Book Review: We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the Beatles-inspired romantic comedy that launched her writing career, with We Can Work It Out, a charming and delightful follow-up to her debut novel, The Lonely Hearts Club.

we can work it outWhen Penny Lane started The Lonely Hearts Club, the goal was simple: to show that girls didn’t need to define themselves by how guys look at them, and didn’t have to value boyfriends over everything else. Penny thought she’d be an outcast for life…but then the club became far more popular than she ever imagined it would be.

But what happens when the girl who never thought she’d date a good guy suddenly finds herself dating a great one? She doesn’t need a boyfriend… but she wants it to work out with this particular boyfriend. And he wants it to work out with her.

Only, things keep getting in the way. Feelings keep getting hurt. Words keep getting misunderstood.

Penny Lane worked hard to declare her independence. Now she needs to figure out what to do with it — and how to balance what she wants with what everyone else wants. In We Can Work It Out, Elizabeth Eulberg returns to the world of her first novel, The Lonely Hearts Club, and gets to the heart of how hard relationships can be… and why they are sometimes worth all the drama and comedy they create.

Eulberg is the queen of the YA rom-com, and We Can Work It Out is a shining example of her mastery of this fun and light-hearted genre. She cleverly tackles the ups and downs of a relationship, spotlighting the struggle I think everyone has: balancing couple-time with friendships, family, and other responsibilities. (Lord knows, it’s something my husband and I are always working on!)

It’s hard to read We Can Work It Out (or any of Eulberg’s books, really) without a smile on your face — even as you cringe through some of Penny’s more embarrassing situations. She remains an instantly likeable, easily-relatable character — one who readers can root for, and learn from.

It was also easy to dive into We Can Work It Out, and reconnect with Penny and her friends — despite several years having passed since first reading The Lonely Hearts Club. Eulberg does an excellent job of orienting readers and making sure no one feels lost — whether you’ve read The Lonely Hearts Club recently, or ages ago.

We Can Work It Out is a delightful charmer that’s not to be missed. Look for it in stores, January 27th.

5-Year Anniversary: YA Swag Bag #2 Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features YA Swag Bag #2, and includes:

  • St. Lucy t-shirt from The Blessed series by Tonya Hurley
  • The Hunger Games watch
  • Afterworlds chapter sampler
  • Matched series poster
  • Harper Teen audio book sampler
  • Eclipse stickers, pen, bracelets & button
  • New Moon trading cards
  • Messenger of Fear playing cards
  • Earbuds
  • The Body in the Woods rescue whistle
  • Defy the Dark bracelet
  • The Selection series keychain
  • Bookplate signed by Lisa Schroeder
  • Jenny Han signed postcard
  • Assorted YA bookmarks, stickers & temporary tattoos

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks.

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To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us what you use for a bookmark in the comments below.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Thursday, January 29th.

Book Review: A Cold Legacy by Megan Shepherd

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Megan Shepherd’s twist on three classic Gothic novels comes to a chilling conclusion with A Cold Legacy, the third and final book in the Madman’s Daughter trilogy.

cold legacyAfter killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.

In book 1 of this series, Shepherd offered her own twist on the classic novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, then followed it up with a twist on Dr. Jekyl & Mr. Hyde. Here, she concludes the trilogy with a daring take on Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein — cleverly weaving together all the elements she has built up into on climactic finale.

A Cold Legacy sees Shepherd both pay tribute to Shelley’s novel, and give it her own unique spin — all while weaving together an ending for her characters, who have survived some insane situations. The madness deepens in A Cold Legacy, as Juliet struggles to decide who she is, and whether or not she can fight fate — or make her own.

As with the other books in this series, Shepherd displays a mastery of the Gothic style — writing clever, modern books that would fit in perfectly with other tomes written during Shelley’s time period. A Cold Legacy is an enticing, new way to approach the Frankenstein story — indeed, teachers would be wise to consider using this book as an entry point for readers hesitant to dive into Shelley’s novel.

A Cold Legacy is in stores January 27th.

5-Year Anniversary: Duologies Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features Duologies, (that is, book series made up of only TWO books) and includes:

  • THE PROGRAM and THE TREATMENT by Suzanne Young (both signed)
  • STARTERS and ENDERS by Lissa Price

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

Duologies Prize Pack
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us in the comments below about your favorite duology.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Wednesday, January 28th.

5-Year Anniversary: Series Starters Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features Series Starters, that is, the first two books in two different series, and includes:

  • PRECIOUS BLOOD and PASSIONARIES by Tonya Hurley
  • UNBREAKABLE (signed) and UNMARKED by Kami Garcia

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

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To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us in the comments below your favorite YA series.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Tuesday, January 27th.

New YA Releases: January 20, 2015

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Here’s a look at today’s new YA releases:

fight for powerFight for Power by Eric Walters

The world keeps getting darker in this second reality-based survival adventure in the Rule of Three trilogy

After sixty-six days of a catastrophic global blackout, life in the suburbs is not what it used to be for Adam and his fortified neighborhood of Eden Mills. Although an explosive clash has minimized one threat from outside the walls, Adam’s battle-hardened mentor, Herb, continues to make decisions in the name of security that are increasingly wrenching and questionable. Like his police chief mom and others, Adam will follow Herb’s lead. But when the next threat comes from an unexpected direction, nobody is ready for it. And someone is going to pay the price—because of Adam’s mistakes and mistaken trust.

alex as wellAlex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that. Heartbreaking and droll in equal measures, Alex As Well is a brilliantly told story of exploring gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.

bad influenceBad Influence by William Sutcliffe

Meet Carl: cruel, fun, exciting – a bit older than you, and totally in control. Your best friend: Ollie, likes Carl – maybe even more than he likes you. You don’t want to lose Ollie, so you tag along: playing Carl’s games, doing what he says, getting into trouble. But how far will Carl go before he stops? And just how bad does he have to get before you say No?

mutant cityMutant City by Steve Feasey

Fifty years ago, the world was almost destroyed by a chemical war. Now the world is divided: the mutants and the pure, the broken and the privileged, the damaged and the perfect.

Thirteen years ago, a covert government experimental facility was shut down and its residents killed. The secrets it held died with them. But five extraordinary kids survived.

Today four teenagers are about to discover that their mutant blood brings with it special powers. Rush and three brothers and sisters he can’t remember. Two rival factions are chasing them. One by one, they face the enemy. Together, they might just stay alive . . .

tunnel visionTunnel Vision by Susan Adrian

Romance and action come crashing together when a teenage boy with incredible powers is brought to the attention of the government.

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

five stages of andrew brawleyThe Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.

Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.

Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.

But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

A partly graphic novel.

twisted fateTwisted Fate by Norah Olson

When Alyson meets Graham Copeland, the new boy next door, she instantly feels like he’s a kindred spirit—shy and awkward like her, someone who has trouble making friends. It’s impossible to resist having a crush on him.

As usual, her sister, Sydney, sees things differently. In Sydney’s mind, Graham’s odd personality and secretive past scream psychopath, not sweetheart. Her gut is telling her to stay away from him, and to protect a love-struck Alyson from her own naïveté. But despite her instincts, Sydney is surprised to realize that a part of her is drawn to Graham, too.

And the more Sydney gets to know him, the more she realizes just how right—and wrong—she is about everything.

Perfect for fans of Michelle Hodkin, and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, Twisted Fate is an unputdownable novel, teeming with suspense.

polarisPolaris by Mindee Arnett

Following the events of Avalon, Jeth Seagrave and his crew are on the run. Jeth is desperate to find the resources and funding he needs to rescue his mother from an ITA’s research lab and leave this whole galaxy behind for a new life somewhere else. But the ITA is just as desperate, and soon Jeth finds himself pursued by a mysterious figure hell-bent on capturing Jeth and his crew—dead or alive. In a last-ditch effort to save everyone he holds dear, Jeth enters into a bargain with the last person he ever thought he’d see again: Dax Shepherd, the galaxy’s newest and most fearsome crime lord. And he’s not the only one: upon arriving back at Peltraz spaceport for the first time since he witnessed the death of his old employer, Jeth discovers Dax has a new partner: Jeth’s mother, Marian.

This shocking turn of events is only the first in another breathless, action-packed sci-fi adventure rife with danger, love, and betrayal, as Jeth has to once again ask himself how much he’s willing to invest in a morally bankrupt galaxy in the hopes of saving those he cares for.

prey, theThe Prey by Tom Isbell

A hot debut trilogy and a riveting story of survival, courage, and romance in a future where creating a master civilization is the only thing prized, no matter the method. After the Omega (the end of the end), 16 year old guys known as LTs discover their overseers are raising them not to be soldiers (lieutenants) as promised, but to be sold as bait because of their Less Than status and hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with a girls’ camp, the Sisters, who have been imprisoned and experimented on for the “good of the Republic,” by a government eager to use twins in their dark research. In their plight for freedom, these heroes must find the best in themselves to fight against the worst in their enemies.

For the comments: Which of today’s new releases are you most excited about?

5-Year Anniversary: 2014 Grab Bag #1 Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features our 2014 Grab Bag #1, and includes:

  • CHASING POWER by Sarah Beth Durst
  • FIREBUG by Lish McBride
  • THE FALL by Bethany Griffin
  • FORBIDDEN by Kimberly Griffiths Little

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

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To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us in the comments below, your favorite book from 2014.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Monday, January 26th.

5-Year Anniversary: Contemporary Favorites Contest

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We’re celebrating our 5 Year Anniversary here at Novel Novice throughout the rest of January, and we’ve got a new prize pack every weekday for you to enter as the festivities continue.

Today’s prize pack features Contemporary Favorites, and includes:

  • EXILE  by Kevin Emerson (signed)
  • FINGERPRINTS OF YOU by Kristin-Paige Madonia Gordon (signed)
  • NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley
  • THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky

All prize packs also include a Novel Novice “Book Nerd” tote bag, a Novel Novice button (assorted colors) & a set of four Novel Novice bookmarks, plus a random assortment of other YA bookmarks & swag.

contemporary favorites prize pack
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form here, and tell us in the comments below: what is your favorite contemporary YA novel?

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Friday, January 23rd.

Book Review: Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff

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Though difficult at times to read, Playlist for the Dead by Michelle Falkoff is a heartfelt and honest look at the consequences of teen bullying, and the struggle to understand, accept, and move on after a terrible loss.

playlist for the deadA teenage boy tries to understand his best friend’s suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that’s always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it’s about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.

Playlist for the Dead is filled with honest rage and despair, and above all, feels terrifyingly naked and real. The emotional depth of this book is so startlingly spot on that it’s the same reason reading it was, at times, difficult — it felt too real.

Falkoff does a brilliant job of capturing Sam’s struggle after his best friend’s suicide: his struggle to understand, accept, and move on. His struggle to balance grief with the possibility of new love and new friendships. His struggle to discover the truth about his late friend’s despair.

Playlist for the Dead is a raw, emotionally powerful coming-of-age story that will give many readers something to cling onto while struggling with their own personal challenges of adolescence. Look for it in stores January 27th.

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black + Contest

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Today’s book review is part of the official blog tour for The Darkest Part of the Forest. Learn more about the tour & enter to win a finished copy of the book after our review, below!

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darkest part of the forestA seductive, dark fairy tale set in a magical twist on the modern world awaits readers within the pages of The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black.

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Even as someone who doesn’t normally like books about fairies (or faeries), I was seduced by Black’s story and swept away into this world where our world meets the magic world. For starters, Black’s writing is just lovely — but isn’t it always? — and so the prose alone is enticing. But then her characters come to life, their personalities brought to life anecdotally as the bigger plot unfolds.

I was continually surprised and enchanted by this book — The Darkest Part of the Forest has plenty of twists and turns, and really gives readers something delightfully surprising and wholly satisfying in ever aspect. Writing, plot, characters, etc. … each element of the book stands up on its own, but when brought together here with Black’s skills, the end result is just a masterpiece.

Look for The Darkest Part of the Forest in stores now.

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Title: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST
Author: Holly Black
Pub. Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoodreads

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Ten winners will each receive a finished copy of The Darkest Part of the Forest. Enter to win HERE!

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about the authorHolly BlackHolly Black is the author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books for kids and teens. Some of her titles include The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. She has been a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and for an Eisner Award, and the recipient of both an Andre Norton Award and a Newbery Honor. Her new books are The Darkest Part of the Forest, a return to faerie fiction, and The Iron Trial, the first book in a middle grade fantasy series, Magisterium, co-authored by Cassandra Clare. Holly currently lives in New England with her husband and son in a house with a secret door.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/Pinterest/Tumblr

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Blog Tour Schedule

Week One:

Week Two: