Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cover Reveal/Blog Tour Sign-Ups: THE APOLLO ACADEMY


Okay friends, so here at the YA Sisterhood we've loved multiple YA Sci-fi Books (like Across the Universe by Beth Revis) and plenty of New Adult Books (like Wait For You by J. Lynn), and now we're glad to help out an up and coming author that is bringing both of these worlds together. 

That's right... New Adult SciFi is about to blast off and we want YOU to join the launch team! We're looking for bloggers to participate in a Cover Reveal (which is going to be AWESOME) and the blog tour.  Here's what you need to know: 

The Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase
Releasing August 6th, 2013 in Paperback and eBook

As  heiress to Titon Technologies, eighteen-year-old Aurora Titon can have whatever she wants—clothes, expensive gadgets, anything money can buy. All she really wants is to escape her pampered, paparazzi-prone life for the stars. Becoming the first female pilot to train as an astronaut for the Apollo Academy is exactly the chance for which she has been waiting. Everything would be perfect if it weren't for her unreciprocated crush on a fellow student, the sexy astronaut bent on making her life hell, and the fact that someone keeps trying to kill her.

The first in a four book new adult science fiction series, The Apollo Academy, is an action packed story of love, discovery, and survival.

"I am obsessed with this book! Suspenseful, sexy, and just a great read!" -Cora Carmack, New York Times Bestselling author of LOSING IT. 

Add it on GoodReads here. And when The Apollo Academy gets to 500 adds, Kimberly will be giving away a free flight lesson!!!

If you'd like to sign-up for the cover reveal or blog tour, please use the Google form below.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

3rd Annual YA Crush Tournament Advocate Sign-ups


**PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE POST BEFORE YOU FILL OUT THE FORM TO BE AN ADVOCATE!**

I can't believe it has been an entire year since our last tournament!  This year has flown by and with it many new book boyfriends are now on shelves.  We have had some amazing advocates in the past and know we will have some amazing ones this summer also.

An advocate has a very special job in these tournaments.  They basically hold these tournaments on their shoulders, and it really has been them that have made these tournaments such a success.  Advocates in the past have stayed up all night and worked tirelessly to cheer their crushes onto victory.  They have gathered street teams, made videos, created icons, wrote poems, and basically have just blown everyone away with their creativity and hard work.  Many of the advocates also make life-long friends with people that share a love a these characters and even become very close with the authors.  So all in all, the advocates are the true heroes/heroines of these tournaments.

With all this being said, being an advocate is amazingly fun but also a lot of work.  Be prepared to put in time and effort if you are going to sign-up for this.  There are a few things we will require of advocates.  We do require that you have read the book of the crush you are wanting to advocate for, have an active blog and have a twitter account.  So much that occurs in the tournament is on twitter, so it is vital that you have a twitter account.  Facebook is not a requirement but that is always a plus to have another venue to attract voters.  Last year we had over double the amount of advocates sign-up than we needed.  Because of that, not everyone will be chosen and some really great people/blogs could possibly be left out.  There are many things that go into our process of deciding, but please know that we spend many hours laboring over these choices.  We also encourage street teams.  We want people to team up and help out these advocates, so if we are not able to offer you an advocate position, please go join a team and help your crush(es) out that way.  Also, if you have any questions on what to do as an advocate, go take a look through the posts of old tournaments.  That will give a good idea on what your job will entail.

ADVOCATE SIGN-UPS WILL ONLY BE OPEN FOR 4 DAYS (CLOSES JUNE 1ST, 10PM)! PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!

If we haven't scared you away by now, please fill out this form:


*Advocate Applications are now closed. If you missed your window, most advocates would still be happy to have you assist or join a character's street team*

Saturday, May 25, 2013

YA Crush Tourney Nominations and WILDCARD VOTE!


And the Wildcard Winners Are:
1.) Noah Shaw (Mara Dyer)
2.) Ash (Iron Fey)
3.) Caleb (Significance)
4.) The Darkling (Shadow and Bone)

Okay everyone!!  We are almost there!!!!  The Top 6 for each category has been chosen based on your votes. And they are....

*DRUMROLL*

*MORE DRUMROLL*

*OVER-DRAMATIC PAUSE*


SPECULATIVE FICTION
1. Daemon Black (Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout)
2. Will Herondale  (Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare)
3.  Four/Tobias  (Divergent by Veronica Roth) 
4.  Dimitri (Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead) 
5.  Patch (Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick)
6.  Warner ( Shatter Me by Taherah Mafi)


INDIE
1.  Dank Walker (Existence by Abbi Glines)
2.  Dante Walker (The Collector by Victoria Scott)
3.  Micah (Mythology by Helen Boswell)
4.  Chase Williams (Protector Series by M.R. Merrick)
5.  Elias (One by Leigh Ann Kopans)
6.  Torin St. James (Runes by Ednah Walters)  


REALISTIC
1.  Aiden Arrington (Keatyn Chronicles by Jillian Dodd) 
2.  Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)
3.  Etienne St. Clair (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)
4.  Jase (My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick)
5.  Adam (If I Stay by Gayle Forman)
6.  Alex (Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles)

DEBUT
1. Kaidan (Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins)
2.  Noah (Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry)
3.  Perry (Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi)
4.  Maxon (Selection by Kiera Cass)
5.  Tristan (Shark Bait (Grab Your Pole Series) by Jenn Cooksey)
6.  Cole (Everneath by Brodie Ashton)

OKAY, folks. All characters mentioned above have OFFICIALLY qualified for the Tournament. But... we wanted to add a little something extra since we know the categories might be a bit weird for you all. So in addition to those four spots, we're going to have 4 wildcard entries that will also make the tournament. To choose those wildcard spots, we've taken the next three characters from each category and put them into one big vote. And out of those twelve, the top four will join the tournament. 


So, rally your friends, family, evil twins and what not and get them to VOTE!!!!  This is your LAST SHOT to get these characters in the tournament.

Voting closes on Tuesday, May 28th at 8PM Eastern Time.

So, without further ado... Here is the wildcard vote!
You may vote only once from each device (computer, phone, etc), so make your votes count!



YAY! We're so excited for the tournament to start! If you're interested in helping out by representing one of the aforementioned characters as their advocate when the tournament starts, keep an eye here. We'll start taking advocate applications shortly after the wildcard slots have been filled. You MUST have a blog to apply. Street teams are encouraged.

The Tournament Matches will begin June 10th!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Last Day to Cast Your Nominations for the YA Crush Tourney

Extra! Extra!  Read All About It!!!!
 
It's almost time!!!!!! Oh the nerves!!!!!!  Who's going to make it??? 
 
 
 
nervous gifs photo: Nervous 2na44z9.gif
 
So quit biting your nails and start your battle cries!!!
 
 
 
Today is the LAST DAY to cast your nominations for the 3rd Annual YA Crush Tourney!  So round up your friends and family and send them to nominate your man!!!!
 

Realistic Fiction:  Fictitious Delicious
Speculative Fiction: Fantasy Book Addict
Indie:  Stuck In Books

Because let's face it....we all love our book boyfriends!

 
 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo and Giveaway!

Today we have the absolute pleasure of hosting the Blog Tour for Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo!!!!!  Leigh put together a wonderful guest post (with an AMAZING title, if I say so myself).  Be sure to check out my review and enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!  So, without further ado...


Tales from the Darkling's Bed Chamber: Fun Facts about the Siege and Storm ARC

 

The Advanced Reader Copies (also referred to as ARCs or galleys) of a book can go out anywhere from three to six months before a book is published. I've heard of endings changing or big scenes getting cut, but in the case of both Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, the changes we made mostly came down to catching typos, repetitions, and a few not so minor mistakes. (I managed to give the wrong name for an entire town that was destroyed.)

 

Here are a few of the bigger differences you'll find between the ARC and the final version.

 

1. Obviously, the major change is the cover. I actually love the fact that both of my ARCs have covers radically different from what we ended up with on the final. With Shadow and Bone, the ARC cover was in the running for the final and I still have a soft spot for it, though I prefer the cover we ended up with. (To see some of the other cover directions that were discussed and discarded, click here) The cover of the Siege and Storm ARC was just a placeholder, but the feel of it is still in keeping with the series.
 
 


 

2. The Siege and Storm ARC features the map from book 1, but the hard cover will have an expanded map created by Keith Thompson showing more of Fjerda, Shu Han, and the lands across the True Sea.

 

3. There are two different chapter headings in the ARC. The chapter headings with the antlers were first created for Shadow and Bone, but they felt a bit too Celtic and medieval for the world of the book. Somehow a few of them found their way into the ARC of Siege and Storm. (My best theory is art department pixies.) They were created by April Ward and I have to say, I'm actually really glad they got to see the light of day.
 

 

 

4. My favorite difference between the ARC and the final version of the book is the change we made in the description of the Darkling's bed chamber.

 

This is how it appears in the ARC:

 

The chamber was hexagonal, its dark wood walls carved with swirling vines and magical beasts. Above the huge canopied bed, the domed ceiling was wrought in smooth black obsidian and spangled with chips of mother-of-pearl laid out in constellations.

 

In the final:

 

The chamber was hexagonal, its dark wood walls carved into the illusion of a forest crowded with slender trees. Above the huge canopied bed, the domed ceiling was wrought in smooth black obsidian and spangled with chips of mother-of-pearl laid out in constellations.

 

It's a small difference, but a significant one. Each major section of the Little Palace has a distinctive dome, but beyond that, the original description could refer to just about any other room in the building—and my editor called me out on it. Without realizing it, I'd used a kind of narrative shorthand to describe the chamber. It was a lost opportunity, a moment to offer a bit more insight into a character and to give the reader a deeper experience of the world. I spent quite a bit of time deciding what the Darkling would choose for the walls of his chamber, the first thing he'd see when he woke in the morning and the last he'd look at when he went to bed at night.

 

In some ways, it's hard not to cringe over the ARC's imperfections. We tweak bits of language, find a better word, discover things that could be cleaner and clearer. Still I'm glad the ARC exists. It's a window onto where the story was—the same in its essentials, but unique in its details.
 
****************************************
 



Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

ARC received from Macmillan, Henry Holt

Release Date:  June 4, 2013

Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn

The Sisters Say:  Gripping and Powerful, The Perfect Mix of Love and Hate
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.
 

“The Darkling would know where to find me, and when he was strong enough, he’d come looking.  Ready or not, we’d have no choice but to make a stand…I would face him, and one way or another, this would end.” ARC, pg 160

When I read Shadow and Bone last year, I was completely captivated by the dark and unrelenting world that Leigh created.  It was so good that I didn’t think she would ever be able to top such a wonderful debut.  But then Siege and Storm came along, and BAM! I was left breathless, struggling to reign in how much I loved this book!  Beguiling, gut-wrenching, and intoxicating—Leigh’s world calls out the darkness in us all, but even more, it shows us how to take the light and push the darkness back.  My YA world will never be the same.

If you follow my reviews, you know that I like books that blend good and evil so seamlessly that you have a difficult time seeing where one ends and the other begins.  Leigh does this effortlessly with Alina and The Darkling.  My absolute favorite part of this book was seeing Alina struggle with her own darkness.  She is drawn to the power like it’s a missing piece of her own heart, yet she pushes back against the overwhelming desire.  She is so strong, even when it comes to the point where she realizes she might lose everything.  But that is what makes an amazing hero—Harry Potter, Frodo, Tris, Katniss—they know what’s at stake, and still, they make that sacrifice.  Alina is becoming one of those great heroes, and I can’t wait to watch her as she stumbles and fights to the end.

For all you Mal fans out there, you will be pleased to know that he has a huge role in this sequel.  I wasn’t a Mal fan at first because he seemed to quiet, to laid-back.  I didn’t feel the passion in him in the first book (I was a Darkling fan, don’t judge).  But in this book, Mal will take your breath away.  He’s strong where Alina is weak, and his love for her shines brighter than even the darkness slowly coating Ravka.  But, he isn’t perfect.  He’s jealous and broken—feeling caged in a battle that he didn’t choose.  He struggles just as much with Alina does, and it makes the plot so much more realistic and emotional.  My heart broke for Mal as he started to realize the fate that might await he and Alina.  Still, I think we are about to see big things from Mal in the third book.

I love it when authors take time to develop the villain thoroughly.  Many times you just get mentions of them, whispers of their dark deeds, and glimpses of their evil powers.  We get all these with The Darkling, but even more, Leigh shows us his weaknesses.  We see the small parts that remain human—the parts that want to be redeemed, even if fate has handed him a careless heart.  It’s this weakness that makes The Darkling so compelling, and that is why, even though I like Mal, I still feel like Alina and The Darkling are made of the same cloth.  “Like calls to like,” Baghra and The Darkling tell Alina over and over, and I can’t help but agree.  Whatever their souls, their hearts are made of—Alina and The Darkling’s are the same.  That doesn’t mean that I think they are both evil.  On the contrary, I think they are both made of power, but they just both chose different paths.

Leigh’s writing is flawless and beautiful, and her world stands on the edge of a cliff, teetering back and forth, ready to fall into darkness.  Never a dull moment, Alina and Mal’s journey is full of danger, beasts, and romance; and I promise you, from Chapter 1, you won’t want to put this one down. 

Beautiful. 

Terrible.

 Angry. 

Hopeful.

I could go on and on describing the world and characters in Siege and Storm.  Darkness may never die, but in order for the darkness to exist, there must be light.  I can’t wait to see if Alina’s light is strong enough to stamp out the dark.

“Our lips met, and the connection between us opened.  This was not the way he’d touched me in my visions, when he’d come to me as shadow.  This was real, and I could drown in it.”  ARC, pg 418
 
***************************

 
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Monday, May 20, 2013

YA Crush Tournament Nominations Begin TODAY!!!!

It's that time again!!!!  For those of you unfamiliar with the Crush Tourney, it's a time for us to come together and talk about our favorite YA book boyfriends. Then in a March Madness style Tournament, the crushes will square off until only one remains. This year, we're doing things a bit differently though, including breaking up the nominations into categories so that we get a more diverse range of books. 

And Nominations are now officially open, but before you high-tail it over to the 4 amazing blogs helping us out, be sure to look over the rules and category definitions!!! Not paying attention to the rules COULD get your nominations deleted. 



Rules for the YA Sisterhood Crush Tourney 2013

***PLEASE PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE CATEGORY DEFINITIONS.  THEY WILL HELP YOU TO KNOW WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR EACH CATEGORY.  THIS WILL SAVE TIME AND A LOT OF FRUSTRATION  FOR THOSE COUNTING THE VOTES***

**YA only (No NA, No Middle Grade, No Adult, NO EXCEPTIONS) What is considered YA?  YA books focus on teen characters.  Middle Grade and New Adult books are intended for younger and older than teenagers.  These characters are not eligible for the tournament.  We realize there is some gray areas on where to draw the lines between these.  Therefore, our deciding factor will be where it is shelved in a bookstore.  In the case of books not available in bookstores, the final ruling will depend on whether or not that character falls into the high school age range.  For those of you who are bummed that no NA crushes are allowed, we have some stupendous news for you!!! There will be a NA CRUSH TOURNEY hosted by NA Alley coming soon!!!! We are not sure of the exact times, but will let you know as soon as possible.  Here is their banner.  Feel free to grab it, post it and start spreading the news!



**Previous winners of the tournament are ineligible to participate.

**You can nominate 6 crushes from each category on the specified blogs.  We will take the top 6 from each category.  If a crush makes it into the top 6 of more than 1 category, he will be placed in the category in which he received the most votes.

**After the nominations are complete, we will have a wild card vote.  The 7th-9th places in each category will be taken, and we will have a vote off on YA Sisterhood to determine the final 4 spots in the tournament.  This will leave us with a 28 seed tournament with the 1st crush in each category getting a bye in the first round. 

**This year we’re limiting it to 1 character per author in the tournament.  You can still nominate more than 1 character from an author.  However, once nominations are finalized, if more than 1 character is nominated from an author, we will only take the character with the highest votes.  We realize that this might upset some of you because you love many characters, some of which are written by the same author. But the goal of this tournament has always been to introduce new books and new characters to readers, so we want to share the love. So you’ll have to decide which team you’re on, and make your votes count.  

**This year, advocate sign-ups will be after nominations, May 28th - June 1st. (more on advocates will come later)

**Keep it clean. Keep it respectful. We have no problem banning you from the tourney. We’ve had MAJOR drama issues in the past, and even though we swore we weren’t going to do another tourney, we’re back because we love books and we love authors and we love you.  But PLEASE… this time… let’s leave the hate and drama at the door.


DISCLAIMER: We reserve the right to add or adjust any rules as needed during the tournament.
CATEGORY DEFINITIONS:
Debut:  The debut category will include any author whose very first novel came out in either 2012 or 2013.  Please double check your nominations as any vote for a crush that isn't a debut will be thrown out.  Again, this is the author's first novel, not just their first YA novel.
Realistic Fiction:  The category is for crushes from books that are contemporary, historical, thriller, etc. that could truly happen in our world.  So if a book has any hint of the paranormal, sci-fi, or the other-wordly--it does not fit in this category.  Again, please double check your nominations so that you don't waste a vote!
Speculative Fiction--This is by far our biggest category, as it includes anything that is not considered realistic fiction.  That means dystopian, paranormal, government super spies, sci-fi, futuristic, etc.--all these fit into the speculative fiction category. 
Indie:  The indie category includes any crush in a self-published novel or any crush from a small publisher like Entangled, Spencer Hill, Inkspell, etc.  If the book is published by traditional New York Publisher, then it does not fit in this category.  Furthermore, if a book started out as a self-pubbed book, but then got picked up by a major publisher, it NO LONGER qualifies for this category.  Here is the definition from the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group: "The term 'indie' traditionally refers to the independent art--music, film, literature or anything that fits under the broad banner of culture--created outside of the mainstream and without corporate financing.  Although many independent book publishing companies are incorporated, they are independent of the major conglomerates that dominate the book publishing industry.  Independent book publishers include small presses, mid-size independent publishers, university presses, e-book publishers, and self-published authors."

*******Many crushes will fit in multiple categories!!!  You may vote for them in multiple categories if you would like, but keep in mind that we will only take the Top 6 in each category.  Be strategic.  If you have a crush that has a better chance of making it in one category than the other, then rally support for people to vote for that crush in a specific category.  Use Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr--anything and everything to spread the word about your man!  Keep in mind that Speculative Fiction is by far the largest category, so the most competition will be seen in that category!

Okay!  So now that you know the definitions and the rules, be sure to go nominate at each participating blog!!!  Nominations are open from Now until May 25th at 12:01 AM.


Realistic Fiction:  Fictitious Delicious
Speculative Fiction: Fantasy Book Addict
Indie:  Stuck In Books

Remember to use the Hashtag:  #YACrushTourney

Friday, May 17, 2013

Not So YA Friday: Midnight Secrets by Ella Grace


Midnight Secrets by Ella Grace
eARC received from Ballantine Books
Release Date:  On Sale Now
Reviewed by Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Steamy with a good chunk of alpha male!
For fans of Maya Banks, Allison Brennan, and Lori Foster, a thrilling new romantic suspense novel from Ella Grace
AT THE STROKE OF MIDNIGHT, THE HEAT BEGINS

On a hot southern night, with a storm on the horizon, a family is shattered. Three beautiful daughters—Savannah, Samantha, and Sabrina Wilde—go on with their lives, each significantly changed, as they bear the memory of the murder-suicide that killed their parents. For years, they have stayed away from Midnight, Alabama. Until Midnight calls them home.

Savannah is the first one back, when a grueling case in Nashville leads the young prosecutor to seek shelter in the quiet of the once grand Wilde mansion. But when she finds letters casting doubt on her family’s dark, shameful past, she realizes that peace in Midnight is a shallow fa├žade and sinister secrets lurk beneath the surface. Zach Tanner, once the town’s bad boy, is now the new police chief and still has a wild hold over her. Zach can feel it, too, but he hurt Savannah once. As teenagers, they broke every rule together. Now it’s his job to keep her safe, even though he isn’t sure who her enemies are—or which ones might be his own.

I just love romantic suspense novels.  I can always guarantee that they are going to have a butt-kicking, gun-toting, heat inducing alpha male who will knock me off my feet.  Add that to the great action scenes and attempted murder and mayhem, and I am sold.

Midnight Secrets definitely delivered the alpha male with Police Chief Zach Tanner.  Ex-military with a bone to pick with the corrupt dealings of a small town, Zach definitely knows how to stir up trouble (along with other more steamy things).  I loved his protectiveness, and since we got to see his POV quite often, we also got to see inside his head.  I always enjoy seeing how an alpha male thinks—the jealousy and the need to protect the damsel in distress is always entertaining, and it makes me wish there were more alpha males in the world.  (The good alpha males…not the jerks). 

I enjoyed Savannah for the most part.  I did think she was a bit too whiny at times, and I wanted her to just suck it up and tell him the truth (which we didn’t find out until almost the very end).  She just seemed very weak at times, which was weird because she’s this kick butt prosecutor who is supposedly used to rattling cages.  I wish she would have been stronger with just a hint of the damsel in distress, instead of seeming like she constantly needed to be saved.  I think I will like her sisters more because they seem to be more outspoken and confident.  Still, I had fun watching Savannah and Zach’s relationship progress.

I enjoyed the action scenes, although I wish they would have been a bit more dangerous.  I’m used to Lori Foster’s books where the action is insatiable, and that just wasn’t the case with this book.  Don’t get me wrong, there is still great action, but it just wasn’t as well drawn out as some other romantic suspense books I have read.

Ella Grace does know how to write a great steamy relationship.  This is definitely for the adult reader as there is explicit sexual scenes.  But for those of you who like a little steam in your romance, then you will definitely need to check this one out.  Ella knows how to write the hunky male who always wants to be in charge—not matter where he is.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one, and I am looking forward to Samantha and Bri’s stories.  And I’m hoping that Brody (ex-military friend of Zach) is the focus of one of their stories!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards


Phoenix by Elizabeth Richards
ARC received from Putnam Juvenile (Penguin)
Release Date:  6-4-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Action-packed, Heart-wrenching, and Perfect with a Capital P!
Weeks after his crucifixion and rebirth as Phoenix, Ash Fisher believes his troubles are far behind him. He and Natalie are engaged and life seems good. But his happiness is short-lived when he receives a threatening visit from Purian Rose, who gives Ash an ultimatum: vote in favor of Rose’s Law permanently relegating Darklings to the wrong side of the wall or Natalie will be killed.

The decision seems obvious to Ash; he must save Natalie. But when Ash learns about The Tenth, a new and deadly concentration camp where the Darklings would be sent, the choice doesn’t seem so simple. Unable to ignore his conscience, Ash votes against Rose’s Law, signing Natalie’s death warrant and putting a troubled nation back into the throes of bloody battle.


I have had a copy of Black City since its release, but since my sister Amy had already reviewed it, I kept putting it off for others I needed to read first.  After receiving an arc of the sequel, I decided to pick it up and see what it was all about.  Reaction?  Why did I wait so long to read this one!!!  If you’re a book blogger or just a bookie, you’ve been struck by this epidemic before—letting a great book get further and further down your TBR pile, and then when you finally read it, it’s like BAM!  Anywho, I,  for one, can say that anything by Elizabeth Richards will make it to the top of my TBR pile, never again becoming a victim of the “Waiting Too Long To Read” disease.

Okay…so let’s get to Phoenix.  I just loved it!!!!  It starts out pretty much right after Black City ended, and the rebellion is staring to get really heated.  The vote for Rose’s Law is about to come, and it has divided the country—but not just in two.  Purian Rose, the Hitler of Elizabeth’s world, is ready to go after everyone he deems impure.  As a result, it become a dog eat dog world where everyone has to look out for themselves.  One of the parts I loved about Phoenix was that Elizabeth brought more species forward, including Lupines and the mysterious Bastets.  There is just so much more to this world that we don’t know, and I found all its inhabitants interesting and dangerous in their own way.

One of the things I am always worried about with sequels is the second book slump.  Most of them follow the same old formula—the love interests get torn apart by something and the world falls into an even deeper disarray.  Now, Phoenix does follow this formula in its own way, but it’s done in a way that will not bore you.   There is so much action in this one that I was constantly sitting on the edge of my seat.  Just when you think that they are out of Purian Rose’s grasp, they make a wrong turn and go crashing back into his net.  It’s spine-chilling and heart-breaking, and the discoveries that Natalie and Ash make along the way will cut you deep.  But, there is very little time to mourn, because just around the corner is something even more atrocious.  Elizabeth will keep you guessing and keep you anticipating the next disastrous event.

My favorite part of this installment was getting to see more of the United Sentry States.  This story takes place all over the country, and seeing the different cities and the Barren Lands was extremely interesting.  Even more so, we see into the past persecution of the Darklings, and it is both eye-opening and disturbing.  I found haunting similarities between this war and our own tragic past during World War II.  These similarities added to the chilling tone of the novel and the gruesome paranoia of the tyrant, Purian Rose.

The only thing that got me frustrated at times was Natalie and Ash’s relationship.  They keep secrets from each other, even though they claim to be so in love.  I understand the reasoning behind keeping such secrets, but I still think they were being selfish and immature by not being honest.  As a result, their actions became very much like a middle school romance.  I found it hard to see the love that had blossomed between them when they both were willing to sacrifice their lives after Gregory’s death in the first book.  However, this didn’t deter me enough to keep from loving the book.

OH…and the ending!  Talk about a cliffhanger I didn’t see coming.  There were some predictable aspects of the books (although I suspect Elizabeth of planting a few red herrings in there to throw us off), but the ending—DIDN’T SEE IT COMING!!!!!

Elizabeth’s world is full of rage, hatred, deceit, and darkness; and born of these horrible acts and feelings is a world that persecutes and murders in the name of peace and faith.  It’s a broken world left to crumble beneath the weight of its sins, unless a handful of outcasts can defy the laws, break down a despot, and spark a flame of resistance.  I can’t wait to find out if Ash and Natalie can truly rise from the ashes to build a better world.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. It spotlights books that have not yet been released, but ones that you should pre-order today! This week's book that we are anxiously awaiting is A DARKNESS STRANGE AND LOVELY by Susan Dennard.   It releases on July 23, 2013 from Harper Teen.

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Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.
 
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I am just loving the covers for this series.  The dresses and the colors are gorgeous!  Something Strange and Deadly was my first zombie book, and it was my first brush with steampunk.  I was saddened a bit by the ending of the first book, so I am very excited to see what happens next and if things get better!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Last Academy by Anne Applegate


The Last Academy by Anne Applegate
eARC received from Scholastic via Netgalley
Release Date:  4-30-2013
Reviewed by:  Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Slow with very little romance L
What is this prep school preparing them for?

Camden Fisher arrives at boarding school haunted by a falling-out with her best friend back home. But the manicured grounds of Lethe Academy are like nothing Cam has ever known. There are gorgeous, preppy boys wielding tennis rackets, and circles of girls with secrets to spare. Only . . . something is not quite right. One of Cam's new friends mysteriously disappears, but the teachers don't seem too concerned. Cam wakes up to strangers in her room, who then melt into the night. She is suddenly plagued by odd memories, and senses there might be something dark and terrible brewing. But what? The answer will leave Cam—and readers—stunned and breathless, in this thrilling debut novel.

I was really excited to read The Last Academy because I love boarding school books.  They make the perfect setting for a YA book.  There are no parents around, the boys and girls dormitories are always close so romance is always tempting, and sneaking out and getting in trouble is a must.  I was really looking forward to all of this, adding to it the idea that Camden is seeing things in the dark and having strange memories.  I was very hopeful that this would be a great read; unfortunately, it fell flat for me.

I think my main problem was the age of the main character.  I didn’t realize she was going to be so young (a freshman), and as a result, most of her actions and thoughts were very immature.  I wanted there to be a great romance, but instead, I just got immature girly thoughts and giggles as the cute guy passed by.  I’m not the giggly, look at the hottie type of girl, so this really bugged me.  I felt like I was watching middle school girls crush on the cute boys, and it got to the point where I just wanted to smack Camden.

I also really struggled with the jumpiness of the plot.  What I mean by this is that something would happen, and then the next day it would be forgotten and then on to something else.  Then, it would be brought back days or weeks later.  I felt like the progression of the plot was nonsensical and slow, and I got to the point where I skipped entire pages because I just knew nothing was going to happen.  There were some parts where the plot had great potential—when Camden was seeing people in the middle of the night or when she was having sort-of visions where her friends morphed into something else, but these weren’t really developed enough.  I wanted more of these scenes and more action, but they hardly ever came.

This book was definitely more of a MG book, and I think that younger readers will enjoy it because there is mystery (although very predictable) and situations that would appeal and relate to a younger audience.  Older YA readers might want to skip this one, though. 

I really wanted to like this one because the cover was great, and the synopsis sounded like there was going to be some major paranormal events happening.  Add that to the fact that mythology plays a role (minor spoiler but you find out after a few chapters), and I thought that this one was going to be fun.  Sadly, it just didn’t have the action and romance to keep me interested.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not So YA Friday: Bare It All by Lori Foster

 
The following review is intended for audiences ages 18+.  



Bare It All by Lori Foster
Published by HQN
Available Now
Reviewed by Middle Sis Jenn
The Sisters Say:  Sexy, Sinful, and oh so Sweet
"A cop's craving to know more about the woman next door could prove fatal in the steamy new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster"

As the person responsible for taking down a brutal human trafficker, Alice Appleton fears retaliation at every turn. No one knows about her past, which is exactly how she prefers it...until the sexy cop next door comes knocking.

Detective Reese Bareden thinks he knows what makes women tick, but his ever-elusive neighbor keeps him guessing like no other. Is his goal to unmask Alice's secrets? Or protect her from a dangerous new threat? One thing is certain: their chemistry is a time bomb waiting to explode. And with no one to trust but each other, Reese and Alice are soon drawn into a deadly maze of corruption, intrigue and desire-and into the line of fire....


 I just love Lori Foster.  I first discovered her Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series last year, and I devoured them all in a week.  She has everything I love in a romantic suspense novel—alpha males, strong-willed woman who falls under the guise of the damsel in distress, kick butt action scenes, lots of gun fights, and did I say alpha males?  Lori knows exactly how to write a book that I will love; I only wish she had more books come out a year!

This book follows Detective Reese, the amazingly gorgeous, 6 foot 6 Hulk of a man, who wants nothing more than to save the quiet, yet blunt Alice.  Alice is definitely hiding a traumatic past, and the way Reese handles her is perfect.  I just loved watching these two go from hot and bothered one moment to raging mad in the next.  It definitely kept the steam and the humor going.

My favorite part about Lori’s books, obviously, is the alpha males.  All her leading guys are strong-willed, jealous, over-protective, and very good with a gun.  They know exactly how to sweep a girl off her feet.  I love how they all are caught off guard by the women in their lives, and somehow, although macho and touch on the outside, they end up falling head over heels in love.  It’s the perfect formula for a romance!

I also love all the action scenes.  While this one didn’t have the huge climactic ending I was hoping for, it definitely didn’t disappoint.  There were plenty of beat downs, gun fights, and jump out of nowhere moments to keep me on the edge of my seat.  Lori Foster interweaves this action seamlessly into her romance, and the steamy scenes definitely just keep on coming.  And Lori knows how to write the sexy scenes.

I also love how Lori brings back your favorite characters from the books before to see how they are doing.  Those characters just stole my heart, and I always get excited to see one of them mentioned, or even better, when they show up for some down and dirty fighting.

If you haven’t read any of Lori Foster’s books and are a fan of adult romance books, then I highly recommend you try them out.  Start with When You Dare, and then go from there.  You will not regret it.  Lori Foster has a forever fan in me!

****This book is not suitable for teenagers.  It is an adult romance book, and as such, it does have explicit sex scenes.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The One Where the YA Crush Tourney Returns

So, I know we said that we were done with the tournaments after all the craziness of last summer, but we are so very weak and caved.  So many of you have told us how much you love the tournaments and  how they have introduced you to new books.  When it's for the love of books, its hard to say no.  The first crush tournament that we held was amazing.  We really want to get back the feeling and spirit of that first tournament.  We talked and brainstormed basically all year on how and even if that would be possible.  From the beginning, our intentions for these tournaments have always been to spread a love of YA literature and bring attention to great books, characters and authors in Young Adult literature.   We want to go back to those roots and ensure new books and authors are being introduced, and its not the same characters every year ending in a throwdown between the biggest fan clubs.  We've come up with a few changes that we believe will strengthen and continue on with the original purpose of the tournaments.

We've broken down the nominations into categories.  The categories we have chosen are Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, 2012/2013 Debuts, and Indie published.  We will have 6 nominees from each category then 4 wild cards from any category making a 28 seed tournament.  These are the definitions:

Realistic fiction is anything that happens in real life.  This could be contemporary, historical, thriller etc as long as it fits under the heading of realism.

Speculative Fiction is an umbrella term that includes all works that could be considered non-realism including paranormal, supernatural, dystopian, fantasy, alternate universe etc.

2012/2013 Debuts is any book that has been published by a first time YA author in 2012/2013.  This must be the authors first YA novel, and it must be published in either 2012/2013.

Indie published means books that have been self-published or published by a small press.

Before the nominations open, we will give even more detailed definitions of these categories. Please note: This is a YA Crush Tournament only. No NA or MG heroes will be accepted.

We have really thought long and hard about these categories, and we think this will create a tournament that spreads a love of YA literature and brings to light books and authors that deserve more attention.  Plus, it still allows room for old favorites.

We have also invited 4 other blogs to help us out in this process.  These 4 blogs are actually going to hold the nominations for us!  All of them have been involved in the tournaments in the past and are very familiar with how the tournament works.  They will each host the nominations for their specific category.  These 4 AMAZING blogs are:

Fictitious Delicious (Realistic Fiction)
Fantasy Book Addict (Speculative Fiction)
Pageturners Blog (Debuts)
Stuck In Books (Indie)

Nominations will open on May 20th (12:01am) and close on May 25th (12:01am).  So, start following these blogs, stalk their twitters, find their facebook accounts and get your nominations ready for when the window opens in a little under two weeks!   We are super excited for this and genuinely hope all of you feel the same.  Let's all make this the best tournament ever and start spreading the word and love for these great books!

Lastly, we will only be allowing 1 crush per author.  You can still nominate as many characters from 1 author as you want, but we will only take the top one with the most votes into the tournament.  We know that this might upset some people out there, but we want to spread the love to all authors.  You might have to finally pick a team in some of those triangles that are so tormenting! And as always, previous tournament winners are not eligible to be nominated.

We will of course be sending out more information about nominations, advocates, wild cards, schedules and all the little details as the time gets closer, but we couldn't wait any longer without sharing the news.  So if you're interested in being involved in the tourney, make sure you're following the blog so you don't miss out.

Don't forget to start spreading the word right now about nominations!  Use the hashtag #YACrushTourney!

P.S. If there is anyone out there with great photo-shop skills that would be willing to help us make a banner for the Tournament, please email us at yasisterhood(at)gmail(dot)com.