Waiting on Wednesday: Allied by Amy Tintera

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

Ruined #3
by Amy Tintera
Coming May 1, 2018

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In the final book in the New York Times bestselling Ruined series, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces.

But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead. The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.

Why I want it:
So Avenged really destroyed my feels, and I need the final book immediately, please and thank you.

Why I think you should want it:
Since this is the last book in a series, I'll say why I think you should read the Ruined trilogy as a whole. First of all, Ruined is filled with all these really powerful women. Powerful queens (as in plural) and badass princesses (as in plural) literally rule this series. Sure, there's kings and princes, but DANG, the girls are boss. Secondly, along that vein, Amy created a world where sexual assault is just not a thing! Sure, people might try to behead you, but there's no sexual violence, and I love that. Third, tons of amazing action and lots of cool magic. Fourth, KISSING. Fifth, political twisty-ness! And it's easy to see how the action changes the political landscape. Each move the main characters makes directly affects the world of Ruined, the story isn't removed from each country's history and culture, which I like. Finally, the series is just really face-paced and fun. You'll get sucked in super fast, and you won't be able to catch your breath until you finish each book, and even then, you'll only catch it long enough to yell, "WHYYYYYYY" before diving into the next installment.

Event Recap + Giveaway: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: January 9, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: young adult sci-fi
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: book 1 of the Unearthed duology

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When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

Waiting on Wednesday: The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, & Michelle Schusterman

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases.

The Pros of Cons
by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar,
& Michelle Schusterman
Coming March 27, 2018

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Drummer Phoebe Byrd prides herself on being one of the guys, and she's ready to prove it by kicking all their butts in the snare solo competition at the Indoor Percussion Association Convention.

Writer Vanessa Montoya-O'Callaghan has been looking forward to the WTFcon for months. Not just because of the panels and fanfiction readings but because WTFcon is where she'll finally meet Soleil, her internet girlfriend, for the first time.

Taxidermy assistant Callie Buchannan might be good at scooping brains out of deer skulls, but that doesn't mean it's her passion. Since her parents' divorce, her taxidermist father only cares about his work, and assisting him at the World Taxidermy and Fish-Carving Championships is the only way Callie knows to connect with him.

When a crazy mix-up in the hotel lobby brings the three girls together, they form an unlikely friendship against a chaotic background of cosplay, competition, and carcasses!

Why I want it:
Any book set at a con immediately gets my attention because I am HERE for the nerd stuff. But I also really loved Alison Cherry's For Real so I want to read ALL the books. Plus, I was in the marching band in high school, and my senior year, I joined the indoor percussion line. 

Why I think you should want it:
Honestly, this book just seems like a lot of fun! Writing duos are old-hat in YA at this point, but the Lady Janies proved that three is just as good as if not better than two. Also, the taxidermy thing is odd, but unique to YA so that's going to be interesting. And anytime the words "crazy mix-up" are included in a book's summary, you KNOW the book is going to be full of some exciting shenanigans!

Mary's Minute: Cover Changes and an Apology

Today's Mary's Minute is going to be a long one because I have a lot of ground to cover. 

What happened
ICYMI, last week, the cover to Renee Ahdieh's Smoke in the Sun was released, along with a redesigned cover for book 1, Flame in the Mist. The colors of Smoke are compatible with those of the original Flame and Smoke also continues the phoenix theme, although other design details—the face, the cherry blossoms, the font—more closely resemble the new new Flame design. Renee worked closely with the designer (who also designed the original Flame) to make sure the cover of Smoke would.


Frustrated by yet another mid-series change, I tweeted several times (1, 2, 3) about how annoyed I was. My rant was liked and retweeted by a lot of readers, but most replies were critical of my position. I was somewhat pressed for time and taken aback by an unexpected response that I perceived as an attack on my character (there were a lot of subtweets about racism, although no one called me racist directly) so even though I attempted to reply calmly, to have an actual dialogue about my position, I was defensive and not really receptive to responses opposing mine. It was not a good look. And so, I must apologize.

An apology
I am sorry. I am not sorry for hating cover changes (more on that in a minute), but I am sorry for speaking out of turn. I am sorry for not listening to the primarily teen (or at least younger than I) women of color telling me their perspective. I am sorry for not responding well. I am sorry for putting you guys in the position of having to tell me I was wrong, which took an immense amount of courage. I am so sorry for the hurt I caused with my rash words. I am so sorry for disappointing all of you. I am sorry to everyone whose opinion of me was lessened by my ill-timed tantrum. I am especially sorry to Renee for causing an uproar, for raining on what should have been an exciting day celebrating brand new covers. While the cover conversation is one that readers should be able to have, that day was not the appropriate time for it. Renee should have had a wonderful, joyful day, and then later this conversation could have been had, when not in direct response to her beautiful covers. And although I did not participate in the discussion then, the same goes for Sabaa Tahir when the entire Ember in the Ashes series got a makeover a few months ago. Neither of you deserved this criticism, and I am sorry for my part in this awful, hurtful situation.

Two clarifications
For my part, my frustration truly stems from disliking changes in the middle of a series. I do not have OCD and won't claim mental illness as a shield, but I have always abhorred books being repackaged mid-series. I saw a lot of comments mentioning how it's a privilege to worry about such a seemingly small thing as my books matching. IT IS. I am well aware. But it still rankles. I have hated redesigns for years. They really, truly bother me, for various reasons (but that's a conversation for another day). And so, while I am sorry for so so much, I wish to defend myself on two charges.

First, I would like to counter claims that this conversation *only* comes up when an author of color, usually a woman, has a redesign to have a character of color on the cover. Because I literally wrote this post about cover changes 5 years ago as a baby blogger (lol @ naive baby me, who knew nothing about publishing and was only coming at the convo from a consumer pov). The big one for me then was Across the Universe. The spaceshippy theme of the redesigns was cool, but man, I loved the galactic silhouettes of ACU and AMS, and I really do get a bit sad looking at my green odd-one-out copy of SOE

Additionally, there have been several instances of uproar regarding a few notable redesigns, and here are a few that I remember being especially contentious and/or a notable response from the publisher: 
  • Even though the repackage was a good one, readers were so upset over their copies of Anna/Lola/Isla not matching that Penguin (Penguin, SERIOUSLY, what is your fucking deal with redesigns mid-series???) rereleased Anna & Lola in hardcover with the new covers AND hosted a giveaway for nothing other than sets of the dustjackets so anyone who had the old people covers could have matching jackets without buying new copies. Not kidding. That was the prize.
  • Sourcebooks originally designed the cover of Breathe, Annie, Breathe, book 5 of the Hundred Oaks series, as a cartoony style, a departure from the photographic covers of books 1-4, but readers were so lackluster about the new style (and possibly a bookstore vetoed it. Yes, that happens), they redesigned it before publication to look more similar and then redesigned again for the paperback to more closely match the original style. Also, it was the only book in the series that even had a hardcover release. That's why there are three or four different arc covers, one hardcover cover, and one paperback. The final three books in the series went back to the original style.
  • Bloomsbury stopped selling the original cover of Throne of Glass, and now only sells the repackaged version (I have so little info about this situation because I've never read ToG so I didn't pay attention to fan reaction. A quick Twitter search of "throne of glass + matching" shows a lot of happy fans in the fall of 2014 though, when the repackaged design was made available for purchase in hardcover, and fans could have a fully matched set). 
  • Readers demanded a change when Macmillan announced a matching cover for The Winner's Kiss in May of 2015, then announced a complete repackage in December that included new covers for the paperbacks of TWC & TWC2 and the hardcover of TWK. In my five years in this community, this was the loudest and angriest readers have been about changes because, though badass and beautiful, the new covers were not representative of Kestral's character (I also started another post about cover changes but never posted it). This IS the only time *I've* seen people state they'd rather not buy a book (or that they'd rather buy the matching UK edition) than buy the repackaged hardcover (YMMV). About 10 days after the new cover reveal, Macmillan compromised by  announcing they'd release the original dress cover of TWK in hardcover and only use the new covers for the whole series in paperback. 
  • With Tahereh Mafi, Harper is listening to readers' years-long requests (if you search Twitter with "shatter me + matching" you'll find requests from as far back as 2013) by finally releasing the redesigned eye cover of Shatter Me in hardcover today
  • And although Little, Brown has not made any changes in response to reader criticism, I saw a TON of people who had Things To Say about the many designs of The Diviners. Mostly how laughably bad each new direction is (I saw a hilarious tweet yesterday about someone wanting a 4th design for book 4 so at least the books would share a complete lack of continuity).
All of these examples do prove, at least to me, that this IS a long-term ongoing conversation.

What boycott???
That brings me to my second small defense. I saw a lot of tweets using the word boycott a lot that day and the day after in the context of "if you boycott a book because of a cover change, you are stupid, etc etc". I don't know if that was in response to me or if someone really did say the word boycott, but I surely did not. Someone pointed out to me that I DID say I wouldn't buy a repackaged book. I did. But I said I'd specifically never buy a repackaged *paperback*. I prefer hardcovers, but also, if I already have the hardcover, I'm not going to get a paperback just to match the second book (unless I'm collecting, and there's literally three series I've done that for. And no, none of them are by SJM). As twitchy as non-matching series makes me, I'd still rather have them in one format, especially because I shelve my books by format. Also, I may be privileged to have disposable income enough to buy a lot of books, but it's not disposable enough to have multiples of everything, even books I like a lot (which is why multiple special editions piss me the fuck off, but THAT is another entire conversation best saved for another day). And I live in a one bedroom apartment with limited storage. But I digress.

I am not boycotting covers with people of color. I am especially not boycotting Renee Ahdieh or Smoke in the Sun. The Wrath and the Dawn is a lovely series, a favorite, and I'd read Renee's grocery lists if that weren't weird (it's weird). Truth be told, I haven't decided if I'll buy Smoke for myself. But even if I don't, yes, OF COURSE I'll check it out from the library! Hell, I'm gonna personally buy two copies for the library where I work because I purchase the ebooks and digital audio. And you guys know I always host a crapton of giveaways. I'll be at two festivals this spring where Renee will be speaking, and I love doing signed giveaways best of all so who knows? I may have some of her books up for grabs in a couple months. So no boycott. Maybe stop throwing around that word unless you literally saw someone say the ACTUAL word "boycott."

I still made a mistake
But. But. Despite this long history of community opposition to cover changes (on books by white authors and PoC authors both), despite very much not actually boycotting this book, I chose, erroneously, to complain very publicly in a situation where it DID involve an author of color and an Asian model. While my intention was to express a personal frustration and discomfort at one aspect of publishing I don't like, intentions are meaningless when people are hurt. I chose the wrong time to speak, and I did not speak well. I hurt people, which is a devastating thing to admit. I don't like people to be hurt, and I especially don't like being the cause. Again I wish to offer my apologies to everyone who read my rant, but especially to Asian readers, particularly teens, and any other PoC who I hurt with my careless words. Instead of allowing you to celebrate a momentous occasion at having a character accurately represented on the cover, I stepped in and crashed the conversation with a petty complaint. It truly is a first world problem to have matching covers. I know that. I should have held my tongue and saved this convo for another time when it wouldn't have directly affected an author and marginalized readers, and again, I'm so so sorry.

I am not deleting my ill-timed tweets. I'm not a fan of tweeting and deleting because I want to keep them as a reminder of a mistake I made that I have to own up to. I hope that those of you who are reading this (and bless you if you have made it this far because DANG this is a long post!) can accept my apology and forgive me. And to anyone who doesn't, who can't, I understand. I hope I may one day regain your trust and respect. I get it. One more white woman speaking out of turn, speaking over people who deserved better. All I can do is admit I messed up, apologize, and work to do better. While I believe in my heart of hearts that my words weren't caused by discomfort with a PoC model, I clearly need to learn more and do more work to confront a life steeped in privilege in so many ways, including and especially regarding my race. I thought I was doing okay, but I have messed up royally and so I must do better. I will do better.

Some threads to consider
I was encouraged to look up threads in which PoC readers talked about the positive change of redesigns in which PoC faces are centered so I did some research so I found a few, and I'm linking them here (with permission). Highly recommend you take a look, and also give these incredible people with powerful voices a follow.

Alexa @ahnyoo_
Lila of Hardcover Haven
Sandhya Menon

A list of PoC covers
Finally, I'd like to leave you with a list of YA books by PoC authors that have put PoC characters front and center on the cover.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
Akata Witch - Nnedi Okorafor
Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson
American Panda - Gloria Chao
American Street - If I Zoboi
The Belles - Dhonielle Clayton
The Blazing Star - Imani Josey
The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco
Born Confused duology - Tanuja Desai Hidier
The Boy in the Black Suit - Jason Reynolds
Bronxwood- Coe Booth
Calling My Name - Liara Tamani
Children of Blood & Bone - Tomi Adeyemi
Dear Martin - Nic Stone
Dread Nation - Justina Ireland
The Education of Margot Sanchez - Lilliam Rivera
An Ember in the Ashes series - Sabaa Tahir


Emergency Contact - Mary Choi
Empress of a Thousand Skies duology - Rhoda Belleza
Endangered - Lamar Giles
Everyone We've Been - Sarah Everett
Eye Candy - ReShonda Tate Billingsly
Flygirl - Sherri L. Smith
From Twinkle, With Love - Sandhya Menon
A Girl Like That - Tanaz Bhathena
Huntress - Malinda Lo
I Believe in a Thing Called Love - Maurene Goo
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter - Erika L. Sanchez
Iron Cast - Destiny Soria
Juba - Walter Dean Myers
Keep Me in Mind - Jaime Reed
Labyrinth Lost - Zoraida Cordova
Let's Talk About Love - Claire Kann
Little White Lies - Brianna Baker
Long Way Down - Jason Reynolds


Love, Hate & Other Filters - Samira Ahmed
Lovely, Dark, and Deep - Justina Chen
Monday's Not Coming - Tiffany D. Jackson
Monster - Walter Dean Myers
Not the Girls You're Looking For - Aminah Mae Safi
Perfect Liars - Kimberly Reid
Piecing Me Together- Renee Watson
The Place Between Breaths - An Na
The Poet X - Elizabeth Acevedo
#Prettyboy Must Die - Kimberly Reid
The Reader series - Traci Chee
The Secret of a Heart Note - Stacey Lee
Serpentine - Cindy Pon
Shadowshaper series - Daniel Jose Older
Silver Phoenix - Cindy Pon (sequel does NOT have a PoC on the cover, thanks to a terrible redesign)
A Step From Heaven - An Na
The Summer Prince - Alaya Dawn Johnson


That Thing We Call a Heart - Sheba Karim
The Hate You Give - Angie Thomas
This Side of Home - Renee Watson
To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy - Jenny Han
The Truth of Right Now - Kara Lee Corthran
Tyler Johnson Was Here - Jay Coles
Want - Cindy Pon
The Way You Make Me Feel - Maurene Goo
When Dimple Met Rishi- Sandhya Menon
The Wrath & the Dawn duology - Renee Ahdieh
You Don't Know Me But I Know You - Rebecca Barrow

I still want to have a discussion about series cover changes, but for today, that's not the point. That discussion can wait.

Blog Tour: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

Today I'm kicking off the tour for an exciting new series: Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk! Check out my review and then enter the giveaway for your own copy of Blood and Sand!

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: young adult historical fantasy romance action adventure
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: Book 1 of the Blood and Sand duology

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour. This does not affect the content of my review.

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The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic—and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus...

For teens who love strong female protagonists in their fantasy and historical fiction, Blood and Sand is a stirring, yet poignant tale of two slaves who dared take on an empire by talented debut author C. V. Wyk.

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire—an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end—and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...

The story continues in Fire and Ash, coming in 2019 from Tor Teen.

Blog Tour: Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: Book 1 of the Valkyrie series

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When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin's Valkyries, Malin's greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Blog Tour: Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult fantasy/adventure, superheroes
Format/Source: ARC, Barnes & Noble B-Fest prize
Status: Book 2 of the DC Icons series
Links: Wait For You review (also 4 stars)

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book as a prize during Barnes & Noble B-Fest. This does not affect the content of my review.

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Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city's elites are being executed as their mansions' security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family's fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he's forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city's most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce's only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.