Top Ten…Most Anticipated Debut Novels For 2015

Happy New Year friends! Here we are at the beginning of a fresh new year with so many amazing things on the horizon. I, for one, am super excited for this year and all of the possibilities it has in store for me. So today I’m wishing all of you all the best in 2015 and that it’s filled with lots of wonderful bookish things!

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

Source: The Broke and The Bookish

Speaking of books and new possibilities, this is an exciting year for so many debut authors. There are a ton of books coming out this year that sound absolutely fantastic, and today I’m sharing some of them with you here.

So, for my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year, I give you my most anticipated debut novels of 2015!

TopTen1615

Anne and Henry / Becoming Jinn / An Ember in the Ashes
When Reason BreaksRed Queen / Tiny Pretty Things
The Night We Said YesMagonia / Dead To Me / The Witch Hunter

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Book Review: The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

I was provided with an ARC of this title by Little Brown & NetGalley
in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to both for the opportunity!

The Walled City is an exhilarating tale of three lives that are brought together in the harshest of circumstances, as they are forced to rely on each other to break free of the confines of the walls they live in, both physical and emotional. One sister risking it all to find the other sister who’s fighting a losing battle, and a mysterious street boy fighting his own demons for salvation. Each character is separate and unique from the other yet their three stories blend together seamlessly.

 Images from Ryan Graudin’s The Walled City Pinterest board — Click image for more.

At first, the stories of our main characters, Jin, Mei Yee and Dai, seem so removed from one another but we soon find that they are also undeniably tied together. I’m normally not a fan of multiple POVs, but Graudin made sure to give each narrator its own distinct voice and I appreciated seeing this story from its different perspectives. It added to the depth and emotion of the struggles each character was facing, while also filling in the gaps and giving the reader a deeper understanding. As the novel progresses all three narrators find themselves more involved in each others destinies and by the end it really feels as though these once individual people were never separate at all. I loved how Graudin slowly developed the relationship between one set of characters, but then super charged another. It came off as authentic and true to the story of people being faced with unforgiving circumstances and the need to do whatever it takes to escape.

I think one of my favorite parts of this book was discovering that the Walled City, which is essentially its own character, is actually based on a real location. Kowloon’s Walled City, a shanty town in Hong Kong that was overrun with crime, prostitution and drugs, acted as the inspiration for this novel. Graudin took this inspiration and ran with it, because once you start reading you’ll get drawn right into the dark and gritty realism of a life lived behind the walls.

Graudin’s writing is exquisite and powerful, adding even more intensity to the emotion of the story. She paints a vivid picture of life within the walled city, which allowed me as a reader to really connect with each character and understand why they made the decisions they did. Jin, Mei Yee and Dai live in an extremely dangerous world and Graudin’s talent for allowing her writing to still be beautiful and haunting while describing these horrific circumstances is pretty impressive!

This book is perfect for readers who enjoy Dystopian novels because, even though it doesn’t take place in a dystopian world, it still has those elements of survival, danger and desperation. I also think people who enjoy character driven novels with really appreciate this book since the development of all three main characters is so well though out and robust. Whatever type of book you prefer, I strongly recommend The Walled City for its emotion, gorgeous writing and non-stop action.

Love It

TMYK

18196040The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publication: 11/4/14 by Little, Brown
Pages: 432 | Format: eGalley
Pre-order this book

730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.
18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..

In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.

Review: Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
Publication Date: 10/21/14 by Poppy
Pages: 320 | Format: Paperback ARC
SourceOn the Same Page ARC Tour
Pre-order this book

The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen. 

Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…

When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.

In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

I received this book as part of the On the Same Page ARC Tour. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Famous in Love is the kind of book I just adore; sweet and fun, allows me to daydream…escape. I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty of times when I have wondered what it would be like to be plucked out of my perfectly ordinary (and wonderful) life and set into a completely different life filled with celebrities, luxury and exotic places.

casting

I really enjoyed losing myself in the fantasy of the story of a girl who feels out-of-place and awkward, and watch her get thrust into the glamorous and often times crazy celebrity life. She finds a friend in Rainer, the super-famous and super-swoony young actor and they form an immediate friendship. Rainer can’t help be taken with Paige – he appreciates that she’s down to earth and the fact that she’s unjaded by Hollywood, unassuming and real. Rainer takes her under his wing to support her and help her navigate the new world she finds herself in.

Rainer’s character is a real treat, he’s kind, thoughtful, flirty and sweet, but Serle keeps the reader on its toes as she subtly shows us the differences between Rainer and Paige. Rebecca Serle really crafted a compelling parallel between these two and as soon as we get comfortable with that narrative, we’re introduced to Jordan. The resident “bad boy”, who has a complicated history with Rainer and a Hollywood gossip back story that could be more than meets the eye. Jordan is the total opposite of Rainer; he’s private, quiet and keeps to himself. Serle gives us two totally different swoony guys in this book and she made it really hard to pick just one.

I’m going to be honest with you, I reallllly wanted to hate the potential of a love triangle in this story. That’s not saying I’m anti-triangle, I honestly don’t mind them, but I was so firmly invested in my OTP for this book and then all of a sudden something happened and it threw my whole world into a frenzy. Ok, maybe not my whole world, but it definitely threw me for a loop. Even when I finished the book I wasn’t so sure about the ending. Buuuut, then I thought about it for a while and realized that, wouldn’t you know, it actually works really well for the plot and I was totally on board!

Serle gives us a fantastic cliff-hanger at the end; Paige is at a tipping point in her career and she needs to make decisions that will shape the next few years of her life. Will she go the safe and easy route or will she take a chance with the unknown? It’s a difficult choice that involves heavy sacrifice and this development creates a great shift in the plot. I can’t wait to see where book two takes Paige, Rainer and Jordan.

Love It

Review: Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Publication: 9/23/14 by Little Brown
Pages: 416 | Format: eGalley
Purchase this book

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

***

I was provided with an ARC of this title by Little Brown & NetGalley
in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to both for the opportunity!

I’ve spent much of my life in New England and have always been keenly aware of the role whaling played in the formation of this area. American whaling originated in New England, giving shape to its industry, way of life and history. So many stories and legends permeate this part of the country and the release of Salt & Storm adds a brand new fictional and mystical twist on the lore of New England whaling. I strongly encourage you to read the Author’s Note regarding her research and development of this book, it provides some fascinating insight.

I was so thrilled when I found out I was approved for an ARC of Salt & Storm because I had heard a lot of buzz about it right around the time of BookExpo America and fell in love with the synopsis (see above). I always find it exciting when a debut author comes on the scene and the description of Kendall Kulper’s very first YA novel had me immediately intrigued.

Salt & Storm was very different from the other YA novels I have read recently; it’s got this mystical quality about it and the world-building is so intense that I was deeply drawn into the story. Some people may feel that the book is slow-paced, and I cannot disagree with that. What I can say, is that the slow pace of the story really allows the reader to get inside the book and live in it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a New England girl and I am intimately familiar with salty, island life in this area, but Kulper’s writing put me right there on Prince Island among the locals.

Avery Roe is the main character and she is faced with a difficult truth,  to carry on her family’s legacy is to put herself in the path of unrelenting danger and destruction. I really enjoyed the legacy of the women in Avery’s family and found that history to be so painful but fascinating. The relationship Avery has with both her mother and her grandmother formed the basis of her character and continued to shape her throughout the novel. Watching her navigate the intricacies of each really helped me as a reader to understand where Avery’s motivations came from and the decisions she needed to make.

The introduction of Tane into Avery’s life allows her to dream of a life beyond the confines she has known. He provides answers to questions that have been haunting her, and also a kindred spirit to lean on.  They are immediately drawn to each other and discover that their lives are intimately entwined in a way neither of them expected. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Tane and Avery. Many times it teetered between desperation and devotion, but in the end it results in a relationship that brought them both to a sacred place.

Salt & Storm is a beautifully written book that weaves a story so magical and dream-like that is echoed the way in which Kulper writes. This book is filled with gorgeous passages and it truly felt like I was reading someone’s dreams and that Kulper’s purpose in her writing was to weave a spell around her reader. If you enjoy historical fiction mixed with fantasty, and descriptive world-building then I strongly encourage you to give this one a read. It’s mesmerizing.

Love It

Waiting on…The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

Ya’ll, this book is getting MAJOR love on the interwebs! I’ve been seeing some seriously positive reviews out there and am sooo pumped that I was lucky enough to get my hands on an eGalley (shout out to NetGalley and Little Brown)! So stay tuned for a review from yours truly as we get closer to the release date.

I mean, the cover alone is enough to make you want to read this book right? Although, I may have liked the original cover better. But, I digress. The first thing that really caught my eye about The Walled City is that it features a female person of color as the main character! WOOP WOOP for diverse books! This book sounds like it’s going to be a non-stop, fast paced story and hopefully Jin will join my list of favorite bad-ass female characters. I just wish there was a teeeeny bit more information about this book in the description below. I want more!!

***

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Expected publication: November 4th 2014 by Little, Brown
Pages: 432 | Pre-order this book

There are three rules in the Walled City: Run fast. Trust no one. Always carry your knife. Right now, my life depends completely on the first. Run, run, run. 

Jin, Mei Yee, and Dai all live in the Walled City, a lawless labyrinth run by crime lords and overrun by street gangs. Teens there run drugs or work in brothels—or, like Jin, hide under the radar. But when Dai offers Jin a chance to find her lost sister, Mei Yee, she begins a breathtaking race against the clock to escape the Walled City itself.

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Waiting on Wednesday: Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

The first thing that caught my eye about this book was the cover. I immediately got a sense of what type of read it would be based on the font style, as well as the image and color selections. It all comes together so perfectly for such a gorgeous cover. I’m anxious to see how it looks in real life and can only imagine the dust cover is going to be gorg and curious to see what’s beneath it! Ohhh…that sounded dirty!

OK, enough swooning over the cover! As I started to read the description of the book, I realized it has all the elements I look for in a great fantasy book! Historical Romance? Check! Witches? Check! Tatooed boy? CHECK! I am so thrilled that Little Brown approved me for title on NetGalley and look forward to the day I can curl up and devour this novel.

How about you? Does Salt & Storm seem like a book you would enjoy? What about the summary appeals to you? Oh…and isn’t that cover stunning?

 ***

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
September 23rd 2014 by Little Brown
Pages: 416 | Pre-order this book

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder–and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island’s whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she’s to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane–a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

 

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

ARC Review: The Young World by Chris Weitz

source: goodreads

source: goodreads

The Young World by Chris Weitz

Publication: 7/29/14 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 384
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley and Little Brown
Purchase this book

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind. The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined. 

 

I was provided with an ARC of this title by Little Brown & NetGalley
in exchange for an honest review.

I’m going to be perfectly honest with ya’ll and say that I really have NO CLUE how I’m supposed to rate this book. It’s not that it was a bad book. As a matter of fact, I think it was a pretty decent book on the whole but perhaps just not the right book for me. So many times while reading I had to stop and question whether or not I wanted to continue, but something kept me going. It’s for that feeling alone that I can’t say definitively that I didn’t enjoy it. I guess I’ll just have to say…it wasn’t you The Young World, it was me.

What I Liked…

The diversity of the characters was refreshing and added to the dynamic of the story. Jefferson, the main male character, is of Asian descent and there are also many other minorities featured heavily throughout the book. The main female character, Donna, is ANYTHING but a damsel in distress, and it was nice to see the typical gender roles turned on their head to be explored from a totally different angle. So for those reasons I give the author kudos. He incorporated characters from all walks of life into his storyline and I believe it added to the authenticity of the relationships.

The world building in this novel was pretty on point and I certainly got a picture of what a post-apocalyptic New York City would look like after a worldwide pandemic virtually wipes out humankind, save a small population of teenagers. As the novel progresses different areas of the city; iconic landmarks, dirty alleyways, abandoned hotels and office buildings, and even the vast subway system are fully developed into backdrops for the journey Jefferson and his tribe embark upon. For each new community we visit, we are introduced to a completely new population of teenagers with their own rules, rituals and behaviors. It’s really fascinating.

What I Didn’t Like…

It’s really hard to say. The more distance I get from the book, the more I can appreciate the grittier aspects and in-your-face style of writing. I mean, it definitely served a purpose. These kids aren’t living in the world as we know it. They’ve seen their families killed off one by one and are now dealing with a world that is harsh and violent one that will ultimately end in death. So naturally I can understand why they’re as hardened as they’ve become. Cults, militias, gangs, tribes…whatever you want to call it, these kids have been forced into a new way of life that is horrific at best.

That being said, I just don’t particularly enjoy these kinds of books. Let’s face it, The Hunger Games is really as intense or violent as I want to get and this novel was like if you took Katniss and Peeta, turned them into foul-mouthed, intense killers and dropped them into a disease-ridden metropolis filled with other criminals, killers and rapists. Oh…that’s another thing  I wasn’t very fond of. The rape culture in this world is pretty intense and there were times where I wanted to put the book down just because of that.

Did I Like This Book?

Gahhh…I just don’t know! Some aspects of it I truly enjoyed and as I got closer and closer to the end I definitely found myself getting more invested. The book ends on a serious cliffhanger and I wouldn’t be surprised if my curiosity gets the best of me and I pick up book two when it comes out to see what happens. I just don’t know if I would have even started this book in the first place had I know how intense it was going to be. When I read the summary I was all “heck yeah…this is my kind of book”, but then I started reading and was all “orrrr maybe not”. I really feel like it should come with one of those disclaimers you see before shows on HBO.

source: theatlantic.com

source: theatlantic.com

I don’t know if I would even consider this is YA novel but it’s listed as such and has an age range of 13-17 years old. I know for a fact that I would NOT want my 13-year-old nephew reading this book….but that’s just me. I had a hard time reconciling the fact that this book is going to be marketed to younger teens, as I would say this book strikes me as having 17 years old and up subject matter. There are some graphic descriptions of killings and the whole story has a very intense and savage feel to it.

So that’s my (long-winded) way of saying, while I didn’t hate the book, it definitely wasn’t my favorite and it certainly is NOT the kind of book I would normally read. However, if you do enjoy dystopian novels that are raw and intense than you may want to give this one a shot.