Pretty Preview (1): Ever the Hunted

July 26, 2016 Pretty Kitty Preview 0

I own so many books I know I can’t review them all, but I want to make sure they’re seen. You never know who might pick up the book on a whim and then love it! That’s the core of my new feature: Pretty Preview!

The rules:

Post a roughly page-long excerpt from a book you own but haven’t read yet.

Whether it came out two years ago or comes out in two months, it’s fine!

Excerpts come from the first 50 pages (less than 300 pages) or first 100 pages (300+ pages).

This week:

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill!Ever the Hunted

(subject to change; excerpt comes from the ARC, p. 72-73)

The moment I reach his side, he turns to me and arches a stern sable brow. “Did you learn anything of value?”

I contemplate keeping the information a secret, but something tells me the captain will see through my lie. “He thought Enat might be a Channeler.”

The captain considers my answer, though he doesn’t respond. Perhaps he’s as confused as me about why Cohen would be after a woman from Shaerdan.

We follow Cohen’s trail to the stonecutter, to the healer, and to an oiler, who tells is that Cohen is at a local inn. Lightning fast, we’re on the captain’s horse and galloping through Fennit.

When the thatched-roof two-story building comes into view, an awareness of something tugs inside. The back of my neck tingles.

Cohen’s here.

The captain’s gaze whips around, and I realize I’ve spoken aloud again. I want to smack myself. Cohen may not even be inside, and the captain will think me a fool.

Captain Omar growls out, “Mackkay,” as he drops to the ground with fierce determination in his eyes.

Cohen isn’t in sight though. Disappointment floods me. I want to see him again. To have one more moment with my old friend before… and yet I shouldn’t want such things. I’m a traitor to myself. No matter what we were in the past, we are nothing now.

Like what you’ve read? Add it on Goodreads!


Review: Run by Kody Keplinger

July 25, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: Run by Kody KeplingerRun by Kody Keplinger
Published by Scholastic Press on June 28, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who's not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn't care what anyone thinks.

Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents' overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter -- protect her from what, Agnes isn't quite sure.

Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it's the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.

So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn't hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo's dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and -- worst of all -- confronting some ugly secrets.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 4 (Bo is bisexual)
Disability: 5 (in #ownvoices representation from Keplinger, Agnes is legally blind)
Intersectionality: 3 (Bo’s family is very poor and her mother is a meth addict)

A blind girl and a bisexual girl get into a car, steal it in the middle of the night, and drive straight into my heart. That’s this book in the form of a bar joke, but if I can be real a second (for just a millisecond), it’s better than a stale bar joke. If you have any assumptions about a book with a “two friends go on a road trip” premise, Run will defy them and leave you tearing up as you turn the last pages.

Read more »


Review: American Girls by Alison Umminger

July 18, 2016 Reviews 1

Review: American Girls by Alison UmmingerAmerican Girls by Alison Umminger
Published by Flatiron Books on June 7, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
She was looking for a place to land.

Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she's had it with her life at home. So Anna "borrows" her stepmom's credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn't quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls―and although the violence in her own life isn't the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna's singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America―in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn't, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.

…No. I gave it fifty pages. Here are quotes from my ARC that illustrate my decision:

I found [Leslie Van Houten] by accident, reading an article in the waiting room of the lady-parts doctor my mom was going to when she was trying to get pregnant with my brother. (ARC, p. 1)

Lady-parts doctor. The prologue this comes from is written as though Anna is older now and is reminiscing on the moment. If so, surely she can use the proper title (OBGYN, fertility doctor, or something else that’s correct). Just not this.

Nasty, filthy America, where you could put a person on trial for being an asshole, and supersize transsexuals ate dog shit off of lawns, at least in the movies. (ARC, p. 2)

This is about the film Pink Flamingos, in which drag queen Divine legendarily eats real dog shit. No stuntwork or fake poop for her! HOWEVER. Divine was a gay man and a drag queen. He explicitly said he was not transgender or transsexual, so the use of “transsexual” to describe Divine is both inaccurate and gross. It’s not a word we commonly use anymore and it’s seen as bad by some.

It had crossed my mind that my sister might be a slut, but a really nice-smelling, clean, and carefully closeted slut. (ARC, p. 8)What?

When my mom became a lesbian[…] (ARC, p. 23)

Before my mom decided she was a lesbian, I thoughts lesbians were all these nice, earthy, crunchy, “let’s smother you with our extra twenty pounds of lady love and fight the power” people.

Emphasis mine. Again, WHAT?

No matter how the story is intended to be read or told, all these quotes rub me entirely the wrong way.

All quotes were double-checked against the finished copy.


Review: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan

July 14, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Secrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. MorganSecrets, Lies, and Scandals by Amanda K. Morgan
Published by Simon Pulse on July 5, 2016
Genres: Suspense, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Nothing ruins summer vacation like a secret…especially when it involves a dead teacher.

Ivy used to be on top of the social ladder, until her ex made that all go away. She has a chance to be Queen Bee again, but only if the rest of the group can keep quiet.

Tyler has always been a bad boy, but lately he’s been running low on second chances. There’s no way he’s going to lose everything because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

Kinley wouldn’t describe herself as perfect, though everyone else would. But perfection comes at a price, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her perfect record—one that doesn’t include murder charges.

Mattie is only in town for the summer. He wasn’t looking to make friends, and he definitely wasn’t looking to be involved in a murder. He’s also not looking to be riddled with guilt for the rest of his life…but to prevent that he’ll have to turn them all in.

Cade couldn’t care less about the body, or about the pact to keep the secret. The only way to be innocent is for someone else to be found guilty. Now he just has to decide who that someone will be.

With the police hot on the case, they don’t have much time to figure out how to trust each other. But in order to take the lead, you have to be first in line…and that’s the quickest way to get stabbed in the back.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (Cade is Japanese; Kinley is black)
QUILTBAG: 1 (Mattie is bi but plays out a bi stereotype)
Disability: 0 (off-screen character with an unspecified mental illness fulfills the “mentally ill people are dangerous” stereotype)
Intersectionality: 1 (See above; though bare-bones diverse, the novel doesn’t handle it particularly well)

There’s nothing like a good YA suspense novel that keeps you up at night and results in you dropping your Nook on your face! (Yeah, that happened. It also hit my cat Shadow, who’d crawled up onto my chest to take a nap, but I digress.) I didn’t know how much I wanted this book until I started reading and took down somewhere between 250 and 300 pages of it in one night. Read more »


Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

July 8, 2016 Diversity 0, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth RossBelle Epoque Published by Delacorte BFYR on June 11, 2013
Genres: YA, YA Historical
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
Disability: 0
Intersectionality: 0

As I learned when pumping my mom for camping-buddy-related gossip, I learned a dear family friend of ours has a lot of self-esteem issues. I’d say I don’t know why because she’s gorgeous and funny, but of course I know why: our culture. The US is a patriarchal society built on knocking women down. Swimsuit ads, diet ads, makeup, it goes on and on and on. (The only thing she should feel bad about is being a fan of Donald Trump, but that’s totally unrelated.)

Anyway, if she were a reader, I’d give her Belle Epoque. If you feel ugly, this book will remind you that you’re beautiful inside and out no matter what your culture or your own insecurities have to say about it.

Read more »


Review: With Malice by Eileen Cook

July 7, 2016 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review: With Malice by Eileen CookWith Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children on June 7, 2016
Genres: Mystery, YA, YA Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
It was the perfect trip…until it wasn’t.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last six weeks should be. She discovers she was involved in a fatal car accident while on a school trip in Italy. A trip she doesn’t even remember taking. She was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident.

As the accident makes national headlines, Jill finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. It doesn’t help that the media is portraying her as a sociopath who killed her bubbly best friend, Simone, in a jealous rage. With the evidence mounting against her, there’s only one thing Jill knows for sure: She would never hurt Simone. But what really happened? Questioning who she can trust and what she’s capable of, Jill desperately tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Diversity Rating: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 1 (Jill’s roommate Anna is Mexican)
Disability: 2 (I believe Anna was paralyzed from the waist down when her boyfriend pushed her down from the stairs)
Intersectionality: (Anna; see above)

Once upon a time, this little book called Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas was a cult hit among book bloggers. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well at all and most casual readers had no idea it existed. If you haven’t read that book, go read it right now. If you have, congratulations! If you were into that true crime-inspired tale and its unreliable narrator, then With Malice here should be next on your TBR. Read more »


Tips for ALA Attendees with Exhibits-Only Passes

July 3, 2016 Links and Silliness 0

From June 24th–the day of my last post–to June 27th, I was at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando, Florida with my best friend, who happens to be a teacher. I basically pushed her into going with me. We both had a blast, but I’ve needed almost the entire week since I got home to detox! My anxiety + a 20,000 attendee-strong conference = ded. I survived by the grace of being able to keep my professional persona intact and bottle up my anxiety. All that anxiety and exhaustion hit like a bullet train at the end of the day, but that’s how it goes in the working world too.

Anyway, I went into the conference with a lot of questions about how things worked. I heard it was much calmer than the chaos that was BEA, but all the ALA tips I saw were intended for the conference’s main attendees: the librarians. Anyone with an Exhibits Only pass like me was practically going in blind!

In hopes of helping out other people who will be attending ALA in the future, whether they’re going the annual or midwinter meeting, here are a few things I wish I’d known beforehand.

There are galley drops like at BEA, but they’re typically not scheduled or publicly announced. You’ll get most titles by simply asking someone working the booth for a copy.

You see most of the publicity surrounding what’s going on reserved for the in-booth signings. About 60% of my haul came from making requests rather than going to signings or checking the booths hourly for drops. You can figure out what they have by checking for which ARCs they have on their display shelves. You’ll see hardcovers and paperbacks alongside them, but those are there to be promoted to the librarians. Focus on the ARCs to figure out what the publisher has available.

Seriously, you won’t know what books are being put out in stacks on the floors or tables until you see because they simply don’t announce it the way they would at BEA. It’s rather exciting and motivates you to check back in the booth every hour or two.

In case you’re nervous about asking someone, the worst you’ll get is a “no.” They may not be polite about it–my best friend said she got a rather rude “no” once at a booth I can’t recall–but they can’t have you kicked out for asking. Just try to take it in stride and move on. As someone with anxiety who hates hearing “no,” I do understand how difficult that can be. Still, do your best!

You do have to purchase a copy of a book for some signings.

Not the ARC signings, obviously. For finished copies of books (paperbacks and hardcovers). Even then, I went to four signings at four different publisher booths where finished copies were being signed, but only one of them required I purchase the book. I happily paid because it was Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid, published by Lee & Low Books. I’d planned to purchase the book at some point anyway because I want to support diverse books (Lee & Low in particular is a publisher that specializes in diverse books) and I’ve been looking forward to it for ages.

Anyway, bring your credit or debit card or some cash. Even if it turns out none of the books you pick up over the course of the conference require a purchase, it’s better to be prepared than miss out on something you’re excited for.

In addition, the books are typically sold at special convention prices: $5 for a paperback, $10 for a hardcover. Off the top of my head, I can recall Lee & Low Books, Candlewick Press, Hachette, and possibly Abrams selling books, but there were TONS more that I either didn’t notice or flat-out forgot about.

Lines for signings are still a bit ridiculous, but they’re not BEA-ridiculous.

Some lines will come with special conditions (i.e. Stephanie Garber was signing ARCs of Caraval, but it was a librarian and educator-exclusive signing). Other lines start 30-45 minutes prior to the signing proper, as I saw was the case for Morgan Matson’s signing of The Unexpected Everything. Compared to how lines would start hours in advance for certain BEA titles (*coughcough HEIR OF FIRE cough*), this is nothing. For the most part, lines for signings are calm affairs and really do start just before the signing.

This does not apply to the last exhibit hall day, however. That is when the lines are scary as publishers try to clear out their booths of display copies and host giveaways at certain times. Though we’d been told the line for the Penguin Random House giveaway didn’t start until 12:00–JUST THE LINE–my best friend and I wandered by to check at 11:45 and found the line had already started. It was about 50 people deep?

We gave up and went to the Scholastic booth instead, where things were much more manageable and we were more likely to see our efforts rewarded.

Related: the exhibit hall’s last day comes with giveaways of booth display copies. Ask about their rules and when they start!

Each booth will have its own rules as well, which they’ll explain before the giveaway. Scholastic’s: 1 title per person, though they could get back in line as many times as they wanted if they wanted more. Penguin Random House’s: maximum of 3 titles from the Penguin side and 3 from the RH side, so you could leave with up to 6 books from the booth.

If you’ve only been to BEA before, ALA is much, much calmer.

Between the conference’s focus on librarians over general publishing professionals, the laid back manner in which books are distributed, and the lack of an autographing area, you’re likely to be much more comfortable at ALA than BEA. You’ll see some overlaps in behavior, but it’s not a whole lot.

No matter what, your body is going to despise you by the end.

I don’t know if this is the case for all ALA conferences, but there was no BEA-esque baggage check here where I could take a small bag for a fee and fill it with books over the course of the day. Nope, gotta carry all those books yourself. You’ll get plenty of tote bags to carry books in if you go looking for them, but I still recommend bringing two reliable, comfortable totes with you. Any bags with wheels require special approval and I saw most used for medical reasons.

Between all the walking and the weight of the books, our arms and legs were screaming at the end of each day. Was the pain worth it?


Just remember: this is a professional conference intended solely for librarians. If you’re there as a blogger or educator or anyone else with an Exhibits Only pass, your presence is a privilege, not a right. Don’t abuse your privilege and screw things up for everyone else.

Got any other questions you want to ask? I’m open to adding more to this post as well as answering questions in the comments!

If I do a haul post, you’ll likely see it later this week.