Thursday, February 20, 2014

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy by Sara B. Larson
Published by Scholastic
Available Now
Reviewed by YA Sisterhood's Mom
The Sisters (and Mom) say:  Fantastic, A Must Read!

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

I DEFY you to read the first ten pages of Sara B. Larson’s DEFY and not be totally hooked! I definitely am! This is Larson’s debut novel and WOW does she know how to enter the literary world with style!

First, she has created a plot that literally magnetizes readers of YA. Alexa and her twin brother Marcel are children when they are taken captive by the King. Knowing that the fate of male captives in this kingdom is to be forced into the army and female captives to serve as breeders to increase the size of the King’s army, Marcel chops off Alexa’s hair and she becomes “Alex.” Now it is four years later and both seventeen-year-old Marcel and Alex, through extensive training, are members of the Prince’s Royal Guard. In fact, Alex has proven to be the best fighter in the guard and after an assassination attempt on  Damian, the Prince, Alex must guard him night and day. Alex begins to notice that the twenty-three-year- old Prince puts on the appearance of an apathetic, spoiled son of the King, but she alone finds that it is simply that—an appearance. But in a kingdom where to defy the king is a mortal mistake, can she trust Damian? Should she keep his secrets? And even more frightening, will he keep hers?

Larson’s characterization of the protagonist is AMAZING! Creating a character who must believably blend a male role as Alex and female as Alexa is quite challenging. Larson builds suspense not only through the life and death conflicts she faces but also in the situations in which Alexa is placed, where the reader just knows she can never pull off the charade of being Alex. However, Larson’s twisting of the plot creatively does so successfully.

I do have to admit that the breeding houses were disturbing, but I applaud Larson for handling it tastefully. You have to admit that just to mention young girls imprisoned for this is horrific, but the lesson it teaches to teens far outweighs the uncomfortable subject. Does it need to be in the book? Definitely, yes! We have to understand from what atrocity Alexa’s masquerade is saving her. And, finally, Alexa shows us that no matter the reach of evil into a country, everyone has a responsibility to fight that corruption.

The ending was so powerful! Even though it is set up for a series, it actually has a conclusion and doesn’t leave you with a heart rending cliffhanger for which you have to wait for months, yet you are still ready to read more about amazing Alexa. So I am hopping on the Larson Locomotive, definitely a fan, and I DEFY you to resist coming aboard, too!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

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 THE FALL by Bethany Griffin.  It will be released October 7, 2014 from Harper Greenwillow Books.


Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

Look for it- Fall 2014!

I just love Bethany Griffin and Edgar Allan Poe!!  I was a huge fan of Bethany's Masque of the Red Death, so when I discovered she was writing a reimagining of another of Poe's works, I was thrilled.  Plus, this one is a creepy psychological thriller!!!  Score.  Oh, to get my hands on an early copy!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme hosted and created by The Broke and the Bookish

This Week:  The Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List (in no particular order)

1.) Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins 

2.) Dark Metropolis by Joclyn Dolamore (technically summer, but will be excited all spring)

3.) Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke (again another Summer but dying for Spring)

4.) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

5.) All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

6.) Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

7.) Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger 

8.) Empower by Jessica Shirvington

9.) City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

10.) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Leave me a link to your Top Ten or Teaser Tuesday!!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blog Tour and Guest Post: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

I have always loved rebellious women, and suffragettes are for sure rebellious.  I remember watching the Schoolhouse Rock cartoon Sufferin’ ‘til Suffrage when I was ten.  I wanted to be a suffragette, but I didn’t really get that we already had the vote!  When I moved to England in 2000, I used to walk past Emmeline Pankhurst’s statue in Victoria Tower Gardens, near the Palace of Westminster.  (Emmeline founded the Women’s Social and Political Union, along with her daughters, all of whom are characters in my book.)  Whenever I’d go by that statue I’d think about how hard women fought to have rights, and then I wondered what it would be like to be a teenager during that time and what if you wanted to be something that wasn’t accepted.  What if you were told you couldn’t do it because you were a girl? I would have hated that, and I know I would have been a suffragette.  I started imagining what that would look like and the story started growing in my mind.  And then the voice of my protagonist, Victoria Darling, started to emerge. I chose 1909 as my timeframe because this was when women stopped asking nicely for the vote and started getting militant. They were heckling politicians, throwing rocks at government buildings, and breaking into buildings.  More and more women were getting arrested, going on hunger strikes, and being force-fed, which was torturous.  It was a time of high drama, and I wanted Vicky to be smack in the middle of it.

Here is that Schoolhouse Rock video:

A Mad, Wicked Folly Synopsis:

The year is 1909. After seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling poses nude for her art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school and shipped back to London to live with her parents. To minimize the scandal Vicky has caused, her parents inform her that she is to marry the young man they have selected for her, Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. She is not to continue painting. Vicky knows little about Edmund but accepts the match, reasoning that she can use his money to pay for tuition at the Royal College of Art.

But things don’t go according to plan. Despite her engagement, Vicky develops an interest in the handsome young police constable William Fletcher, an aspiring novelist who encourages Vicky to pursue her dreams. She goes quickly from seeing Will as an artistic muse to seeing him as much more, all the while knowing that she could never be with a man so far below her class.

When Vicky becomes entangled with a group of suffragettes, she comes to realize that the constraints on her aspirations and independence don’t apply only to her—they apply to all women. But how can she fight for women’s equality and pursue the life that she wants without driving away everyone and everything that she’s known?

About Sharon Biggs Waller:

Sharon Biggs Waller is a novelist and award-winning non-fiction writer who lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in northwest Indiana with two horses, four dairy goats, four cats, two dogs, and 60 laying hens. She is a dressage trainer who for many years was a Civil Service Club instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace in London.  Visit her at or on Twitter @Sbiggswaller.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno
Published by Balzer & Bray
Available Now
Reviewed by YA Sisterhood's Mom
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there's a new love in Reena's life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena's gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she's finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn't want anything to do with him, though she'd be lying if she said Sawyer's being back wasn't stirring something in her. After everything that's happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

With all the “how to” help books on the market, why not one teaching us how to love? And what better way than through the lives of Sawyer and Reena, two teenagers with great plans and horrific choices.  She builds her story, not through dual POV’s, but through dual time settings: Before and After. That’s before and after Hannah, Reena’s child. For those of you who feel that pregnancy at sixteen is definitely not appropriate for YA, don’t worry. Katie Cotugno handles the subject tastefully and wonderfully. Most would feel that a YA novel would be the worst example to teach someone how to love. After all, teenagers have no concept of true love, right? What would they know about truly loving anyone but themselves? But don’t be fooled by the age of the characters. It is because of that choice that Cotugno successfully presents us with the knowledge of how to love on so many levels of relationships.

First of all, there is the level of friendship. Why is it that some of us have remained friends forever with the same person since Kindergarten and others have never talked to their “best” friend since they graduated high school? Cortugno’s answer to that is LIFE! We are on our path in life with our best friend beside us determined to take on the world together and nothing can separate our love for that person, and suddenly a choice has us splitting that path, each going into two different directions.

And, of course, there is the love between boyfriend and girlfriend. We are all skeptical that we can find our soul mate while we are teenagers—after all, you don’t even know what love is, right? What’s that old expression?  There are plenty of other fish in the sea! But what if that first one is the right one and you threw him back? Will you ever have a chance to catch him again? Or what if you are not old enough to consume that kind of fish without getting choked on a bone?

And for those YA readers of a more advanced age, there is the how to love concept in a parent/child relationship. Every parent has a plan for their child—a plan for success and happiness. And honestly, most teens want that for themselves also.  Sadly, those plans aren’t always the same, and even when they are……well, as I said before, LIFE happens! Parents truly believe that a child can never do anything that would destroy their love for their child….until the unthinkable happens.  Again, what is that old advice? Never judge until you have walked in that person’s shoes.

For those of you who believe this review has not really told you anything, but simply just asked too many rhetorical questions, I have now prepared you to read HOW TO LOVE. As Cortugno has shown us, we all have a million questions about love, but the solutions are found only when we live the answers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Let the Storm Break by Shannon Messenger

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 LET THE STORM BREAK by Shannon Messenger.  It will be released March 1, 2014 from Simon Pulse.


Whirlwind romance and breathtaking action continues in the sequel to Let the Sky Fall, which Becca Fitzpatrick called “charged and romantic.”

Vane Weston is haunted. By the searing pull of his bond to Audra. By the lies he’s told to cover for her disappearance. By the treacherous winds that slip into his mind, trying to trap him in his worst nightmares. And as his enemies grow stronger, Vane doesn’t know how much longer he can last on his own.

But Audra’s still running. From her past. From the Gales. Even from Vane, who she doesn’t believe she deserves. And the farther she flees, the more danger she finds. She possesses the secret power her enemy craves, and protecting it might be more than she can handle—especially when she discovers Raiden’s newest weapon.

With the Gale Force weakened by recent attacks, and the power of four collapsing, Vane and Audra are forced to make a choice: keep trusting the failing winds, or turn to the people who’ve betrayed them before. But even if they survive the storms sent to destroy them, will they have anything left to hold on to?

The first book in this series was absolutely fantastic, and I cannot wait to find out what is next for Audra and Vane.  Plus, the covers are to die for!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Launch Day Blast and Giveaway: Alienated by Melissa Landers

ALIENATED Launch & NOOK Giveaway!

Hey, fiction lovers. I’m author Melissa Landers, and I’m thrilled to announce that my debut YA sci-fi romance, ALIENATED, is finally available from Disney-Hyperion! Cue the dancers and toss the confetti, because it’s been a long wait!

In a nutshell, ALIENATED is the story of valedictorian Cara Sweeney, who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to host the nation’s first intergalactic exchange student, the gorgeous but emotionally-stilted Aelyx (pronounced A-licks) from planet L’eihr. The tone is light and humorous, but I explore some deeper themes as well.

What do reviewers have to say?

“The storyline is out of this world and character development paired with authentic voice is superb. Filled with intrigue and suspense, this book will appeal to both sci-fi and contemporary YA fiction fans.” –VOYA

“Interstellar relations heat up in this start to a new romantic science fiction series. Landers [explores] larger social, ecological, and ethical issues in this tense, fast-paced read.” –Booklist

“The perfect blend of sizzling romance, action, and suspense.” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Smart, funny, and epic. I am now awaiting contact from planet L’eihr.” Julie Cross, bestselling author of Tempest.

“Intergalactic exchange students? Yes, please! I fell in love with this story and couldn’t put it down.” Jodi Meadows, author of Incarnate.

If you like hot, swoony science fiction as much as I do, I hope you’ll give ALIENATED a try. It’s now available in stores and online.

Barnes & Noble:
Book Depo (free international shipping):
Indie Bound:

To celebrate my book birthday, I’m offering one lucky winner a Nook Simple Touch. I’ll even throw in a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble so you can fill your new e-reader with whatever you want!

Now for the fine print: This giveaway is open to US residents only. (Sorry, international friends, but you need a US billing address to buy digital content on the Nook.) Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate.

Best of luck, and happy reading!

Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives outside Cincinnati in the small town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.” For more information, or just to say hello, visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway