12 Holiday YA Books

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I have to admit that I have been in a little bit of a blogging/reading rut. Although I have been keeping up with the blog and reviewing quite a few wonderful titles, I have just had the feeling that I need to break out and read just for fun. After all, isn’t that the reason we are all readers? Just to relax and read for the sheer pleasure of it all? So, as some of you may have noticed, I have been sprinkling a few light and fluffy holiday books into my reading schedule. I have read and reviewed a few of them already and some are still on my list. I thought that I would share the complete list here, as it did take me a bit of time to track down some of these titles.

  1. Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle

 

2. What Light by Jay Asher

3. Ex-Mas by Kate Brian

4. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn David and Levithan

5. The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

6. Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne

7. Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

8. Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne

9. Mistletoe: Four Holiday Stories by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman and Nina Malkin

10. Sun-Kissed Christmas by Katherine Applegate

11. Winterspell by Claire Legrand

12. My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Stephanie Perkins and 11 more


I am loving this time I have set aside for holiday reading. If you are interested in adding any to Goodreads, I have created a shelf that you might be interested in. Do you have any holiday reads or traditions that help you get into the holiday spirit?

Review: Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

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Title: Let it Snow
Authors: John Green, Maureeen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Speak
Publication Date: October 2, 2008
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

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I am probably the last person to read this book, but I finally picked up Let it Snow! These connecting short stories were all so good, and I had trouble picking a favourite. I loved the recurring Waffle House setting and the descriptions of staying cozy during a winter storm. If I had to choose, I would probably go with Maureen Johnson’s story, The Jubilee Express, as my favourite.

Let it Snow is a collection of three holiday short stories, but the book honestly seems like one story. Each story is connected and I loved seeing familiar characters throughout all three. I enjoyed the contrast in each author’s writing style as I switched stories and being introduced to their own quirky characters. I feel like this would be a great sampler if you have not yet read any books by these authors.

I loved the original setting that appears in all three of the stories, a Waffle House restaurant. I found it so interesting to see how each character ends up stopping there, especially John Green’s interpretation, a race to the restaurant. In my opinion, that would be the perfect place to be stuck during a snow storm, and it was so entertaining to see everyone’s reactions to the storm.

My favourite of the stories was Maureen Johnson’s. This one is about a girl whose parents are arrested because of a fight over a collectable piece for their elf village. Her train gets stuck in the storm and she seeks refuge in a stranger’s house. I really enjoyed the way this one was written and the main character, Jubilee.

Let it Snow contains three short stories that all intertwine. The common setting in the book, the Waffle House, is so unique and intriguing. My favourite of the stories was Maureen Johnson’s, The Jubilee Express. I would definitely recommend this book for the winter season!

Book Giveaway Hop: December 2016 New Releases

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Welcome to the December New Release Giveaway Hop hosted by It Starts at Midnight!

Can you believe that the year is almost over? There are still a few more incredible new books coming out this month, though, so let’s celebrate the end of a wonderful year of reading with a giveaway! The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee, Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill, and Alterations by Stephanie Scott are just a few books that I am looking forward to this month. You can enter to win any book published in December 2016 that you are most excited for, however.

This giveaway is open to international entries, as long as  The Book Depository ships to you!

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Don’t forget to check back on December 14th to discover all of the other giveaways along the hop!

Review: Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne

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Title: Snowed In
Author: Rachel Hawthorne
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: November 27, 2008
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): 

Well, apparently I live here now, my mom just bought the place. And named it after me, Ashleigh, which was nice. But did she know how cold it is here??

Um, it’s a tiny island with not much to do, unless you really like sleigh rides. But I gotta say there are quite a few hot guys on this cold island . . .

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If you’re looking for the perfect read to curl up by the fire with this winter, Snowed In is the perfect book for you! This wintry book takes place on a perfect island and the main character is so sweet. This book is so cute and pretty short.

Snowed In is short and sweet, what I would consider pure fluff. This story is about a girl who moves to a small island with her mom and the adventures she has along the way. There are plenty of cheesy moments in the book, but they actually work well with the story and aren’t unpleasant at all. This is also such a quick read that I was able to read in one sitting.

I loved the small island setting in the story! Everyone is friends with one another and there are less than 10 kids per grade in the school. Since it is set in the winter, there are also romantic sleigh rides and cross-country skiing described in the book that made me smile. The main character owns her own bed and breakfast, and that is honestly a dream for me. This whole book just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

I liked Ashleigh as a character. She is very considerate and thinks of how her actions will affect others before carrying them out. She has a good sense of humour and such a fun personality. I also found Ashleigh to be relatable since she is definitely not a morning and can’t go without a cup of coffee. Her last name, Sneaux, is also, while cheesy, super festive, which I enjoyed.

Snowed In is a wintry book set on a small island during the winter. I enjoyed the main character and her sweet personality. I would definitely recommend this as it is such a cute and quick read!

Review: The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

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Title: The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily
AuthorsRachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Stars: 2.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Dash and Lily have had a tough year since they first fell in love among the shelves of their favorite bookstore. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition.

With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favorite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends must take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the unique holiday magic of a glittering, snow-covered New York City in December.

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Ever since I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, I had been dying for a companion novel, so I was thrilled to see one being released. However, there is far less adventure in this story and Lily’s character is so negative. The constant negativity doesn’t make the book seem Christmassy at all, and I ended up being pretty disappointed with this one.

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, like Dash and Lily’s Books of Dares, contains adventure, though definitely not as much as the first book. The adventures in this story are mostly Dash trying to cheer Lily up, and even find her. I was hoping for something more like the first book’s wild and mysterious concept, so I was pretty disappointed in this one.

I enjoyed Dash’s character more than Lily’s in this book. He is kind and does everything he can to make Lily happy. Lily, however, while being an okay character herself, is depressed, and her parts failed to get me in the Christmas spirit. While reading, I felt really sad for her, which I was not expecting from a holiday book. It got to the point where I dreaded switching to her POV because it was so negative. The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily really needs some more Christmas spirit.

My main issue with the book, which I kind of mentioned above, is the constant negativity. There are so many things that go wrong, such as Dash and Lily considering taking a break and Lily’s grandpa’s failing health. The whole book was pretty much everyone feeling sorry for Lily and trying to cheer her up. It didn’t even feel like a Christmas book after so long.

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily is the companion to Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. Since it is a Christmas book, I was expecting something happier, but was disappointed to see the negativity brought on by Lily’s character and the constant disasters. Although it does pick up at the very end, I feel like this book kind of ruined my experience with Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. I would not recommend this book if you are 100% satisfied with the way the first book ended.

Waiting on Wednesday #90: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week’s book:

30320053Title: Long May She Reign
Author: Rhiannon Thomas
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 21, 2017

Summary (from Goodreads): The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

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Thoughts: 

This book sounds absolutely incredible! I am very intrigued by the fact that the main character goes from 23rd in line to the ruler. The cover of this book is also stunning and so mysterious. I am glad that the wait isn’t too long for this one and that it can be in my hands very soon!

Teaser Tuesdays #81: Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books and a Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Today’s Teaser Tuesday: 

25125773Jane Austen meets Arthur Conan Doyle in a historical fiction debut for fans of Ruta Sepetys and Elizabeth Wein.

Born into an affluent family, Leo outwardly seems like a typical daughter of English privilege in the 1870s: she lives with her wealthy married sister Christabel, and lacks for neither dresses nor trinkets. But Leo has a crippling speech impediment that makes it difficult for her to speak but curiously allows her to mimic other people’s voices flawlessly. Servants and ladies alike call her “Mad Miss Mimic” behind her back… and watch as she unintentionally scares off every potential suitor. Only the impossibly handsome Mr. Thornfax seems interested in Leo…but why? And does he have a connection to the mysterious Black Glove group that has London in its terrifying grasp? Trapped in a city under siege by terror attacks and gripped by opium fever, where doctors (including her brother-in-law) race to patent an injectable formula, Leo must search for truth in increasingly dangerous situations – but to do so, she must first find her voice.

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I have been interested in reading this book for quite some time. I am really quite enjoying these historical fiction novels lately and I am very intrigued by this character, Leo, and her speech impediment. It must have been a difficult time for many who had various disorders in the late 1800s.

Here is the teaser:

So there it is, my secret, my scandal: Mad Miss Mimic. The name is apt enough, for it comes on me like a madness at times, so that I say things that I don’t truly understand, or would never say if I could stop myself.

ARC Review: To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

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I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: To Capture What We Cannot Keep
Author: Beatrice Colin
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: November 29, 2016
Stars: 3.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young widow and an engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris–a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live–one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.

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There is something glamorous and intriguing about this time in history that just draws you into this book. Colin has created a unique and interesting story surrounding the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. There are also beautiful passages and gorgeous descriptions of the fashion and lifestyle during the time period. However, the main character, Cait, goes through so many personality changes that I had a hard time liking her as a character towards the end of the novel.

If you have ever read or watched any of the numerous mini-series that document and romanticize the building of the Titanic, you will have a sense of what this book is about. Beatrice Colin beautifully depicts the setting of Paris and the landscape pre-Eiffel Tower. There are many elaborate and interesting moments throughout the story that describe  the materials, techniques and hardships that went into constructing this famous structure. It was very fascinating to read the opinions of Parisians and their aversion to this monument that is a symbol now associated with the country.

I also really enjoyed the passages in To Capture What We Cannot Keep that Colin wrote to beautifully describe the elaborate clothes worn during the late 1800s. Fashion and appearance were of great importance at the time and it was delightful to read about what the characters were wearing to art shows attended by Seurat. I especially loved the scene where the characters were skating and taking advantage of showing off a little bit of ankle!

While there are numerous aspects of the novel that I adored, the protagonist Cait, is one that I found relatable at first and then at about 3/4 of the way through the book became a somewhat dislikable character. Without spoiling too much of the plot, I will just say that I was disappointed with the lack of direction she gave to the young adults that she was chaperoning. I felt that for someone who is trying to break the norms of society and find her own place in the world, she could have been more inspiring and helpful to Alice and Jamie.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep is a beautifully written novel that will whisk its readers right into the time period of 1887 flawlessly. It is quite an enjoyable historical fiction that provides a window to an era long forgotten. Although the main character fell flat for me, I do think that those who enjoy historical fiction will find this novel quite enjoyable.

Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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Title: The Truth About Forever
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group Inc.
Publication Date: May 11, 2004
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): A long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

Is it really always better to be safe than sorry?

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The Truth About Forever is my second Sarah Dessen book, but I really want to read some more! This one is about surmounting the death of a loved one and the main character learns many lessons throughout the books. Dessen has really mastered the ability to write sadder books while keeping them entertaining and cute.

This book is about a girl dealing with her dad’s death and how she comes out of her shell. Along the way, she finds some new friends and gets herself a job at a catering business, which I absolutely loved. Everyone she works with is so unique in their own way. I don’t think I’ve read a book about catering before, but I would definitely like to read more after reading about how fun it seems in this book!

I really sympathized with Macy in The Truth About Forever. She has been through so much with her dad’s death and her mom has become distant. Macy also deals with a lot of stress since she is stuck working her boyfriend’s job and constantly studying for her SATs. Throughout the book, she learns to follow her heart and that it’s okay to have fun, which is such an important message.

I really admire Sarah Dessen’s ability to write a book that centres around grief, but isn’t entirely depressing. While the book has its sad moments, there are many fun scenes, especially the catering ones, that made me smile. Books like these are so important to read because I think that they can really educate the reader and could be helpful to someone going through the same thing. Though I’ve only read two of Sarah’s books, I can tell that grief is a signature theme in her books.

The Truth About Forever is an inspiring book about overcoming grief and contains a main character who learns many lessons. Sarah Dessen is very skilled at writing books with darker themes while keeping them pretty light and fluffy. I definitely want to read more of her books in the future!

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Shadow Fall by Audrey Grey

Shadow Fall
Audrey Grey
(Shadow Fall, #1)
Published by: Blaze Publishing
Publication date: November 22nd 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

The asteroid hurtling toward the earth will kill billions.

The Emperor and his Gold Court will be safe in their space station, watching from the stars. The Silvers will be protected underground. But the Bronzes must fight it out at the Shadow Trials for the few remaining spots left on the space station.

When an enigmatic benefactor hands Maia Graystone a spot in the Trials, she won’t just get a chance at salvation for her and her baby brother, Max: She gets to confront the mother who abandoned her in prison, the mad Emperor who murdered her father, and the Gold prince who once loved her. But it’s the dark bastard prince she’s partnered with that will make her question everything, including her own heart. With the asteroid racing closer every day, Maia must trust someone to survive.

The question is who?

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You can get your copy now for the special release price of 99 cents, and be sure to meet us at the Facebook Party happening right now!

EXCERPT:

My legs wobble as I step into the now lukewarm water. I sink to the bottom. Tiny bubbles escape my nose as I watch all the ugly remnants from the last seven years leave my body.

Lungs burning, I rise and come face-to-face with Pit Boy.

I glare at him. “You really have to work on the knocking thing.”

Despite the fact that I’m indecent, his attention never falls from my face. I almost wish it would, just to give me a break from the intensity of his focus.

“I only get a few more hours to be the ‘one-eyed freak’ from the pit. Might as well take advantage.” He doesn’t dare crack a smile, so it’s hard to tell if he’s joking or serious.

“Don’t worry. In my heart, that’s exactly who you’ll always be.”

His words remind me that soon we’ll be reconstructed using forbidden nanotech. But it won’t just be our flesh they’ll reengineer. It will be our brains, too.

I don’t foresee my rewiring being too complicated, but Riser needs to upload almost twenty years of false memories. That will be tricky and time-consuming.

And time is the one thing we don’t have.

Riser flicks his gaze to the mirror. He lifts a hand, touches the patch of mottled flesh where his eye should be.

“How did it happen?” I ask.

“Careful, my lady.” His gaze settles on my face. “You’re beginning to sound like you care.”

I roll my eyes. “And I thought I was lacking in conversational skills.”

He focuses his attention on the graffiti sprayed across the mirror.

“It’s written language,” I blurt, even though all I want to do is end the conversation so Pit Boy can leave. His presence unnerves me more than the other Pit Leeches ever could. “It’s how we communicate.”

“I know what it is.” He examines his jagged thumbnail. “I just . . . can’t read it.”

“It’s just stuff about the Chosen. You know, insults.” The populace is finicky. As much as they love watching the Chosen with their petty intrigues and court life, they would be just as happy to see their heads on a pike.

“Chosen?”

Time to explain what you are, Everly, Nicolai’s voice grates inside my head. Riser’s eyes flutter just enough that I know he’s heard Nicolai’s voice too.

You do it, I think, watching Riser’s reaction. But his face remains emotionless; either he’s a good actor or only Nicolai can hear my response.

“The Royalist astronomers discovered the asteroid twenty-one years ago,” I begin. “It’s actually a slow moving planet called an earth-crosser, meaning its orbit and ours intersect every twenty-thousand years. Usually it’s too far away to affect us, but this time it will pass close enough to wreak havoc and make the earth uninhabitable for years.” I stir the water with my big toe. “Before I was born, the Emperor decided that creating a population of genetically superior humans would be a great idea, you know, just in case the Caskets don’t work or the asteroid does more damage than predicted.”

Riser’s hyper-focused gaze bores through me. “You’re one of them?”

“Yes.” I run my hand through the filthy water. “But my father’s a Bronze, so even though my mother comes from a Gold House, the Emperor only allowed them one Chosen instead of the customary twins. So it’s just me . . . not Max.”

“What makes being Chosen so special?”

“I don’t know . . .” I bite my lip, trying to remember everything my parents told me. “My genes are perfect, I guess.”

For some reason, talking about my body makes me remember that I am naked in a room with a boy. As if reading my mind, Riser slowly lets his gaze fall, his expression both curious and unapologetic as he takes me all in, his thoughts cryptic.

“What are you staring at?” I blurt, smashing my breasts beneath my hands. Not like there’s much there to cover. “Haven’t you seen a naked girl before?”

A smile twitches his lips. “Not one that’s genetically flawless.

“It doesn’t work that way! You can’t just look at us and tell. We look like everyone else—”

“No.” Riser shakes his head, a dark swath of hair covering his damaged eye. “You don’t. Whatever you are.”

“You must be happy . . . about our reconstruction, I mean,” I mumble, trying desperately to change the subject. “They’ll fix your eye . . . and . . . and all those horrible scars.”

I freeze as he slides off the counter, unable to look away as he hooks one finger beneath his shirt and lifts.

Scars ravage his anemic body in varying shades of red and silver and white. Some deep and pitted like the craters of a far-away planet, others smooth and neat. One particular nasty scar carves down his shoulder, tunneling across his chest and stomach. A fresh red wound nestles just below his throat.

He carefully touches the long ugly one. “I’m not ashamed for surviving.”

 

About the Author:

Audrey Grey lives in the charming state of Oklahoma, with her husband, two little people, and four mischievous dogs. You can usually find her hiding out in her office from said little people and dogs, surrounded by books and sipping kombucha while dreaming up wondrous worlds for her characters to live in.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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