Publisher: Macmillan

Shutter by Courtney Alameda ~ ARC Review

19 Nov, 2014 by in courtney alameda, feiwel and friends, horror, young adult fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Feiwel and Friends in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shutter by Courtney Alameda ~ ARC Review

Shutter

by Corutney Alameda
Published by Macmillan on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
four-half-stars
Source: Feiwel and Friends
Buy the BookGoodreads
Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week.

First of all you should all know I am a wuss when it comes to horror. I stay far, far away from anything scary. However, I requested Shutter for a few reasons

1) It’s about a ghost hunter who uses photography to trap ghosts and has a vintage camera collection

2) I know the author as a local publicist and librarian in a library that really needs to be exorcised because of its creepy history. (For real, I know the story behind the beautiful historic Provo Library and… wowza)

3) It was Halloween when I first opened Shutter, and who doesn’t read something creepy on that holiday?

Courtney did not disappoint. The writing is poetic and atmospheric, down right creepy and at times gross. It reminded me of Ghostbusters meets kick- a female heroine with an attitude and a bit of a past. This is not a book for the faint of heart. After the gory opening scene, prepare yourself for more :)

I loved main MC’s relationship with Australian Ryder and the character development she goes through to heal from the wounds of her childhood. There is mention of Van Helsing’s Dracula and lots of action as well as likable sidekick ghost hunter teens. My only apprehension was a tad bit of political agenda in regards to women holding the priesthood which was slipped in. (The author contacted me and said it is not intended as personal belief or agenda, just that it fits the character)

Overall, loved this debut. It was unique and sticks with you long after you’re finished. Thanks MacMillan for the sneak peek!

Content: moderate swearing, mention of sex, heavy paranormal violence, domestic and child abuse.

 

about_ the_author

Courtney Alameda’s spent her entire career trying to con and cajole people into reading great books. A veteran of the big-box bookstore trenches, Courtney now works as a librarian for the prettiest cortney_alamedalibrary you’ve ever seen, where she spends her time ordering large stacks of YA books, doing readers’ advisory, and dressing up as various mythical creatures for a variety of library events.

Courtney has an affinity for brightly colored lipstick, urban exploration, cosplay, video games, and Twitter. If she’s listening to music, it’s usually Florence + the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Rodrigo y Gabriela, or Jason Graves. Her addiction to Dr. Pepper is legendary.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Brigham Young University. She is represented by the amazing and talented John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with a legion of books and a tiny, five pound cat who possesses a giant personality.

“You can catch her shenanigans on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads; blogging with her sisters-in-the-macabre, theYA Scream Queens; or hanging out with the Fearless Fifteeners and the Class of 2k15.”

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ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

20 Jan, 2014 by in alyssa b sheinmel, ARC, Farrar Straus Giroux, macmillan, peter pan, reimagining, summer 2 comments

I received this book for free from Farrar Straus Giroux in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Second Star

by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux on May 13th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
five-stars
Source: Farrar Straus Giroux
Buy the BookGoodreads
A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

Wow. Where to even begin with this book?!! I sat down to read it, and never got up. Read straight past my bed time, into the night, until turning the very last page. For me, the writing was absolutely enchanting and dreamlike–a fairy tale shimmering to life in a modern day retelling by the beach. By far, the most magical book I’ve read in a very long time.

Wendy Darling’s world is shattered when her twin brothers go missing after going surfing and then never come back. Her parents are shells of themselves, merely passing through the motions of life. Wendy, in the mean time, is convinced her brothers are still out there somewhere.

She’s a straight A student– Stanford bound in fact,  but Wendy feels the tug of the ocean, the whispers of her brothers.

A chance meeting with a beautiful boy named Pete leads her to Kensington. Once the home of millionaires, now an abandoned neighborhood clinging dangerously close to the edge of a cliff backed up to the ocean. Wendy is sure her brothers could have known this very spot where the perfect waves crash in and the tide washes away the path that leads back home. She is inexplicably drawn to the salty air and fire-lit nights.

Second Star brought me back to my senior year in California and the summers in between. Taking weekends at lazy beach towns, finding warm sand between my toes and then shaking it all out again to head back to school, the sunny days and carefree atmosphere.

Pete is perfect. He’s exactly what you would imagine a modern day Peter Pan to be. Belle, his moody, angry girlfriend has secrets of her own. The other lost boys,  Hughie and Matt come together to form their own makeshift family. But, there is a very real threat living on the other side of the beach.

Jas.

He can hook you with his lies, his dust and his enigmatic pull. The love triangle all happens so fast you won’t know what hit.

Wendy finds herself doing things she would never normally do, and second guessing her mind as she chases the second star in search of the truth. Lines between reality and dream becomes blurred (as often happens with trauma, love and loss),  so much so that even the reader is not sure what is fact and what is imagining.

I’m guessing this is a standalone, because of the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything for readers. But suffice it to say, Second Star is a twisty, turvy ride that will suck you in, pull you under and spit you back out wanting another wave. It takes everything you think you know and shakes it up– but for me it was perfect.

Highly recommend Second Star. If you are looking for it to stick to your pre-conceived notions about the well known childhood story of Peter Pan, you may be disappointed– but if you want  amazing writing, here you’ll find fast paced story spinning at its best. Thanks so much to Ksenia at MacMillan Teen Books for sending me this treasure!

My advice… head over to NetGalley and request it. Preorder and add Second Star to your wishlist NOW.

Content: Due to this being such an early review I  won’t list specifics yet. There are several elements of mature content but not in so much detail that it was bothersome to me, will release the parental warnings after the book is published.

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Excerpt

Sitting as far from Jas as possible, my body pressed against the passenger- side door, I close my eyes and let a memory wash over me–a memory, I’m certain this time, not a dream: Pete’s chin resting on the small of my back as we paddle out to take a wave. The board sticky with wax beneath me as I pull myself to stand. The ocean dropping out below us as the board slides into place beneath the crest of the wave. And  the sensation that I’m flying, weightless and carefree,with no one on the planet except Pete and me, no one else know exactly what this feels like.

Author Bioalyssa_b_sheinmel

I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

When I was little, I pretended that I didn’t like to read, because my sister loved to read, and I wanted to be different. (I also pretended that I didn’t like pizza, because it was her favorite food, I still get sad when I think of all the delicious pizza dinners I missed out on.) By the time I was eight, it was too hard to pretend I didn’t like to read, because the truth was that reading was my favorite thing in the world. I loved it so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.

When I was eleven years old, I began going to a school in Manhattan called Spence. The teachers there were very supportive of my reading and writing. One teacher there encouraged me to read F. Scott Fitzgerald, and another introduced me to magical realism, and another tried to convince me that there was more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing. (She was right, of course.) And still another let me write a sequel to one of my favorite novels and call it a school project, even though I would have done in my spare time just for the fun of it.

After Spence, I went across town to Barnard College. Once again, I had some of the best teachers in the world encouraging me to write, and introducing me to new authors. One of my very favorite teachers told me to read Joan Didion (and I didn’t thank him enough for that), and my other favorite insisted that there was nothing more to Ernest Hemingway than lessons in fly fishing (and I argued with her a lot about that).

After college, I got a job working in an office where I wore high heels and blazers and even the occasional stiff-collared blouse. I thought I would write on the side, but after a while,I stopped writing altogether – for over a year, I didn’t write a word except in my journal, a very strange thing for a girl who wrote stories from pretty much the time that she learned how to hold a pen.

But then, when I was 24, I began working at a new job, and the people there introduced me to great new writers, just like the teachers I’d had in school. I began to miss writing. It was boring when I wasn’t making up stories to keep myself entertained. And so – slowly, just for the fun of it – I began writing again, and in a couple years I had written the story that would become The Beautiful Between.

I still don’t write every day; sometimes I get caught up in other things, and sometimes I’d just rather park myself in front of the TV and watch reruns of The West Wing. But I always find my way back to my computer; I always remember just how much fun writing really is. And the great thing about writing – at least in my experience – is that it comes out best when you’re doing it for the very, very fun of it.

Find Alyssa on her website*twitter*

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ARC Review ~ The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

21 Nov, 2013 by in review, Uncategorized Leave a comment

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Review ~ The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse

by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Macmillan on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart

Review: I got this book from MacMillan as an e- ARC, and when I saw the cover image, must say I swooned. It’s gorgeous! After reading, The Winner’s Curse, I love it even more. It fits the book,  not just a pretty girl in a dress, it looks like Kestrel. 

Kestrel who is General Trajan’s daughter, a motherless pianist who doesn’t want to bend to the confines of her father’s decision, the girl that does not want her to join the ranks of his army. She trains half heartedly and longs for freedom outside the doldrums rules of society. As she and best friend Jess wander the marketplace in search of distraction they are pushed by the mob like crowd to the bidding arena where a slave is being auctioned off. Without knowing why, Kestrel feels compelled to bid on the young man, Arin, who is defiant and unruly. She pays a much higher price than the norm for slave and falls for “the winner’s curse,” in more ways than one.

There is a pull toward him that is unexplainable. He is more than he appears on the surface, more than a blacksmith pounding out horse shoes. Arin has a will, and hidden underneath is the story of how he became a slave and what he’s endured. Meanwhile, Kestrel begins to make waves with her opponents of bite and sting, a tile game with betting. She angers some and charms others. She turns heads for many reasons and gets the whispers of society to spread.

The Winner’s Curse was an interesting high fantasy diversion. I wish we knew a bit more about the characters. I wanted more depth–more about what they looked like, what they wore and their inner thoughts. I wasn’t as attached or invested to Kestrel, Ronan and Arin as I would like to have been. The world was fascinating–one country dominating another and taking the inhabitants as slaves. I loved the dynamic of slave and owner, the thought that the slave may even be serving in the household he once owned. Still, there was a hope to understand the custom, the culture, the view, the games and the rules just a titch better. The end notes added a lot, the author knows her stuff. I hope she incorporates even more of what she highlighted about the period & civilizations into the rest of the series.

Here’s the magical part–by the end, I was swept away, fully escaped reality, and was lured into Marie Rutkoski’s story. Something happened that I can’t quite explain. I felt more tied to Kestrel and Arin, the lulls in pace no longer bothered me, and I wanted to dive into book two. So would I recommend The Winner’s Curse... yes!  I love it when a book casts its spell on me and I can’t quite explain why. There was something poetic and musical about The Winner’s Curse that drew me in.  

Thanks to Macmillan for the sneak peek!

Content (highlight to reveal): threat of sexual assault, moderate-heavy war related violence and death, no sex or swearing, some sensuality from kissing. Older teens 16+

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About the Author: Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard Universit

y. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and fiction writing. She usually lives in New York City with her husband and two sons, but she and her family are living in Paris for the 2012-2013 academic year. Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner’s Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Find out more on:  author website/ twitter

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