Uprooted – Naomi Novik – Pan Macmillan – Published 12 May 2016 (first pub 2015)
Agnieszka loves her village, set in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.
Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she is everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he takes.
Loosely based around a Beauty and the Beast retelling, Uprooted is gloriously imagined, with intricate storytelling and a world where witches and wizards must fight against the ever encroaching and corruptive powers of the Woods.
Someone Like You – Victoria Bylin – Bethany House Publishers – Published 3 May 2016
Julia Dare is trying to run her own business, raise her young son, Max, and help her widowed mother. Her biggest worry, though, is keeping Max’s father from being a bad influence while still allowing the boy to spend time with his dad. When an account from her event-planning business sends her to Caliente Springs resort, she’s shocked to encounter Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart.
Zeke is determined to keep Caliente Springs running despite financial trouble. When Julia walks back into his life, he’s surprised at the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client’s wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. With Zeke and Julia both pushed to their limits, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?
I have come to really enjoy Victoria Bylin’s writing. Realistic, flawed characters facing relatable challenges come together to confront everything that life throws at them. Someone Like You also celebrates second chances, family, and those special moments in life (even if they sometimes don’t go quite as planned).
Julia Dare is slowly rebuilding her life. She has started her own event planning business, has left her emotionally abusive partner, and is enjoying spending time with her delightful four-year-old, Max. An event planning opportunity leads her to Caliente Springs resort and into the path of old friend and boyfriend, Zeke Monroe. For Zeke, Julia is the bright spot in an otherwise challenge point in his life. The resort is in serious trouble, along with his job, his faith is on the rocks, and he is uncertain about what his future will hold. As Julia and Zeke reconnect, reminisce over their history, and face their current challenges together, they have a chance to rebuild a truly special relationship.
Where There’s Smoke – Susan May Warren – Montana Fire #1 – Susan May Warren Fiction – Published 31 May 2016
She’s a smokejumper afraid of fire…
Kate Burns is a legendary smoke jumper, known for her courage and willingness to risk everything to get the job done. Only she has a secret, one she won’t admit to anyone.
He can’t forget the love they once shared…
Supervisor Jed Ransom commands the Jude County Smoke Jumpers with a reputation as a calm, level-headed leader. Kate is the only one who’s ever gotten under his skin.
They must face the flames together…
A raging wildfire in the mountains of Montana brings Kate and Jed together to train up a new team of jumpers. Suddenly, they must face the past they’ve been running from and the secrets that keep them apart. When an arsonist goes after their team, Kate and Jed must face their deepest fears—and learn to rely on each other as they fight a blaze that could destroy them all.
Where There’s Smoke is an exciting and spark-filled romance.
It was stressful reading Where There’s Smoke, but in a good way. I was on edge most of the time with jumping from planes, parachutes that won’t open, tangled chute lines and deadly wildfires. And when all that wasn’t happening the tension from the romance is off the charts.
Kate grew up wanting to be a smokejumper just like her father, fighting the deadly fires that roar through the Montana landscape. But her father never wanted her in such danger, so she chose to walk away from their relationship rather than give up fire fighting. Now, Kate has returned home in the wake of a devastating fire that has left her father and others in his crew dead. She finally has a chance to join the Jude County Smokejumpers, but so too has her old crush, Jed Ransom, leaving Kate once again battling to prove her ability to be a jumper.
You Can’t Hurry Love – Beth K. Vogt – Howard Books – Published 3 May 2016
You Can’t Hurry Love is the second enovella in Beth K. Vogt’s Destination Wedding series. Elisabeth Straker has embraced her “always the bridesmaid, never the bride” role in life. But when she runs into the man who broke her heart years ago, Elisabeth questions her past—and future—choices.
Is love enough to help us face our mistakes—and the challenges of a long distance relationship?
When Elisabeth arrives in Denver to be the maid of honor at her friend’s wedding, the last thing she expects is to run into Jamie Travers, her high school boyfriend, who is also the groom’s best man. A bitter breakup when they were in college destroyed their hopes for a future together. Seven years later, is it possible for Elisabeth and Jamie to forgive one another and have a second chance at love?
I totally enjoyed this charming novella. As always, Beth K. Vogt provides readers with lovely, relatable characters and sweet romance. Yet even in these few pages, there are complications and fully developed relationships. The story and romance never felt rushed or contrived, and while I would have loved to read more of this story, it was perfectly paced for a novella.
The Problem with Forever – Jennifer Lynn Armentrout – Harlequin Teen – Published 17 May 2016
For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory “Mouse” Dodge, it’s a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.
Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she’s imagined, there’s one she never dreamed of—that she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.
It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with the lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.
As with all of Jennifer Lynn Armentrout’s stories, I enjoyed this book. It has a great mix of romance and self-discovery. The storyline is both heart wrenching and heartwarming. I love stories where the protagonists have to fight against great odds to succeed, and Mallory and Rider have certainly had to contend with a lot. It makes their story of friendship and survival all the more appealing. Continue reading
New Book Releases for May 2016
Looking for a book to read? Well, May 2016 is your month. Check out this epic list of new young adult fiction releases, as well as couple of epic Christian novels (New book by Dee Henderson, anyone?)
Young Adult Fiction
Holding Smoke – Elle Cosimano – Hyperion – Published 3 May 2016
John “Smoke” Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn’t the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke’s new home and the only one he believes he deserves.
Young adult fiction: Contemporary, paranormal.
A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah Maas – Bloomsbury – Published 3 May 2016
Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.
Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.
Young adult fiction: Fantasy.
26 Kisses – Anna Michels – Simon Pulse – Published 24 May 2016
Getting dumped by her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. So she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, to move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.
From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the break-up doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.
With that title and cover this book had no choice but to be a cute romance, perfect for chic-lit lovers and a quick, swoony read.
When Veda’s boyfriend of two years dumps her, she and her best friend come up with a plan to enjoy this summer and mend Veda’s broken heart: kiss 26 guys from A to Z.
I tried not to be judgemental when on the first page Veda confesses to being unhappy her best friends are going to get together because she likes that one of them has always been in love with her and that means he’s moving on, despite the fact that she has had a boyfriend for the last two years. So Veda and I didn’t start on the right foot. But she managed to win me over in the end with her crazy schemes, ability to stand up for herself and ultimate desire to make things right. Continue reading
The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You – Lily Anderson – St. Martin’s Griffin – Published 17 May 2016
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West–and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing–down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben’s, including give up sleep and comic books–well, maybe not comic books–but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it’s time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie’s for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben’s cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie’s best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they’re on–and they might not pick the same side.
Completely clever and totally enthralling, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with so many geeky, nerdy, academic, comic and literature references. This book will encourage everyone’s inner geek to burst forth. TOTWTMIY is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. And just like with the original Benedick and Beatrice, our main characters Ben and Trixie (already spotting the parallels?) love to fight. Everything about Ben drives Trixie nuts. And just like in the play these two are thrown together when their friends start up a romance. Sparks fly. Continue reading
Girl Against the Universe – Paula Stokes – HarperTeen – Published 17 May 2016
Maguire is bad luck.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.
From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.
I thought this would be light and fluffy, about a girl whose bad luck involves paper cuts and missing the bus. But Maguire doesn’t dare go near any sort of public transport and tries to avoid people altogether after a series of severe accidents that have killed her family and injured her friends, leaving her without a scratch. This book is more about mental health than little incidents, yet still retains a sense of playfulness. It’s a romance, sports book and serious contemporary all rolled into one.
Maguire’s grief over the family she has lost and the rituals she uses to keep the people around her safe dominate her life. The book starts with Maguire in her first therapy session and a large portion of the book focuses on her setting tasks to overcome the belief that she is cursed and the reason so many bad things happen around her. It’s after each therapy session that she meets the guy waiting to go next. He forges a connection with her even when Maguire constantly rebuffs him. But she can’t deny being drawn to Jordy, who is balancing his own set of troubles but always has time for Maguire. Continue reading
The Season of You and Me – Robin Constantine – Balzer+Bray – Published 10 May 2016
Cassidy Emmerich is determined to make this summer—the last before her boyfriend heads off to college—unforgettable. What she doesn’t count on is her boyfriend breaking up with her. Now, instead of being poolside with him, Cass is over a hundred miles away, spending the summer with her estranged father and his family at their bed-and-breakfast at the Jersey Shore and working as the newest counselor at Camp Manatee.
Bryan Lakewood is sick of nevers. You’ll never walk. You’ll never surf. You’ll never slow dance with your date at prom. One miscalculated step and Bryan’s life changed forever—now he’s paralyzed and needs to use a wheelchair. This is the first summer he’s back at his former position at Camp Manatee and ready to reclaim some of his independence, in spite of those who question if he’s up for the job.
Cass is expecting two months dealing with heartbreak.
Bryan is expecting a summer of tough adjustments.
Neither of them is expecting to fall in love.
If the publishers had left the summary at that first paragraph I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book. A girl getting over a heartbreaking breakup…that alone is not enough to make me want to read a book. But a character coming to terms with a tough, life-changing situation such as, say, never walking again, is much more my thing.
Unfortunately, the focus of the book was much more on Cassidy’s story of heartbreak and her inability to let go of her ex. I enjoyed Bryan’s chapters, liked him as a character and wished the book was more focused on his journey, but I just could not relate to Cassidy. Poor, whinny, heartbroken, devastated, I-just-can’t-say-no-to-him Cassidy. If you are looking for a strong, resilient heroine look elsewhere. Continue reading