Wednesday, February 29, 2012

(Review) LEAP DAY by Wendy Mass


Title: LEAP DAY
Author: Wendy Mass
Release Date: Out now (Sept. 06, 2006)
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Received: Bargain Book

SUMMARY:

What if you could step into everyone else's shoes for just one day?  Soon-to-be-sixteen Josie Taylor was born on Leap Day, February 29, and now it's her "fourth" birthday.  


Like every teenager, sometimes she wonders what other people are thinking, but in this unusual novel, YOU get to find out--by leaping into the minds and viewpoints of Josie and everyone around her.  


Birthday festivities, school play auditions, her driver's test, a scavenger hunt, and the all-important sweet-sixteen initiation at the lake--these are the things that define Josie Taylor today...but what defines her tomorrow and in the days to come are the people who touch her life at every moment.  


Full of everyday imaginations and truths, LEAP DAY will surprise you in more ways than one.

What better book to read on a day that comes once every four years than LEAP DAY by the always-innovative Wendy Mass?  The novel is one of Mass' teen offerings; most of her titles are middle grade.  The book centers around a girl named Josie on her sixteenth birthday--also known as her fourth birthday.  Josie is a Leaper, one of the few born on February 29th.  She's excited about her special day and hopes everything goes perfectly.  While it starts off well enough--she's having a fabulous hair day and has been given car keys as a gift--the rest of the day gets off to a rocky start.  From worrying about whether or not she'll earn her driver's license to trying out for the much-coveted role of Juliet for the school's upcoming production of ROMEO AND JULIET, Josie's birthday is as ordinary as it is extraordinary.

Mass utilized a unique writing technique when writing LEAP DAY.  She writes A Chapters and B Chapters.  A Chapters are always from Josie's POV (Chapter 1A, for example).  B Chapters (Such as Chapter 1B) are always from the POV of other characters mentioned in that chapter.  We get little paragraphs with the thoughts of friends, family members, teachers, enemies, crushes, classmates, etc. It's interesting to see what everyone is thinking about everything.  Maybe Josie thinks someone did something, but that person has no clue and is thinking about something else completely.  Or maybe she wonders why someone dislikes her.  As a reader, we're privy to everything.  These B Chapters took a little getting used to, but they absolutely fleshed out the story. We'd all love to know what the people around us really think about us or what's going on, but we never know for sure.  We don't know all of the fears and dreams and reasons that motivate people to move on certain paths in life.  Every once in a while, Mass even foreshadows what will happen to a character in the future such as: "It didn't occur to Tom to write the things that he did do today.  He won't start writing those things in his diary until next year, when he'll start calling it a journal.  He'll have had his own room for months by then, along with a new appreciation of why a teenage boy might want his own room" (pg. 163).  Oftentimes, readers are left wondering what will happen in the future and this was a nice flourish to add on.

Overall, LEAP DAY is a light contemporary that reads fast.  It takes place over the course of one day, so there's not an epic story full of carefully knotted ends.  Instead, we're allowed a single glimpse.  This is life, which will continue on tomorrow and the day after.  Not everything is resolved, but not everything can be in a single day.  While Josie doesn't have any miraculous character growth, she does have a slight revelation towards the end that will change her in the days to come.  Plus, the book takes an inside look at what it must be like to have one's birthday fall on February 29th.  I will admit that it's a little dated now.  I always hate when books feature real actors and bands because by the time a reader picks it up, it's possible that these are long out of fashion, as was the case with this novel published in 2006 (And written, of course, before that.  My favorite part about the novel was the refreshing POV style.  If you take nothing else away from this review, LEAP DAY is worth reading for this alone!

COVER DESIGN:

At first, I didn't really "get" this cover, but looking at it again after reading the book, it's actually quite clever.  A calendar takes up most of the cover...only, we're seeing the numbers backwards as though it's being held up to a mirror.  This reflects the way we see the day encompassing the novel from multiple POVs.  I also like the way the 29th of the month stands out, since a model's face fills the square.  She's peering in from the other side of the calendar.


I do wish the title was a little larger; it fades away inside the box.  I do like the way the blurb from Lauren Myracle matches the pink strip at the bottom of the cover (that continues onto the spine and back) featuring the author's name.  The pink also pulls out the color in the model's skin tones and lips.




(Review) AWKWARD by Marni Bates


A Backwards Story is happy to be a part of The {Teen} Book Scene's tour for AWKWARD!  Check out the tour schedule to see the list of events. Stop back at A Backwards Story on March 21st for a fun Character Word Association Game with Logan (And trust me...once you read this book, you will WANT to know more about Logan!!!!!)

Title: AWKWARD
Author: Marni Bates
Release Date: Out now (Jan. 01, 2012)
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Received: Review copy courtesy of Kensington Teen and The {Teen} Book Scene

SUMMARY:

Mackenzie Wellesley has spent her life avoiding the spotlight. At Smith High, she's the awkward junior people only notice when they need help with homework. 

Until she sends a burly football player flying with her massive backpack and makes a disastrous - not to mention unwelcome - attempt at CPR. 

Before the day is out, the whole fiasco explodes on YouTube. And then the strangest thing happens. 

Suddenly, Mackenzie is an Internet sensation, with four million hits and counting. Sucked into a whirlwind of rock stars, paparazzi, and free designer clothes, she even catches the eye of the most popular guy at school. And that's when life gets really interesting...

If you're looking for a fun, refreshing contemporary YA, look no farther than AWKWARD.  Readers will find themselves rooting for socially awkward high school student Mackenzie as she finds her most embarrassing moment broadcast on YouTube for the world to see, which puts her every klutzy moment from there on out in the spotlight.  You'll wince, you'll laugh, you'll sympathize.  Mari Bates creates a character with so much depth that you want to see her succeed.

The novel begins when high school Notable Chelsea beckons to Mackenzie, one of the Invisibles, in order to get some homework help.  Mackenzie trips and falls on top of another Notable and knocks him out, then unsuccessfully attempts to revive him with CPR...and it's all caught on camera.  Suddenly, celebrities are tweeting about the girl in the "hilarious video" and the country's biggest music sensation, ReadySet, has integrated the footage into the music video for their latest single.  Paparazzi are hanging out at school waiting to badger MacKenzie and designers are sending her packages overflowing with clothing.  Mackenzie is even invited to a Notable party and given backstage passes for a ReadySet concert.  Yet she still struggles to remain an ordinary girl that blends in and doesn't stand out.  She continues to tutor Logan, another Notable, who somehow manages to become her friend and helps her through her most embarrassing flubs.  She's not really sure why a Notable would help her unless it's a trick, or why new, nice classmates will sit with her at lunch. She doesn't get why her crush of four-years suddenly seems interested.  Is it because of her newfound notoriety?  Could it be that people actually like her personality despite her tendency to babble in public?  Mackenzie doesn't know, but throughout her journey, she's going to learn a lot about people--and about herself.

I love the character development in AWKWARD.  Mackenzie feels so real.  As a fellow klutz with some painful moments left behind, I completely sympathize with her.  Additionally, I love that she has supportive friends and that her family cares so much about her.  It's nice to see the way such a major event bonds Mackenzie and her brother in a way they never had before.  Mackenzie grows so much as a person and her character really solidifies by the end of the book.  I also loved Logan, the guy she tutored, and love how he went from being one-dimensional to having so much depth.  I was really excited when I turned the last page and found that Bates is going to return to the world she's created in 2013 with the release of INVISIBLE, which centers around Mackenzie's best friend Jane.  I feel like this companion novel will be in the manner that Stephanie Perkins uses in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, and the upcoming ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, where characters return in later books so you can see how they end up, but the book is centered around someone else.  Bates is also releasing FAUXMANCE (Which might have been changed to DECKED WITH HOLLY) this October.  This one seems to be in its own self-contained world, but from the sample at the back of the book, also features an awkward moment that leads to a bigger story.  If you're looking for a new contemporary author, definitely check out Marni Bates, who's set to have many more books for us to love soon!

Other books mentioned in this review that have previously been reviewed at A Backwards Story are ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, both by Stephanie Perkins.  Below, Julia Kagawa recommends this book to fans of Meg Cabot.

COVER DESIGN:

What a fun cover!  I love all the doodles in the background anad the way even the title, AWKWARD, has pencil sketching behind it. I also like the way the author's name fits in perfectly among the doodles while still remaining apart.   I tried to replicate this sense of fun when creating the above blog tour banner (though I apologize that the sketch behind the lettering looks so awkward on my end.  Epic Fail!).  This cover screams, "Read me!  You're in for a fun time!"  And...this cover doesn't lie, either.  It does exactly what it set out to do!

Additionally, it's fun to see the model screaming on an online video, which will  make a lot of teens into the YouTube/Vlogging scene pick this up in a heartbeat the way they did with Katie Finn's TOP 8.

Finally, that blurb!  
1) It's from Julie Kagawa, which will pique interest.  
2) She recommends the book to Meg Cabot fans (and I agree!)  I love Meg and the way she portrays school.  If you're a fan of her, you'll love this book, too!






Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Book Day to SEVEN explosive new books!



What new releases are you most excited about this week? For me...


Happy Book Birthday to FIVE amazing books this week:


PANDEMONIUM by Lauren Oliver / HANA by Lauren Oliver

I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this one thanks to work.  I've been trying to get up a series of dystopian flash reviews for a couple of weeks now and it keeps...not happening.  It probably won't today, either, despite my best intentions!
I'm planning a short review because this is one "middle book" that's very hard for me to talk about without spoiling things. Sweet, short, and simple will have to do it this time around!

Also, are you as excited as I am about the fact that Lauren is also releasing an e-novella, HANA, today?  I loved Hana's character in DELIRIUM and can't wait to see where Lauren takes us because I thought there was more to her than what we saw!!!

If you were lucky, you caught a free preview of HANA Valentine's Day Week.  I personally didn't have time to read it then, but I'm very excited to give Lauren some more money because I love this world she's created for us all to devour!

LONE WOLF by Jodi Picoult

You all know by now that Jodi Picoult is my favorite author, I'm sure.  Lately, I haven't loved her new books in the same way I do her older titles.  I feel that this could be because I cyber-stalk Jodi.  She used to send out newsletters a year in advance with a preview of her upcoming book and information on what she was working on for the year after. 

Now that she has a bigger following, she doesn't do that anymore, and I'm relieved.  Doing this gave me such a big build-up that the book could NEVER live up to what I wanted out of it.  This year, I haven't even READ the synopsis for LONE WOLF. I don't want to know.  I just want to read and enjoy this one!
BOURNE by Lisa T. Bergren

Yes, that's right, the book I gave you an exclusive sneak peek of recently is now available for 99¢ from the e-book vendor of your choice!

As a fan of Lisa's RIVER OF TIME trilogy, this new novella has me so excited!  If you  haven't read the series yet, what are you waiting for!?  Definitely start there before moving on to this spoilery novella!

Look for my review of this one soon!

WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED by Cat Hellisen

Another book with a goooooorgeous cover!  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this one and have been holding off until closer to release!

This is going to be a creepy, tingly read, and while I don't love the fact that the summary mentions a vampire, the synopsis still sounds fresh and unique, everything required for an engaging read!









THE HUMMING ROOM by Ellen Potter

1) This was inspired by THE SECRET GARDEN, one of my all-time favorite childhood novels.

2) Cover artist Jason Chan has once again created an amazing piece of art that will have readers everywhere dying to pick this one up!

PARTIALS by Dan Wells

Another dystopian series from Harper/Balzer & Bray!

I received an ARC of this one from work and it sounds like the publicity is going to be huge. I've already seen an ad on GoodReads today!

This one sounds like it could go either way in terms of whether I'll like it or not.  I'm looking forward to seeing which path I go down!






Did I miss something amazing that I must know about?  Let me know!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mythological Mondays: The Mythology in WAKING STORMS by Sarah Porter (& You're Gonna LOVE Me)

Mythological Mondays is a feature I created to spotlight books brimming with--you guessed it--mythology! I adore this sub-genre and can't wait to share my love with all of my fellow bookworms! This feature isn't just focused on novel reviews; it may also include interviews, looks at original mythological tales, etc. Please feel free to do this with me! If you guys ever do a mythological feature and want to join this and snag my lovely mermaid, I would LOVE to see the feature. Leave a comment for us all to see! It doesn’t have to be Greek mythology, or even mythology per say. It can be mermaids, unicorns, or heck, even fairy tales (because I’m too lazy to do a separate fairy tale feature…). It doesn’t even have to be every Monday. I’m sure there will be Mondays when I skip, too...like, uh, recently?^^;;;

Today's Mythological Monday post is also:



Two birds, one stone.^_^







After parting ways with her troubled mermaid tribe, Luce just wants to live peacefully on her own. But her tranquility doesn’t last long: she receives news that the tribe is on the verge of collapse and desperately needs her leadership. The tribe’s cruel queen wants Luce dead. Dorian, the boy Luce broke mermaid law to save, is determined to make her pay for her part in the murder of his family. And while the mermaids cling to the idea that humans never suspect their existence, there are suddenly ominous signs to the contrary.But when Luce and Dorian meet, they start to wonder if love can overpower the hatred they know they should feel for each other. Can Luce fulfill her rightful role as queen of the mermaids without sacrificing her forbidden romance with Dorian?

From Goodreads

WAKING STORMS is the sequel to last year's LOST VOICES, Sarah Porter's debut novel.  It is the second in a trilogy of books about sirens.  I almost wish I had waited until next week to post this because I just noticed that on March 6th, it will be the one-year anniversary of the day I launched my You're Gonna LOVE Me feature--because of LOST VOICES.  (See the first post!)  Hopefully, I'll use this feature more frequently this year.  I always mean to and then the book's release date gets too close and then...I don't.

Last year, I also interviewed Sarah Porter for Fairy Tale Fortnight (Watch out for FTF again this April!) and, of course, reviewed LOST VOICES.  If you're into mermaids or darker tales, this series is for you!  The mermaids remind me more of the ones from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (which I actually saw for the first time last night; in fact, that's why I finally cracked this open!  I got home and planned to go to bed relatively early since I'd gotten so little sleep the night before after the wedding, but from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., I DEVOURED this book.  Could not put it DOWN!).  They're darker, more violent than your average mermaid.  Sirens bring doom to sailors and their ships.  Porter's trilogy is also darker because of the way/reason girls turn into mermaids.

WAKING STORMS is even darker than LOST VOICES.  I personally loved it even more than I did the first book, and that's saying a lot.  I can't wait to see how the series concludes in 2013 with THE TWICE LOST!  (This is one of the downsides of ARCS, bookworms: WAKING STORMS won't be available in bookstores until July and the third one in July 2013, yet I already crave it!)  I'm looking forward to reviewing this book for you in June during my Splash into Summer event!

For now, you'll have to look forward to some tidbits!

What I CAN tell you....is that Porter uses mythology in unexpected ways in WAKING STORMS.
(And the following is why this post can also be for Mythological Mondays, lol!)

We find out why girls become mermaids in the fashion they do (How did none of us, not even main character Luce, stop to think about this in LOST VOICES?) and who created them. We get an inside look at the first mermaids. And....I will not spoil that further, but I loved reading this mythology!

There is also an island that reminds me of a very famous island out of Greek mythology...and events occur on this island that I NEVER saw coming.

There's so much new depth and world-building in WAKING STORMS.  Just when you thought you had everything more or less figured out and knew the direction the trilogy would go after reading LOST VOICES, Porter went and broke the rules again.  This book is amazing and I can't wait to review it for all of you!

Cover Crazy: SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo


Cover Crazy is hosted by The Book Worms. Each week, bloggers "admire the art and beauty of a book’s design, so I’m going to post minimal words. It is up to you to write how you feel and what you like about it the way you’d like to."







SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo:



The cover design for SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo was unleashed into the world this past week.  I personally think it's gorgeous.  I love the look of the font and the way it extends into swirls, which mirror the swirls in the cover's design.  The silver swirls remind me of bare trees rising up.  I love how the colors remind me of plumes of smoke.  Combined with the distressed background, the colors give a dark feeling to this cover.  It's also nice to see a full illustration that doesn't come out of the children's department as most do these days!  This cover has a dangerous feel to it, imo.


When Macmillan sent me my ARC a couple of weeks ago, it had no cover.  I assumed the title font and color scheme would be what was used in the final cover and was intrigued by the dragon-like creatures (They only kept the distressed background). While I really liked the direction it was going, I really like the way this cover has come together! (Plus, how AWESOME is it that Veronica Roth is blurbing this title??)


This is yet another home run from Rich Deas, whom I interviewed in January for his design work on another Macmillan title, Marissa Meyer's CINDER. 

What do you think?  Do you like illustrated covers outside MG?  Should more designers start swinging back this way?  Or does it make you lose interest?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

IMM & Weekly Review: The Cheapskate Buyer Edition

IN MY MAILBOX: 02.05.12

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren because:

"I get books to read and then ultimately share my thoughts about with my readers. As much as I want to, I can’t possibly read every book I receive. Yet, I still wanted a way to feature those books on the blog, even though it might not be in the form of a review. Problem solved! Every week I'd share the books I received that week... ones I'd bought, or gotten at the library, and ones that I'd receive to review on the blog. That way I could mention titles that might not otherwise get some face-time on The Story Siren..."

I find the same thing happening at A Backwards Story. I'm so backed up on reviews atm... That's why I like these videos!


CURRENT GIVEAWAY:

*None atm :(


READING NOW:


*THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss
*FEVER by Lauren DeStefano
*KATANA by Cole Gibsen

[link to my GoodReads account so you can see my blurb feed as I read]
READ THIS WEEK:

*HERE by Denise Grover Swank
*WINTERLING by Sarah Prineas

REVIEWED THIS WEEK:

*HERE by Denise Grover Swank

FEATURES THIS WEEK:

*Happy Book Day to FEVER and SHADOWS!
*Waiting on Wednesday: Double Cover Reveal Edition
*Breaking News: New Book Coming from JK Rowling!
RECEIVED THIS WEEK:






Loot:

The Cheapskate Buyer Edition!

This makes up for last week's haul, which consisted 100% of books I didn't pay for.  This week and next week will feature two big box boxes!  I called this week the Cheapskate Edition because...the reason I have these two big boxes coming?  Back in December when I got an amazing deal, I ordered a bunch of paperbacks and split the orders with books coming out through April.  I had to put a certain amount of $ together for free s/h, too, so I'm going to be getting a big box or two each month.  This probably only saves a few dollars (maybe $5 a box), but it all adds up!!

PURCHASED:

*FEVER by Lauren DeStefano {It came, it came, it finally came!  And it's so pretty and shiny and I could NEVER read this as an ebook because, as you'll see in the video, you lose ALL of the fabulous formatting!!! I reviewed WITHER last year and loved it!  You can also see a breakdown of the cover design if you don't feel like watching the video!}
*TRUTH by Julia Karr {I reviewed this dystopian series last year when Karr's novel XVI debuted.  I was also lucky enough to participate on the TRUTH Blog Tour last month. You can view the author's guest post here!}
*RANGER'S APPRENTICE #7: ERAK'S RANSOM by John Flannagan {I need to catch up on this series! I'm a bit behind...}
*RANGER'S APPRENTICE #8: THE KINGS OF CLONMEL by John Flannagan {And by behind, I mean that I've read, like, four of these...two years ago...um, yeah...}
*THE RED CROSS KNIGHT by Sarah Prineas {This ebook only cost 99¢ on my nook AND all of the proceeds went to charity.  Thumbs up for a classy author!  I purchased this after finishing WINTERLING, which I'll be reviewing soon. I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to its companion/sequel, SUMMERKIN, in 2013!}

NetGalley:
*GATE TO KANDRITH by Nicole Luiken  [Out March 26, 2012]
(Thank you to Carina Press! Pictured with my copies of VIOLET EYES and SILVER EYES, two books I  used to love and keep meaning to re-read!  It will be fun to read Nicole again now...and as an adult author, no less!)
*DARK FROST by Jennifer Estep [Out May 29, 2012]
(Thank you to Kensington!  I still need to finish reading the second book in the series, which I started a couple of months ago  now and sort of...lost. ^^;;;)
*A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS by Michelle Zink  [Out March 20, 2012]
(Thank you to Dial/Penguin!  I  haven't read Michelle Zink's last series, but this new book intrigues me!)

What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Breaking News: New Book Coming from JK Rowling!

I'm definitely NOT kidding you.  Not only is JK Rowling's new book far away from the HARRY POTTER world that made her famous, it's also a book for adults.

While the AP article states that it may be hard for Rowling to find as big an audience due to the fact that her previous books were for children, they're not taking into the account that most of her audience has grown up alongside Harry and are now adults, which means they buy...um, adult novels.

In the article, she states,

"Although I've enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world," Rowling said in a statement released by Little, Brown. "The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry's success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life.


The AP article can be read, in its entirety, here.  The official press release can be accessed here.


What are your thoughts, bookworms?  Will you read this?

HERE by Denise Grover Swank {Review}



A Backwards Story is happy to be a part of The {Teen} Book Scene's tour for HERE!  Check out the tour schedule to see the list of events. Last week, I interviewed Denise Grover Swank as part of the tour.  Check it out!

Title: HERE
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Release Date: Out now (Nov. 11, 2011)
Publisher: Self-published
Received: Review copy courtesy of Denise Grover Swank and The {Teen} Book Scene

SUMMARY:

Sixteen year old Julia Phillips buries herself in guilt after killing her best friend Monica in a car accident. Julia awoke in the hospital with a broken leg, a new talent for drawing and false memories of the accident, in which she dies and Monica lives. The doctors attribute this to her head injury, but no one can explain how a bracelet engraved with her name ended up at the scene of the accident. A bracelet no one has ever seen before.


Classmate Evan Whittaker paid Julia no attention before the accident, let alone after. Now suddenly he’s volunteering to tutor her and offering to drive her home. She can't ignore that his new obsession started after his two-day disappearance last week and that he wears a pendant she’s been drawing for months. When the police show up one night looking for Evan, he begs Julia to run with him, convincing her that Monica is still alive. Julia agrees to go, never guessing where he’s really from.

While also available in paperback, if you're looking for a great ebook deal, HERE can be purchased for your nook, Kindle, or favorite reading app for a steal at $2.99!

HERE is a book full of mystery and intrigue.  It also screws with the reader's head as s/he tries to figure out what's going on.  In this fashion, it reminds me a LOT of Michelle Hodkin's THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER.  Both books mess with your head as you try to figure out what the heck is happening and struggle to piece the clues together.  Additionally, both books deal with a main character struggling from PTSD after being the only one left alive following a devastating accident.  Both girls have families and friends trying to help them.  If you like MARA DYER, you'll love HERE.  If you didn't like/want to read MARA DYER, HERE might still be for you because while the books have the aforementioned similarities, they're also very different from one another.  One of the things that drove me crazy about MARA DYER, for example, is the fact that at the end of the book, you STILL don't know what's going on and are on pins and needles awaiting this fall's sequel.  While I won't deny that HERE still has a bit of a cliffhanger, it's not nearly as lethal.  On top of that, a good chunk of the way into the book, you find out what's going on as the book turns in a completely new and unexpected (and spoiler-free, sorry) direction.

The novel begins a couple of months after a car accident that took the life of Julia's best friend Monica.  She survived, but she doesn't remember anything about the accident.  She doesn't remember ever wearing the bracelet with the cryptic love message that she's now wearing.  The police say she's at fault for the accident, which means she must be since she can't remember, but...the memories Julia DOES have consist of her dying, and of Monica surviving.  She believes she should have died, that Monica should be alive now.  What right does Julia have to laugh or have fun?  Though never stated, it's clear that Julia is suffering from PTSD.  She's broken and has no will to live.  She's completely checked out from the world.  She doesn't even do her school work anymore.  The school finally steps in and says that if Julia doesn't start making up her school work, she'll be transferred to alternative school.  One of the most popular guys at school, Evan, begins tutoring her.  He never looked at her twice in the past, but now he seems enamored with her.  There's also something off about him, and clues that Julia mulls over but blows off, clues that make readers curious as their brains begin to whirl.  As the clues begin coming together, Julia finds herself encountering situations she's never even dreamed of, ones that throw her very life into jeopardy...again.

I really liked trying to figure out the mystery and seeing the way the pieces fell together in HERE.  I will definitely be interested in continuing the story when the sequel comes out.  At first, I didn't think I would like it after reading the Prologue and not really understanding what I was reading, but once I got into the story itself, I became enamored with the characters and wanted to know more about what was going on.  While I normally groan over love triangles, I like that this book didn't have one come into play until much later in the book, and only briefly.  I think the triangle will develop more in the second book, and I'll tell you now...while I love both of the guys now in Julia's life, I feel like this is Cynthia Hand's UNEARTHLY all over again because I'm leaning toward the underdog!  It isn't a triangle thrown in just-because, rather, it's one full of heart-break and intrigue that also serves as part of the story's plot.  I also appreciated the way Denise Grover Swank developed Julia.  She's such a rich character with an incredible amount of depth.  Her pain felt very real, never forced.  I felt like I was reading about a girl slogging through life after a horrifying accident.  Her plight felt very fresh and real.  I also enjoyed the way we see her slowly unfurl and come out of her despair as she interacts more with Evan and begins associating with the world again, from teachers to bullies to family members.  I found myself rooting for Julia and her peace of mind as I read, despite the horrible curveballs life continues to throw at her, and I hope you will too after picking up your copy of HERE!

Other books mentioned in this review that have previously been reviewed at A Backwards Story are THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin and UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand.

COVER DESIGN:

This isn't really my favorite cover in the world.  My favorite thing about it is actually that gorgeous font used for the book's title.  The cover seems like it would take place after the accident, since Julia is standing in the woods looking very vulnerable.  It could also take place later in the story when she's in the woods.  There are two male figures in the background that fade in with the trees.  Are they police officers?  Are they the two guys Julia finds herself emotionally attached to?  I also don't really picture Julia wearing a sweet dress/nightgown/whatever in the middle of the woods like that.  The way her hair is falling across her face makes me think the book is going to be placed in the horror or ghost story genre, neither of which is my favorite to read.  


I am definitely guilty of judging this book by its cover, which is sad, because once I stopped procrastinating and started reading, I became very involved in the novel's story!





Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Double Cover Reveal Edition



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine. This event highlights our most-wanted upcoming releases!




I have Sarah J. Maas (Author of the upcoming THRONE OF GLASS; I interviewed Sarah last month! ) to thank for introducing me to the following two authors.  I was hooked the moment she announced that her friends had book deals on her blog! That's one reason I love following authors I like: In addition to seeing what they're up to, I can find out about more awesome books to love!



Title: WHAT'S LEFT OF ME
Author: Kat Zhang
Release Date: Sept. 18, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen

Add it: Goodreads

WHY?

Are you sicking of hearing me say the summary sounds amazing?  I am too, but words escape me.  Kat Zhang has begun a new series that sounds like nothing I've read before.  I also love the fact that it's being compared to HIS DARK MATERIALS, which has always been a favorite series of mine.  September is way too far away for this one!

Also, what do you think about the book's cover?  Kat revealed it on Friday.  I like the way it's a puzzle piece with only half a girl.  The puzzle itself is imperfect, with white blotches where there should be color!  I also like the color gradiation, which pulls it away from all the white and gray!

SUMMARY: 


NEVER LET ME GO meets HIS DARK MATERIALS in a beautiful, haunting YA debut, the first book in The Hybrid Trilogy.


Eva and Addie live in a world where everyone is born with two souls, but where only the dominant one is allowed to survive childhood. Fifteen years old, and closer even than twins, the girls are keeping Eva, the ‘second soul’, a secret. They know that it’s forbidden to be hybrid, but how could they ever be apart?


When a dramatic event reveals what really happens to hybrids if they are discovered, Eva and Addie face a dangerous fight for survival, neither wanting to be the one left behind…



Title: RENEGADE
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Kensington

Add it: Goodreads

WHY?

Another book that sounds fresh and unique! April isn't too far off!  Plus, at that time, there will be not one, but TWO releases in the series, this and the 0.5 novella ELEMENTAL.  Brigid released the cover for 0.5 and the next two novels, SPARK and SPIRIT, yesterday on her blog!  I'm really excited!  (Also, is it wrong to say that I'm intrigued that there are guys on the cover for once?  That rarely happens in YA these days!)

This is another really hard wait for me, but at least this one is closer!  It also has a bit of an AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER feel due to people controlling the four elements, but that's 100% okay in my book!


SUMMARY: 


Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.


And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.


Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.


The storm is coming . . .


What are you anxiously waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Book Day to FEVER and SHADOWS!



What new releases are you most excited about this week? For me...


Happy Book Birthday to two amazing books this week:



FEVER by Lauren DeStefano

Do I even need to explain this one?

It's the sequel to WITHER, one of my favorite dystopians of 2011!!  I reviewed it last year (and also did an in-depth look at the design here), so if you haven't read WITHER yet, check those out...and then get reading!!

I'm really excited!  This is one series I NEED in hard form.  I've seen it on an e-reader and all the beautiful interior design is just...lost.  Sad days ahead in the e-reading world if all books lose this unique feature!


SHADOWS (LUXE 0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Okay, confession time:  I have yet to read OBSIDIAN.  I own it on my nook, though!  I bought it the day it came out!  I'm just afraid to read it and have no new books by Jennifer L. Armentrout for a while, lol!  (Okay, okay, and the fact that aliens are involved.  But if Marissa Meyer can make me love cyborgs and Beth Revis can have me reading about space ships, why can't Jennifer Armentrout help me fall in love with aliens?)

But now that this is out, I totally should, right?  I love Jennifer and the way she makes me feel about her characters!



Did I miss something amazing that I must know about?  Let me know!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

IMM & Week in Review: The Holy ARC-a-Moly Edition!

IN MY MAILBOX: 02.05.12

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi at The Story Siren because:

"I get books to read and then ultimately share my thoughts about with my readers. As much as I want to, I can’t possibly read every book I receive. Yet, I still wanted a way to feature those books on the blog, even though it might not be in the form of a review. Problem solved! Every week I'd share the books I received that week... ones I'd bought, or gotten at the library, and ones that I'd receive to review on the blog. That way I could mention titles that might not otherwise get some face-time on The Story Siren..."

I find the same thing happening at A Backwards Story. I'm so backed up on reviews atm... That's why I like these videos!


CURRENT GIVEAWAY:

*Enter to win one of THREE Kindles or one of TWENTY autographed copies of books in THE RIVER OF TIME series by Lisa T. Bergren.  ENDS TOMORROW


READING NOW:



*HERE by Denise Grover Swank (Interview here; review coming Thursday!)

[link to my GoodReads account so you can see my blurb feed as I read]
READ THIS WEEK:

*Um.............^^;;;............nothing?  Wellllll, four pages of HERE.  I really need to read this or else, on Tuesday, it will be two weeks since I read a book!!!

I just...haven't been in the mood to read, so it's all backing up now.  I'll sit and look at book and go, "Oh, I want to read you...but I don't feel like reading atm."  Argh!

REVIEWED THIS WEEK:

*I actually had ANOTHER review-less week.  I actually have two reviews started that were supposed to go up Friday and Saturday.  I just haven't had time to finish writing them.  So....look for a lot of reviews this week to make up for it :)

FEATURES THIS WEEK:

*Happy Book Day to Four Anticipated Books!
*Haunting Lead HUNGER GAMES music video debuts featuring Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars!
*Read HANA, a DELIRIUM novella from Lauren Oliver, FREE! 4 Days Only!
*Waiting on Wednesday: RENEGADE by J.A. Sounders
*Interview with HERE author Denise Grover Swank
*Exclusive First Look at BOURNE {RIVER OF TIME 3.1} by Lisa T. Bergren!
RECEIVED THIS WEEK:







Loot:

The "Holy ARC-a-Moly" edition!


I cannot BELIEVE the amount of books I received this week, especially since I didn't give back by purchasing anything!  (Well, a dress for a wedding, but that doesn't count, right?)  Thank you to all of the publishers and authors this week.  I received some great surprises IMM!

PURCHASED:

Nothing this week, actually! *gasp*

The next couple of weeks, however..................

ARCs/Finished Copies:

*MISTWOOD by Leah Cypess  [Out now]
(Thank you to Leah Cypess! I was a runner-up in her NIGHTSPELL Blog Tour, so she annotated a chapter of my choice.  I asked Leah to annotate her favorite chapter.  She chose Chapter Fourteen.  (Go re-read that chapter right now to see why!  I also reviewed NIGHTSPELL during the tour and mentioned MISTWOOD a bit!)
*SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo [Out June 05, 2012]
(Thank you to Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan! I LOVE the alien blue-foil envelope!) 
[Designed by Rich Deas, whom I interviewed here in January for Marissa Meyer's CINDER Blog Tour!]
*STRIKE: THE HERO FROM THE SKY by Charlie Wood  [Out now]
(Thank you to Charlie Wood!  Charlie is awesome and sent me SIX copies, so we're going to have a massive giveaway soon!)

*AWKWARD by Marni Bates [Out March 01, 2012]
(Thank you to Kensington Teen and The Teen Book Scene for the finished copy! The Blog Tour will run from Feb. 27 ~ Mar. 23.  A Backwards Story will be participating in both a review and a guest feature, so stay tuned!)

*THE MASK OF DESTINY (ARCHER LEGACY Trilogy #3) by Richard Newsome [Out May 15, 2012]

(Thank you to Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins!)



LIBRARY:

*MY FAIRY FAIR GODMOTHER by Janette Rallison (Because Jen from Literally Jen reviewed it on A Backwards Story during A Week of Cinderella and made it sound AWESOME!)
*WISDOM'S KISS by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
*FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta



NetGalley:

*WONDER by R.J. Palacio [JUST RELEASED 02.14.12]
(Thank you to Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House!)
*UNBIDDEN MAGIC TRILOGY by Marilee Brothers: [out now; book four, SHADOW MOON, released in Nov. 2011]
#1: MOONSTONE
#2: MOON RISE
#3: MOON SPUN
(Thank you to Bell Bridge Books!)

*MAGIC UNDER STONE by Jaclyn Dolamore [Out April 10, 2012]
(Thank you to Bloomsbury!) 
[I reviewed Dolamore's BETWEEN THE SEA AND SKY last year & interviewed the author during Splash into Summer.  Check both out while awaiting her newest novel! ^_^]

*THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED by April Henry [Out April 10, 2012]

(Thank you to Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan!)


What did you get in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Exclusive First Look at BOURNE {RIVER OF TIME 3.1} by Lisa T. Bergren!

 

 A Backwards Story is excited to be a part of The {Teen} Book Scene's tour for Lisa T. Bergren's THE RIVER OF TIME series! Check out the tour schedule to see the list of events.


Last year, I reviewed all three books in the original trilogy together (keeping it as spoiler-free as possible).  Check it out here!


Today, I'm excited to present you with an EXCLUSIVE look at the beginning of Lisa's highly-anticipated upcoming novella BOURNE!  The novella is going to be in the POV of Gabi and Lia!


Are you as excited as I am?  Because I'm really, REALLY excited about this one!

Plus, stay tuned after the excerpt for an exclusive chance to win prizes like:



Yes, Lisa IS giving away THREE Kindles and 20 copies of her books.  You want to win, RIGHT!?






BOURNE is book 3.1 in the RIVER OF TIME series.  It is a novella from the POV of Gabi and Lia.  The first three books, WATERFALL, CASCADE, and TORRENT, became surprise hits as fans began discovering this fabulous series and recommending it.  Word of mouth has been amazing for this series.  I'm truly hoping that it becomes even more popular so that Lisa will continue writing in this world.  I WANT MORE!!  I can't wait for her to finish writing her next book, TRIBUTARY! 
(But new readers, don't be alarmed by the prospect of more:  The original trilogy has a satisfying conclusion and not a cliffhanger of any sort!)


Check out Lisa's blog and follow her on Twitter!






An Exclusive First Look at BOURNE!

 BOURNE
By Lisa T. Bergren
River of Time Series #3.1 e-novella

WARNING: We’ve tried to edit this chapter to avoid one major spoiler, but you really should read WATERFALL (book 1), CASCADE (book 2) and TORRENT (book 3) if you haven’t yet! Continue reading at your own risk!


CHAPTER ONE
~GABRIELLA~

“M’lady! They approach!” the guard yelled down to us from the walls.


“Thank God,” I muttered, taking my first full breath in what seemed like hours. Ever since the battle had ended the night before, Sienese patrols had circulated in and out of Castello Forelli, to drop off wounded, reprovision, rest, and head out again. As the night wore on, and the Fiorentini withdrew north, the patrols were gone for longer periods of time. But Marcello, Luca, and Lord Greco hadn’t shown up at all.


Leaving me to fear the worst, of course.


“Open the gates!” the wall guard cried.


Three knights went to the massive crossbeam and slid it to one side, then opened the fifteen-foot doors. Twenty of our men on horseback arrived, but my eyes sought only one—


Marcello. I sighed in relief and then picked up my skirts and ran to him, waiting for him to wearily dismount and take me under one of his arms. I laughed and reached up on tiptoe to kiss him. “Oh, Marcello. Welcome home.”


“I have to say, I think I’ll grow accustomed to you welcoming me back, each time I have half a mind to chase a Fiorentini back to his side of the border.” He winced as I gave him a full hug, making me pause in concern, but then Rodolfo Greco came around three others, leading his horse…and in an awkward moment, caught the last of Marcello’s comment.


His handsome chin came up, and he stilled as if embarrassed. Not that he had any reason to be embarrassed. It was simply…awkward. The once-Fiorentini now in our castello. Marcello’s brother. My captor-savior. I think we were all confused as to how to proceed, exactly. It’d take some time to figure out.


Luca came over, right next to Lia, both of them grinning. The grizzled Captain Pezzati clasped hands with Luca and the other guys, then gave me a nod of greeting and turned toward the stables. Mom came over, and I grinned at the circle of them, all around me. Together. At last. Everyone here, present and accounted for. Well, Dad was in his room, recovering from his own wound. But at the moment, we were all safe.

I was relishing the sweet relief, appreciating the feel of having Marcello next to me again, when I felt him begin to sink. Crying out, I got a better grip on him from under one of his arms; Rodolfo Greco came under the other. I tried to ignore his sudden proximity—and the resulting weirdness. “Quickly, let’s get him inside,” I said.

We eased Marcello into the Great Hall and into a chair, and I knelt before him. Rodolfo took a few respectful steps away. “Marcello!” I said, anxiously scanning his face and body for injury. I noticed, then, his swollen cheek, the cut at his mouth and nose, some bruising. Nothing I hadn’t seen before, after taking on an enemy. But what worried me was the gray color of his skin, the way his eyes were hooded, half-shut. “Marcello, what ails you?”

“Take your ease, Gabriella,” he said in a mumble. “I am merely weary and in—”

His head rolled forward, and he slumped. I cried out again, and Rodolfo and Luca came to either side of him. “How is he injured?” I asked, my voice coming out in a strangled tone.

Luca ran his fingers through his sandy-colored hair and grimaced. “We ran into some difficulty en route home, m’lady.”

“Difficulty?”

“A Fiorentini patrol. We’d parted from our men—”

Marcello moaned. I rose. “Marcello? Marcello.” I said, holding his head in my hands. But he was out again.

Lia brought a blanket into the room and spread it out on the floor. Rodolfo and Luca lifted Marcello and placed him on it. “Quickly,” I said to the men. “Help me find his wound.”

With trembling fingers, I pulled up Marcello’s tunic and gasped. His belly was covered with purple, red, and green bruises. I looked to Luca.

“As I started to say…it happened a few hours ago,” he said grimly, easing his cousin onto his side to look at his back. Mom knelt next to him. His green eyes met mine, and his anxious, lowered brows made my heart stop.

Nothing scared Luca.

* * *

I apologize if I put a line break in a weird spot.  Blogger is eating all of the tabs.  The formatting will look perfect when you read the novella!

* * *

BOURNE will be available at month-end on all major e-reading formats, including Kindle, Nook and more. To find out more, see Lisa’s web site.

* * *

Lisa Bergren is also offering 3 KINDLES and 20 BOOKS as prizes for her RIVER OF TIME Blog Tour Scavenger Hunt, which ends this weekend! Check out her post to find out how you can take part and have a chance to win!