Monday, September 1, 2014

Blog Tour: Playing With Matches by Suri Rosen {Review + Giveaway}

I'm super excited to be kicking off the blog tour for Suri Rosen's Playing With Matches today! I knew from the moment I read the synopsis that this was my kind of book (they had me with that mention of Yenta!), and it certainly didn't disappoint. I hope you check it out, and scroll down farther, because I've got a copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Release date: September 9, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: ECW Press
Pages: 248
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt — but Raina feels like she’s persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous "MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One. A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker, Raina’s double life soon has her barely staying awake in class. Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her tanking grades mean a second expulsion? In her debut novel, Suri Rosen creates a comic and heartwarming story of one girl trying to find happiness for others, and redemption for herself.
Playing With Matches is so utterly charming and fun. I flew through it in the course of one afternoon. Suri Rosen has concocted a sweet story that will make you laugh out loud at times and grown in frustration in Raina's stubbornness at others.

Raina Resnick is a bit of a trouble-maker. She has little concern for her school work and is more interested in being stylish and well-dressed than a model student. Because of her actions, she has been kicked out of her New York private school and relegated to her aunt's house in Toronto. Truthfully, while Raina's narration is always entertaining and full of personality, at first, she's rather unlikable. But as the story goes on and as Raina's priorities change because of the odd friendships she's made, she becomes more and more admirable. Raina draws an odd crowd around herself, but her matchmaking gets her out of the self-involved bubble she's lived in and lets her see the problems of others--even as it goes unrecognized in her family.

There are tons of laugh out loud moments in Playing With Matches. I found myself rereading passages because they struck me as so funny and even seeking out someone to tell, because someone had to laugh with me. Raina has a very unique voice, filled with just enough sarcasm to be funny without being bitter. Her family can't see the changes happening before their eyes, but Raina doesn't really complain about it. She's more concerned with helping the people who have sought her out for help, which I loved all the way through, even though the model student in me wanted to remind her she should be doing her homework.

Raina is certainly not the only outstanding character, either. Her family is a mish mash of rule-followers, but Bubby is the renegade of the family, eavesdropping, eating what she shouldn't, inviting friends over whenever she wishes, and just generally causing frustration. Playing With Matches also deals really well with the relationship between Raina and her sister, Leah. Leah blames Raina for her breakup with her fiance, so their previously very close bond is distant for the majority of the book. All Raina does is really to help Leah, because she wants that closeness they had before, and she thinks finding her love with do the trick. Even though they are distant, you can still see the closeness. It also does the cool thing of being all about romance without finding love for the heroine--which I loved!

Playing With Matches is simply a delightful book. Between dealing with family dynamics, a search for popularity, and romance, it makes you laugh, smile, and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. I will definitely be reading whatever Suri Rosen comes out with next, and I hope you will too! (But read this first, obviously.)

About the author:

Suri Rosen dabbles in many arts, but excels in daydreaming. She has worked as a professional artist, art teacher, filmmaker, journalist, and mini-documentary producer for a local television station.

Random facts: Suri rides a moped, built an Appalachian dulcimer, is a trustee on her public library board, and is known to re-finish vintage furniture on occasion. Playing with Matches is her first novel. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her family and her six imaginary dogs.

And now, thanks to ECW Press, I've got a copy of Playing With Matches to give away! I hope I've convinced you how adorable this book is and how badly you need it. :) US/CAN only. Good luck!

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Stacking the Shelves {83}

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to share the books we've bought, been gifted, or received for review!

How was everybody's week? Mine's been good! I'm training at Barnes & Noble, which is not especially thrilling, but I will be a master coffee maker in due time. :) I also got a job at our local Disney Store! So I'm gonna be busy between the two, but at least I'll have money--to buy books! Without school or anything to do, I'd rather have a lot of work anyways. Otherwise, I'm leaving for Disney World on Tuesday!!! That does mean I'll be MIA on commenting back, but I will have posts going up as they should be. I'll be back home Saturday, so hopefully I'll be able to catch up then. On to the books!

For review:

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Thank you, thank you to HarperTeen, Greenwillow, and Edelweiss for these! :D

A recap of the week here on Paper Cuts:
Monday - Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Tuesday - Teaser Tuesday: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies
Wednesday - Waiting on Wednesday: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2) by Leah Cypess
Thursday - Blog Tour: The Jewel by Amy Ewing {Review + Playlist + Giveaway}
Friday - Blog Tour: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies {Guest Post + Giveaway}

Books I read this week:
Storm Siren by Mary Weber
The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Playing With Matches by Suri Rosen
Star Cursed (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #2) by Jessica Spotswood

I'm currently reading:
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

So that's been my week! Note that self control over the books from HarperCollins on Edelweiss! I'm pretty proud of myself. Now, nobody tell me how good any of the others sounds so I won't go get them! :) Have a lovely Sunday and a fabulous week!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies {Guest Post + Giveaway}

I'm so excited to have the Starry Night blog tour stopping by today! This is Isabel Gillies' debut YA novel, which releases on September 2nd. I've got lots to share with y'all, including a really lovely guest post from Isabel and a giveaway for a finished copy!

About the book:

Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

First Love?

I was going to write about first love for this piece, but two days ago I heard about something so upsetting I must write about it because it’s haunting me, and in my mind the very opposite of what I think falling in love for the first time is. A friend who has a teenage daughter told me about a trend (I guess trend is the correct word, maybe behavior) that has swept the nation, or at least some high schools she knew of. Here is how it goes: A kid in her child’s school, a girl, will get a text from a boy, it could be a boy she knows -- or one she only knows of. This text will give a location within the school, like “the downstairs utility closet” or “The equipment shed” that serves as the meeting place, and there will be an appointed time. Then the two kids meet and without speaking, a sexual act is performed. Apparently it’s typically the girl who performs this act, again without speaking, and when it’s done, they leave each other. Again, without speaking. At this particular school it’s called, “scorning”.

Saddened and in disbelief, I have spoken to a number of other mothers-of-teens I know about this phenomenon, hoping that it was a one off, that it wasn’t true. They all knew of it –some of the mothers believed that their daughters may have already done this thing, so it must be true, at least in these parts.

Maybe I am na├»ve, but the alarm I feel about this is so real, I have tears in my eyes at as I write this. What has happened? Where did we go so off track that the uniquely slow, gentle, childlike and beautiful act of falling in love as a young person is in jeopardy? Are kids not writing each other love notes and shoving them in lockers? Have adolescent hearts stopped beating out of their chests at just the thought that they might hold hands with their crush at the football game? Are communications of love not being passed along by friends? What has happened to the sentence (said with excitement and anticipation), “Molly/Mark/Susan/Joe, is sweet on you.”

Is it the smart phone and texting that have endangered the natural and wonderful progression of two people falling for each other, talking all night, kissing at the door after a date -- writing love letters? Because if it has, I beg the companies to stop making those horrible devices. I pray for time to stop so we can look at this blight and arrest it. I call to the schools to assemble and bust this open, and urge students to read Romeo & Juliet, or watch Sixteen Candles by John Hughes.

I am not going to get into the perplexing idea that the feminist movement has had no bearing on these young people, someone smarter than I can handle that. What I am undone by, is that if this is true, that it could be the end of something I have always treasured, romance.

My friend said that sometimes relationships can come out of these silent, and in my opinion degrading hook ups. But I have to ask what chance does this “relationship” have if it started in such an unceremonious way? What kind of relationship starts like that? I don’t want to sound condescending, but before it does become normal to get so intimate with a boy without speaking to him at great length first, can I protest? Can I raise my hand high and yell stop? I cannot imagine how both children must feel afterwards – it must be excruciatingly lonely. Do these kids want something else? Do they long to be courted, asked out respectfully and with reverence and then appreciated for who they are? Do they even know there is another way? Do they know about romance? It seemed like when I was a teenager all we thought about was romance, and there was romance to be had! But if I wasn’t surrounded by it, and if I was in the same position as these young girls seem to be in, would I do the same? I bet I would.

My fear is that it’s gone. That technology has finally gotten the best of us, and our beloved children who can’t or won’t speak to each other, will miss out on the most beautiful of processes. Falling in love for the first time involves intangible magic, but it also involves diligence, work, and effort. And it requires romance.

If what I am hearing is true, I resolve right now to talk to my burgeoning tweens openly and frankly to warn them that there is a dangerous pitfall waiting for them that they must try with all their might to avoid. If I don’t and they miss out all the blissful, sometimes painful steps you take in falling in love for the first time, I will never forgive myself.

About the author:

Isabel Gillies, known for her television role as Detective Stabler’s wife on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, has published two memoirs, Happens Every Day (a New York Times bestseller) and A Year and Six Seconds (both Scribner). She graduated from New York University with a BFA in film. Isabel lives in Manhattan with her family.
Find Isabel online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

A huge thanks to Isabel for stopping by today, and for being so open and heartfelt. Also, big thanks to Macmillan Teen for letting me be a part of the tour!

Learn more about Isabel Gillies and Starry Night.
Add Starry Night to your to-read list on Goodreads.
Join in on social media with #StarryNight!

Isabel’s Upcoming Public Events 
Saturday, August 30                       Decatur Book Festival- Map of My Heart Panel (Decatur, GA)
Tuesday September 2                    Barnes & Noble Upper West Side- Launch Event with John Searles (New York, NY)
Sunday, September 14                   Books of Wonder- Debut Author Panel (New York, NY)
Saturday, September 27                The Voracious Reader- Reading/Signing (Larchmont, NY)

Starry Night Blog Tour Schedule 
Tuesday, August 26                          Fiction Folio
Wednesday, August 27                    The Compulsive Reader
Thursday, August 28                        Green Bean Teen Queen
Friday, August 29                              Paper Cuts
Saturday, August 30                        Love is Not a Triangle
Sunday, August 31                           Gone With the Words
Monday, September 1                    Mac Teen Books
Tuesday, September 2                    Jenuine Cupcakes

Thanks to Macmillan, I have a copy of Starry Night to give away to one lucky reader! US/CAN only. 
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Tour: The Jewel by Amy Ewing {Review + Playlist + Giveaway}

I'm excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Amy Ewing's The Jewel today! I've been excited about this one for a long time, and I've got a TON of stuff to share with y'all! There's my review and playlist I created inspired by the book, the book's awesome trailer and an excerpt for you to try out, PLUS a giveaway to win one of three copies of the book. So, scroll away!

Release date: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 358
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
I've been excited to read The Jewel since I read the intriguing synopsis and saw the gorgeous cover months and months ago. The novel starts off really strongly, and while it veers off in certain elements, I found it to be an addicting read that left me dying for more.

In the world of The Jewel, for an unknown reason, the nobility of the Jewel cannot produce healthy children. Instead, they use Surrogates, girls from the poorest sections of their society, who, for some reason, can carry their children and they are born healthy. Surrogates can also perform Auguries, manipulations of items to change their color, shape, and even make them grow. Violet is a Surrogate, taken away from her family at age 12 to be trained and then sold to a noble family to keep their line going. What struck me about Violet, and what I so liked, from the beginning is her unwillingness to be a a part of the system she's a pawn of. Unlike other girls, she is not pleased to be given the "honor" of being taken away from her family and sold to strangers to bear their children. She wants to help her family, though, so she goes along with the forces, even as she puts in little bits of resistance here and there. It is not the introduction of a love interest that spurs her disillusionment with the system she's a part of and that is not when she starts wanting to escape. She values her own life and the validity of making her own choices, which I just loved.

I know, if you've read a review of this book at some point, you've heard about the instalove. Yeah, it's there, and yeah, it's a problem. Instalove isn't something, however, that bothers me terribly, so it didn't affect my reading experience as heavily as it did for others. I do think, though, that it wouldn't have affected the story terribly for Ash to be introduced sooner and given more moments with Violet to establish a real relationship before it got to the mention of love. Nonetheless, I found Ash appealing as a character. While obviously not in the exact same position as Violet and theoretically free, he is subject to the whims and wishes of the same people she is, stuck in a position he can't get out of for love of his family. I really would have liked to get to know him better, both for the sake of their relationship's development and simply because I liked him.

My only real qualm is the worldbuilding. It's vaguely dystopian, yet there's little information as to what led society to form in the way it did (a story, but it doesn't tell much). How big is this city? Where are the rest of the world's people? No mentions. The whole setup is still very compelling and I felt like the dangers of the world were real, but I just wanted a clearer picture of it.

I flew through The Jewel. I haven't read a book in a single day in a long time, but The Jewel called to me when I wasn't reading and its development kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The ending is a surprise and a terribly cruel cliffhanger that only made me more excited to see how the series develops. It's one that may start out roughly for a lot of people, but I think The Jewel's got a lot of potential to be the start of a highly addictive series.

As part of my stop, I'm sharing a playlist I made for the book! It's got a mix of songs I feel fit the mood of the book or Violet's mindset, plus several cello pieces that I quite like and could have imagined Violet playing. ("Royals" just felt all too appropriate.)

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the FFBC The Jewel Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Amy Ewing is the young adult author of THE JEWEL, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Win (1) of (3) copies of The Jewel (Us Only)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2) by Leah Cypess {59}

Title: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2)
Author: Leah Cypess
Release date: March 3, 2015
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.

At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.

Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.
After the ending of Death Sworn, I need to know what happens next! Plus the cover is so preeeeetty! :D

So what are you guys waiting on this week? :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Starry Night by Isabel Gillies {85}

Title: Starry Night
Author: Isabel Gillies
Release date: September 2, 2014
Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

My teaser, from 20% in the egalley:
"I saw that," Farah said, as she screwed the lip gloss top back on and put it in her clutch. "He's into you. Let's go." My heart leaped with hope. Farah may like inappropriately older guys, but she's smart about looks and the vibes people give.

"Wait," Charlie said, not hearing what Farah had said to me, "to keep body and soul together"--he pulled a small brown paper bag out of his blazer pocket--"Swedish Fish."
The blog tour for this one stops by on Friday with a guest post, so I'm starting this today! Hopefully it's good. :)

I'll be visiting around and visiting back, so leave me links to your teasers! :) Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Release date: August 19, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 320
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.
Storm Siren is, without a doubt, an addicting read from page one. Beginning with a bang and virtually never letting up in excitement, I devoured the pages until I was left desperate for more at the ending.

Nymeria is powerful, yet broken, plagued by guilt for the lives her power to control the elements has claimed over the years. She believes she is only a danger to others, desperate to control a power she cannot understand. She has been sold and resold as a slave fourteen times, but her new owner offers her a chance to control her power, in exchange for helping to save her country--the country that has kept her enslaved and virtually wiped out Elementals. But once Nym begins working with Eogan, her trainer, she learns to exercise control over what she can do and finally see the beauty in her gift. It's through this hard work and the friendship she gains with Colin, who trains with her, and his sister that Nym grows exponentially. She is no longer the damaged girl who tattooed herself in guilt for those she killed, but instead becomes a true Elemental, confident in her abilities and willing to fight for those she's come to love. It's wonderful to see her wrestle with herself and whether or not she was born to do evil or if what seems evil to her can be used for good.

Eogan, Nym's trainer and love interest, is deeply fascinating in his own right. It's frustrating as we see him open up to her in small amounts, only to close back up again, but his eventual story is a surprise and adds a lot of depth to this character. Their relationship is lovely as well, because it's a balance all the way through. Nym also meets Colin and Breck, twins, who offer her friendship and love, no holds barred, and these relationships prove vital.

My only detraction (and it's small, really) is that the world-building, while definitely present and makes complete sense, is rather...sparse. I love a book that presents the world slowly, as you read, but I never felt a full picture. I got the information I needed to understand the moment, but the nuances I see in a lot of other fantasy novels weren't there. I was never confused, yet I'd liked to have seen more.

Storm Siren is deeply engaging, beautifully written (seriously, some of those passages were exquisite), and rife with characters you'll miss as soon as you close the book. Many of the fantasy novels I've read this year have been technically good without even capturing my heart or sense of imagination--but that was far from the case here. It'll be a long, hard wait for book two.

About the author:

M. Christine Weber is a ridiculously uncoordinated girl plotting to take over make-believe worlds through books, handstands, and imaginary throwing knives. She lives on the breathtaking California coast with her three homeschooled children and an engineering husband who looks strikingly similar to Wolverine.

Her writing experience includes card copy for Hallmark, articles and short stories for newspapers and e-zines, and educational curriculum for a non-profit, although she can also type a mean grocery list when necessary. On her days off, you can find her penning book reviews or conducting silly interviews at amid drinking lattes and instructing her kids on the finer aspects of world domination.