Wednesday, August 29, 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.


Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis
Publication: January 15, 2013
By: Razorbill

 
 Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)
 From Goodreads:
 
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience. But this new Earth isn't the paradise that Amy had been hoping for. Amy and Elder must race to uncover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. But as each new discovery brings more danger, Amy and Elder will have to look inward to the very fabric of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been meaningless


I have to admit that this is one of those stories that took a little while to grow on me.  In fact, I wasn't sure I even liked Amy and Elder until A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) but once I finished it, I was hooked. I have so many theories running through my head of what's really going on and I can't wait to find out if I'm correct. :)

What's W.O.W? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Defiance (Defiance #1) by C.J. Redwine

Defiance (Defiance, #1)
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publication: August 28, 2012
By: Balzer & Bray (Harper Teen)
5 STARS! (A MUST READ)

This cover is fierce!  *stares in awe*

Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzar & Bray (Harper Teen) for this ARC!  I've been dying to read this for a long time now and I literally cried when I found out I was getting my chance. This book had me laughing, crying, and chain chewing (gum) because it was so intense at times. It's a thrilling adventure of love, loyalty and hope that will suck you in from the first page.

While most girls within the walled city of Baalboden were learning the importance of how to cook, sew and behave properly in public, sixteen year old Rachel Adams was also learning how to take care of herself with sharp objects. (She can gut you like a fish!) Her father Jared, Baalboden's top courier made sure she knew how to wield a sword and what to do in order to survive the Wastelands. He taught her well, so well in fact, that when he fails to return home after his most recent courier mission and is declared dead, Rachel decides to go looking for him. (I would volunteer to go with her and offer to carry her Switch.)

Danger lies beyond the wall but it could be more dangerous for Rachel to stay.  In order to escape, she'll have to defy not only The Commander, Baalboden's tyrant leader but her newly appointed Protector as well; a man with the potential to do her more harm than The Commander and the evil creature that lurks beyond the wall combined. Enter Logan...

Nineteen year old Logan McEntire is the orphaned outcast who Jared took on as his apprentice and he's also the boy who broke Rachel's heart two years prior. To make things even more awkward, he's just been appointed Rachel's new Protector. Logan is good looking, uber intelligent, and his inventions are nothing short of uh-mazing!  He also has a knack for weighing all the options in every situation which Rachel finds a strange mix of annoyance and comfort. Basically, Logan is a hot nerd who can kick some serious butt!  If he were a Super Hero, his name would be something like, "Captain Scenario". ;)  Logan if also not afraid to stand up for what's right even if it means risking his own life.

Rachel is a hardcore heroine! Smart, beautiful, courageous and incredibly loyal, her impulsiveness is what gets her into trouble and also happens to drive Logan insane. You can't really blame her though, being forced to grow up fast is never easy.  She too is selfless and her journey through the Wastelands will test her in ways she never imagined and threatens to destroy all that it is important to her. She'll have to fight with everything she has in order to save those she loves and try to not lose herself in the process. 

Then there's Quinn... *sighs* I was Team Quinn long before I *met* him but I just knew I would *hearts* him and do.I.ever.  He's tall, dark and every bit as awesome as Logan.  He's kind, compassionate and possesses a wisdom beyond his years but he's not without his tortured past.  Knowing this only encouraged my desire to become a Tree People hugger. ((hugs Quinn))  Quinn is also able to empathize with Rachel in ways that even Logan can't which doesn't sit too well with Capt. Scenario but he's just being helpful. You know, I have a huge fear of heights but I'm confident Quinn could help me overcome that. ;)   

As Rachel and Logan make their way through the Wastelands, they'll have to fight an army, a creepy monster who refuses to die and uncover a secret so powerful, it has the potential to start a war.  They'll experience love, heartbreak and hopefully learn that even in the worst situations, all you can do is your best. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the alternating POV's between Rachel and Logan! Their relationship is strained at times and while Rachel might not be a girlie girl, she, like all females, can certainly benefit from a compliment. Logan, being the tech head often misses the mark and the results had me snorting out loud!

(Rachel) "You're telling me you're going to give me a compliment even though I shouldn't logically need one?" Her voice doesn't sound pleased.
...
(Logan) "I have no idea how this conversation went awry so quickly.  I just want to tell her something nice. Does it have to be a ten-minute discussion about motives and semantics?"
 
The world building is fanfreakingtastic, but in case you want a little more visual (and trust me, you do), be sure to check out C.J.'s Defiance board on pinterest. It takes the reading experience to a whole new level.

One of the main things I took away from this story was the importance of holding onto hope especially when it seems like all hope is lost. We all go through difficult times and it can be very easy to lose ourselves to grief or pain but regardless, we can always cling to hope...hope for change, for love, for redemption and hope for new life.

I can't finish this review without taking a moment to *fangirl* over C.J. Redwine!  She probably doesn't realize this but if it weren't for her encouragement, my blog wouldn't exist as it is today and I certainly wouldn't be reviewing for YABC. It was almost a year ago when I received a message through Goodreads from a complete stranger who just wanted to tell me she appreciated a review I'd written.  I was so surprised that someone would even bother to read something I'd written (my Mom doesn't count) and then to take the time to share their thoughts with me. 

I am forever grateful for her kindness and I hope to meet her one day so I can say, "Thank you!" in person but until then, I'll just continue to stalk her on the twitter and hope she knows, how much I *hearts* her! :D

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Speechless
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publication: August 28, 2012
By: HarlequinTeen
5 STARS! 

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret.  Until now.  Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast - and nearly got someone killed.

Chelsea has taken a vow of silence - to learn to keep her mouth shut and to stop hurting anyone else.  There's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way.  Including a boy she might even fall for.  If only her new friends can forgive her...if only she can forgive herself.

Thank you to YABC and Harlequin Teen for this ARC! *does happy dance*

I've been eagerly awaiting this sophomore offering from Hannah Harrington (Saving June was one of my favorite reads of 2011) and Speechless does not disappoint!  Also, I will read anything this amazing young author writes, ever. That is all!

This cover is so unique! It's minimalist but it incorporates several elements of the story which is why I think it works. 

Speechless is a poignant example of the power that words can have.  Our words have the capacity to build up or tear down, to encourage or destroy. How we use our words is just one way we define who we are as a person but there are times when words aren't enough and action is required.

Chelsea Knot is your typical teenager whose main focus is on being popular and the coveted position she holds as being BFF to Miss Popularity herself, Kristen.  While Kristen is known for being beautiful and the girl everyone want to be, Chelsea is known for being the school's gossip queen. She thrives on collecting other peoples secrets (and blabbing them) the way some girls collect shoes or boys collect vintage comic books. But when her words nearly cost a fellow student his life, Chelsea decides to take a vow of silence. 
 
In doing so, she'll have the chance to examine the choices she's made and the person she's become but it will cost her.  She experiences a fall from grace that is swift and harsh.

"Everyone loves kicking the popular girl the second she's been knocked off the pedestal."

People she thought she could rely on don't come through, forcing Chelsea to make new friends in Asha and Sam.  Asha is a great example of unconditional love, offering friendship to Chelsea when no one else will.  She sees the good in people when there doesn't seem to be any and she's always willing to offer second chances.   

Sam is not only Cheslea's partner on a class project but also happens to be best friends with the student who nearly died as a result of her actions. He's the last person Chelsea expects to find friendship with and by rights, he should hate her but he doesn't.  Sam is unlike anyone she's ever met and his kindness, compassion and sense of humor catch her completely off guard. *swoons*  The more time they spend together the more Chelsea realizes that what she's been longing for may have been right under her loose lips the whole time. (It's amazing what we find when we start seeing things clearly.)

Throughout the story, Chelsea often questions both her decision to speak up and her vow of silence, doubting whether either was really worth it. She also struggles with the concept of forgiveness both giving and receiving it which broke my heart for her. Everyone makes mistakes and through hers, Chelsea learns a hard lesson about what matters most and how sometimes, actions really do speak louder than words.

This really is a great read!  It's realistic and the subject matter is completely relevant to today's culture.  While it definitely has it's moments that are difficult to get through, Harrington's ability to infuse humor into even the most heartbreaking situations is refreshing.   

Regardless of your opinions about homosexuality the one constant is that every human being is worthy and deserving of love and respect.  It isn't always easy to love someone, especially when they've hurt you but it's what we're called to do; to love one another.

"Hate is...it's too easy. Love. Love takes courage."

This book also includes a discussion guide in the back with some great questions.




Monday, August 27, 2012

Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn

Measuring Up
Author: Nyrae Dawn
Publication: August 9, 2012
By: Amazon Digital Services
3.75 Stars!

Seventeen-year-old Annabel Conway is tired of the Hillcrest High School elite making her life miserable because she’s not a size two. This summer, she's hiring a personal trainer to help her lose weight.

Annabel doesn’t expect her trainer to be a gorgeous guy around her age. Boys like Tegan are jerks. They pretend to like girls like her so they can make an idiot out of them. Been there, done that. Totally not going there again. She kind of hates him on principal. Blond. Muscular. Funny. It doesn’t help that he knows her measurements!

Soon, Tegan's so much more than that. He’s the boy who teaches her to box when she has a bad day. Who jogs with her and lets her set the pace. Who kisses her until she melts. He makes her feel beautiful regardless of what the scale says. Unlike her mom, he doesn’t expect perfection, and he doesn't try to shield her from the world like her dad and best friend. Tegan likes her the way she is.

But what happens when he’s not there? He can’t always be there…

Will Annabel be able to stand on her own and learn that she already measures up? That her worth doesn’t lie in what the world thinks, the scale says, or even what Tegan tells her—but in herself?

Thank you to author Nyrae Dawn for this e-book.  Another fantastic offering by a YA author who really understands the "teen voice".  This book is one that everyone, male or female can benefit from.  It's not exactly an easy read because it deals with some tough issues and will have you feeling all the feels.

Annabel struggles with insecurities, most of which have to do with her outward appearance and are a result of the way her Mom and other kids at school treat her.  She's been made to feel that "big" isn't beautiful so she decides to make a change.  That change involves Tegan, the hot "Gym Boy" who becomes her personal trainer.  When she first meets him, she assumes he's just like everyone else in her life...ever other skinny, pretty person whose made her feel bad about herself.  But the more she gets to know Tegan, the more she realizes looks can be deceiving and everyone struggles with something, even the "perfect" people.  

As Annabel works toward her goal she learns that strength and belief in yourself is a beautiful thing and while outward appearances matter to a certain extent, it's what's on the inside that matters most. 

One of the things I really enjoy about Nyrae's writing is how her stories are so relateable.  Like every other female on the planet, I know what it's like to worry about outward appearances and I completely understand feeling like I don't measure up to society's definition of physical beauty. That pressure is intensified when you grow up with a literal beauty queen among your ranks. 

It's no secret that negative words have a way of sticking around a lot longer than positive ones especially when they come from people you expect to find unconditional love in.  It's painful when how much you weigh, what size you wear or whether your naturally curly hair makes your face look "heavier" is the focus.  After awhile it becomes really difficult to look in a mirror and be happy with what you see.

One of the best lessons I've learned over the years is that it doesn't matter if you're a size 2 or a size 22, knowing who you are on the inside and learning to love that "you" is a big step toward being healthy and happy.  Beauty is fleeting but the you on the inside lasts a lifetime.

Spark (Elemental #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Spark (Elemental, #2)Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publication: August 28, 2012
By: Kensington Teen
4.75 STARS!

"Feel the heat..."  (OK, sure...*fans face*)

OMG = Oh.My.Gabriel!

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit…

Brigid Kemmerer sure knows how to write the *chest clutching* stories and she captures the male POV with the perfect amount of humor, emotion and "posturing". 

It's often said, "Play with fire and you'll get burned." and the same could be said for sequels which often go up in smoke or are reduced to a small ember.  This however, is not one of them.  With it's blazing action, searing kisses and charring suspense, this sequel does not disappoint! (*Virtual cupcakes awarded if you guess the correct number of synonyms I use for "fire" in this review. *winks*)  In my review of Storm (Elemental #1), I mentioned  that Gabriel is the Merrick brother I would've been BFF's with and while that's still true, I would've also been secretly in lurve with him. *sighs*  We get to see a different side to Gabriel in this book; he's not just the wise cracking, snarky jock we met in book one.  Instead, he's angry, frustrated and feels disconnected from his brothers as a result of his ability.  Seems, the very element that lights him up, making him who he is, is also what sparks the rift between them.  

Gabriel isn't a fan of dealing with his anger in ways that don't involve fists or flames and his pride keeps him from asking for the help he so desperately needs.  Surprisingly, for all he has going for him; good looks, great sense of humor and talent, his self-esteem is in the toilet.  The only person who is able to see through his smoke screen is Layne.  She's the smart girl no one pays much attention too unless it's to cut her down.  But Layne is no stranger to fighting fire with fire nor is she a stranger to keeping secrets.  She could be the answer Gabriel never knew he was searching for and he might be able to help her overcome her past.  They'll just have to figure out how to keep from torching each other's hearts in the process. (Words can burn as easily as matches.)

I tend to get attached to book characters and Gabriel is no different. This boy and all he struggles with broke my heart and I don't know that I've ever wanted to hug a fictional character more than him.  Seriously, I wanted to bring him home, feed him cookies and smother him in hugs.  I adored Layne!  She might be small in stature but what she lacks in height she makes up for in courage.  She's not afraid to stick up for the underdog and she's also quick to give people second chances even those who don't deserve them. 

We see more of Michael and Hunter in this book and we're introduced to Hannah, who I thought was a nice addition and made me smile. (She made someone else smile too which was much needed.) I hope she sticks around for awhile. ;)

At the end of the digital ARC is an awesome playlist and a sneak peak of Spirit (Elemental #3). <-- wants now! ;D

To find out more about author Brigid Kemmerer and The Elemental Series, click here.

*POTENTIAL SPOILERS*

This series deals with some pretty tough issues, date rape, bullying (both in school as well as online) but Kemmerer handles them such in a way that is neither dismissive nor cheesey. 

Gabriel has the reputation of being a "player" but I was really happy to see that he and Layne didn't go "all the way". Their scenes definitely had me swooning and fanning my face but there was a sweetness to them too which I enjoyed.  

In this story, Gabriel has a really tough time with math which leads him to take the easy way out and cheat. He doesn't grasp the concepts, reverses the last part of the equation, etc. all of which are signs of dyslexia. (I'm not saying this was Gabriel's problem but I'm familiar with the signs because I have a mild form of it that primarily affects me in the higher level maths.) I could identify with his frustration and feelings of "stupidity" because I spent the majority of my life feeling like a mathematical igit until I was diagnosed my Junior year of college. Thankfully, I had a teacher who cared enough to recognize there was more going on than just my feigned indifference and bad attitude and the same is true for Gabriel's character.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel) by James Dashner

The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5)
Author: James Dashner
Publication: August 14, 2012
By: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
3 Stars

The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

Thank you Netgalley and Delacorte Press for this ARC.

I was really looking forward to this prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy because I thoroughly enjoyed those books. (Team Minho FTW) However, this wasn't what I was expecting. There's a prologue and epilogue that focus on the characters of the Glade but other than that, this is a completely different story with new characters. 

Click here to read more...

Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson & Raúl Colón

Annie and Helen
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator:
Publication: September 11, 2012
By: Schwartz & Wade
5 Stars!

Author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrator Raul Colón present the story of Helen Keller in a fresh and original way that is perfect for young children. Focusing on the relationship between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, the book is interspersed with excerpts of Annie's letters home, written as she struggled with her angry, wild pupil. But slowly, with devotion and determination, Annie teaches Helen finger spelling and braille, letters, and sentences. As Helen comes to understand language and starts to communicate, she connects for the first time with her family and the world around her. The lyrical text and exquisite art will make this fascinating story a favorite with young readers.

Thank you to Random House for sending me this for review.  My first impression of this book is that it's beautiful!  The illustrations are warm and inviting and really bring the story to life. This book tells about Helen Keller's life from Anne Sullivan's POV and features some of her very own letters. 

Click here to read more...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Signings & The Pusher Workout

I've designed a new workout called "The Pusher" (after the subtitle of this blog).  This workout is done best with a buddy.  A twitter friend you're meeting in person for the FIRST time is an excellent "buddy" choice. 

My Team Kilt "workout" buddy Malissa (@jaynes_ire)

Gear:
* Graphic T-shirt, shorts & flip flops. (this foot wear is crucial) 
* Bag of awesome books to be signed by even awesomer authors. (Is "awesomer" a word? If not, just add it to my dictionary of made up words)
* Bag filled with 4 dozen cupcakes.

Activity:
* Arrive at the agreed upon starting line (aka Metro stop) on time but be sure to leave the directions to your final destination on the front seat of your car.
* Obtain Metro passes but be aware, any and all Metro exits will hate you. However, the forward and backward motion of inserting the Metro fare card is excellent for your arms, especially when holding said bags above.
* Walk 6 city blocks while carrying the bag of books and 4 dozen cupcakes BUT make sure you go in the wrong direction first. <-- It's not nearly as effective if you skip this step.
* Arrive at the *finish line* in all your glory! Trust me, you will be "hot mess" incarnate. (Not exactly the "look" you were going for?  Yeah, well, suck it up cupcake!) 
* Now you're ready for the cool down. Inhale a bottle of water that your new friend has graciously provided as fast as you can while quickly switching out cupcake casualties. (Yes, at least a dozen did not survive their tour of DC.)
*Cross your fingers that you don't smell like a locker room. (See?  Even your fingers get a workout.)
* Lastly, wipe your hands of any remaining frosting just as Dan Krokos walks up and introduces himself.  Don't forget, you never get a second chance to make a first impression so say something eloquent like..."I have frosting on my hands." 

Benefits:
* Burning a ton of calories as you sweat like nobody's business.
* Use muscles you never knew existed in your body. (Getting out of bed will be difficult the next day.)
* Have a FANTASTIC time with two YA authors, Liz Norris and Dan Krokos talking about books, songs and how you may be older than them but you're still not old enough to be their Mom. 
* Watch as Dan fends off the most awkward.dude.ever. He has mad people skillz!
* Meet new friends (like Malissa & Lois*) and see familiar faces like the ever entertaining Rick Lipman. :D
* Hang out with everyone afterward and get to know the author's a little bit. <-- BEST PART! (Never mind that you knock the S&P shakers all over the table TWICE proving you can't be taken anywhere.)

Cons:
* Did I mention you get free photos of your workout?  Yeah, then the WHOLE WORLD (twitterverse) can see you "shine". ;D

I had a FABULOUS time meeting authors Dan Krokos and Liz Norris last night as well as my #Team Kilt friend Malissa who was my awesome "workout" buddy. ;)  And Lois - if you read this, I enjoyed meeting you too so if you're on twitter let's be friends! 


Me, Author Dan Krokos (False Memory) & Malissa



The rose is a reference to the story.





Malissa, Me & Author Liz Norris (Unraveling)

Wednesday, August 22, 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.


Asunder (Newsoul #2) by Jodi Meadows
Publication: January 29th 2013
By: Katherine Tegen Books

*stares at the pretty cover*

Asunder (Newsoul, #2)

From Goodreads:

DARKSOULS
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

SHADOWS
Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

LOVE
Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

My "Ana" gloves.
 Incarnate (Newsouls #1) was really enjoyable (especially Sam) and I loved the dynamic between Ana and Sam. I can't WAIT to see what happens in Asunder!

What are you waiting for this week?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Over You
Author: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Publication: August 21, 2012
By: Harper Teen
2 Stars

Cute cover!

 After the grand explosion of her relationship, seventeen-year-old Max Scott developed what every girl in the history of the world has been waiting for: a way to get over being dumped. Now Max is the go-to guru for heartbroken high-school girls all over NYC. But when her ex unexpectedly shows up in her neighborhood, Max’s carefully controlled world starts to unravel. With her clients’ hearts hanging in the balance, Max will have to do the seemingly impossible: get over him once and for all.
Thank you to Edelweiss and YABC.  I had high hopes for this book but ended up really struggling with it.  The first thing that stuck out was the how the characters spoke, they're American but sounded like they had vague British accents at times which was confusing.

There seemed to be too much unneeded banter back and forth between Max and Zach and the alternating points of view were hard to keep track of. I did like the concept of Max's system that encouraged clients to focus on that small window of euphoria each day because when you're dealing with a broken heart, that's hard to do.  

Click here to read more...

Monday, August 20, 2012

 Cover Reveal: Conjure by Lea Nolan
Publication: September 24, 2012
By: Entangled Publishing



 Be careful what you search for…

Emma Guthrie expects this summer to be like any other in the South Carolina Lowcountry--hot and steamy with plenty of beach time alongside her best friend and secret crush, Cooper Beaumont, and Emma’s ever-present twin brother, Jack. But then a mysterious eighteenth-century message in a bottle surfaces, revealing a hidden pirate bounty. Lured by the adventure, the trio discovers the treasure and unwittingly unleashes an ancient Gullah curse that attacks Jack with the wicked flesh-eating Creep and promises to steal Cooper’s soul on his approaching sixteenth birthday.

CONJURE on Goodreads
Lea's website: http://www.leanolan.com/ 
Lea on Twitter: @Lea_Nolan

Lea is giving away several copies of Conjure in addition to the cover reveal.  
Head over to her website to enter.

Return To Willow Lake (The Lakeshore Chronicles) by Susan Wiggs

Return to Willow Lake
Author: Susan Wiggs
Publication: August 28, 2012
By: Harlequin MIRA
2.75 Stars

Sonnet Romano's life is almost perfect. She has the ideal career, the ideal boyfriend, and has just been offered a prestigious fellowship. There's nothing more a woman wants - except maybe a baby.sister? When Sonnet finds out her mother is unexpectedly expecting, and that the pregnancy is high-risk, she puts everything on hold - the job, the fellowship, the boyfriend - and heads home to Avalon. Once her mom is out of danger, Sonnet intends to pick up her life where she left off. But when her mother receives a devastating diagnosis, Sonnet must decide what really matters in life, even of that means staying in Avalon and taking a job that forces her to work alongside her biggest, and maybe her sweetest, mistake - award-winning filmmaker Zach Alger. So Sonnet embarks on a summer of laughter and tears, of old dreams and new possibilities, and of finding the home of her heart. At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Return to Willow Lake plumbs the deepest corners of the human heart, exploring the bonds of family, the perils and rewards of love, and the true meaning of home.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harlequin for this ARC.

This was my first book by Susan Wiggs and even though it's #9 in the series, I didn't feel it was necessary to have to go back and read the other books first because there was enough explanation to catch a new reader up.

This isn't my usual genre but I thought the summary sounded interesting and so I gave it a try.   As an MC, I found Sonnet to be frustrating and wishy-washy (for lack of a better term) when it came to Zach, Orlando and even her father. I understood her need to win her father's approval and acceptance which to Sonnet, meant winning his love but after awhile you need to grow a backbone.

I found the romance lacking, in fact, there was more romance between Nina and Greg than their was between Sonnet and Zach but it wasn't the kind that steams up your windows. It was the kind of romance that is found in a relationship that's withstood trials and is focused on the long haul. Not a bad thing, but I just expected more for Sonnet and it was, "meh".

I will say that what this lacked in heart racing romance, it made up for in the mother-daughter relationship. The bond between Nina and Sonnet is exceptionally strong and very emotional at times. (very) I struggled to get through the "hair" scene and was literally choke sobbing. Sonnet's willingness to put her plans on hold to help her Mom without so much as batting an eye was inspiring. Their relationship is a supportive one and only grows stronger with each new challenge. The end was left open, maybe for the next installment? All in all, this was a decent read but not necessarily the one for me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Desert Rice by Angela Scott

Desert Rice
Author: Angela Scott
Publication: August 6, 2012
By: Evolved Publishing
3.5 Stars

Samantha Jean Haggert is a beautiful twelve-year-old girl, but no one knows it. All they see is an awkward boy in a baseball cap and baggy pants. Sam's not thrilled with the idea of hiding her identity, but it's all part of her brother's plan to keep Sam safe from male attention and hidden from the law. 15-year-old Jacob will stop at nothing to protect his sister, including concealing the death of the one person who should have protected them in the first place--their mother.

Sam and Jacob try to outrun their past by stealing the family car and traveling from West Virginia to Arizona, but the adult world proves mighty difficult to navigate, especially for two kids on their own. Trusting adults has never been an option; no adult has ever given them a good reason. But when Sam meets "Jesus"--who smells an awful lot like a horse--in the park, life takes a different turn. He saved her once, and may be willing to save Sam and her brother again, if only they admit what took place that fateful day in West Virginia. The problem? Sam doesn't remember, and Jacob isn't talking.

Thank you to author, Angela Scott for this e-book which was provided in exchange for an honest review.  Desert Rice is a well written story about love, sacrifice and what it really means to be a family. It's raw and gritty in places but not without it's heartwarming moments of grace and redemption.  Jacob is the epitome of what a brother should be and even though he harbors extreme guilt, he's willing to do whatever is necessary to protect Sam.
  
There were parts of this story that I found difficult to read due to the subject matter but they were balanced out by the humorous coming-of-age awkward ones. This story isn't one that could be finished off with a, "And they lived happily ever after" ending and I was glad to see that it wasn't. This one ended in a realistic way but was also left open for the story to continue if the author decides to go that route. 


Friday, August 17, 2012


Authors Are Rockstars Tour Stop


Welcome to Jenuine Cupcakes! 
*hands you a Batman cupcake* 

I am so excited to be a part of the Authors Are Rockstars Tour hosted by Fiktshun & Two Chicks on Books. Thank you ladies for the opportunity to do this tour and to host...

Dan Krokos, Author of False Memory

When I found out that I would be hosting Dan this happened...


rosesdoitbeta:

Fangirling Minions = Me &amp; @thebookcellarx when discussing False Memory by @DanKrokos. ;) 

And then this...


Why, you ask?
________________________________________

(excuse me while I fangirl)
 
Dan is one of my FAVORITE debut authors of 2012 and it's not just because he was in The Avengers yes, THAT Avengers (lab guy #2--> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI40m0L7JRw&feature=youtu.be) but his book False Memory, blew me away and inspired me to write a poem.

ROSES are red
a warning to you
False Memory; a sci-fi adrenaline rush
and Dan Krokos, I *hearts* YOU!
(in a purely, "you wrote an awesome book" kind of way)


I had the opportunity to read False Memory back in April and was sucked in immediately. Miranda is the MC and Dan tells the story from her POV so well, it was hard to remember that it was written by a guy.  He's created complex characters who you want to BE when you grow up (seriously, I need a Miranda costume!) all within a story that's equal parts action, adventure and just plain awesomeness. I was literally on the edge of my seat at midnight because I was so anxious to see how it all ended!  Dan also writes the romantic tension like.a.Rockstar... *fans face*    

But here's the thing, Dan isn't just working on the False Memory books, he's also working on the forthcoming, Planet Thieves. Count 'em...two books - major Rockstar Author material right there.

________________________________________

Haven't *met* him yet?  Well, here you go...

 
~ Dan Krokos 

After pumping gas for nine years to put himself through college, Dan Krokos, now twenty-six, dropped out to write full-time. He enjoys watching TV, playing MMORPGs, and drinking coffee. 

Currently, he’s hard at work on the next book in Miranda’s journey.

Wanna know more? You can find Dan here:
Website  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  Tumblr 

False Memory Official Fan Page: Rosesdoitbeta

You can order False Memory at:


________________________________________

What is False Memory all about? Check it out...



False Memory (False Memory, #1)
"Remember Who You Are"

Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn't at all surprised by Miranda's shocking ability.

Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn't easy--especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can't remember loving. Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn't seem to matter...when there may not be a future.



________________________________________


If I had to sum up False Memory in one sentence, it would be this...

"False Memory is a Sci-Fi adrenaline rush that I could NOT put down!"

________________________________________

Interview


Hi Dan!  I really appreciate your taking some time to chat with me today.  It's no secret that False Memory is one of my FAVORITE books of 2012, and I just want to say, "Thanks" for writing it. :)

So, where did the idea for False Memory come from?

False Memory came from several different places. It's the only time I've ever written a book by combining several different ideas. I knew I wanted to write a YA, and I had a character named Miranda North, who was 17 and had lost her memories. That's all I knew.

Fear is something that has intrigued me since I was a kid. Why are we afraid? What does it mean to be afraid? I'd written a manuscript where people were able to control fear in others through magic. It was an okay book, but it wasn't good enough to do anything with. When I decided to write a YA, I combined that idea with Miranda. She fit right in. 

Why did you decide to write from a female's POV?  (As I said in my review, you totally nailed this.)
To challenge myself. Every book I'd written up till then was a male POV. Some of them were first person, so I was really stuck in that masculine voice. I was worried I'd never be able to do anything different, so I decided to step outside my comfort zone. It was really hard at first. And so frustrating I've blocked out most of the memories of writing it.

Luckily I had several girls who were able to read and give feedback on her voice. I know Miranda now, but in the beginning, I was discovering her as she discovered herself.

Of the four, who are you most like, Miranda, Noah, Peter or Olive?
This is a great question, and one I didn't even begin to think about until a year after I wrote the novel. I think I'm most like Noah. But, as you know, there are two guys in the book. Peter is the man I want to be. I wish I could be as good as him. Noah is definitely closer to the person I am (or at least, who I was when I was writing the book). He has my sense of humor, and his mouth gets him into trouble. 

That said, I don't really like Noah. He makes some unforgivable mistakes in my opinion. But I love seeing that some readers still like him. 

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? (Besides the fact that it's *potty mouth word*  AWESOME and inspires poems?)
I never focus on theme or messages in my books, because if I think about it, I'll mess it up. It'll seem clunky. But now that I'm very familiar with the book, I see that there is a message in there that is very close to me. Without getting into spoilery detail, I can say that I hope readers take away this: we aren't defined by our past, we are defined by the choices we make in the present. We are whoever we want to be. 

Is there one song that captures the essence of Miranda or False Memory?
I'm not sure. Possibly "Everyone is the Same" by Innerpartysystem. Actually wait--"The Great Below" by Nine Inch Nails really resonates with me whenever I am thinking about Miranda and her stories. I mostly listen to movie soundtracks, though.

(Just for fun) If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
Batman. There is no question. My obsession with Batman is unhealthy. I can admit that. I love Batman simply because he believes in justice. He is the righter of wrongs. The suit and car and cave are all icing on the cake. When you get down to it, Batman sees the world we live in, and he's decided to do something about it.

In a way, I think he's inspired my books more than anything.

Thanks again Dan!
No, thank you!

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Giveaway time! 
What's up for grabs? 1 finished copy of False Memory (You want this. Trust me.)

Here's how it works:
*You must be 13 years or older to enter
* U.S. Only (sorry)
*1 Entry per household
*Contest ends on August 24th at 11:59p.m. Eastern Time
*1 winner will be chosen by Random.org through Rafflecopter and announced here. 
*Winner will have 48 hours after being contacted to respond with all relevant information. If the winner fails to respond, another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

The Treachery of Beautiful Things
Author: Ruth Frances Long
Publication: August 16, 2012
By: Dial/Penguin Teen 
4 Stars!

How gorgeous is this cover?! *stares*

The trees swallowed her brother whole, and Jenny was there to see it. Now seventeen, she revisits the woods where Tom was taken, resolving to say good-bye at last. Instead, she's lured into the trees, where she finds strange and dangerous creatures who seem to consider her the threat. Among them is Jack, mercurial and magnetic, with secrets of his own. 

Determined to find her brother, with or without Jack's help, Jenny struggles to navigate a faerie world where stunning beauty masks some of the most treacherous evils, and she's faced with a choice between salvation or sacrifice--and not just her own.

This is beautifully written, full of imagination, fantasy and romance, with engaging characters that draw you in immediately. Jenny was the only witness to her brother Tom's disappearance and it's haunted her for the past seven years.  She wants nothing more than to find a way to bring him back but she has no idea of how to do that.  Dealing with the loss hasn't been easy on Jenny or her family and she decides it's time to move on.  When she comes back to the spot where Tom was taken, intending to say a final farewell, she finds herself lured into the trees and begins an adventure that will test everything she's ever believed about bedtimes stories, fairy tales and love.
  
Once inside the forest, the very same one that claimed her brother, Jenny will be surrounded by creatures she only thought existed in make believe.  She'll also discover that life beyond the trees can be more nightmare than happy ending and there is danger in beauty. Jack, the mysterious boy who promised to help her find Tom is no exception. He's brave, strong, and has a beauty all his own. Though they drive each other crazy at times, Jenny can sense that he's hiding something.   

Being stuck in a land of mythical creatures who play by their own rules can have some serious disadvantages and Jenny will have to figure out who she can really trust.  The closer she gets to Tom, the more dangerous her journey becomes and before it's over, Jenny will be forced to make a heart-wrenching choice between life and love. *clutches chest*

This vaguely reminded me of Julie Kagawa's "Iron Fey" series but was scarier and without Ash.  On a personal note, I love that the main character's name is Jennifer or Jenny as she's known throughout the story!