Top Ten 2014 Releases I’m Dying To Read
I’m focusing this list on the YA books I’m anticipating. I think 2014 is going to be a good year for me. Hopefully. Maybe. Kinda. GO, RUBY, GO!
by Austin Aslan
August 5, 2014
In this fast-paced survival story set in Hawaii, electronics fail worldwide, the islands become completely isolated, and a strange starscape fills the sky. Leilani and her father embark on a nightmare odyssey from Oahu to their home on the Big Island. Leilani’s epilepsy holds a clue to the disaster, if only they can survive as the islands revert to earlier ways.
A powerful story enriched by fascinating elements of Hawaiian ecology, culture, and warfare, this captivating and dramatic debut from Austin Aslan is the first of two novels. The author has a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
by Mary E. Pearson
July 15, 2014
In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.
In an exquisitely chilling debut novel, four children unravel the mystery of a family curse — and a ghostly creature known in folklore as Long Lankin.
When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less-than-warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don’t know is that their aunt’s life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries — before it’s too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.
Upstairs, downstairs, and in which lady’s chamber?
On the brink of World War II, two girls are sent to the grand English country estate of Starkers. Hannah, the half-Jewish daughter of a disgraced distant relative, has been living an artistic bohemian life in a cabaret in pre-war Germany and now is supposed to be welcomed into the family. Anna, the social-climbing daughter of working-class British fascists, is supposed to be hired as a maid so that she can spy for the Nazis. But there’s a mix-up, and nice Hannah is sent to the kitchen as a maid while arrogant Anna is welcomed as a relative.
And then both girls fall for the same man, the handsome heir of the estate . . . or do they?
In this sparkling, saucy romance, nearly everything goes wrong for two girls who are sent to a grand English estate on the brink of World War II—until it goes so very, very right!
In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.
Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.
Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.
Scarlet’s true identity has been revealed, but her future is uncertain. Her forced marriage to Lord Gisbourne threatens Robin and Scarlet’s love, and as the royal court descends upon Nottingham for the appointment of a new Sheriff, the people of Nottingham hope that Prince John will appoint their beloved Robin Hood. But Prince John has different plans for Nottingham that revolve around a fateful secret from Scarlet’s past even she isn’t yet aware of. Forced to participate at court alongside her ruthless husband, Scarlet must bide her time and act the part of a noblewoman—a worthy sacrifice if it means helping Robin’s cause and a chance at a future with the man she loves. With a fresh line of intrigue and as much passion as ever, the next chapter in Scarlet’s tale will have readers talking once again.
by Maureen Johnson
by Sarah Rees Brennan
A modern retelling of A Tale of Two Cities. With magic!
by Amanda Stevens
A 16-year-old coma patient discovers her soul can jump from body to body, a skill she utilizes in searching for her would-be killer
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.
One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in? and why.
As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.
Publication Date: This edition: May 28, 2013 Original: January 1, 2012
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: Purchased by self
Status: First in the Digit series, to be followed by Double Digit in January 2014.
Genre: Teen, Contemporary Romance, Mystery
Other Info: I featured this book in a Bookish Bundle on hackers. The MC, Farrah, isn’t actually a hacker, though. She’s more like that guy from that TV show, NUMB3RS. She uses math to help solve a crime.
Description and link from Goodreads):
Farrah “Digit” Higgins has left her geek self behind in another school district so she can blend in with the popular crowd at Santa Monica High and actually enjoy her senior year. But when Farrah, the daughter of a UCLA math professor, unknowingly cracks a terrorist group’s number sequence, her laid-back senior year gets a lot more interesting. Soon she is personally investigating the case, on the run from terrorists, and faking her own kidnapping–all while trying to convince a young, hot FBI agent to take her seriously.
Over and over I’ve mentioned my craving for teen mysteries, so I won’t belabor the point again. Needless to say, I snapped up A Girl Named Digit the moment I saw it at my favorite local independent bookstore (say that three times fast!). That said, I’ve had the attention span of a gnat lately, so my reading of Digit was slow as molasses. I picked it up and put it down without regard to how much I was enjoying it.
So, what’s the story? Farrah (aka Digit) lives in LA with her actor mom, her professor father and a younger brother. She’s happy living in the traffic capital of the world because it offers plenty of opportunity for her to read her beloved bumper stickers. Farrah’s biggest secret is that her interest in numbers borders on the obsessive (okay, maybe that’s a understatement). The pressure to fit in has led her to conceal her talents. She’s so perfected the guise of a self-absorbed teenager that she runs with some of the most popular girls in her school.
Then she cracks a terrorist cell’s code and attracts the attention of the FBI. Luckily for Farrah, the agent that gets the case is a boy genius, cute and not much older than her. Unluckily for Farrah, her life is danger. A few days kept in close confinement gives Farrah and Special Agent John Bennett time to bond and to get closer to solving the case.
A Girl Named Digit was a fun read. Everything, down to the chapter titles, is infused with the kind of humor I like best. Digit’s internal monologue is a hoot. She sees the world through a unique lens and since the story is told from her perspective, we’re privvy to it. It’s just too bad that, despite all that humor, I never really connected to Farrah. I like characters that use humor to deflect, but only if I’m also allowed glimpses of the deeper emotions behind the humor. Farrah was a little too glib and her arc a little too shallow for me to be invested in her character. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t anything unlikeable about Farrah. I’d be happy to while away some time with her, but I won’t be calling her if I’m looking for a more meaningful connection.
So, while I liked Farrah and was interested to see how her romance with John (The Prodigy FBI Agent) would play out, I felt a lack of something while reading Digit. It’s hard to evaluate the books that are a little bit better than good but still not great. A Girl Named Digit was middle of the road, but a decently paved one with those little reflector thingies in the center. I would recommend if someone asked me if I knew of any books about teenage math geniuses, but it won’t be making my Top Teen Mysteries list anytime soon.
- Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday (Reason: More successful humor-filled teen mystery)
- Don’t Turn Around by Michele Gagnon (Reason: Suspenseful, with teens Making Things Happen with No Adults Necessary, Thankyouverymuch)
- False Memory by Dan Krokos (Reason: Again with the suspense!)
Questions to nibble on:
- Did you have any issues with the age difference between Farrah and John?
- What was your favorite chapter title?
- Have you ever read a book where you enjoyed the MC even though you didn’t really connect with him/her?
Ruby’s Bookish Bundles is a new feature I’m starting here on the blog. In it, I’m going to post about three books:
- Want Now: One recently released or already published title I’m lusting after.
- Want Soon: One upcoming title I’m looking forward to, based on things I’ve heard, the cover, and the description.
- Want Someday: One upcoming title I’ve heard about that sounds like it could be interested but is so far off into the future it doesn’t even have a cover yet.
I love discovering new books, and I love sharing about the books I discover. However, I’ve been wanting to do something a little different from (and more involved than) a WoW post, so I created this new feature for myself. Anyone is welcome to participate, or to share their own wants. If you do so on your own blog, leave a link so I can visit!
Okay, my first preference for a noble suitor is a marquis, but I’m just as happy to read about princes…
Carol Goodman is a familiar name to me, though I’ve never read anything by her. I guess I’ve always known that the best way for an author nab my attention is to write a Young Adult novel with a boarding school setting and top the whole thing off with a Gothic cherry and a dollop of mystery. I’m trying not to buy any books right now because I have the attention span of an ADHD pea right now, but this one tempts me sorely…
Welcome to Blythewood.
At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her family’s murky past, discover the identity of the father she’s never known, and perhaps finally understand her mother’s abrupt suicide. She’s also on the hunt for the identity of the mysterious boy who rescued her from the fire. And she suspects the answers she seeks lie at Blythewood.
But nothing could have prepared her for the dark secret of what Blythewood is, and what its students are being trained to do. Haunted by dreams of a winged boy and pursued by visions of a sinister man who breathes smoke, Ava isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or getting closer to the truth. And the more rigorously Ava digs into the past, the more dangerous her present becomes.
Vivid and atmospheric, full of mystery and magic, this romantic page-turner by bestselling author Carol Goodman tells the story of a world on the brink of change and the girl who is the catalyst for it all.
It’s like Hannah Jayne delved into my childhood with this one. Anyone else remember Caroline B. Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton? Surely I can’t be the only one who fantasized about having been kidnapped as a baby and raised by the parents of my kidnapper? It was my version of wishing I’d been adopted. Anyway, here’s hoping this isn’t just a Milk Carton retread (the MC’s character is named Jane, which makes me suspicious). Fortunately, I have enough faith in Hannah to believe she won’t do me wrong.
I know who you are.
When Riley first gets the postcard tucked into her bag, she thinks it’s a joke. Then she finds a birth certificate for a girl named Jane Elizabeth O’Leary hidden inside her baby book.
Riley’s parents have always been pretty overprotective. What if it wasn’t for her safety…but fear of her finding out their secret? What have they been hiding? The more Riley digs for answers, the more questions she has.
The only way to know the truth? Find out what happened to Jane O’Leary.
I squealed with glee when I saw that there was finally some new information about Margot Foley’s follow-up to Escape Theory (which I loved). I can’t wait for this book to come out. I only hope that Devon is going to move on from Hutch in this novel. At least, a little.
Less than a month has passed since Devon Mackintosh uncovered the truth about the apparent suicide of Keaton’s golden boy and her unrequited love, Hutch. But that doesn’t mean the danger is over. Her own life has been threatened. Solving Hutch’s case only unearthed more questions: what lies beneath the Keaton land that could be so valuable as to tear the Hutchins family apart?
Hutch’s grandfather, Reed Hutchins, knows the answer. But Reed is dying of cancer, and this dark family secret might die with him. Faced with no other option, Devon swipes Reed’s diary and plunges into his life as an 18-year-old science prodigy in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Through his adolescent eyes—and his role in biological weapons research, still classified to this day—Devon fights to piece together the final clues to what haunts the Keaton hillsides, the truth Reed’s enemies are still willing to kill for.
As always, feel free to recommend any titles you’ve come across, are waiting on, or have just plain piqued your interest. I loved teen mysteries and I’m always on the look out for them. What books have caught your eye?
As you all know by now, I’m a huge Elder Races fan. In fact, all you have to do is look like you’re going to say the name Dragos in order for me to go all fangirly. Thus, I’m delighted to welcome Thea Harrison back to the blog. She’s been a frequent visitor (and continues to be so, I earnestly hope!), but it’s always a pleasure. First, here’s a little bit about the newest book the Elder Races Series:
As a harpy, Sentinel Aryal is accustomed to dealing with hate, but Sentinel Quentin Caeravorn manages to inspire in her a burning ire unlike anything she’s ever known. Aryal believes the new Sentinel to be a criminal, and vows to take him out as soon as the opportunity arises. But the harpy’s incessant wrath has pushed Quentin to the limit, and forces him to make a deadly vow of his own.
To put an end to the conflict, Dragos, Lord of the Wyr, sends them on a reconnaissance mission to the Elven land of Numenlaur. Forced to work together, Aryal and Quentin’s mutual antagonism escalates. Each fight draws forth more passion—culminating in an explosively sexual confrontation. But when their quest reveals real danger, Aryal and Quentin must resolve their differences in ways beyond the physical, before the entire Wyr is threatened.
Welcome back to Ruby’s Reads, Thea!
Thanks for such interesting questions!
Q: What is one of your favorite Myths/legends to write about?
A: When I started to write my reply to this question, I realized it wasn’t going to be a simple or easy answer! I’ve had so much fun with the world building in the Elder Races series. It’s almost impossible to pick just one.
I really enjoyed taking the Oracle of Delphi and putting it into a modern context for Oracle’s Moon. When I turned my attention to the witches’ demesne in Louisville, I wanted to make sure it felt as rich and developed as the rest of the world building I’d done for the other demesnes and mythological creatures. That story was fun for a lot of reasons, because I also really enjoyed building the Djinn society based on Middle Eastern legends.
Another favorite has been developing the Elves, in Lord’s Fall and continued in Kinked. And a third was when I created my own version of Vampyres in Serpent’s Kiss. I have two more Vampyre stories that I’m dying to tell. When I get excited about a story, it’s hard to wait for the right time to tell it!
Q: You’ve been gifted (or cursed) with the ability to shift into another form by a witch. What kind of shifter are you and why? (All creatures, including mythological, apply.)
A: Awesome question! I think I have two answers for that one. If it was a gift, then I think it would have to be something winged and strong. I think there’s something to be said for being as fearless as a harpy, although I’m quite sure I wouldn’t win any popularity contests!
If the ability was a curse and meant to be nasty, the witch would probably turn me into my phobia—a spider! That would be the meanest, nastiest thing anybody could ever do to me!
Q: Since Aryal is a harpy and considered an immortal Wyr, how did you approach her character development in order to make her believable and someone that readers can identify with?
A: I’ll be honest, I was worried about writing Aryal. I really didn’t want to compromise her identity. Aryal has strong emotions but no real morals in the abstract sense, no true compulsion to do what is right for its own sake. She’s abrasive and dangerous… And I had to figure out how to also make her sympathetic.
My first decision was to not be in a hurry to write her story. I wanted to take the time to show her character from a couple of different points of view. The reader first sees Aryal from Pia’s perspective in Dragon Bound, but then in Storm’s Heart I was able to show Aryal from Tricks’ point of view, someone who loved her. I also wanted to make sure that humor came into the mix. Still, the real test came when I sat down and actually started writing Kinked. Then I had to get close enough to her to write her as a main POV character. It helped that I had so many established relationships and characters to work with—such as Grym, Dragos and Graydon—and the world-building in place. With that in place, I could concentrate on developing Aryal herself. I’m very grateful to my editor Cindy Hwang for providing such a supportive platform to write Kinked.
Q: Do you have an Elder Race Bible to help keep your facts start? If not, how the heck do you keep your facts start?
A: So far I’ve had two things in my favor—I’ve got a bit of a freakish memory for detail when it comes to writing, and I also have fantastic beta readers who are good at spotting issues. Still, the world has become big and complicated enough that I’ve got someone working on a series bible right now. It’s over a hundred pages by now and should be done by the end of the year.
Q: Who was the harder character to write Aryal or Quentin and why?
A: Neither character was as hard as I had feared they would be when I started Kinked. Still, Quentin was easier. I felt more confident writing his character, and I felt the stakes were pretty high on getting Aryal’s character right.
Q: Was there anything about Aryal that surprised you as her story unfolded?
A: I think I probably had the same experience as a writer that several readers have had so far in reading the book—I was surprised at how much I ended up liking and enjoying her. I wouldn’t want to rush out and befriend a real-life Aryal, but I think she’s pretty cool between the pages, and I’m really looking forward to writing more about her.
Q: In the event of an apocalypses (zombie, alien, solar flare or 4 horsemen) which of your characters would you like to team up with?
A: I would absolutely like to team up with Dragos—as long as I was someone he valued, otherwise he might ditch me in a heartbeat.
Q: What is next for the Elder Race series?
A: I’m now contracted for books 7-9, so I’m writing Graydon’s story which will be released around August of 2014. The main characters have also been decided for books 8 and 9, and I’m eager to get to those stories!
I also wrote a self-published project, a novella entitled Dragos Takes A Holiday, which releases November 25th. I loved spending time with Dragos and Pia, and their little son Peanut gets his POV debut.
It’s been a pleasure to visit with you. Thanks for having me!
For more information on Thea Harrison, Kinked and her other works:
Bio (abridged from Thea’s “about” page. Well, I tried to abridge it, but it was hard to leave out anything!): New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison is the pen name for Teddy Harrison. Thea has traveled extensively, having lived in England and explored Europe for several years. Now she resides in Colorado. She wrote her first book, a romance, when she was nineteen and had sixteen romances published under the name Amanda Carpenter.
Her paranormal Elder Races series began May 3, 2011 with Dragon Bound, which won RT Book Review’s Book of the Year Award, and the Romance Writer’s of America RITA in the paranormal romance category. The Elder Races series is set in an alternative universe where magical and mythological creatures live openly alongside humankind. The stories are full of insouciant sexy alpha heroes and the strong-minded heroines that tame them.
She adores animals and currently resides with two small dogs that have very large personalities.
Check back on Monday for my review of Kinked!
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A Slew of Weeviews:
Imposter by Suzanne Winnacker
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Source: Purchased using Audible credit.
Genre: Teen Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Narrator: Emily Rankin
Description and link from Goodreads):
CAN TESSA POSE AS MADISON . . . AND STOP A KILLER BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE?
Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI.
When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.
Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep.
Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.
Since Impostor is kind of like X-Men: The Teen Years, I expected to like it–a lot. To say I was disappointed is too state my feelings about Impostor a little too strongly. There were elements I liked (the whole FEA [Forces with Extraordinary Abilities] setup, the idea of teens being investigators, Tessa’s connection to Madison’s family) and elements I didn’t (Tessa’s relationship with fellow Variant, Alec). Overall, the quality of the novel was uneven and, I think, suffered at the hands of the love story. The parts I was most interested in–Tessa masquerading as Madison, the investigation into her death–were overshadowed by over-angsty push-pull of the Tessa/Alec relationship. I, frankly, thought Alec was a douchebag. There’s obviously more going on than he’s telling Tessa and he comes across as the kind of guy who will jerk her around in order to “protect” her. I have no patience for these heroes and, frankly, doubt that I’d be able to suffer through another book full of it. Here’s hoping we see some changes in book two.
Dualed by Elsie Chapman
Publisher: Listening Library
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source: Borrowed via library.
Genre: Teen Dystopian
Narrator: Alicyn Packard
Description and link from Goodreads):
The Hunger Games meets Matched in this high-concept thriller where citizens must prove their worth by defeating the other version of themselves—their twin.
Two of you exist. Only one will survive.
West Grayer is ready. She’s trained for years to confront her Alternate, a twin raised by another family. Survival means a good job, marriage—life.
But then a tragic misstep leaves West questioning: Is she the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future?
If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from herself, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.
Fast-paced and unpredictable, Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a chilling, unforgettable world.
I DNF’d this one. Now, this is something I rarely do with audiobooks. Usually I can make it through any audiobook, no matter how awful, by sheer virtue of laziness. I mean it. If I don’t have another audiobook all cued up and ready to go, I’ll listen to whatever I’ve got on my phone or in my car’s CD player. Especially if I’m in my car. I will NOT pull over just because my iPhone has inexplicably decided to play chapter three all. Over. Again. Better that than silence.
So I really tried with Dualed. Unfortunately, I hated the main character. West is one of those TSTL (too stupid to live) heroines you always hear about. I couldn’t stand her. I get that her entire family died–how awful! I can’t imagine!–and I can see how becoming an assassin (or Stalker) was a logical choice because it was a free form of “training” that would ensure she would beat her own Alt when the time came, but since the girl runs the moment she’s activated, that logic falls apart. Plus, not only do we miss all the action (with one or two exceptions, West’s kills take place off-screen), but I don’t see that becoming a Stalker gave West any skills at all.
And don’t even get me started on the romance. I could not have cared less about it.
The Wake Trilogy by Lisa McMann
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Source: Purchased by self
Genre: Teen Paranormal
Narrator: Ellen Grafton
Description and link from Goodreads):
Janie Hannagan gets sucked into other people’s dreams. It’s an ability she always kept secret—until she met Cabel, and found herself with the best (secret) boyfriend ever. But Janie and Cabel are about to find out just how dark Janie’s future as a Dream Catcher is… and whether Cabel will be a part of it.
After having read and loved Cryer’s Cross, I was eager to try this series. Opinions about the trilogy are varied–some love it and some hate it. I can see both sides, personally. The writing and narrative style is unique. I liked the short chapters–McMann definitely belongs to the “less is more” camp–and the fact that Janie’s voice comes across loud and clear in every moment. That said, I don’t think Janie and I are going to be having sleepovers any time soon. I thought Janie was okay most of the time, but there were moments when I doubted whether I’d be able to stick it out. And if you don’t like Janie, you aren’t going to like these books–it’s as simple as that.
The premise of the books is definitely unique. Janie is a dreamcatcher. Whenever she’s in close proximity to a sleeping person, she is sucked into their dreams. While this has a humorous element to it, Janie uses her dreamcatcher abilities to fight crime. I really liked the 21 Jump Street aspect (I imagine. I’ve never actually seen the show. Just–woohoo for teen cops!) and Janie and Cabel’s romance is sweet and intense at the same time. Both have, er, unfortunate family histories, so the fact that they found each other to care about is, frankly, amazing. However, there was a depressing, bleak overtone that I could have done without.
If you’re looking for a unique teen paranormal with romance and mystery to boot, read the Wake Trilogy. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, look elsewhere.