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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Just Finished Reading: The Go-Between

The Go-Between
by Veronica Chambers

Published on May 9, 2017
by Delacorte

Synopsis from Goodreads: She is the envy of every teenage girl in Mexico City. Her mother is a glamorous telenovela actress. Her father is the go-to voice-over talent for blockbuster films. Hers is a world of private planes, chauffeurs, paparazzi and gossip columnists. Meet Camilla del Valle Cammi to those who know her best. When Cammi s mom gets cast in an American television show and the family moves to LA, things change, and quickly. Her mom s first role is playing a not-so-glamorous maid in a sitcom. Her dad tries to find work but dreams about returning to Mexico. And at the posh, private Polestar Academy, Cammi s new friends assume she s a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic. At first Cammi thinks playing along with the stereotypes will be her way of teaching her new friends a lesson. But the more she lies, the more she wonders: Is she only fooling herself?
My take: Overall, The Go-Between is an entertaining story about a girl pretending to be someone she's not. Camilla is the daughter of a famous Mexican telenovela actress - her mom is the beloved star of Mundos sin Fronteras. So she hangs with the #RKOMC (Rich Kids of Mexico City), though she doesn't really feel like she fits in. When her mom gets hired to shoot a pilot in Los Angeles, Cammie's plunked down into a completely new environment, a private school where everyone assumes she's a scholarship kid, the daughter of a domestic worker. When her secret is finally exposed, she's hoping to have taught her new friends something about making assumptions. Instead, they're all mad at her - her rich friends feel manipulated, and an East LA student Cammie has been trying to befriend is furious that Came has been playing at being poor.

What I liked: I was interested to read a YA contemporary that explores the intersections of ethnicity and social class. Watching Cammie navigate her new environment was fascinating and fun - in Mexico she knew she was super-privileged, but in the U.S. she wasn't sure where she fit in and was fascinated at the way people made assumptions about her. The writing was lively and the book included a lot of cool information about Mexico City and Mexican history, architecture, and food.

On the less positive side, there was something about the narration that was distancing. YA writing is usually not like that - in fact, I'd argue that YA writing is all about creating a tight bond between narrator and reader. From the author's bio, I can see that her prior publications were mostly memoirs, which made a lot of sense to me. This book did read a bit like a memoir -- I was always aware that I was being told a story. I'm not one of those people who thinks "telling" in a story is a mortal sin, but this story did feel told and not shown. The plot also felt a little like a sitcom - comic, with a problem that is set up and then quickly and easily resolved - but maybe that was deliberate.

That said, The Go-Between made me laugh and made me think. It's an entertaining read that isn't the typical YA contemporary.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Just Finished Reading: One of Us is Lying

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One of Us is Lying
by Karen McManus

To be published
on May 30, 2017
by Delacorte

Source: e-ARC for review from the publisher

Synopsis from Goodreads: On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them. 
My take:  I love mysteries, and thought One of Us Is Lying presented a fun locked room inspired puzzle. Five high school students are tricked into thinking they have afterschool detention. All five show up at the assigned detention room, full of questions. Before long, one of the five is dead. As questions swirl, they start banding together to try to figure out what happened and who was responsible for the murder. As the victim was a dirt-digging student blogger who knew secrets about each one of them, they all theoretically had a motive.

I had two theories about the killer, and one of them was correct. It was an ending I'd seen before,  but I still found this an enjoyable and suspenseful read. I also liked the fact that none of the characters was quite what he or she seemed to be at the outset. As each character confronts the secret that the murder victim knew, he or she has to do some serious soul-searching about what will happen when the secret comes out.

This is a fun summer read, perfect for your beach or pool or airplane tote!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Just Finished Reading: Perfect Ten by L. Philips

Perfect Ten
by L. Philips

To be published on June 6, 2017
by Viking

Source: ARC for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. But when Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the 13th. Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend Landon might want another chance. But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic. 
My take: I do love me a good rom-com, and while I don't love magical realism in literary fiction, I'm not above enjoying a sprinkling of magic in a love story.

So... Perfect Ten is  cute story about a high school guy trying to find love. Sam is moping after a disastrous breakup (it's so bad that he speaks of himself in the third person, getting me confused). So he convinces his best friend to perform a Wiccan love spell for him, in which he makes a Top Ten list of what he wants in a guy.

Bam! His wish gets granted and then some. It's raining men!!!  Is Sam in lust with a cute French foreign exchange student? That hot musician? The shy artist? Or is he still in love with his ex??

Okay, so I was voting against the French foreign exchange student. I love accents of all kinds, but the book had this poor guy speaking like "zis all ze time. " For me: ze nails on ze chalkboard! I had my fave picked out from the guys and (yay!) my pick won out.

Perfect Ten is all romance drama, so don't go in expecting something deep. It's a fun summer read, though!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing May 23-29

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

LAST CHANCE to enter the May giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed! Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Light week this week - time to catch up on your spring reading!

Dove Alight In a Perfect World Refuge for Masterminds
Dove Alight (Dove Chronicles #3) by Karen Bao (Viking)
In a Perfect World by Trish Doller (Simon)
Refuge for Masterminds (Stranje House #3) by Kathleen Baldwin (Tor)

Lord of Shadows Crazy House The Fashion Committee The Gauntlet
Lord of Shadows (Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare (Margaret McElderry)
Crazy House by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (Hachette)
The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby (Viking)
The Gauntlet (The Cage #3) by Megan Shepard (Harper)

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Just Finished Reading: Words in Deep Blue

Words in Deep Blue
by Cath Crowley

To be published on June 6, 2017
by Knopf

Source: eARC for review from publisher
Synopsis from Goodreads: Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.  Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.
My take: Words in Deep Blue was an amazing book. I've been a huge Cath Crowley fan since Graffiti Moon. I love the realistic way she writes characters and relationships. I love the beauty she weaves into her books, whether that beauty is street graffiti or a shelf of books or the darkest depths of the ocean.

This isn't a sunbeams-and-rainbows kind of book, but I did find it poignant and hopeful. It's a grief book and a second-chance-at-love book. It weaves all sorts of themes and subplots together in a seamless way -- family relationships, first love, grief and heartbreak, letters, books and reading.

There is a secret-keeping aspect of the book, and that is never my favorite trope. It didn't bother me as much as it has in other books, though I still wished the character had opened up sooner. And there's a sort-of triangle-y situation, but strangely it actually didn't feel that triangle-y to me. I think that's because Cath Crowley sprinkles magic in her pages!

Fun fact: Crowley's publisher has created a Virtual Letter Library on tumblr that was inspired by this book, so be sure to check it out!

If you haven't read a book by this author, you're seriously missing out! Try this, or try Graffiti Moon. I'm reading A Little Wanting Song soon - it's been stacked under my nightstand for ages!

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Freebie Friday: The Fashion Committee

Happy Friday!

Today I'm giving away a finished copy of The Fashion Committee!  (I'll be on the blog tour later this month with another giveaway and a fashion quiz!)

Since this is a hardcover, the giveaway is US only.

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