Sunday, September 30, 2012

 Blog Tour: Entice (Embrace series) by Jessica Shirvington

Welcome to Jenuine Cupcakes! 
Thanks so much to Sourcebooks and Jessica Shirvington for the opportunity to participate in the ENTICE ME tour!

We're celebrating Entice today and no party is complete without prizes and cupcakes, am I right?!  (Hint: Correct answer is "Yes!")

OK, so, before we get to the prize part, we need to choose a cupcake. There are two different kinds just like there are two very different guys to choose from in Entice.

Team Lincoln
Team Lincoln Cupcake:
Vanilla caramel with butter cream frosting and green sprinkles. 

Isn't vanilla too plain you ask?  No way!  Not only is vanilla light and sweet, this one has a warm caramel filling. (Yumm-il-licious!)  Vanilla is a staple in almost every cupcake recipe (frosting too), making it dependable. What you see is what you get.  The caramel filling is the only surprise and it's pretty hard to resist, especially when it makes you feel all warm and gooey inside. The snow white butter cream frosting is a great choice to help balance out all those delicious flavors and the sprinkles?  Well, they help to remind you of eyes that shine whenever you're near.

Team Phoenix
Team Phoenix Cupcake:
 Chocolate cherry with chocolate butter cream frosting.  

Chocolate is dark and seductive; it whispers our name and we try to ignore it, but it's so very tempting! However, once we bite into this cupcake, we realize there's more to it than we thought and it's quite bitter inside.  But, like the chocoholics that we are, we will justify our decision, even telling ourselves, "This time it will be different, it won't be as sour or I'll just stick to the frosting".  You can definitely enjoy this one but ingesting too many could have long term effects. (Like heartburn)

The war between Exiles and Angels is on—and she’s wanted by both sides.

Entice (The Violet Eden Chapters, # 2)
Author: Jessica Shirvington
Publication: Septmeber 4, 2012
By: Sourcebooks

Seventeen-year-old Violet Eden is learning what it means to be Grigori: part angel and part human with a destiny is to protect humans from the vengeance of exiled angels. Knowing who to trust is key, but when Grigori reinforcements arrive, it becomes clear everyone is hiding something. Even her partner, Lincoln. Violet has to learn to live with her feelings for him while they work together to stay alive and stop the exiles from discovering the key to destroy all Grigori.

It isn’t easy. Especially when the electricity between Violet and Phoenix ignites, and she discovers his hold over her has become more dangerous than ever. With Lincoln’s secrets and Phoenix’s mysterious schemes, Violet is truly on her own. The race to find the one artifact that could tilt the balance of power between Angels and Exiles brings them to the cradle of civilization, where Violet's power will be pushed to the extreme. And the ultimate betrayal exposed.

The story continues with EMBLAZE in March 2013!

My thoughts:

While this isn't my favorite series to read, I do like that it shows there are consequences to the choices we make.  Violet is struggling with her guilt and attempting damage control with her Grigori partner Lincoln (Linc) when we meet up with her in Entice.  She loves Linc and has for a long time now but regardless of her feelings for the green-eyed half angel, she'll have to figure out a way to work with him as they continue to battle the exiles in an effort to protect humankind. Violet isn't the only one with secrets though. It seems Linc is keeping a few of his own and the fact that Magda might play a role somehow certainly doesn't help things.

I've always been Team Linc and while he allows himself to get distracted in this book, his intentions are always in the right place.  It's obvious he loves Violet as most of his decisions are made with her safety and protection in mind. (How can you NOT love a guy like that?! Never mind that he's gorgeous too.)  My frustration was with the back and forth of does he or doesn't he?  Will they or won't they?

Violet can be impulsive and stubborn and while wanting to see the good in everybody isn't a bad thing, you would think a half angel would come equipped with a little more discernment.  She doesn't which is why she tends to make a lot of mistakes.  One of those involves Phoenix, the tall, dark and dangerous guy she thought was her friend.  Phoenix is the ultimate exile and he's already proven just how powerful his influence over Violet can be.  I didn't like Phoenix in Embrace and I don't like him now.  (This is surprising because I'm usually a sucker for the would-be bad guy.) Something about his character makes me not trust him as far as I could throw him.  

We meet new Grigori who add humor and interest to the story and they bring information that could help Violet long term.  As far as second books go, this one was just "OK" for me.  Yes, secrets are revealed and yes, one is that there's a traitor among the group but the "who" lacked the "OhEmGee!" factor I like to see.  I've no doubt that readers will enjoy this next installment in the Embrace series and will be eager to see how it all works out with Violet, Linc and Phoenix.

Click here for more information about the EMBRACE Series, Jessica Shirvington and her ENTICE book tour stops. 

Prize time! 
No party games necessary, although, I'm sure "Pin the wings on the Grigori" might be an awful lot of fun! ;)

What's up for grabs? 
 1 ARC of Entice

The rules are as follows:
*U.S. Only
*Must be 13 years or older to enter
*Winner will be announced here on the blog and notified by e-mail.
*If the winner does not respond within 48 hours of notification, a new winner will be chosen.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Baltimore Book Festival 2012

I headed down into the city yesterday with cupcakes, my YABC T-shirt, my Deity guitar pick necklace and my Team Kilt sticker. (Bookish Fangirl in da house, yo!) I was all set to meet Jennifer L. Armentrout and Jeri Smith-Ready, two of my FAVORITE authors but a little fearful of what might happen because something always happens when I meet authors. *rolls eyes*  Whether it's forgetting my name because I'm nervous or blurting out nonsense about frosting on fingers, I am a shoe-in for an embarrassing moment or two. (or ten)

My Team Kilt buddy, Malissa, whose witnessed the "awkward" that is me meeting authors, decided to brave the beltway (and me again) to come along. She had two of the cutest little people you will ever see with her and together we saw Peter Rabbit (who did not stop to visit - boo!), Llama llama and a big shaggy dog (who DID stop and even took a picture - good doggie!)  We also ate some of the most "interesting" food ever...

Lemme just say that if you have the chance to meet either Jennifer or Jeri, don't pass it up because they are so gracious and really easy to talk to.  We took pictures, they signed our books and we had the pleasure of hanging out with them for a bit before they had to get to work. It was awesome!

Signing book goodies.
Jeri Smith-Ready, Jennifer L. Armentrout & Me (It was a bad hair day for me. Do not judge.)

Team Kilt, look who showed up with TWU. ;D 

Jeri Smith-Ready & ZOGAN! <3

YA panel of AWESOME! 
(L-R) Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jeri -Smith-Ready, Claudia Gable and Lea Nolan

These lovely ladies fielded all kinds of writing questions about plotting vs. outlining, cliff hangers, characters conflicts, story breakthroughs (which can come to you in the oddest of places, like the shower) and how they keep track of it all.  Some use a writer's bible or Scrivener, while others have copy editors who give them style sheets with a detailed listing of all of their character's traits such as age, eye color, etc. Twitter has also proven to be a good resource for authors who may get a character or two mixed up. ;)

Remember how I said something always happens when I'm in the vicinity of authors?  Well, during this panel, a marching band decided to coming marching past the tent, VERY LOUDLY. It was a pretty comical few minutes but all four of these ladies handled it with grace and a great sense of humor. I myself, was trying not to laugh or get up and dance along. 

This was my first book festival of any kind and I have to say, I'm hooked!  I can't wait to go to another one.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ashen Winter (Ashfall #2) by Mike Mullin

Ashen Winter (Ashfall, #2)
Author: Mike Mullin
Publication: October 16, 2012
By: Tanglewood Press
4.5 Stars!

It’s been over six months since the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. Alex and Darla have been staying with Alex’s relatives, trying to cope with the new reality of the primitive world so vividly portrayed in Ashfall, the first book in this series. It’s also been six months of waiting for Alex’s parents to return from Iowa. Alex and Darla decide they can wait no longer and must retrace their journey into Iowa to find and bring back Alex’s parents to the tenuous safety of Illinois. But the landscape they cross is even more perilous than before, with life-and-death battles for food and power between the remaining communities. When the unthinkable happens, Alex must find new reserves of strength and determination to survive.

Thank you Netgalley and Tanglewood Press for this e-ARC.
Having just read Ashfall and Ashen Winter back to back, I can say without a doubt:

1) The "realness" of this story has scared the "you-know-what" outta me but Alex and Darla are two of the BEST characters in YA.  

2) A zombie apocalypse would be a lot easier to survive than THIS. (I think)

3) #2 is merely a confidence boost for me because let's be honest, I'd be lucky to make it 48 hours before someone put me out of their misery. (Yes, you read that right.)

Ashen Winter picks up six months after the events of Ashfall and you'd think author Mike Mullin would've have run out of ideas about how to make this apocalyptic world worse than it already was, but no.  Not only do Alex and Darla have to deal with a lack of food and resources, but winter has set in for what feels like forever. (That right there would be enough to take me out because winter and I are not friends.)  

These really are some of the best characters YA has to offer and once again, I was immediately sucked into their story and their world.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I held my breath the entire time I was reading.  I was also treated to some pretty vivid nightmares, so thanks for that Mr. Mullin. ;)

Alex is a character who shows strength, kindness, and a willingness to help others even when it comes at great personal cost to himself.  With all that he's forced to deal with, it's easy to forget he's only 16 but many times he shows more maturity and grace than the adults in this story. (They could stand to learn a few lessons from him.) 
Darla is badas*!  She's fierce, courageous and determined to survive despite the odds being stacked against her.  She's like a superhero without a cape, although I've no doubt she could whip one up if she so desired. Her straightforwardness can seem harsh at times but walk a mile in her ice covered boots and your words might not be sugarcoated either.

The relationship between Alex and Darla may not be ideal but it is a good example of sacrificial love and loyalty.  Not a stereotypical teen romance with hearts and flowers, theirs is more bonding over how to butcher a rabbit and outwitting a military outfit that should be trying to help them. Even with their challenges, there is a sweetness to what they share that's heart-achingly romantic at times.   
Ashen Winter is a tough story to read because it could actually happen but I found the lawlessness (cannibalism, rape, murder) to be the scariest.  A great deal of people have lost hope and are making choices based on fear, but there are some, like Alex, who recognize that moral responsibility doesn't change just because circumstances do.  
Mike Mullin has done an exceptional job presenting a broken world in all it's ugliness without being overly graphic or grotesque.  He's also managed to show the positive side of humanity trapped in darkness that's both encouraging and hopeful and I'm excited to see where this journey takes Alex and Darla next.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday
 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


OPAL (Lux #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publication: December 11, 2012
By: Entangled Publising

Opal (Lux, #3)
 From Goodreads:
No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

I had the privilege to help reveal this cover last Friday and when it arrived in my e-mail, my first thought was, "SWEET BABY ALIENS!" *sighs* I can't WAIT to see what Opal has in store for my favorite glow-in-the-dark E.T. and Katy! ;)

What's your W.O.W.?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance #3) by Denise Hunter

The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance, #3)
Author: Denise Hunter
Publication: October 2, 2012
By: Thomas Nelson
3 Stars

Only one pair of boots-and the cowboy wearing them-can get Annie out of the mess she's in. ""

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek's premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for "Montana Living." Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew.

When Annie's column is cancelled, she's given first shot at a new lovelorn column-and she can't afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie's never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town's smooth-talking ladies' man Dylan Taylor: She'll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he'll help her answer the reader letters.

Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can't risk getting hurt now.

The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister's antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn't know what to trust-her head or her heart.

The trouble with "this" cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson and their Booksneeze program for providing this book for review. This was my first Denise Hunter novel and my first book that featured cowboys as main characters.  This is a clean, well written story filled with love, romance, family and faith. I liked that the characters were relateable - they've all made mistakes and had to deal with the consequences. They do their best to live their faith as opposed to just talking about it but even that doesn't guarantee a life without problems or pain. (Just because you're riding the J-train doesn't mean life is a cakewalk.)

The romance gets your heart racing without taking it too far, something that's refreshing when so much seems focused on a "number" of "grey" things. The only thing I can say about this book that could be viewed as a negative is that the use of the words, "moised" and "filly" (referring to a pretty woman) made me laugh but I think that was the point. (I could be wrong though...)

Fans of Denise Hunter will no doubt enjoy this next installment in the "Big Sky Romance" series but even if you're a newcomer, you'll still have a smile on your face by the time the cows come home. ;)

Giveaway Time
1 Paperback copy of The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance #3)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 24, 2012

Expected Publication: October 16, 2012

 College student Bliss Edwards is sick of being the only virgin among her friends.
She decides the best way to deal with the problem is to lose her virginity quickly and simply— a one-night stand. Her plan turns out to be anything but simple when she chickens out and leaves a gorgeous guy alone and naked in her bed. Already embarrassed, it only gets worse when she arrives for her first class of her last college semester, and recognizes her new Theatre professor. She’d left him naked in her bed about eight hours earlier.

About the Author

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working at Target), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She loves theatre, travel, and anything that makes her laugh. She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, a New Adult Contemporary Romance called LOSING IT releases October 16th.

Find out more about Cora by clicking the links   Blog  Twitter   Goodreads   Losing It

My Thoughts: I had the chance to read this and it's really good!  Fans of Tammara Webber, Abbi Glines, M. Leighton and Courtney Cole will fall in love with Bliss and her story.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Covet (The Clann #2) by Melissa Darnell

Covet (The Clann, #2)
Author: Melissa Darnell
Publication: September 25, 2012
By: HarlequinTeen
2 Stars*

Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart.Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she's becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.

Tristan can't believe Sav won't even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don't expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.

A reckoning is coming… and not everyone will survive.

Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for this ARC. I have to say that I am not a fan of this cover, at all. The girl still looks to have blond hair (Savannah's is red) and something about her expression looks "off". 

Covet picks up right where Crave leaves off with the majority of the book spent dealing  with the time Tristan and Savannah are apart in her effort to protect him as she continues to change. I found myself skimming a good portion because it felt like the whole "break-up" was being dragged out just a little too long. New characters are introduced as well as another "species" for Savannah and her fellow vampires to contend with.  (This particular addition sounded very a Jacob Black kind of way but with purring instead of howling.)

The book didn't really pick up for me until the last few chapters and then it felt chaotic and rushed.  The ending itself also felt somewhat predictable but the book does include an excerpt from book 3, Consume which sets up as a nice cliff hanger of sorts.

*Even though I'm not a huge fan of this series, I do think it's well written and I enjoy the dual POV.  Savannah didn't seem as whiny in this sequel but Tristan is still the most enjoyable character for me and I may just read the third book to see what becomes of him. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Expected Publication: December 11, 2012
By: Entangled Publishing

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Follow this link to an ~~~ EPIC CONTEST ~~~ Announcement. You will want to bookmark this page!

USA TODAY Bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Lynn.

Find Jennifer on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Blog

This might be my favorite cover in this series so far!  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ever by Jessa Russo

Author: Jessa Russo
Publication: October 1, 2012
By: Curiosity Quills Press

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.

Some girls lose their minds.

Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.

Thank you Netgalley and Curiosity Quills Press for this ARC. Frustrated. This is the best way I can describe how this book made me feel. I think the cover is pretty, the summary intriguing and while there were parts that I found interesting, the overall impression it's left me with is frustration. The biggest dislike for me was discovering 3/4 of the way through that it's not a stand alone. It ends with too many unanswered questions and a love triangle that was awkward. 

There didn't seem to be enough background story about Ever and Frankie other than they'd grown up together and she's always loved him.  How he came to be a ghost, or rather, why he remains a ghost is glossed over and that left me with a ton of questions.  Has their relationship always been one-sided?  Where did his nickname for her come from?  Where does he goes when he vanishes?  Why is he so intent on her staying away from Toby? I had really hard time connecting with them as a potential couple.

Then there's Toby. I didn't trust him at first and found his behavior very forward but as the story progressed, I actually liked him the best which isn't saying a lot because we're given very little information about him or the others. This is a pretty crucial part of the book to leave out, I think. It seemed like the focus was more on the wanna be love triangle which wouldn't have been bad if there were more details about the characters themselves. 

I couldn't find any information on a forthcoming book but I cant imagine there wouldn't be one with the way this one ended.  However, a lot of blanks will need to be filled in for the next one to hold my interest.

Spoilers* (I've tried to be as vague as possible but if you haven't read the book, I don't suggest reading any further.)

We're told that Toby and the others are soul collectors but that's it. No other details are given. I equate this to Edward telling Bella he's a vampire and leaving it at that. ("Bella, I'm a vampire. End of story.")  How can you reveal what Toby is but not explain how he came to be, what his duties are or what it means for Ever in the long run?

We never find out who Toby's "Dad" really is and why Ariadne seems to be able to read minds, or at least she acts as if she can.

It bothered me how quickly both Jess and Ever fell in love with Greg and Toby. Was is because the guys are able to influence the girls or the other way around?  Does the fact that both girls can see Frankie mean they have hidden powers that have yet to be revealed? (Not everyone can see him.)

How long can Frankie's new appearance really last before he's discovered?  Before he gets tired of being couped up in Ever's house again? 

Alight: The Peril (Pyxis #2) by K.C. Neal

Alight: The Peril (Pyxis, #2)
Author: K.C. Neal
Publication: November 30, 2012 (Paperback)
E-book available now
By: Stonehouse Ink
4 Stars

<--Pst, that is NOT Mason on the cover. *frowns* (jk)

When Corinne learns who the second Guardian is, she must find a way to make peace with the last person in the world she wants to deal with. As she struggles, her nemesis unleashes an otherworldly evil, and a mysterious illness strikes Corinne’s friends. Faltering under the weight of her destiny, Corinne escapes to the dream world. There, she meets Zane, an Australian guy with a hot accent and a revelation that binds them together and alters the path of Corinne’s life. She throws herself into fighting for everything she loves, but just as she’s certain she will prevail, she’s robbed of what she needs most.

Thank you author, K.C. Neal for providing this e-book for review.  I thoroughly enjoyed Pyxis (*coughs* especially Mason *coughs*) and have been really looking forward to being, "Alighted". ;)

Alight picks up where Pyxis left off and does not disappoint!  Corrine is charged with honing her skills, navigating her feelings for Mason and finishing up her Sophomore year all while waiting for the other Guardian to reveal him or herself. (No pressure or anything.)  She doesn't have to wait long for other Guardian to be revealed and what a reveal THAT is! I didn't see that one coming but it was brilliant! 

The green eyed creeper continues to cause problems, threatening the bond Corrine, Ang, Mason and the new Guardian have, but that may be the least of Corrine's concerns, especially when Zane shows up. He's the new guy in town, or dream world rather and he seems full of all kinds of helpful information. *glares*  What's NOT helpful is how Corrine allows herself to be distracted by Zane. Zane, with his cool hair, fancy piercings and smexy accent. *stomps foot* (Really, not helpful to those of us who are fully rooted on Team Mason. \m/)  I wanted to shake her and say, "Hellew, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! We're not Team Zane, we're Team Mason! hazel, is our team color NOT blue, focus Corrine, FOCUS!" I also wanted to tell her that honestly, I don't trust this Zane guy as far as I can throw him.  I think there's more to his story and his icy blue eyes than she realizes and she will rue the day she met him. RUE.THE.DAY! *takes a deep breath*  Actually, Zane could be a really nice guy and exactly what Corrine needs but it might end costing her more than she ever imagined.

Sophie is still hanging around, more than Corrine would like but hey, it's like they say, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." right?  Ang is still the best BFF a girl could have and I'm so glad she has a love interest.  Mason is still made of awesome but my heart hurt for him. He's doing the best he can as Corrine's Shield but even he may not be able to protect her from what lies ahead.  *chews nails*  

There is a lot of action in this book especially since Corrine and the others are training and learning how to utilize their powers to the best of their abilities. The twists and turns keep you guessing and the ending...well, all I can say is...NO!NO!NO!  *shakes fist* 

Waiting on Wednesday
 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie
Publication: September 11, 2012
By: Candlewick Press

 Personal Effects
 From Goodreads:
After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.

Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.

I've heard lots of good things about this book and I'm really looking forward to reading it.  

What's your W.O.W?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Burn for Burn
Author: Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian
Publication: Septmeber 18, 2012
By: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers

*Beautiful cover*


Lillia has never had any problems dealing with boys who like her. Not until this summer, when one went too far. No way will she let the same thing happen to her little sister.

Kat is tired of the rumors, the insults, the cruel jokes. It all goes back to one person– her ex-best friend– and she's ready to make her pay.

Four years ago, Mary left Jar Island because of a boy. But she's not the same girl anymore. And she's ready to prove it to him.

Three very different girls who want the same thing: sweet, sweet revenge. And they won't stop until they each had a taste.

Thank you Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for this ARC. I adore Jenny Han and was really looking forward to this book. (I haven't read any of Siobhan Vivian's previous works but have heard nothing but good things about them!)  After doing so, I am so very thankful to be out of High School! LOL!

One sign of a good book, is how it affects the reader, either in a positive or a negative way. If a book fails to conjure up any kind of emotion then it hasn't done it's "job" in my opinion.  I knew Burn For Burn wouldn't be an easy read but didn't expect it to leave me feeling nauseous and uncomfortable. I can't honestly say that I "liked" it.  However, that doesn't mean it wasn't a good book. Confused much?  Bare with me...

It's really well written and the subject matter is certainly at the forefront of teen society. I liked being able to "see" the story unfold from multiple POV's but the "get even" behaviors really bothered me, possibly more so than the "mean people" ones. I do think this is an excellent example of what NOT to do because there are always consequences to our actions, some of which can have devastating results. 

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)Author: Kat Zhang
Publication: September 18, 2012
By: Harper
2.75 Stars

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything

Thank you YABC and Harper Collins for this ARC.

This is one of the coolest covers I've seen in a really long time! I've been staring at it for a couple of weeks and only just now noticed the profile of the other girl.

I was really looking forward to reading this because the summary sounded intriguing and unique. Kat Zhang has done an excellent job of presenting a story that questions what it is that makes us a person. Is it our soul or is it a physical body? 

This was more Sci-Fi than I expected and I did find it hard to keep track of who was who at times.  For example, you might have three physical people in the same room but there would actually be six total - two souls each sharing one body. When the topic of romance came up, I felt a little awkward because how do you handle a kissing situation when both people can experience things but only one wants too?  I'm sure this will be explored in future books but I couldn't help thinking that it vaguely reminded me of a Siamese Twin scenario.

I do feel this story is well written with a very interesting concept and raises thought provoking questions. While it may not have been the book for me, someone else will love it, I have no doubt!

Monday, September 17, 2012


Book Release: Of Blood And Bone by Courtney Cole
Publication: September 16, 2012
By: Lakehouse Press


About Of Blood and Bone

As a little boy, Luca Minaldi was told he was a monster.
As an adult, he knows it is true.

He lives in Malta, a fairytale-like place filled with sunshine and sea, beauty and secrets. And Luca’s darkest of secrets is the best kept of them all.

Eva Talbot arrives in Malta for the summer to finish up her doctoral dissertation. When she meets Luca, a mysterious and handsome shipping tycoon, there is an instant attraction, a disturbing and beautiful energy that she has never felt before. But she senses the darkness that lives within him.

Eva is hired to care for his mother, who suffers from dementia, but it is Luca who Eva will eventually risk everything to save. Her life becomes a swirling chaos of darkness and romance, of secrets and mystery. And the question that emerges will become the most important answer of all.

Can she save Luca from the darkness that plagues him without losing herself?

The answer is a matter of life or death.


“Can you start at the beginning?” I ask. He nods. 

And so he tells me of life at Chessarae. Of being a child here, with a mother who was distant and detached and a father who was never home. Luca knows why now, because Nicolas was increasingly confined to the cave in the maze, more and more as his life progressed. But since the Minaldis do not speak of their curse, not even to each other, he didn’t understand as a boy. He felt abandoned and alone. 

Luca Minaldi may be confident and powerful on the outside, but on the inside he is a broken little boy. And with each word that comes from his mouth, from his perfectly formed lips, I feel my heart constrict just a little more until it is difficult for me to speak, to ask him questions. 

“When did you understand what was happening to you?” I ask. It’s hard to formulate sound around the lump that has swelled in my throat. 

 “I always knew,” he answers, quiet in this large room. He gets up and pours us each a glass of Scotch, moving fluidly. He takes a gulp of his and I grip my cold glass tightly. “I always knew. My mother told me at a very young age that there was something wrong with me, that I was a monster like my father. My brothers and I had a nurse who stayed with us in our wing. If we showed signs of sleepwalking or something similar, she was instructed to tie our hands to our bed and not allow us to leave until it had passed. As time went on, it was clear that it only afflicted me. My brothers were normal.” 

A tear slips from the corner of my eye now as I picture Luca as a boy, terrified and alone in the darkness of his room, tied to his enormous bed. 

“Luca… I…” I can’t speak any more. The words won’t come. And another tear slips down my cheek. My eyes are hot and burning, so I close them...

About Courtney Cole... 
Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could.
She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. Every Last Kiss is her debut novel and she followed it with the rest of The Bloodstone Saga (Every Last Kiss, Fated, With My Last Breath and My Tattered Bonds).Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.
You can find her at the following links:

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright #2) by Gabrielle Zevin

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication: September 18, 2012
By: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
3.5 Stars!

“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”- Michael Corleone, The Godfather

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship. But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

I have Jenn, from the YASisterhood to thank for this ARC because she was kind enough to grab it for me at this year's ALA.

A note about the cover changes - I know All These Things I've Done has a new cover and it coordinates with this one, but I actually prefer the original cover.

This was one read I was really looking forward to!  I thought the concept of coffee and chocolate being illegal was so interesting and entertaining in the first book and I fell in love with Anya and Win. This second installment in the Birthright series is good but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first book. There were times I experienced extreme frustration with these characters and other times they broke my heart. *cries*

Because It Is My Blood picks up with Anya's release from Liberty and her desire to move on with her life but not everyone around her is willing to let her do that. Her sister Natty doesn't want to see her, Scarlet, her BFF is now dating her archenemy, Win's father still seems hell-bent on making Anya's life miserable and then there's Win whose gone off and gotten himself another girlfriend. *sighs* Boys!

However, not everything is as it seems and try as she might to find a new normal, Anya ends up caught in the middle of a political scandal that sends her right back to jail. (No passing "Go" and no collecting $200 - poor girl)  But before she has a chance to get settled, her life is threatened, a chance to escape arises and an unexpected visitor shows up with the hopes of setting the record straight.  

Anya manages to get away and while she's gone not only learns a lot about the "family business" but a lot about herself too.  She knows what's important and what she's willing to fight for and who. When yet another life is threatened because of her, she'll be forced to return home and try to make sense of what's left of her life, again.  When Anya returns to NYC, she sees that the game may still be the same but the faces are all new.  Her family is all she has to depend on but when she experiences betrayal after betrayal Anya begins to wonder if the only person she can really trust is herself.

The pacing felt slower in this book than the first one and it seemed like each time Anya had a chance at happiness, it was ripped away. I found myself asking, "How many times does the girl need to be locked up?"  Granted, her life in general is pretty much a prison, but still. I did like that she seems to be able to share more of her feelings instead of keeping them bottled up inside.  She's doing the best she can with what she's been dealt but I really hope book 3 brings Anya some semblance of peace. 

Win, whose character I adore, confused me somewhat in this book.  He's always been torn between his feelings for Anya and his loyalty to his father but I've also felt it wouldn't hurt him to grow a backbone where his father is concerned.  He does accomplish this but seems to direct it at the wrong person. I've enjoyed that his character has loved Anya through so much which is why I didn't understand some of the decisions he makes. *shakes him*  

Potential Spoilers: 
*Throughout the book, Zevin intersperses the titles of her other works, All These Things I've Done, Elsewhere and part of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac which I thought was rather creative.

*There was a point where I thought Win and Natty were going to get together and I guess they still could in book 3 but honestly, if that happens, I will be upset. (like, really upset.)  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy #1) by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Evil (The Sweet Trilogy, #1)
Author: Wendy Higgins
Publication: May 1, 2012 (Read on September 16, 2012 - yep...all in one day.)
By: Harper Teen

Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

First, lemme say that this was a "me" book. What's a "me" book?  It's what I reward myself with after doing a certain number of review books. Don't get me wrong, I love reading and reviewing books but sometimes I get hit with several books in a row that just aren't my flavor of cupcake. To keep myself motivated, I'll dangle a "me" book off the top of my book pile. (Kinda like carrot except I'm not a horse.)
My completely unprofessional *fangirly* review...

Somebody PLEASE explain to me WHY I waited so long to read this book?! *flails* OH.MA.WOOOOORD that was so good! *FLAILY FLAILS* It was nothing like I expected... NOTHING! Totally unexpected awesome.

This book is full of all kinds of good stuff, ALL.KINDS! Not to mention it's SMART, and truthful (like spiritual warfare, grace, forgiveness, living life with purpose, and not being afraid to do the right thing no matter how much it hurts - smartness).  Oh yeah, I WANT TO BRING KAIDAN HOME AND LOVE ON HIM UNTIL HE IS ALL BETTER! (The motherly kind of lovin', not his kind so getcha mind outta the gutter.)

Anna is amazing and she and Kaidan both BROKE my heart but in the best possible way. I can NOT wait for the next book!

READ IT. LOVE IT. YOU ARE WELCOME! (OK, so you probably should thank Wendy Higgins because she wrote it but STILL.)