Google+ YA Romantics

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Goodreads Book Recs? Thanks But No Thanks...

Welcome to What Do You Think Thursday, a periodic blog feature in which I raise some question I've been pondering. 

I love book recommendations. Book recommendations are part of why I became a blogger -- I like getting recs and giving recs. But what is the deal with the Goodreads book recommendations? Is it just me who gets these weird, WTF suggestions? I don't usually star-rate books, so wondering if that is why the GR algorithm is broken for me, or if this is a problem for everyone. 

Here's some examples:

I read Saints and Misfits, about a Muslim American girl trying to find her place in her religious community and the world. Based on that, here's what Goodreads suggested:

Okay, then.... not really seeing ANY connection. At all.


I also read Want, a futuristic sci-fi in which a diverse Scooby gang battles an evil tycoon in a world is polluted and disease-ridden. Based on that, here's what Goodreads recommended:

WHAT EVEN??? Don't get me wrong, I love Beverly Cleary. But what exactly is the algorithm that connects a YA sci-fi set in Taipei with a chapter book about two sisters on Klickitat Street?


I also read Perfect Ten, a YA about a gay teen who does a love spell to find himself a boyfriend. It's a contemporary YA, funny and romantic. Based on this, here's what Goodreads thought I should try:


Then I read The Fashion Committee, a contemporary YA about two kids involved in a competition to win a scholarship to a design school. Based on that, here's what Goodreads suggested:

Hmmm. I'm seeing a pattern here, Goodreads. A pattern of book recommendations that have no relation to the books I'm reading.

Please tell me in comments: does Goodreads give you weird recs, or is it just me??

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Just Finished Reading ... The Bakersville Dozen

The Bakersville Dozen
by Kristina McBride

To be published on July 4, 2017
by Sky Pony Press

Source: eARC for review from publisher

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Back in September, the town of Bakersville, Ohio made national news when a video went viral featuring thirteen of the high school’s elite in compromising positions. Now it’s May, and every month since the “Bakersville Dozen” made their infamous appearance on the national stage, one girl has gone missing. Officials are no closer to identifying the criminal. Bailey “Like a Virgin” Holzman is getting really fed up with the scrutiny. She just wants to enjoy the rest of her senior year and have an epic summer before heading off to college. So when she discovers a note in her locker on the last day of school inviting her on a scavenger hunt, she thinks it’s just a sweet surprise from her boyfriend trying to cheer her up. But following the clue leads her, instead, to the first official casualty. And another sinister envelope. The killer is close, and it could be anyone. Even the people Bailey’s always trusted most—her best friend, her perfect boyfriend, or the boy-next-door she’s always pined for. With the clock ticking, she faces a terrifying choice: play the game by the killer’s rules—follow the clues, tell no one, and no cops—for a chance to save the rest of the missing girls, or risk becoming the next grisly victim.

My take:  I love mysteries and thrillers and there was definitely a lot to like about The Bakersville Dozen. It was fast-paced and twisty in the vein of Pretty Little Liars, and also reminded me of the scary movies (Scream, etc.) that I used to watch back in the day.

On the less positive side, there wasn't much character development (not unusual for a book like this). There was also a triangle (Bailey is dating one guy but clearly pining for another).

But overall I thought for a YA thriller, this did the job really well. It was gruesome, it was suspenseful, it was surprising (I guessed one element of the solution but not all), it managed to squeeze in a credible romance, and it really kept me reading to figure out what was going to happen. It definitely felt like watching a good horror movie, and I could totally see this adapted to a TV movie or miniseries.

P.S. I think there was also a cover change. At the time I posted this, Goodreads shows the cover on the right, while Amazon the cover on the left. What are your thoughts? I'd love to see more of a combination of the two - the red envelopes are a huge part of the story, and I wish they were featured in the new (I think) cover.

If you love suspenseful, twisty books, definitely check this one out!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hot Off the Presses: New YA Releasing June 27- July 3

Hot Off the Presses -- brand new YA releases!

Welcome to Hot Off the Presses!  

Tuesday is book release day, so every Tuesday I tell you about all the great new YA books you can buy in the week to come.

LAST CHANCE to enter the June giveaway! Each month's winner can pick any book up to $15 on either Amazon (for US winner) or The Book Depository (for international winner.)

Hot Off the Presses aims to include every traditionally published YA book. Please let me know about books that came out this week that I might have missed!Some titles may have different release dates outside the US.

Now I Rise Midnight Jewel Reign of Serpents
Now I Rise (Conqueror's Saga #2) by Kiersten White (Delacorte)
Midnight Jewel (Glittering Court #2) by Richelle Mead (Razorbill)
Reign of Serpents (Blood of Gods and Royals #3) by Eleanor Herman (Harlequin)

Aftercare Instructions The Beautiful Lost Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin (Flatiron)
The Beautiful Lost by Luanne Rice (Scholastic)
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Katherine Tegen)

Little Wrecks Impossible Vastness of Us Generation One
Little Wrecks by Meredith Miller (Harper)
The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young (Harlequin)
Generation One by Pittacus Lore (Harper)

Coming Up for Air Girl on the Verge If Birds Fly Back
Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally (Sourcebooks)
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (Kensington)
The Birds Fly Back by Carlie Sorosiak (Harper)

Into the Hurricane Eden Summer The Silence
Into the Hurricane by Neil Connelly (Arthur A. Levine)
Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan (David Fickling)
The Silence by Mark Alpert (Sourcebooks)

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Just Finished Reading: Coming Up For Air

Coming Up For Air
by Miranda Kenneally

To be published by Sourcebooks
on June 27, 2017

Source: eARC from publisher for review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat. All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

My take: I think the thing I love the most about Miranda Kenneally's YA writing is her fearlessness. She's never afraid to tackle subjects that many YA authors shy away from: abortion, coming out as gay, class differences, and sex. (Yes, there are plenty of YA books with sex, but many of those feature romance novel sex, the kind of sex where everything is effortlessly perfect and wonderful.) This book tackles two other tricky subjects: female friendship and female ambition. And, again, I loved the way this book took on those topics in a fearless and non-airbrushed way.

Maggie is a competitive swimmer who has little time for anything besides schoolwork and swimming. She's headed to Berkeley in the fall and she's curious about sex. After a disastrous (and completely hilarious) encounter with a random guy, she convinces her close friend Levi to agree to hook up with her for practice. I've seen this trope before in Regency Romance, where the spinster gets the rake to give her lessons in love and of course they fall for each other. I liked the trope here; it reminded me a little of Jordan and Sam and the way they transitioned from friendship to romance.

I also loved the way the book looked at a trope that isn't always represented in YA:female friends-to-frenemies. Maggie has a former friend and now rival, Roxy. At first Maggie supported Roxy, but now they're fierce competitors and Roxy isn't all that nice. In fact, she's pretty mean. I'd like to say that women aren't like that but ... I can't.  I've had these weird friendships gone bad myself, and I still can't figure out what happened and if I could have done anything differently.

Finally, I loved the way this book looked at ambition. Maggie wants to be the best swimmer she can and doesn't want anything to stand in the way of that. But she also wants a full, balanced life. Isn't that the eternal female dilemma - how to have time for the relationships (romantic, friendship, family) that give our lives meaning without giving up on our dreams.

This book was a wonderful ending to the Hundred Oaks series - loved the cameos by Jordan and Sam and the mentions of Jesse and the mentions of the Racing Savannah characters. And the epilogue of this book was the icing on the cake!

If you haven't read these companion books, I highly recommend trying them! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Freebie Friday: Be True to Me

Happy Friday!

Today I'm giving away an ARC of a just-released YA that I enjoyed a lot:

This giveaway is open to US/Canada!

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trending Thursday: Millennial Pink Book Covers: Drab or Fab?

Welcome to Trending Thursday, a periodic blog feature in which I look at some kind of trend in YA, be it cover trends, plot element trends, or something else that catches my eye...

Lately I've been talking about covers a lot. Maybe that's because I've recently become more active on Instagram.  Please follow me here -- I will follow you back!

In any case, I find that I am really inspired to photograph some book covers and others ... not so much. I'd noticed a certain trend in blah-pink book covers but didn't know what was behind it until I was flipping through a fashion magazine and discovered: Millennial Pink. A bit of background: something called Rose Quartz was announced an "it' color of 2016 by Pantone:

Then Rose Quartz became Millennial Pink  -- apparently because the color has become trendy all over social media, from lip gloss to iPhone cases.

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For the record, I love pale pink as a nail polish, a sweater, paint on a bedroom wall, or a glass of rosé ... but I'm really not crazy about this shade of pink on book covers. Book covers need to pop, and to me, this color just sits there meekly, waiting to be noticed.

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I do think the black heart and silhouette improves the Alex & Eliza cover, and the confetti helps jazz up Juniper Lemon, but I'm not loving this muted pink on book covers. 

Thoughts? Tell me your opinion of Millennial Pink Covers in comments!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Just Finished Reading: Walk of Shame

Walk of Shame
by Lauren Layne

Published on April 18, 2017
by Loveswept

Source: library

Synopsis from Goodreads: Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams. Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.
My take: I've never tried a book by Lauren Layne, so I don't know if this one is typical, but it was a rom-com style romance between a frivolous socialite and an uptight lawyer. Every morning at 5 am, the two of them meet in the lobby of their apartment building - he's headed to the gym while she's heading back in after a night of clubbing.  She makes fun of his all black workout wear, he disdains he unhealthy box of doughnuts she brings in to the doormen each morning. Of course, under all that they are wildly attracted to each other. Georgie is less superficial than she seems and of course, underneath Andrew's stodgy suit beats the heart of a true romantic.

The problem I have with rom-coms in general is that my mind is always churning, trying to figure out where things are going. There was something about the plot that didn't quite add up, until I figured out that it had to do with a coming plot twist.

 So there was that -- this was predictable, but most romances are predictable, which is actually why I like them: you can pick them up, counting on that HEA.

Bottom line: a cute odd-couple romance with a rom-com feel. And I'll definitely try another book by this author!
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