Returning to Blogger Celebration & Giveaway!!

So, I have some news! News that makes me extremely happy… and should, hopefully, result in some perks for my blog readers as well!

Why I’m celebrating…

I used blogger.com to host The Hiding Spot from 2007 until November/December of 2013. I always really liked using blogger (I’m not very tech savvy and blogger was super easy for me!), but then my RSS feed stopped working. And, try as I might, I could not fix it. Well, last night after an epic hours long Skype session with one of my besties, Sabrina from I Heart YA Fiction, in which I complained quite a bit about my frustration with WordPress and how much I missed Blogger, we decided to try to fix my Blogger RSS feed. When we finally gave up at 4am, we thought we’d failed. But, this morning, we discovered things were working! I’m not exactly sure what we did that worked, but, in all honesty, I don’t even care. I’m just happy my blogger blog is up and running again because I am, admittedly, extremely attached my original blog!

What happens next…

Well, I’m moving back over to Blogger. I’m hoping that those of you who have become recent followers of The Hiding Spot, those of you who found me once I switched over to WordPress, will stick with me and follow me over at my original blog. If you follow me here, you’ll have to resubscribe over at the blogger site, but I have quick links in the sidebar to follow via Bloglovin’, Email, and Networked blogs.

Why you should follow me back to blogger (aka BRIBES)…

Even though I’m extremely happy to be moving back to Blogger, I was really sad to be leaving some of you behind. I’ve met some really great bloggers during my short time using WordPress and I don’t want to lose you all! So, to sweeten the pot, I’m hosting a giveaway for some really great upcoming books from a variety of publishers:

this side of salvationmy last kissto all the boys i've loved beforeelusionhalf badkiller instinctthe nethergrimmouseheart

How to win…

Head over to my original blog HERE and fill out the rafflecopter form. The main requirement is that you subscribe to The Hiding Spot using one of the methods over at the other site. There are, as always, options to gain additional entries! There will be 4 winners total. The first winner will pick two books, the the second winner will be contacted and pick two from the remaining 6 books, etc.

Review: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

avalonTitle: Avalon

Author: Mindee Arnett

Publisher: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins

Pub. Date: January 21, 2014

Genre: Young Adult

Rec. Age Level: 13+

Add to Goodreads

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Jeth Seagrave used to live a normal, relatively comfortable life, but that all changed after his parents were accused of treason and killed. Left in the dubious care of his uncle, who gambled away Avalon, Jeth’s parents’ ship, and, by extension, Jeth’s future, Jeth is left with few options. Jeth captains a crew of teenaged mercenaries who work for one of the most powerful crime bosses in the galaxy. The ragtag team is unassuming and remarkably good at their job: stealing unsecured metatech, a hot ticket item on the black market, that allows ships to travel quickly and under the radar of the government. Jeth saves every penny he earns and dreams of one day buying Avalon back from the man who controls him. His dreams are almost within reach when he’s offered one final job, use Avalon to travel into a dangerous patch of galaxy, where rumors of missing ships and strange happening abound, and locate a lost ship with invaluable metatech aboard. What seems like a straightforward, if dangerous, job soon spirals out of control when Jeth uncovers hidden truths about his parents, the government, and the technology he’s spent years hijacking.

One of the biggest reasons I picked up AVALON is how similar it sounded to Joss Whedon’s FIREFLY. And, I can assure you, it has the same feel. My only complaint? The action in AVALON is much slower. Honestly, it was too slow for me. I could easily set this book aside and never felt any great pull to pick it up again. I kept hoping that it would pick up, but, in my opinion, it never did.

Otherwise, I enjoyed AVALON. The characters are interesting, the premise promising, and the background compelling. But, without the pull of action, this book fell short of my expectations.

Would I read another book set in this world? Possibly, if it didn’t depend heavily on the events of AVALON… because I worry that I won’t remember enough detail from this book and it’s unlikely that I would reread this book first. If there was another book that could function as a standalone, I’d give it a shot because I genuinely do enjoy Arnett’s writing and the premise of AVALON.

This book wasn’t well-suited to my tastes, but I think there are some readers out there who will really love it.

Cover Reveal: The Cellar by Natasha Preston

Today, Sourcebooks is revealing the cover for debut author Natasha Preston’s forthcoming novel, THE CELLAR. A version of the upcoming novel was first published by Preston on Wattpad and garnered more than 7 million views! The new novel promises a few new surprises, which fans can look forward to seeing in March!

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About THE CELLAR:

Nothing ever happens in the town of Long Thorpe – that is, until sixteen-year-old Summer Robinson disappears without a trace.  No family or police investigation can track her down.  Spending months inside the cellar of her kidnapper with several other girls, Summer learns of Colin’s abusive past, and his thoughts of his victims being his family…his perfect, pure flowers.  But flowers can’t survive long cut off from the sun, and time is running out….

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And, now, the big reveal:

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Were you one of the readers who first experienced THE CELLAR on Wattpad? If yes, what do you think about the announcement of new surprises?

For those just hearing about this book, what do you think of the premise and newly released cover treatment?

Best YA of 2013

Every December I pick my 10 favorite books of the year… In previous years, I’ve pretty much read only YA with some Adult thrown in, but, this year, I’ve read lots of MG and Picture books as well, which makes things a little more complicated. I’ve decided to do separate lists for each genre, starting with YA. Below are my 10 favorite YA books published in 2013. Click on the cover to add each book on Goodreads!

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tulcholke

between the devil and the deep blue seaViolet White comes from old money, but that money has run out, along with her artistic, free spirit parents, who have left Violet and her brother living penniless in the faded family estate. When Violet decides to take on a renter for the guest house behind the estate, she doesn’t expect it to be filled so quickly, nor by someone as magnetic and mysterious as River West, the new face in Echo. Despite the odd and terrible events that seem to follow in River’s wake, Violet finds herself pulled to this boy with his lazy charm and unreliable stories. But River isn’t what he seems… or perhaps he’s exactly what he seems. The devil takes on many forms and, in Echo, he just may be a teenaged boy with a crooked smile. A gorgeous setting and lush writing coupled with the horror and a mystery that spans decades makes Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea impossible to put down, even when the suspense of what might be lurking on the next page grips the reader with fear.

The Vow by Jessica Martinez

the vowAnnie and Mo have been best friends since Annie came to Mo’s rescue in elementary school after an unfortunate pants wetting incident. Ever since, the two have been inseparable. Mo is sarcastic and super focused on his future. Annie is the good daughter, careful to never upset her parents, who keep her close after the violent loss of Annie’s older sister years before. When Mo’s father loses his job, the entire family faces deportation back to Jordan. Despite the fact that Mo has grown up in the US and considers himself American, he will be forced to return to Jordan as well. Annie can’t imagine life without Mo and Mo can’t imagine leaving Annie, not to mention everything he’s worked so hard for in the US, so they devise a desperate plan: marriage. Perhaps unsurprisingly, their solution isn’t as simple as they first assume. Marriage is never simple, especially when it’s done secretly and in less than legal circumstances. The fallout of their actions affect Mo and Annie’s lives in ways they hadn’t expected and may not be ready to handle.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

two boys kissingTwo Boys Kissing tells many different stories, but all are tied to Harry and Craig, two boys who used to date and are attempting to break the world record for longest kiss. The boys are trying to make statement and are inspired by a friend who was attacked and beat for being gay and alone on a dark street. The stories of other boys are interwoven, including that of two boys who have just met (one of whom is transgender), two boys who have been dating and are dealing with the everyday difficulties of long-term relationships and secrets, and another boy who has yet to come out and struggles with self-loathing. Throughout the novel, a greek chorus composed of gay men who died of AIDS, offers insight into the past, present, and future of gay individuals and the gay community.

Eat, Brains, Love by Jeff Hart

eat brains loveEat, Brains, Love is told from two different perspectives: Jake, the recently undead, and Cass, the psychic government operative who hunts the undead. Jake’s on the run with Amanda Blake, his super popular classmate, who just happened to turn zombie during the same lunch period as he did. After eating half of their friends and peers in a zombie haze, Amanda and Jake revert back to the normal, clear-headed selves with no other option but to flee. Enter Cass, who works for a secret government team that cleans up situation like the one just created by Jake and Amanda. The team tracks down and takes out the zombies, but not before altering the memories of the humans involved so they overlook that zombies exist at all. Cass has been doing this job for years and she’s proud of it – she keeps people safe and gets rid of monsters – but, with Jake, Cass finds herself doubting everything she’s always believed. Cass’s psychic abilities allow her inside Jake’s head and she’s surprised by what she finds there. Sure, he’s a zombie and he’s killed a growing number of people, but he’s also just a guy. A guy that Cass can’t help but like and who, at least most of the time, doesn’t seem like a zombie at all. While Cass struggles with her connection to Jake, he and Amanda are struggling with the unexpected turn their lives have taken, the guilt from having massacred their friends, and the hunger that sometimes fades, but always returns.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

the testingThe novel follows Cia, a mechanically gifted girl who has been chosen to participate in The Testing, which is a means of determining which individuals from various parts of the United Commonwealth will be able to continue their education at university and eventually become an important leader. Only a very small number of individuals are selected to compete in The Testing and most individuals know they will never be chosen, even if they dream of the honor. Cia hopes to be selected, like her father once was, but knows her chances are slim. When she learns that she, and three others from her district have earned a spot in the competition, she’s amazed and incredibly proud – and is confused as to why her parents seem less than excited. Before she leaves for the capital, her father takes her aside and shares one of his deepest fears: that the testing is not the dream that it seems. He reveals to her that, while participants minds are wiped after they’ve completed the testing, he’s been left with terrifying nightmares that he fears may be lingering memories rather than products of an overactive imagination. With this knowledge now lodged in her mind, Cia leaves for The Testing, anxious and guarded. She soon learns that her father was correct to fear The Testing and that she’ll need to use everything in her to survive.

Reboot (Reboot #1) by Amy Tintera

rebootAfter just one book, I’m already a fan of Amy Tintera and her writing! I found her debut, Reboot, to be an absolutely stunning dystopian offering with a strong romantic plot line and well-placed humor to balance the novel’s darkness and violence. The main character, Wren, is known the most deadly and dangerous of the Reboots by her peers and the HARC, the corporation which effectively rules the Republic of Texas. Reboots, which at first might sound suspiciously like zombies, are actually quite different. In the novel, it’s briefly theorized that Reboots may be more advanced humans whose bodies had the capabilities to manipulate the virus that swept through the population. Their deaths were actually more akin to a resting period – or incubation period, perhaps – for the virus and that, instead of killing them, it made them stronger, both physically and mentally (if you count less emotion as a strength). Reboots, however, are no longer considered humans but Other (by both the HARC and the remaining human population) and have become slaves tasked with hunting down and capturing or killing human criminals.

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

if you find meIf You Find Me tells the heartbreaking story of Carey and her little sister, Jenessa, who have been kept away from people and civilization – and often completely alone in the wilderness – by their addict mother. The girls often fend for themselves, as their mother regularly disappears for long stretches of time, but, as the novel opens, they’re nearing the end of their food stores and Carey is starting to worry about what will happen if their mother doesn’t reappear. Things take a turn when a social worker and Carey’s estranged father find the girls, as directed in a letter by Carey’s mother, and take them back to live with him. The girls are thankful that they’re still together and that they’re warm and fed, but things are still complicated. Jenessa still refuses to speak (she’s been selectively mute since something happened to the girls during their time in the wilderness) and Carey finds that, while she isn’t behind academically, socially she’s an entirely different wavelength from her peers. She’s either too mature or too naive and she often struggles to adjust to the new world she’s so suddenly entered.

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

pretty girl 13Liz Coley’s Pretty Girl-13 reads like a horror novel, but it’s actually realistic fiction – emotional, powerful, horrifying realistic fiction. This debut novel tells the harrowing tale of Angie Chapman, a sixteen year old girl who has been missing for three years after going missing during a Girl Scout camping trip. The novel opens with Angie returning home, with no memory of having been missing for years. She still thinks she’s thirteen and is shocked, and has a difficult time believing, that she’s been missing at all. Thus begins Angie journey to unlocking the mystery of her disappearance and the past three years while learning to live her life again when the world has moved on without her.

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

dualedElsie Chapman’s debut Dualed is one of the best dystopian novels I’ve read since The Hunger Games and Divergent. For me, it was the action, philosophical elements, and strong female heroine of Dualed that put it in the same league as these successful predecessors. In addition to these elements, Chapman offers readers an entirely new world and society to explore… and attempt to comprehend. In West Grayer’s world, every individual has an Alt: a genetic twin. Each twin in raised separately and grows up training to face the other in a fight to the death. Neither knows when they will be pitted against the other or what skills the other might bring to the table. In this forced showdown meant to simulate a “survival of the fittest” scenario, it isn’t always clear who should be considered the “fittest.”

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

not a drop to drinkPost-apocalyptic novels are usually populated with badass characters, but, even so, Lynn from Mindy McGinnis’ Not a Drop to Drink, stands out. Raised by her mother to survive, she’s more likely to shoot first and ask questions later and quickly learns to trust no one except herself. When Lynn’s mother dies in a horrible accident, leaving Lynn completely alone, she can only rely on the lessons her mother taught her and her wits to survive. But Lynn isn’t her mother and she sees shades of gray where her mother only saw black and white. Suddenly, the lessons she thought she could rely on to guide her actions don’t seem to apply and Lynn is a facing a whole different kind of danger: friendship, love, and duty. Lynn develops relationships that introduce her to new found emotions and an unfamiliar sense of connectedness… and, suddenly, her survival might not be the most important goal.

Did any of my favorites make your 2013 list of favorites too? Feel free to share your Best of 2013 with me via the comments! Stay tuned for my favorite MG and Picture Books of 2013.

Check out my Favorite MG Reads of 2013 here!

SOLD! Recently Acquired, Forthcoming Reads for your TBR

Stressed about the future? Check out the rights report and feel your anxiety melt away. More amazing books to read, that’s what your future holds! Don’t forget to add these forthcoming titles to your Goodreads to-read and wishlist shelves!

Young Adult

That Monstrous Thing by Amanda Panitch

ImageMichelle Nagler at Random House has bought, in a pre-empt, a debut novel by Amanda Panitch, called That Monstrous Thing; Chelsea Eberly. The book was pitched in the vein of a YA Gone Girl, about a girl who survived her twin brother’s murderous rampage only to discover that her dark secret survived as well. Publication is set for spring 2015; Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House did the two-book deal for world rights. Add to Goodreads.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

ImageDaniel Ehrenhaft at Soho Teen has acquired world English rights to Adam Silvera‘s debut novel, More Happy Than Not. Pitched as a YA Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the story follows 16-year-old Aaron Soto’s growing up in the Bronx (where Silvera also grew up), just after the advent of a procedure that folds memories to soften the blow of traumatic experiences – of which Aaron has many. Publication is scheduled for fall 2015. Brooks Sherman of Fine Print Literary Management brokered the deal. Add to Goodreads.

The Trouble with Destiny and My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill

lauren morrillWendy Loggia at Delacorte Press has bought North American rights to two books by Lauren Morrill, author of Meant to Be. In the first book, The Trouble with Destiny, described as Pitch Perfect meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream on a cruise, a drum major must save her school band and navigate romantic disasters when their ship gets stranded at sea. In My Unscripted Life, a sarcastic girl finds herself falling for a celebrity who is filming his next movie in her small town. Publication is planned for fall 2015 and fall 2016, respectively. Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media did the deal on behalf of Paper Lantern Lit. Add to Goodreads.

Your Machine Anatomy by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

moskowitz helgesonTamra Tuller at Chronicle has bought world rights to Your Machine Anatomy by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson. The YA novel follows the unlikely friendship of two young women forged via fan fiction and message boards, and is told entirely in texts, chats, and blog posts. Publication is planned for 2016; John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary brokered the deal. Add to Goodreads.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

teresa totenBeverly Horowitz at Delacorte Press has acquired Teresa Toten’s The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award. Pitched as Eleanor & Park meets The Rosie Project, the story combines romance and whodunit elements but also features teens dealing with OCD. Publication is set for spring 2015; Marie Campbell at the Transatlantic Agency did the deal. Add to Goodreads.

All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen

susin nielsenWendy Lamb at Random House has acquired U.S. rights, at auction, to We Are All Made of Molecules and an untitled YA novel by Susin Nielsen, winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award. The story is told by brilliant but socially challenged Stewart, 13, and Ashley, mean queen of the ninth grade. Stewart’s mother died two years ago, and he has just moved into the home of his father’s new girlfriend and her daughter – Ashley. Publication is scheduled for spring 2015; Hilary McMahon of Westwood Creative Artists was the agent. Add to Goodreads.

Tansy Summer by Amber Kizer

amber kizerStacey Barney at Putnam has acquired North American rights to Tansy Summer, YA author Amber Kizer‘s first foray into middle grade. After she is sent away from her home, Tansy, a selective mute, gains the confidence to speak again through a friend, her loving aunt and uncle, and a project raising free-range chickens. Publication is set for summer 2015. Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio negotiated the two-book deal. Add to Goodreads.

Invincible Wild by Jessica Taylor

jessica taylorAlison Weiss at Egmont USA has bought debut author Jessica Taylor‘s YA novel, Invincible Wild. In the story, a teenage girl from a family of Wanderers must choose between the rambling way of life she’s always known and the townie boy she falls. Publication is set for fall 2015; Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency did the deal for world English rights. Add to Goodreads.

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonne-Sue Hitchcock

bonnie-sue hitchcockWendy Lamb at Random House has acquired The Smell of Other People’s Houses, a debut YA novel of interlocking stories set in 1970s Alaska by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, a third-generation Alaskan and journalist for Alaska Public Radio. Cassie misses her father, lost in a plane crash. Her sister Ruth has a secret. Hank and his brothers have stowed away on a ferry that will put them all in danger. And Dumpling Moses is missing, but no one will find Dumpling until these teens – and others – put their stories together. Publication is scheduled for fall 2015. Molly Ker Hawn of the Bent Agency did the deal for USCPOM rights. Add to Goodreads.

Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel

anne heltzelMargaret Raymo at HMH has bought North American rights to a new YA novel by Anne Heltzel, a former editor at Razorbill. Charlie, Presumed Dead is the story of two teenage girls who meet at the funeral of Charlie Pryce, presumed dead after an explosion on a college campus. When the girls realize they both thought they were Charlie’s one true love, the secrets of his double life are unraveled – and it’s possible they’ve walked into a trap he’s laid for them. Publication is scheduled for spring 2015; Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media did the deal. Add to Goodreads.

Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

jackie lea sommersJill Davis at HarperCollins’s Katherine Tegen Books preempted North American rights to two books by debut novelist Jackie Lea Sommers, in a six-figure deal. The first novel, Truest, will be published in 2016 and tells the story of Westlin, a pastor’s daughter, and her complicated relationships with Silas, a young writer new to town, and Laurel, his mysterious twin sister. It’s billed as a novel of “summer love, small-town secrets, and the darker side of philosophy.” Steven Chudney from the Chudney Agency brokered the deal. Add to Goodreads.

dotwav by Mike A. Lancaster

mike a lancasterAlison Weiss at Egmont has acquired dotwav, a YA sci-fi thriller by Mike A. Lancaster (Human.4 and The Future We Left Behind). In the book, a female hacker joins forces with a member of a secret teen government agency to uncover a sound embedded in music that’s being used to control fans. Publication is scheduled for fall 2015; Becky Bagnell at Lindsay Literary negotiated the deal for North American rights. Add to Goodreads.

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by Various (anthology)

Jessica Garrison at Dial bought world rights at auction to a YA horror anthology, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. The collection features a large number of authors, including April Tucholke, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Kami Garcia, Carrie Ryan, Nova Ren Suma, A.G. Howard, Cat Winters, Stefan Bachman, Jay Kristoff, Kendare Blake, McCormick Templeman, and Megan Shepherd, and tells tales of gritty girls fighting back, seeking revenge, and claiming their victims. Publication is planned for fall 2015; Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary & Media brokered the deal for world rights. Add to Goodreads.

Middle Grade

The 8th Continent by Matt London

ImageGillian Levinson at Razorbill acquired world rights to The 8th Continent, first in a middle-grade series by debut author Matt London. The story – pitched as Despicable Me meets Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? – follows a brother and sister who are working to turn the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into a utopic eighth continent where their family can start afresh and plants and animals can thrive. To do so, however, they must outwit bumbling bureaucrats and the villainous Condo Corp, who want to take the eighth continent for themselves in order to create New Miami. The first book is set for September 2014; Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger negotiated the three-book deal. Add on Goodreads.

The Oakwood All-Out Yard War and The Tidings Tree by Taylor Kitchings

ImageWendy Lamb at Random House bought two middle-grade novels by debut author Taylor Kitchings. The Oakwood All-Out Yard War, scheduled for publication in fall 2015, is set in Mississippi in 1964. When 12-year old Trip Westbrook invites his housekeeper’s son Dee to play ball in their front yard, their game reveals the angry racism simmering in their town. The Tidings Tree, to be published in fall 2016, takes place two years later and is told by Trip’s younger sister. Molly Ker Hawn of the Bent Agency held the auction for North American rights. Add to Goodreads.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas

ImageNancy Conescu at Dial has acquired Confessions of an Imaginary Friend, a middle-grade novel by Michelle Cuevas. Nobody likes Jacques Papier besides his sister; when he comes across a cowgirl at the park and she informs him that he’s an imaginary friend, just like her, Jacques’s world is forever changed. It’s scheduled for publication in 2015; Emily van Beek of Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management negotiated the deal for world English rights. Add to Goodreads.

The Poet’s Daughter by Garrett Freymann-Weyr

garret freymann-weyrSarah Dotts Barley at HarperCollins has bought Printz-Honor winner Garret Freymann-Weyr‘s first foray into middle-grade fiction, The Poet’s Daughter. It tells the story of a young girl and an old dragon who meet in a hotel bar in Vienna and develop an instant camaraderie – and together learn how to live in the space between how the world is and how we wish it would be. Publication is scheduled for 2015; Holly McGhee at Pippin Properties did the two-book deal for North American rights. Add to Goodreads.

A Better Kind of Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

dan gemeinhartNick Eliopulos at Scholastic has acquired A Better Kind of Truth and a second, untitled middle-grade novel from debut author Dan Gemeinhart. When Mark discovers that his childhood illness has returned, he runs away with his dog rather than go back into treatment. Only after turning his back on everything he knows does he find the will to live and the strength to fight – but is it too late? Publication is planned for spring 2015. Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Foreword Literary did the deal for world rights; Foreword retains film and TV rights, which are being managed by Brandy Rivers of the Gersh Agency. Add to Goodreads.

Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den by Aimee Carter

aimee carterCatherine Onder at Bloomsbury U.S. and Ellen Holgate at Bloomsbury U.K. have acquired world English rights in a combined six-figure pre-empt to Simon Thorn, an action-adventure middle-grade fantasy series by Aimee Carter, author of YA novel The Goddess Test. Simon Thorn is a bullied 12-year-old boy who discovers he is part of a secret race of humans born with the ability to turn into animals, and who may be the key to peace among five warring animal kingdoms. The first title, Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den, is scheduled for a simultaneous U.S./U.K. publication in fall 2015. The three-book deal was brokered by Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio in the U.S., and Alex Webb of Rights People in the U.K. on behalf of Stimola. Add to Goodreads.

Which of these YA and MG titles are you most excited about?

**All rights reports are taken directly from PW**

Review: Life by Committee

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Title: Life by Committe

Author: Corey Ann Haydu

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins

Pub. Date: 4/23/2014

Genre: Contemporary YA

Recommended Age: 14+

More by author: OCD Love Story

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A lot has changed for Tabitha in the last few months. Suddenly, guys have started to notice her… and she can’t say she doesn’t like the attention. Her friends, on the other hand, are less than thrilled. Tabitha insists she’s still the same person, just, ya know, better looking and with a sense of style, but her friends are convinced she’s traveling down a dark and dangerous path. Still, it’s hard not to wonder if maybe there is something wrong with you when you’re constantly being judged and critiqued by your former best friend. Plus, Tab does have a secret that might damn her if others new about it… She’s falling for a boy. A boy that has a girlfriend. And he might be falling for her too. To distract herself from her all too complicated life, Tab loses – and finds – herself in the annotations of used classics. When her father brings her home a copy of The Secret Garden, Tab finds the previous owner is a kindred spirit with secrets of her own. Within the pages of the book, Tab finds an online community that will change how she lives her life – for better or worse.

One of the reasons I adored Life by Committee so much was because of the strength of the main character, Tabitha. Not only is she ridiculously bookish, which I’m sure many readers will relate to, she’s also very honest and strives to stay to herself. Even when Tabitha’s ex-friends have disowned her and are constantly attacking her choices (how she dresses, who she is friends with, who she is), she never apologizes being herself – flaws and all! This book perfectly illustrates the oft used phrase friends and parents use any time situations like this arise: “Don’t worry, they’re just jealous.” Tab’s ex-friends make a valiant attempt at slut shaming her and, while it’s obvious that Tab is hurt by it, she never lets them win.

I especially loved that one of the reasons Tabitha was so comfortable with being herself was because of her parents. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book in which the main character’s parents were like Tabitha’s… They were teen parents and, though they definitely made (and make) some mistakes throughout the novel, you can tell that they really try to understand and support her.

Tabitha definitely has a flaw or two as well. Namely her relationship with a very taken guy. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to really judge her. To me, he was the one who was being sleazy and playing on her feelings. What she did wasn’t right, but Tabitha’s situation showcases how difficult it can be to make smart choices when your emotions take over and you feel like you’re in love for the first time. And, I think Tab provides a perfect example of why slut shaming is not okay. She didn’t set out to hurt anyone, nor did like being with someone in a relationship. Not once is the boy, who is also participating in the affair, called a slut or shamed at all for his actions. I think it’s incredibly important that teens (and adults!) realize that there is always more to a situation. And even if a girl does set out to ruin a relationship or have an affair, there are always two participants. And slut shaming will never undo the damage or help in any way.

Life by Committee has a Post Secret vibe happening that I adored. There is something incredibly liberating about anonymously sharing your secrets with strangers. And something horribly terrifying about the possibility of someone you know finding out your secrets. It’s easy to imagine Tabitha being pulled in to the secret-driven community she finds online, especially with the burden of her inappropriate relationship that she’s been holding in. When Tabitha joins the community and spills her secret – that she’s kissed a boy who has a girlfriend – she’s given the assignment of kissing him again. She feels completely adrift… being given direction (and permission to pursue the relationship) would have been intoxicating. Plus, Tab is painfully lonely. Sharing secrets bonds people, giving Tab a sense of companionship, something she desperately missed.

Review: Control

controlTitle: Control

Author: Lydia Kang

Publisher: Dial/Penguin

Pub. Date: December 26, 2013

Genre: YA

Rec. Age Level: 12+

More by author: n/a

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The year is 2150 and Zel, her younger sister Dyl, and their father are, once again, moving. The trio moves often, jumping from one state to the next, but this time is different. This time, Zel’s father is acting different and doesn’t seem to have a clear cut plan… and things go from bad to worse when, shortly into their trip, their vehicle is slammed into and totaled. Zel’s father doesn’t make it through the accident and, then, Zel and Dyl are mysteriously tested and then forcibly separated. Zel’s life is quickly spinning out of control. She’s lost her father and her sister and is suddenly overwhelmed with the knowledge that there are individuals, Dyl included, with mutated genes that give them special abilities and powers. Dyl has been taken by Aureus, a group that seeks to exploit her abilities, but first they must figure out what those powers are. As Zel races the clock to uncover the secrets hidden within Dyl’s DNA, she forms unexpected bonds with a group of mutated kids her father and new guardian, Marka, have kept hidden and safe from the evil clutches of Aureus and discovers shocking truths about her past, present, and future.

Lydia Kang’s debut has been compared to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies books, but, to me, it had a similar feel to Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers books. Ultimately, Control was not what I expected. It’s been a long time – probably since I read the Darkest Powers books – since I’ve read something quite like this. There is something that I can only describe as gritty happening within the pages of this novel. The characters aren’t perfect or stereotypically beautiful or attractive, but, as you sink further into the world and story, you find your idea of what is beautiful and attractive changing. The love interest, who you might not normally label attractive or “hot” is suddenly your biggest crush, even though your were a bit miffed about his looks at the start of the book. I love that. As Zel comes to appreciate the unique qualities and outward appearances of the kids she meets, we, the readers, do too!

As much as I loved all the secondary characters in Control, I did find myself frustrated with Zel quite often. I suppose, if she would have been smart all the time, not much would have actually happened in the book, but she really had an issue with thinking things through. That drove me absolutely bonkers sometimes, as she regularly made situations much worse than they had to be by being stubborn and not listening to reason. Still, I had to admire her determination and unfailing love for her sister.

I’ll definitely be reading next installment of Zel’s story, Catalyst, which is slated for a 2014 release. She changed a lot through the course of the novel and I came to appreciate her strength by the final pages. I’m excited to read what other kids with powers exist that Zel and her group are sure to meet!

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