Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.

Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.

Made For You by Melissa Marr
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital to discover an attempt has been made on her life. But who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? Before she can consider the question, she finds that she's awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people's deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva's power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                           TitleFree to Fall
Author: Lauren Miller   Website|and |Twitter
Pages: 242
         Publisher: Delacorte Press          Published: May 23, 2014
                Ranking: 3/5              
                                                                                           Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision-making for the best personal results. Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she's accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school. Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn't use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux's recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore—a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.          
I'm in the middle of my college applications right now (here is where everyone should grimace in sympathy....) But before the continual essay writing/forms, I have to actually pick colleges to which you want I apply. And since I have absolutely no clue where I want to go, other than my top two reach schools, I have become quite acquainted with the 'Which school is best for you?' quizzes.

At its best, Free to Fall hits entirely too close to home. I'm willing to bet that you, like me, try to get your electronic devices to make decisions for you, whether that be in the form of identifying your 'match' college, displaying the best restaurants in the area, or showing how good/bad a book is (the paranoia that InkBitten is Lux should set in... now.) At any rate, its not hard to imagine a society where everyone is just a smidge more dependent on their electronic devices. Lux as a plot device  is entirely fascinating because it's pretty darn close to the state of the word as we know it. That creepiness of almost-reality and the mystery behind it all, keeps the pages turning.

Unfortunately, the book starts to fall apart after that. Much of the guidance behind the characters' actions is explained by 'the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore,' or 'The Doubt.' This basically boiled down to divine inspiration which, while I can appreciate it in some cases, ended up sounding contrived and fake. It was just a little too convenient. It was the same with North, Rory's love interest. I never understood why they were in a relationship  AND he seemed as if he had no flaws. YA authors, this whole perfect-boy-is-magically-in-love-with-the-main-character trope is getting really old.

I'm not going to urge you to read this book by any means, but I'm not going to say it's completely awful either. I'm pretty ambivalent about the whole thing. Give me a month and I probably won't even remember I read it. Oh well.

Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.

She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed.
There is.

She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can't.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren't.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

Book Three: The Retribution of Mara Dyer
Expected Release: November 4, 2014

Mara Dyer wants to believe there's more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.
Retribution has arrived.

I'm not generally a fantasy person. Most of my books these days are realistic fiction. Despite that, the Mara Dyer books make up one of my all-time favorite series; alternately snarky, romantic, and mysterious. I reviewed the first two books of the trilogy really early on for the site and just this week I found out the author had released the first chapter of the final book! Which means it's time to get excited people. If you've never read the books, take a weekend to fall in love and probably cry and gasp enough to make your roommates worried. If, like me, you've been waiting for this for quite some time now, read the excerpt to whet your appetite and go back to waiting on pins and needles for this release. 

Hopefully, all of you will join me in counting down the days
                                                                         Title: Somebody on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous 
Author: J.B. Cheaney
  Pages: 304
 Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky 
 Published: September 2, 2014   Ranking: 5/5    
Who's it going to be?                                             
Spencer's the smart kid. Shelly's the diva. Miranda's the scaredy-cat. Matthew's just average (so far). In fact, there's nothing about any of the nine middle-schoolers on Mrs. B's bus route that screams "fame." But before the end of the year, somebody on this bus is going to be famous.

Every morning, their school bus waits at an empty bus stop. Nobody ever gets on. Nobody ever gets off.

And Mrs. B refuses to answer questions about it. Strangest of all, it's Bender the bully who decides to investigate the mystery. But it will take all nine students to find out the truth, for each of them has a clue to the mystery that will change their lives forever.         
I never expected to be reviewing middle grade novels on this blog. Not that I have anything against them, just that it was never the focus of InkBitten. Still, when publishers asked if I would review them, I figured it couldn't hurt (plus, free books). Usually, they aren't bad books. They're pretty good for middle grade novels. Which of course, is the problem. Pretty good for a middle grade novel does not translate into a great book for someone my age. 

Except for this book. Someone on This Bus Is Going to Be Famous has that almost Harry Potter quality of being able to appeal to a wide age range of readers. The language is plain enough that a sixth grade student could read it but doesn't talk down to anyone. I think we do a disservice to a lot of younger readers. This book grapples with dementia, physical disability, racism, and other tough issues that generally aren't discussed in literature for this age. Even though we spend a lot of time thinking kids aren't old enough to read about hard topics like these, many kids either know what they are or are already struggling with them. Any book not censoring or ignoring reality gets a huge bonus from me. 

The story is well plotted, too. Each month focuses on a different kid and exactly why they should be the famous one. Admittedly, you do have to be pretty careful about remembering which story is which as the characters cross paths frequently and each month might prove to have a little advancement of someone else's  story. Still, each of those little nods to someone else keeps the book moving and proves crucial to the ending when everything is revealed as each kid gives up their little part of the mystery. (I can not stress how impressed I am that the ending surprised even me. Seriously. That well written)

I know the publisher is trying to sell this as a middle grade novel, but I think it could easily be read by teens. Absolutely creative and refreshing book with enough cleverness to keep anyone entertained. 

(and no love triangles.)

This book is a ARC given to me by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky! While I love getting free books and am eternally grateful to the author and the publisher, all above opinions are mine and mine alone. 

Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett 
Release Date: September 8, 2014

Anna O’Mally is a born writer—gifted, perceptive, headed for the stars. Or she was, until the tragic death of her uncle Joe. He was barely older than Anna herself, and she worshipped the ground he walked on. Best of all, Anna got to live in the glow of knowing that she was the most important person in his world, too.

Anna has promised everyone—her shrink, her parents, her best friend—that Joe’s one-year “deadaversary” will be the end of her period of mourning. But when a strange note suggests that her saintly uncle had deep secrets, Anna stumbles into a chain of events that changes everything she thought she knew about the past, the possibilities of love . . . and origami.

All Those Broken Angels by Peter Adam Salomon 
Release Date: September 8, 2014

Richard Harrison was the last person to see his friend Melanie alive. She vanished when they were six, and while the police never found her, a part of her remained—a living shadow that became Richard’s closest friend.

For ten years, Richard has never questioned the shadow that keeps him company . . . until a new girl moves to town, claiming to be Melanie.

Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick 
Release Date: September 9, 2014

In the next 72 hours, Kenna may lose everything—her friends, her freedom, and maybe even herself. One kiss of the blade was all it took to get her sent to the psych ward for 72 hours. There she will face her addiction to cutting, though the outcome is far from certain.

When fifteen-year-old Kenna is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, she is sent to a facility for a mandatory psychiatric watch. There Kenna meets other kids like her—her roommate, Donya, who's there for her fifth time; the birdlike Skylar; and Jag, a boy cute enough to make her forget her problems . . . for a moment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         TitleWe Were Liars
    Author: E. Lockhart     Website|Tumblr|Twitter
  Pages: 242
         Publisher: Delacorte Press          Published: May 23, 2014
                Ranking: 5/5              
                                                                           A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.                
My family enjoys taking vacations to random places. And by that I mean road trips. And by that I mean eight hour stretches in the car with five other people and a whole bunch of junk.


You can see why I need audio books for these sorts of trips.

I've been waiting to read We Were Liars for months now and I can say quite honestly that it didn't disappoint. The entire book has this entirely ethereal quality; both in the fact that these are the lifestyles of the rich and privileged (think Kennedys) and in this absolutely magic touch that all of your memories as a child seem to have. Add to it this haze of the mystery surrounding what really happened a few summers before the main plot and you feel as if you’re in an entirely different world for a few hours.

The book focuses on the Liars, children of the Sinclair wealth (Cadie, Johnny, and Mirin) and their less affluent friend (Gat) and the tragedy that befell them the year they were 15. Ever since, Cadie has suffered debilitating migraines and the groups friendship has nearly shattered. At 17, Cadie still has no recollection of what went wrong; nor will any of her family tell her for fear of upsetting her and making the pain worse.  The book weaves back and forth between the present and the past as Cadie remembers more and more of the actions that led to her accident. Which also means we get my favorite literature trope: unreliable narrator! (Because you never know who is a Liar....)

While the characters are well written, it's the writing that really pulls you in. Lines like

He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.


It doesn’t matter if one of us is desperately, desperate in love.
So much
in love
that equally desperate measures
must be taken.

give the entire story this absolutely memorable and haunting lyricism. 

It's not a long novel, but it feels as if it stretches on forever. It's the perfect end of summer read. Or beginning of fall read. Or any sort of read, to be fair. It also makes it onto my list of books I'll actually buy which has happened only once this summer. 

Just watch that ending. 
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