26.11.13

Book Buys: C.J. Recommends for November 22, 2013

book buys
                    c.j. recommends

 

Daily (or as often as I can), I'll share my favorite deals of the day.  This will include Amazon daily deals as well as sales on Better World Books and from indie authors.  It will also include things I've just come across that happen to be cheap.  So check back often, because every post will have a ton of cheap deals!  I'll post a review if I have one, but a lot will be ones I want to read or ones I think young adult readers might be interested in.  





Deals are for the Kindle versions unless stated otherwise!  



    

$1.69              $1.99              $1.99                $2.99             $3.99 



    

$3.99              $3.99              $0.99                $2.99             $3.99 


 

$0.99 





Authors and publishers: have a deal? 
Send me the link 24 hours before it goes live (or more) and I'll post it! 




Book Buys: C.J. Recommends for November 26, 2013

book buys
                    c.j. recommends

 

Daily (or as often as I can), I'll share my favorite deals of the day.  This will include Amazon daily deals as well as sales on Better World Books and from indie authors.  It will also include things I've just come across that happen to be cheap.  So check back often, because every post will have a ton of cheap deals!  I'll post a review if I have one, but a lot will be ones I want to read or ones I think young adult readers might be interested in.  





Deals are for the Kindle versions unless stated otherwise!  




$1.99              $0.00              $0.00                $0.99             $0.00 
(review



$0.00              $2.99              $0.00









Authors and publishers: have a deal? 
Send me the link 24 hours before it goes live (or more) and I'll post it! 



21.11.13

Book Buys: C.J.'s Recommendations for November 21st, 2013

book buys


Just a few to highlight today.  Check 'em out!  Melina Marchetta also wrote Jellicoe Road, so you might recognize her better for that.  Also, for Finnikin of the Rock, Amazon wouldn't let me link to the e-book so when you click it, make sure you're choosing the $1.99 Kindle version.  




     
  $1.99         $1.99           $2.99          $3.99           $0.00

If you haven't heard of the amazing Lichgates yet, read my review



Hey, authors/publishers/readers: have a great deal on a great book?  Send me the link 24 hours before the deal goes live. 
                                                             






19.11.13

Book Buys: C.J.'s Recommendations for November 19th, 2013

book buys


Hey, guys!  So, Amazon has a TON of great deals today. 

There are a bunch of romance, sci-fi, and fantasy teen / young adult books for $3.99 or less.  So many that I don't think I can possibly list them all.  But I've included a few highlights below. 





$2.00         $2.99           $3.99          $2.99           $2.99
 (review)                                                                  



$2.99           $3.99          $3.99          $3.99           $3.99
                                                                                                                                         (review)









Teaser Tuesday: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff



teaser tuesday
             mini excerpts


"Teaser Tuesday" is a weekly feature hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  


nearly done with this one. not what i was expecting, but still a great read. 








PAPER VALENTINE
brenna yovanoff

Goodreads





I think I might have known.  I think I suspected.  
I just never showed it to anyone who might punish 
or judge me for it, because it's not a contest.  Because the 
fact is, the contest has always been invulnerability, 
and even when you win, you lose.


  



books are an escape. they put into words what we can't. if you're suffering in silence, you're not alone. 


15.11.13

Book Buys: C.J. Recommends for November 15, 2013

book buys
                    c.j. recommends

 

Daily (or as often as I can), I'll share my favorite deals of the day.  This will include Amazon daily deals as well as sales on Better World Books and from indie authors.  It will also include things I've just come across that happen to be cheap.  So check back often, because every post will have a ton of cheap deals!  I'll post a review if I have one, but a lot will be ones I want to read or ones I think young adult readers might be interested in.  





Deals are for the Kindle versions unless stated otherwise!  




$1.69              $1.99              $1.99                $2.99             $3.99 





$3.99              $3.99              $0.99                $2.99             $3.99 


 

$0.99 





Authors and publishers: have a deal? 
Send me the link 24 hours before it goes live (or more) and I'll post it! 





14.11.13

Review: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley


review
                 book










title:  Pretty Girl-13

author:  Liz Coley

pages: 352

format: Hardcover

isbn/asin: 978-0062127372

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, or Law and Order: SVU.  People looking for a powerful, psychologically rich story.  

My Ratings Explained

Reminiscent of the Elizabeth Smart case, Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and powerful psychological mystery about a girl who must piece together the story of her kidnapping and captivity.

Angie Chapman was thirteen years old when she ventured into the woods alone on a Girl Scouts camping trip. Now she's returned home…only to find that it's three years later and she's sixteen-or at least that's what everyone tells her.

What happened to the past three years of her life?

Angie doesn't know.

But there are people who do — people who could tell Angie every detail of her forgotten time, if only they weren't locked inside her mind. With a tremendous amount of courage, Angie embarks on a journey to discover the fragments of her personality, otherwise known as her "alters." As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide: When you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the parts of yourself that are responsible?

Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery is a disturbing - and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.






the basics
This was a fascinating and emotionally harrowing read, in the best way.  Like If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, Pretty Girl-13 deals with the devastating aftermath of trauma and recovery.  Like Murdoch's Carey, Angie has been held captive for three years; now sixteen, she stumbles back home, broken and alone.  However, Coley's character Angie has a post-traumatic twist: she still thinks she's thirteen.  The plot deals heavily with Angie's struggles to realize that the girl in the mirror is her, to reintegrate with her traumatized family, and to find out just who lived her life for three years.  The "who" turns out to be several "whos"--alternative personalities who lived Angie's trauma for her and now battle to keep her in the dark.  

The portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder is (for the most part) admirably accurate, down to the way some of Angie's other personalities try to communicate her, to warn her, while others take control violently and turn her into someone else.  I rooted for Angie as she tried to reclaim her life and struggled with slowly realizing the horrors she had been through those three years--and other secrets she'd never dreamt of.  The role of family and friendships is also crucial here; I really enjoyed that the plot was as much about Angie learning to be a friend and daughter again as it was about her hidden trauma.  What I didn't like for spoilery reasons is the end.  I thought it was too sensational and not necessary.  There was also a bit of crazy brain technology that is totally implausible.  But other than that, this was an exciting, thought-provoking book that successfully avoided being exploitative and instead portrayed trauma sensitively and richly.  



plot . 4/5
All in all, this book nearly had me peeking ahead.  It was so hard not to!  I loved that Angie got the details slowly, because I felt like I was right alongside her, looking for clues and making horrible discoveries.  The tension was high through the whole thing.  And, except for the weird sci-fi brain stuff and the brevity, the process of reintegration therapy is really well done.  I also liked that the mystery bits alternated with scenes of regular life: going back to school, facing her old friends, getting close to boys, struggling with her father's guilt.  It touched on the after-effects of trauma that you don't usually see.  Like I said, my biggest beef was with the ending, which was just a little too coincidental and totally unnecessary.  

concept . 5/5
Coley takes a view on the post-traumatic landscape that's often attempted and rarely done well.  DID (Multiple Personality Disorder, which is NOT SCHIZOPHRENIA SERIOUSLY GET IT RIGHT, PEOPLE) is sensationalized in the media to the point of absurdity.  Coley, on the other hand, obviously did her homework.  The alternate personalities she portrays are richly developed and mimic real accounts of the disorder.  They're also not superfluous; they drive the story and allow for a mystery in Angie's own head.  Her frustration at having all the answers locked away by other pieces of her mind is a thrilling and terrifying driving force for the plot. 

characters . 5/5
There are so many extra characters in this, because not only do we get Angie, but we get her alters.  Each of them are a distended part of her, but also feel like people in themselves.  It makes for really interesting scenes with Angie sort of communicating with herself and feeling broken and dashed to pieces.  Angie's plight is easily sympathetic, and she's an endearing character in herself--sweet, sensitive, and hugely determined.  Her struggle to control the behaviors of her alters and learn this new self showed a lot of strength.  Her parents are also very realistically portrayed.  They're not only joyful at her return, but filled with guilt and doubt and confusion.  It was also nice seeing some of Angie's old friends coming back to her.  Some weirdly fast, but maybe that's how best friends work.  There was also an adorable boy who played a very appropriate and non-overstated role.      

style . 5/5
Coley's writing in this was key.  She did a good job writing Angie's voice as torn between the young girl she thinks she is and the older girl she's become unwittingly.  It could be very rich at times, and pretty, and disturbing.  She did a great job of giving each alter their own, unique voice.  

mechanics . 5/5
The story was very polished, with good pacing.  It never felt too draggy or too fast-paced.  There was just the right tension all the way through, with mini-climaxes and drops to keep you on your toes.  


take home message
A powerful story about one girl's struggle to put the pieces of herself back together after an unspeakable trauma.  





Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.



13.11.13

Waiting on Wednesday: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan






Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.








UNINVITED
sophie jordan

Goodreads

out january 28th, 2013


The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.



c.j.'s thoughts

I did a double-take when I came across this and saw Sophie Jordan's name.  I loved her first series, starting with Firelight, but that was your classic urban fantasy.  (Not to mention totally underrated in the young adult community.)  Seeing something more like The Minority Report shocked me a little.  But I like Jordan's writing, so I know she'll pull it off.  The plot here sounds exciting and timely, considering the upsurge of popularity for genetic testing and screening.  It's something that could be real in the not-so-distant future--and it underscores the dangers of buying into genetic determinism.  As someone working in that field myself, I'm thrilled to see what she does with it.  I'm hoping the "boy" aspect doesn't overpower the plot, so fingers crossed!  I'd rather see a lot of badassery, danger, and near-future tech.  (Also, I'm pretty sure the only thing this will have in common with The Scarlet Letter is the word "ostracism", but I'll blame the marketing team for that.)  








12.11.13

ARC Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry


review
                 book









title:  Dare You To

author:  Katie McGarry 

pages: 480 

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-0373210633

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 6/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of contemporary romance that's not too light and fluffy--something that deals with real issues too.  People looking for a sweet love story. 

My Ratings Explained

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...





the basics
This is not my usual read at all.  I generally tend to stay away from plain romance.  By "plain", I mean contemporary.  It's just not my thing.  Historical romance?  Sure.  Romantic subplots in fantasy or suspense or whatever else?  Yup.  But things with entwined teens on the cover are not my schtick.  But you know what?  I tried it out.  And I didn't adore it, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.  It's like the She's All That of books.  McGarry takes what could be pretty tawdry and blah and breathes some life into it.  Beth and Ryan are a hair away from stereotypes, but their unexpected traits make them real.  Beth is a tough skater, but she's also, girly, silly, and frighteningly loyal.  Ryan is the golden jock, but he's also a little selfish and a little cowardly.  We also get friends (OMG FRIENDS), parents, and family dynamics.  It's a book about love in the context of life--life at its most difficult, whether it's Beth and her drug-addled, battered mom or Ryan and his shunned gay brother and domineering father.  I think what made me enjoy it the most was that the romance is a big part of the story, but it's also about these two people finding themselves as much as finding each other.  It's sweet, a little over the top, but ultimately a fun read.  



plot . 4/5
The plot isn't terribly original, but it has plenty of twists to keep you interested.  We start with a She's All That dare moment, cue snarky non-interested girl, and there you go.  What I also got, the more unexpected part, was a story of domestic violence.  A huge part of Beth's story revolves around her protecting her mother, who is battered and beaten and also heavily reliant on drugs.  The tension between Beth's love for her mother and hatred of the position she's in is really compelling.  And then you have Ryan, struggling for Beth's approval and also struggling with his own guilt over his newly outed brother being driven from his home.  These  this more than just a cute teen love story.  It's about many kinds of love.  

concept . 3/5
I don't mean to imply that the concept is bad.  It's just, in my opinion, average.  There are a lot of standard genre elements and I don't think it goes far enough to really strike me.  I'm not even sure if I'd have picked it up if it hadn't popped up on Netgalley.  That said, I definitely enjoyed it.  I'm glad I decided to give it a try.  It's just not my thing.  Like I said, the plot is pretty reminiscent of every 90s makeover rom-com and I didn't even think the "dare" thing was well fleshed-out enough to justify it's existence.  It was a solid romance, but nothing spectacular.  

characters . 4/5
The characters were pretty endearing, which made this book much more enjoyable for me.  Beth could be annoying and overly snarky sometimes, but she also had a vulnerable side--without being damsel-in-distress.  I thought her mix of quirks and traits was more realistic than I'd have expected.  Ryan, too, surprised me.  He's not your typical meathead and he's not your typical "sensitive jock" either.  He's a good mix of jerky boy and sweet guy, and his struggles show his flaws well.  Some of the side characters could have used more fleshing.  Beth's mother felt a little over-the-top and her uncle was weirdly absent.  I also thought Ryan's brother was thrown in a little.   

style . 3/5
The writing was pretty solid.  Again, I'm not sure if I have much to say about it.  It didn't wow me, but it was certainly polished, well-paced, and mostly free of the mistakes you often see in young adult.  McGarry captures teen dialogue really well, which was impressive.  I liked it.  Just didn't love it.  

mechanics . 5/5
The pacing was pretty good. I never felt like it got draggy, which can happen for me in romance plots.  It was interesting all the way through.  


take home message
A teenage romance that digs a bit deeper than your high school makeover story to look at family issues and all kinds of love. 





Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.



10.11.13

Book Buys: C.J. Recommends for November 10, 2013 with House of Night full set!

book buys
                    c.j. recommends


 

Daily (or as often as I can), I'll share my favorite deals of the day.  This will include Amazon daily deals as well as sales on Better World Books and from indie authors.  It will also include things I've just come across that happen to be cheap.  So check back often, because every post will have a ton of cheap deals!  I'll post a review if I have one, but a lot will be ones I want to read or ones I think young adult readers might be interested in.  


Deals are for the Kindle versions unless stated otherwise!  



Grab the ENTIRE House of Night series, only $2.99 each! 




And more! 


$2.99                          $3.99                          $3.99                          $1.99                          $1.90 







Authors and publishers: have a deal? 
Send me the link 24 hours before it goes live (or more) and I'll post it! 






9.11.13

Discussion: So What is the Paranormal Fiction Genre, Anyway?

discussion
                              paranormal


The paranormal genre is something that's perplexed me for a long time.  I just don't get it.  I don't get how it differs from similar genres, and I don't understand whether it exists out of paranormal romance or not.  Check out the video and leave your thoughts!   









Some questions for the class:  

What is "paranormal?"  
How does if differ from Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Horror, and Sci-fi? 
Does it exist outside of paranormal romance?  
How is it defined in young adult vs new adult vs adult?  
What defines a "paranormal" book?  
Do you think calling something "paranormal" changes the target audience?  


And some links from smart people:  

Diagnosing October Releases in Young Adult Paranormal 
YA Common Cliches Series: Paranormal Romance
In Defense of Young Adult Paranormal Genre Fiction
YA 101: Paranormal Romance
Popular Young Adult Paranormal Romance













7.11.13

ARC Review: Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton


review
                 book










title:  Some Quiet Place

author:  Kelsey Sutton

pages: 331 

format: Kindle

isbn/asin: 978-0738736433

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 6/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of paranormal romance and fantasy who are looking for something different.  Lovers of Insomnia by J.R. Johansson, Everneath by Brodi Ashton, The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor--good, exciting, original fantasy.  

My Ratings Explained

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her?





the basics
This book delighted and surprised me.  It's paranormal in a way that has nothing to do with vampires or witches.  Instead, we get an utterly original world where emotions and elements are people, affecting humans behind the scenes.  Except Elizabeth.  She's the only one who can see them, and the only one who can't feel them.  It's a fantastic premise.  A girl without emotions--truly without, not just some angsty "I can't feel" thing.  She does have the barest traces of them, enough to feel attached to certain people, but she can't feel.   And the "why" is a huge mystery.  Something terrible happened to shut off Elizabeth's emotions, and that something made everything fall apart--turned her into something that terrifies her mother and drives her father to rage.  Something that stalks her in the dark.  

I was tense every page, wondering what had happened, what darkness was trying to find her, why sexy Fear was so enamored with her.  Some Quiet Place is a rich portrayal of self-discovery as well as a thrilling suspense story with elements of betrayal, tragic romance, and murder.  The only part that ripped me out of the story was the ending twist--and for that, I have to knock it down a few points.  The ending completely disconnected me from Elizabeth.  But that aside, it was a compelling young adult story literally like no other.  



plot . 4/5
The plot is exciting and unexpected.  I'm usually a good guesser when it comes to twists and turns, and I could never get a handle on these.  I felt constantly in a land of illusions and memories.  What was real?  What was flashback?  What was the illusion wrought by invisible powers?  It was compelling watching Elizabeth navigate her world.  She has friends, kind of, but can't connect with others.  Her father is a drunk batterer.  Her mother looks upon her like a demon stranger.  The only one who hangs by is Fear, and he spends much of the story obsessed with her, struggling to breach her walls and make her feel his effects.  And then there's something stalking her.  Something dangerous.  This "something" drives Elizabeth to dig into her past.  

What she finds is that someone wiped the clues clean.  It was so exciting, watching Elizabeth struggle with the mystery of her past.  Every time she got a clue, there was another unanswered question.  Questions that were putting not only her but those around her in danger.  It kept me flipping pages like crazy until the end.  The final confrontation was explosive and beautifully written.  What I just couldn't stomach was the ending.  I won't spoil, but let's say it made Elizabeth feel different enough that I couldn't connect with her anymore.  So her outcome wasn't satisfying to me.  It made for a disappointing end to what was otherwise a sensationally exciting, original book.  

concept . 5/5
So cool!  That's my utterly un-pretty way of saying that I found the concept of this book to be breathtakingly original.  I've never read anything like it before.  It's sort of like some myths, where elements were people.  Only now we have emotions too.  Fear, Water, Anger, Passion, Moss, Rock.  All these become characters that only Elizabeth can see.  Only she can't connect with them any more than she can connect with others.  She has a dying best friend whom she only loves academically, a one-sided crush, and an obsessed emotion hanger-on who haunts her steps, struggling to make her feel.  The lack of emotions pushes the story in very different directions than you would expect, because Elizabeth doesn't think the way you'd expect.  It makes everything fresh and unguessable.   

characters . 5/5
I thought the characters were well done.  Elizabeth herself is somehow wildly relatable despite the fact that she has no emotions--which you think would be a problem.  But it's not.  Because Sutton so clearly describes Elizabeth's struggles to be normal that I could still relate, even if I couldn't feel it (ha ha) myself.  She's also singular among young adult heroines.  She's not melodramatic or angsty.  She can't feel those things.  Instead, she's coldly logical but somehow still has traces of concern for other people.  She's fascinating.  Then there's Fear, the sexy Oscar Wildean bad boy who genuinely seems to care for Elizabeth, but also creepily views her as a specimen, a challenge.  Their relationship--the emotion and the emotionless--was so weird and compelling.  Other hottie Joshua is adorable in a more boy-next-door way.  He brings out the humanity in Elizabeth, and acts as a kind of peg in a bizarre sort of love triangle.  (Don't worry, it's not what you'd expect!)  

style . 5/5
Elizabeth can wear a mask all she wants, but she can't feel.  It makes for a unique voice, because "I feel" is a nonissue.  Instead we get descriptions of events, physical sensations, assessments of the world without feeling--and despite it, a likeable character.  Her voice is beautiful and very focused in the concrete, which I like.  You don't get weird abstracts.  You get minute details, observations that you wouldn't think to make.  Reading it is like taking on a new way of thinking.  

mechanics . 3/5
I'm still not sure if the ending was the way to go.  I know some people loved the twist, but for me, it cheapened everything I had just read.  I just couldn't get on board after that, and I don't think I could read the sequel because I don't know if I'll recognize the girl there.     


take home message
A young adult paranormal that takes you into a world where emotions are people, darkness is at hand, and one peculiar, but admirable girl is at the center of it all--if only she can solve the mystery of her existence.  





Note: I received this copy in exchange for a review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.