write and edit, which is my favorite part. I try to get several hours of writing and/or editing in each day.

What are you working on now?

Jean and Jacob: We’re working on a new series that we’re really excited about. It’s a middle grade series set in the White House with a Twilight zone-esque twist. It’s sci-fi, but some smart ghosts may or may not make a few appearances.

Despite the perks of living with her rich aunt, Ella’s new life in Napper, Indiana, is pretty much tragically boring.

Until Ella starts hearing strange voices.

As rogue wolves begin to stalk the edges of town and a serial killer with a penchant for silver bullets draws closer, the city of Napper seems to wake up. 

Ella, with her new friends, Sam and Sarah, might be able to find out what the strange occurrences mean. Except that they’re all being pulled in different directions by people who love them; and some who don’t.

Before they lose their way to the whispers they hear from the past, or the call to a future they’re not sure they want to create, the friends will need to confront who they really are and figure out what’s hiding in the silence of their sleepy little town. 

Author Bios

Jean Knight Pace is the co-author of the YA novels, Grey Stone and Grey Lore, as well as the Amazon best-seller, Hugging Death: Essays on Motherhood and Saying Goodbye. She has had essays and short stories published in Puerto del Sol, The Lakeview Review, and other literary magazines. She lives in Indiana with her husband, four children, seven ducks, two chickens, and a cat. You can find more about her at jeanknightpace.com.

Jacob Kennedy is the author of the YA fantasy novels Grey Stone and Grey Lore. He lives in Indiana with his wife and kids. When he’s not dreaming up stories about wolves, ghosts, and other creatures, he’s working his day job as a doctor in the emergency room.

Social Media Links: 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/jeanknightpace.author/

https://www.facebook.com/jacobkennedybooks/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/jeanknightpace

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/jeanknightpacewrites/

Buy Link for Grey Lore: 
Buy Link for Grey Stone: