Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series Pretty Little Liars comes a thrilling new novel about five perfect girls who are framed for a murder they didn’t commit. 
In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke...until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.

Publisher: HarperCollins 
Number of Pages: 336
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Amanda, age 18

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

A magical adventure set in an enchanted castle that is sure to appeal to fans of Gail Carson Levine, Karen Cushman, and Shannon Hale
When Sand wakes up alone in a long-abandoned castle, he has no idea how he got there. The stories all said the place was ruined by an earthquake, and Sand did not expect to find everything inside-from dishes to candles to apples-torn in half or slashed to bits. Nothing lives here and nothing grows, except the vicious, thorny bramble that prevents Sand from leaving. Why wasn't this in the stories?
To survive, Sand does what he knows best-he fires up the castle's forge to mend what he needs to live. But the things he fixes work somehow better than they ought to. Is there magic in the mending, granted by the saints who once guarded this place?
Unexpectedly, Sand finds the lost heir, Perrotte, a girl who shares the castle's astonishing secrets and dark history. Putting together the pieces-of stone and iron, and of a broken life-is harder than Sand ever imagined, but it's the only way to gain their freedom, even with the help of the guardian saints.

With gorgeous language and breathtaking magic, Merrie Haskell's The Castle Behind Thorns tells of the power of memory and story, forgiveness and strength, and the true gifts of craft and imagination.

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books 
Number of Pages: 336
Type; Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 13

Sunday, July 20, 2014

BOOK ON THE HOT SPOT: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

I read How to Love by Katie Cotugno when it first came out. Not only did her writing suck me in, but the characters were so real and raw I couldn't help but relate and feel what they felt. This book is all the good things: heartbreaking, tragic, uplifting, romantic. You get a little bit of everything, but I promise it will not be like a young adult romance you've before. This novel is for the older young adults and adults who want something a little different, with an authentic portrayal of real life. This is a coming of age novel just as much as it is a romance novel. I loved this book. 

Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he's never seemed to notice that Reena even exists until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated-and pregnant-Reena behind.

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

Katie Cotugno went to Catholic school for thirteen years which makes her, as an adult, both extremely superstitious and prone to crushes on boys wearing blazers. She routinely finds herself talking about the romantic endeavors of characters on TV shows as if they actually exist in the world.

Katie is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in The Broadkill Review, The Apalachee Review, and Argestes, as well as on Her first novel, HOW TO LOVE, is due out from Balzer + Bray on October 1st, 2013.

The great loves of Katie's life include child's pose, her little sister, and mozzarella and honey sandwiches. She lives in Boston (and in sin) with her boyfriend, Tom.


Describe How to Love in three words or one sentence. 

Big, messy romance.

How is How to Love different from other young adult romances/coming-of-age stories currently on the market? 

One of the best things I've heard from readers is that the characters in How to Love feel very real to them, and that includes the ugly parts. Reena and Sawyer are far from perfect--both of them are downright obnoxious at times--but I'd always rather write honest characters than ones who are reliably swoony. (Not that I don't also like a little swoon.)  

When I think of your writing style, I think "real" and "raw" and "beautiful". How would you describe it? 

Oh my goodness, thank you so much! My favorite writers are Barbara Kingsolver and Alice Hoffman--both of them can do things on the sentence level that just blow me away. I think I'm always trying to push myself to be more unflinching--not to shy away from the grittier, yuckier stuff while still being true to the fact that fundamentally the stories I want to write are love stories. 

What's the most important part of your stories to get right and why? (i.e. The characters, the love scenes, the climax, etc.) 

I think it has to start with the characters--it takes me a long time to get a real sense of who they are/what they want/what they're scared of, but if something is off in that department then the whole thing starts to smell a little funny. 

What other books/TV shows/movies would appeal to fans of How to Love? 

Oh oh, that's a good question! I can tell you which books/TV Shows/Movies are appealing to ME right now--I'm LOVING The Fosters, and I think it's pretty similar in tone to How to Love. My favorite movies of all time are Almost Famous and You've Got Mail--they both have a quality of palpable yearning about them that really resonates with me. As for books, I'm about to start Becky Albertalli's Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, and I've heard such glowing things about it--I'm really excited. 

Thanks so much Katie Cotugno for taking the time to answer our questions!

Happy reading!
The (YA) Bookcase Team 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Undead with Benefits by Jeff Hart

The living dead are living it up in this hilarious and surprisingly romantic sequel to Eat, Brains, Love, which Kirkus Reviews called “one hell of a road trip...funny, gross, and scary in equal, alternating measures."
Jake and Amanda are in love, on the run—and undead. They've teamed up with Cass, who’s ditched her former job as shady government psychic zombie-tracker, and they're headed across the border into Iowa, where there’s rumored to be a zombie cure.
Armed with a trunk full of guinea pigs (aka zombie snacks), they're ready to take on the Midwest’s first undead warlord, the psycho psychic out for their blood, and their own superawkward love triangle. But the virus is spreading faster than you can say "zombie apocalypse," and Jake, Amanda, and Cass have to find the cure—if it even exists—before the whole state of Iowa goes up in flames.

With its heartwarming blend of guts, romance, and spot-on teen humor, this road trip–ready paperback original is perfect for fans of Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies and AMC’s The Walking Dead. Readers will devour Jeff Hart's fresh, funny, and irreverent take on love and life (well, unlife) in an eat-or-be-eaten world.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 416
Type: Paperback

Reviewed by Adrian, age 11

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas

The fourth book in the acclaimed Magic Thief series finds Conn back where he started—accused of being a thief. Filled with magic and wonder, The Magic Thief: Home transports readers to a land where a wizard’s apprentice must battle both his enemies and his past to protect the world he knows.

Despite successfully securing a balance between the competing magics of Wellmet, Conn is not happy. Duchess Rowan has promoted him to ducal magister, but the other wizards see him only as a thief. But something sinister is brewing, as magicians’ locus stones are being stolen and magical spells are going awry. As Conn faces old enemies and powerful magical forces, is he strong enough to save the city he calls home?

Publisher: HarperCollins 
Number of Pages: 416
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Ethan

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.
So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.
Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 416
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 13

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EVENT RECAP: Paula Stokes, Philip Siegel, Lindsay Cummings & Dawn Klehr

The Bookcase was thrilled to host three awesome young adult authors as well as one of our very own Minnesotan authors Dawn Klehr. They have each written a wide array of books ranging from thriller to contemporary and they are each as funny and kind as they are on Twitter! It was a blast! 

Hey, I'm Paula. I write stories about flawed characters with good hearts who sometimes make bad decisions. I believe in second chances and happy endings, both in life and in books. I got my start writing historical novels for a book development company. Then I wrote a fluffy YA romantic comedy called THE ART OF LAINEY. After that, I wrote a dark and twisty mystery called LIARS, INC. Those two books sold to the good people at HarperTeen, and since then I've finished another totally different story called VICARIOUS, which sold as a duology to Tor Teen. Mixing it up keeps things interesting for me. I've got four books out and another six on the way. My writing has been translated into nine different languages, which is just about the coolest thing ever.

Philip Siegel grew up in New Jersey, which he insists is much nicer than certain TV shows would have you believe. He graduated from Northwestern University and promptly moved out to Los Angeles, where he became an NBC Page (proof below). He likes to think that the character of Kenneth on 30 Rock is loosely based on his life rights. Currently, he lives in Chicago and does his best writing sandwiched in between colorful characters on the El.

Lindsay Cummings is a 22 year old author of YA and MG books at HarperCollins. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband Josh, her hedgehog named Hedwig, her two German Shepherds Hurley and Kai, her wolf cub Kimber, and a draft horse named Dan the Man.  Lindsay deals with Chronic Fatigue issues, believes Jesus is the reason for all of her success, and swears that book hoarding is not a problem at all. She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts–it was probably just lost in the mail.

Dawn Klehr began her career in TV and loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book. Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog. The Cutting Room Floor is her debut YA novel.


Below are some of the questions that were asked at the event. 

Talk about the inspiration behind your books. 

LINDSAY: I read this news article about this town that was being plagued by all these murders this one summer and I thought it'd be super cool, you know, if I could do that in the future and make characters that weren't afraid to fight back. And that became The Murder Complex. 

PAULA: So mine's super humiliating...I got the idea from one of my own break ups....I was questioning myself and one of the ways I got over it was I started writing about it and instead of being sad it started getting really funny...A lot of times people ask why Lainey starts out a little bit shallow and a little bit superficial but I wanted to look, instead of at the quiet, awkward bookish girl to turn and look at the so-called perfect, popular girl and kind of show that she's really not that different from everyone else. 

PHILIP: I tried talking to some of my friends that were in relationships that weren't that great and it was very hard to get through to them and I was like, God, I wish I could just hire someone to break these people up...That's kind of where the inspiration came from and then at the same time I kind of thought this book was also like Mean Girls meets My Bestfriend's Wedding. 

DAWN: Riley, one of the main characters, was a friend in another book I'd written..and I loved that secondary character and I wanted to create a love story for her--but the way my mind works it turned into a murder mystery thriller.

What is the most important part of your novel to get right before you send it off to your agent or editor? 

DAWN: The voice...It's the tone, it's the feeling, it's the personality, it's the language used and I think once you nail the voice that's when everything else works itself out for me. 

PHILIP: I am anal about plot. I like to make sure the plot makes sense and everything works itself out--I'm a big outliner.

PAULA: God I'm super compulsive...My stories go through at least five revisions. 

LINDSAY: I will edit the whole book three or four times before I send it to my agent. She's South African and she has a foul mouth and a really strong accent and so when curse words and accents combine it's terrifying...For me, I have to feel 100% confident in what I'm sending to her because if I don't feel confident then I know she's going to come back and scare me. I love her though. 

As you're creating awful thoughts and deeds of evil do you ever feel bad for enjoying it? 

LINDSAY: No, I'm from Texas. We all carry guns and knives. For me, I'm like, YES, I get so into it. I can't watch horror stuff but I like to write it because I like to give the reader those kinds of emotions. I want them to get those crazy emotions. I enjoy it. 

DAWN: I'm totally opposite. I don't know if it's because I'm a mom and I'm supposed to be a certain way...These kids are so messed up and it's really disturbing and they're doing bad things but what's cool about it, what I like about it, is I like seeing how the minds of really evil people work...For some readers, it helps them make sense of the world, and it does for me too...Most villains aren't born villains, something usually happens to them that makes them a villain. 

Do you ever write a scene that's so out of character that in the back of your mind your character's telling you I wouldn't do that? 

LINDSAY: I wrote this scene where Meadow told a boy that she loved them and then I was like, ew, no. You wouldn't do that. You'd kill him. 

PAULA: I have a book coming out called VICARIOUS...and she has PTSD and she's really emotionally volatile and so even though knives and guns are fun to give to your occurred to me that it's probably not the smartest thing to give to a girl who has PTSD. 

PHILIP: For me the biggest challenge, it's about getting the dialogue write. You have to calibrate it just right or else it'll sound want it to be snappy and funny...but sometimes when it's too on the nose...I have to go back and make sure what Becca, Val and the characters said was something they'd genuinely say and that it's not my voice making them say it. 

DAWN: I did have a scene when my editor got to the end of my almost final draft of the Cutting Room Floor...and said everything was too wrapped up. He didn't think it was believable, and looking back, he was totally right...I put the ending that, I think, I wanted and not the ending that the characters wanted. 


Please read the terms & conditions. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
SIGNED Hardcover The Break Up Artist, SIGNED paperback of Cutting Room Floor and SIGNED ARCs of The Murder Complex and Art of Lainey plus matching swag for each!
Because not all of you could make it to the event, we wanted to share in the fun and give away a signed copy of each book, along with matching swag! Please keep in mind that any online order from our store will result in an additional TEN extra entries for every book you order from us. If you win, we'll also throw in a surprise ARC! We'd really appreciate your support! 

Happy reading! 
Rachel and The (YA) Bookcase Team 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.
The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Number of Pages: 416
Type: Hardcover 

Reviewed by Rachel, age 18

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (11)

A meme created and hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Poisoned Apples by Christine Lippermann 
Hardcover | 128 Pages | September Release

This seems like an awesome poetry book! All of the poems are fairytales compared to the life of a modern teenager girl. I have a feeling it will be both heartwarming and amusing at the same time. 

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Hardcover | 256 Pages | August Release 

This is a middle grade novel about an African girl who moves to London and has to acclimate to life in the city. It also seems like a coming of age story and it has a really sweet cover! 

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick 
Hardcover | 400 Pages | October Release 

I haven't read any of Becca Fitzpatrick's books before but this one seems especially good. The main girl is an experienced mountain hiker and gets stranded in a bad storm. Two hot guys take her in...but they may be involved in the murders happening on the mountain. Oo! Sounds like an awesome setting as well.  

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman 
Hardcover | 416 Pages | August Release

The first book of Lev Grossman's is The Magicians and when I first heard about people were saying it was sort of an adult version of Harry Potter. Sounds awesome, right? I'd check it out. 

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. Do I even need to talk about why this is awesome? The publisher sent us the paperback, which releases in December! 

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs. I absolutely love the Bones TV series and Reichs' young adult Virals series. I haven't ventured into her adult series, but I know there are many. However, I think I can start at this one because the EIC of Ballantine Bantam Dell said it's one of her best yet and "if by some chance you have never read her, then you should not miss this chance to see what makes her so great." Sounds good enough for me!  

What are you reading this week? Share in the comments! I'd love to check out your new reads! 

Happy reading! 
The (YA) Bookcase Team 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.
Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?
The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .

Publisher: Egmont USA
Number of Pages: 352
Type: Hardcover 

Reviewed by Ellie, age 17

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NEW RELEASE: Inits by KC Sprayberry

High school means a whole new world. Yet, for Alex Starkey, pimples, discovering one of his buds is a real girl now, and an older brother using him as his favorite tackle dummy are tiny problems. What gets Alex's temper simmering are his inits. Surviving his freshman year without diving into deep trouble seems impossible.

Thudding footsteps, a smack on the back as I’m swallowing, and then RAS straddles the chair across from me.

“Don’t gulp. Then I won’t have to keep you from choking.” He fills his plate with enough food to feed the back line of the Atlanta Falcons. “The jerk used all the hot water.” RAS glares at me. “You will so pay later.”

“Yeah, right.” I stuff more pancakes, strawberries, and sausages into my mouth.

I always pay. When will he figure out that I’m not his favorite tackle dummy?

We stood up and walked away. The bruises weren’t always visible, but they were and are there. We remain quiet when harsh words are spoken … walk away when others begin conversations that make us feel uncomfortable. One and all, we dream of the day when bullying will stop.

Some of us are around to share our stories. Others could no longer handle what was said or done to them. How do you stop a bully? Words? Actions? Treat them as they do you? There is no perfect solution, yet we can never stop standing up against these people.

KC Sprayberry started writing young, first as a diarist, and later through an interest in English and creative writing. Her first experience with publication came when she placed third in The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge contest while in the Air Force, but her dedication to writing came after she had her youngest child, now preparing to enter college.

Her family lives in Northwest Georgia where she spends her days creating stories about life in the south, and far beyond. More than a dozen of her short stories have appeared in several magazines. Five anthologies feature other short stories. She has three books that are Amazon best sellers: Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama's Advice. Her other novels available are: Take Chances, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, Evil Eyes, and Starlight.

This is a story that was with me for a long time, a story begging to be told more and more each day. Many, many people have been bullied. Most of us survived and went on to have useful lives, but we will always remember those who pushed us around, physically and mentally.


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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Between the Spark and Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

The conclusion to Between the Devil and The Deep Blue Sea, this gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and Daphne du Maurier is a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures and Anna Dressed in Blood.
Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it's easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry.
The problem with River West Redding was that he'd done both to me.

The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet's life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River's other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn't long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own . . .

Publisher: Dial 
Number of Pages: 320
Type: Hardcover 

Reviewed by Rachel, age 18

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Drawing Amanda by Stephanie Feuer

Drawing Amanda is set in the under-parented, high-expectation world of a Manhattan international prep school. Fourteen-year-old budding artist Inky Kahn is still smarting from the death of his father. He thinks he’s found his big break when he bonds with the developer of a new computer game and snags a coveted drawing assignment, for which he uses his secret crush–Amanda–as a model.
But unbeknownst to Inky, the developer has a dangerous past, and is using his computer game to lure and stalk teenage girls. And Inky has inadvertently led Amanda right into his path. Blinded by his own ambition and sulking from his father’s death, Inky hides from the truth. Will Inky, with the help of Rungs, his cybergeek pal, discover the treachery in time and save Amanda before the creep ensnares her–or anyone else? 

Publisher: Hipso Media
Number of Pages: 292 
Type: Paperback 

Reviewed by Ellie, age 17