Thursday, July 31, 2014

BLOG TOUR: Oceanborn by Amalie Howard

Check out the tour page HERE




The coronation is over.
But the battle has just begun.

Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.

On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves.








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AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.com.


Website † Twitter † Facebook † GoodReads



VIDEO INTERVIEW

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley

Rites of PassageAuthor: Joy Hensley
Publication: September 9, 2014
By: Harper Teen
Amazon | Goodreads 
A MUST READ!

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What’s she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.


As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.


*I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.*


Now that we've cleared that up...

What I LOVED: Drill. The end. (Okay, so not really.) 
 
But maybe...considering I imagine he looks like this...


Rites of Passage is an empowering story, one that female AND male readers alike will appreciate and enjoy. (My 14 year old son read it and LOVED it!) Well-written, fast paced and action packed, once I started reading, I found it incredibly difficult to put down! When I finally did though, I felt the urge to do a hundred push-ups. I made it to twenty three before deciding it wasn't necessary to try and kill myself. Because, you know, push-ups suck. 

Sam McKenna is the perfect blend of fierce determination, vulnerability and feminine strength. (I could totally relate to her not ever turning down a dare. I too have been known to do crazy things just because someone dared me, although nothing quite like joining what is essentially a "boys only" club.) But I LOVE that Sam refuses to give up when things gets tough. She doesn't she allow those around her to break her spirit either, even when the people closest to her encourage her quit. 

Go home. 

Find a different way to prove herself. 

Sam just keeps going. 
(For the record, I would've gone AWOL the first time someone screamed for me to drop and give them twenty.)

And then there is Drill.


The romance in this story definitely kicked my heart rate into gear and had me fanning my face a few times, but it stays realistic and doesn't overshadow the more important themes of honor, courage and loyalty. Kudos to Joy Hensley for that because if it had been me, "PT" would have stood for, "Pucker-up Time." ;) 

What Left Me Wanting More: Nothing.

Final Verdict: Read it! 


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BLOG TOUR: INTERVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Just Like The Movies by Kelly Fiore

Just Like the Movies
Author: Kelly Fiore
Publication: July 22, 2014
By: Bloomsbury/Walker Books For Young Readers
Amazon | B&N| Book Depository | Goodreads

Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson.

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend.

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.



AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1) Just Like The Movies centers around popular movies from the 80s and 90s. If you had to pick a movie to describe the kind of day you're having right now, which one would you choose?
My son went to day camp for the first time today and I’m on pins and needles, waiting until the time comes to pick him up. I’m sort of a cross between the panicked mother in Home Alone and the frantic fish-dad in Finding Nemo. 

2) If teenage Kelly could star in any movie mentioned in the book, which one would she choose and why?
Ugh. Teenage Kelly was a hot mess. Um, I think she probably would choose Easy A because she would have loved Olive’s ballsy, take-no-prisoners attitude and because Penn Badgley is super-hot.

3) What is the last movie you saw and loved?
Endless Love – ADORBS. In the theater, the last movie I saw was The Lego Movie and that was super-cute, too.

4) What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Author Jen Jacobson said this at a conference and it really resonated with me – “Anything that happens fast in real life, you should write slowly with lots of details and specifics. Anything that happens slowly in real life you can gloss over and be less specific.” It doesn’t work in every case, but I’ve reminded myself of this a lot lately and it hasn’t steered me wrong.

5) I ask all of my blog guests this one...brownies, pie or cupcakes? 
Brownies. I LOVE BROWNIES. (Although, interestingly, I had a cupcake “company” – meaning me in my kitchen – for a couple years. I made wedding cupcakes, which was a ton of fun and a ton of work!)

Thanks, Kelly!




About the Author
Kelly Fiore has a BA in English from Salisbury University and an MFA in Poetry from West Virginia University. She received an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council in 2005 and 2009. Kelly’s poetry has appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Samzidada, Mid Atlantic Review, Connotation Press, and the Grolier Annual Review. Her first young adult novel, Taste Test, was released in August 2013 from Bloomsbury USA. Forthcoming books include Just Like the Movies, again from Bloomsbury, in 2014 and The People Vs. Cecelia Price from HarperTeen in 2015.

Kelly teaches college composition in Maryland, where she lives with her husband and son. You can connect with Kelly at her website (www.kellyfiorewrites.com), on Twitter (@kellyannfiore), on Tumblr (kellyfiore.tumblr.com), or on Facebook (www.facebook.com/KellyFioreYAAuthor).




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1 finished copy of JUST LIKE THE MOVIES 
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Must be 13 years old to enter/Void where prohibited.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Get to Know: King David and Apostle Paul by Nancy I. Sanders

King DavidSeries: Get To Know: King David
Publication: July 8, 2014
By: ZonderKidz
Ages 6-10
Amazon | Goodreads

A Shepherd and A King

David lived an adventurous life. He protected his family s sheep from lions and bears. He fought a giant with just a sling and stone. He even spent years hiding from men who were trying to kill him. And eventually, David became a great king. But David was also a man of God. Learn more about this hero from the Bible and his exciting place in history. Discover what it was like to grow up in ancient Israel and then be a king of God s people. King David part of the Get to Know series will teach you everything you need to know about an imperfect young man whom God used to do great things!



*I received these books from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

As a homeschool mom, I'm always on the lookout for ways to enhance our learning experience with fun and engaging resources and I'm pleased to say, the "Get To Know" biography series does not disappoint.

Even if you're children are older, they can still benefit from the information provided in these books. Each one focuses on a particular Biblical figure and reads like a chapter book, telling their life story using maps, Scripture references, a timeline and fun facts that are very kid-friendly. The key in the front explains how to use the icons; Bible Hero, Eyewitness Account, Did You Know, and Word Bank, all of which pull the young reader into the story and make for an entertaining reading experience. 

The story of King David covers his life from his fight with Goliath up until his death when his son Solomon became King and includes key points such as fleeing from King Saul, his many wives, the Ark of the Covenant, and Psalms he penned. 

This makes for a great addition to any Sunday School or homeschool curriculum. 




Apostle PaulSeries: Get To Know: Apostle Paul
Publication: July 8, 2014
By: ZonderKidz
Ages 6-10

Apostle Paul part of the Get to Know series is a unique biography about Paul. Focusing on the life and character of this Biblical hero, using color photographs, maps, and other visual resources to tell the whole story, young biography fans will come to learn more about this man of the God, his writings, his impact on the early church, and the role he plays in history.

Featuring a bibliography and scriptural references throughout, this is sure to become a favorite for young readers and for first book reports.




As with the King David biography, Get To Know Apostle Paul also provides an account of the Biblical figure in a vivid, colorful way that younger kids will enjoy. Employing the same layout as the other books; maps, icons, Scripture references and a timeline, readers are able to see Paul's life as it spans from the time he converted to Christianity until a few years past his death. The modern day photos allow readers to see the places and landmarks Paul visited on his multiple missionary journeys as they look today. 

Again, this makes for a great addition to any Sunday School or homeschool curriculum. 





#ReadISLA Review: Isla And The Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publication: Dutton
By: August 14, 2014
Pre-Order Campaign
5 Stars!

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.






THANK YOU LAUREN DONOVAN AND PENGUIN TEEN FOR THIS ARC!
*I owe you cupcakes the next time I'm in NYC*

Like most Stephanie Perkins' fans, I have been DYING for Isla and Josh's story and I'm happy to say it does not disappoint!

Isla And The Happily Ever After is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection!

I happen to love the original covers for this series and there's a tiny part of me that wishes the tradition had continued IF ONLY so I could catch a glimpse of Josh in all of his artsy broodishness. HOWEVER, the background of NYC and the green coloring is a great choice because it all ties into Isla and Josh's story. <3

This is a companion novel and sure, it can be read as a stand alone, but to fully appreciate the growth these two characters experience, AND to be able to understand the significance of certain things that happen (closer to the end), I think you HAVE to start with the other books first. Besides, they're both fun so why would you want to skip them? 

This one is a little angstier than ANNA and LOLA, but in a good way. Isla and Josh's relationship - the one that finally develops after she works up the courage to speak to him while trippin' on pain killers - is fast, intense and at times, all-consuming. She struggles with insecurities, he tries to fill a void, and together they embark on a journey that spans several countries and a myriad of emotions. They do balance each other out, which is good, but they also allow their feelings for one other to trump everything else--family, friends and school, which us unhealthy.

When circumstances force them apart, Isla and Josh both have to come to terms with the difference between loving someone (ugly parts and all), and loving the idea of someone. I thought this was crucial to their growth as individuals and as a couple. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Kurt because I really enjoyed his character! He was *different* seeing him portrayed in such a positive light was refreshing. 

My only qualm with this story is that as it progressed, Isla and Josh felt less like teenagers and more like adults.

This really is a FANTASTIC ending to the series and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED the way all three books were brought full circle! ;D

READ IT!!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Adrenaline CrushAuthor: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publication: September 23, 2014
By: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
3 Stars
Amazon | Goodreads

When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.


Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.



*Thank you MacKidBooks for this ARC which I received in exchange for an honest review.*

The writing style took some getting used to but the story itself was fast paced and well told. I was surprised at how much was packed into such a small book too.

Dyna is an interesting character and despite my own urges to take risks, I had some trouble connecting with her. She acts without fear of pain or consequence and both of her parents are okay with it which seems pretty irresponsible to me. Her relationship with Jay develops at light speed and felt forced at times. I also didn't appreciate how his wanting to keep her safe was portrayed as a negative thing especially after what they experienced together. And then there's Pierce, another relationship that, while better matched, also happens at warp speed.

The book as a whole had a good message, learning to live life the way you want to but with boundaries

Saturday, July 26, 2014

BOOK PROMO: Four Houses by Victoria Scott

Cover designed by Jeremy West of Red Creative Design.
A frightened girl.

An empty field.

Four houses.

Which house would you choose?

FOUR HOUSES is a dark short story told in an unusual format that leaves readers wondering how they'd react if found in the same situation as seventeen-year-old Maddy.



BUY LINKS





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International
A digital copy of Four Houses and a signed copy of The Warrior.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Before You (Before and After #1) by Amber Hart

Before You
Series: Before and After Series
Author: Amber Hart
Publication: July 29th 2014 
By: Kensington Teen
3 Stars

Some say love is deadly. Some say love is beautiful. I say it is both.

Faith Watters spent her junior year traveling the world, studying in exquisite places, before returning to Oviedo High School. From the outside her life is picture-perfect. Captain of the dance team. Popular. Happy. Too bad it’s all a lie.

It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don't care.

Eighteen-year-old Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn’t stand a chance of fitting in. Nor does he want to. His only concern is staying hidden from his past—a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him everything. Including his life.

At Oviedo High School, it seems that Faith Watters and Diego Alvarez do not belong together. But fate is as tricky as it is lovely. Freedom with no restraint is what they long for. What they get is something different entirely.

Love—it will ruin you and save you, both.



 *I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This series is edgier YA that gradually progresses into NA and I like that the covers reflect that. (At least to me they do.) 

Before You is fast paced and engaging with alternating POVs that bring the characters of Faith and Diego to life. The prose has a rhythmic feel to it, almost like poetry, but the author uses a lot of flowery comparisons that, at times, were distracting. 

I liked Diego and Faith, (as well as the supporting cast of Melissa and Javier) and I enjoyed watching them navigate the ins and outs of a forbidden relationship, which was surprisingly clean, and was eager to see where their journey would take them. But then there was a twist thrown in, that for me, felt too over the top and I almost stopped reading. Almost. I finished and was ultimately satisfied with how things worked out though.

This is a good start to a new series and fans of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series will definitely want to check it out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FERAL by Holly Schindler

Feral
Publication: August 26, 2014
By: Harper Teen
4 Stars
Amazon | Goodreads | The Book Depository

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

  
*I received this eARC in exchange for an honest review*

This book is creepy.

You should read it. 

With the lights on.

Holly Schindler warned me before I started reading FERAL that it wasn't like any of her other books and she was right. It's fast-paced, mind-twisty with engaging story-telling, compelling characters, and descriptions that draw you in and make you feel as if they are happening to you. *shudders*

Like any good mystery, each time I assumed I knew what was going to happen next, something else would happen to throw me off. And there were quite a few moments where I was on the edge of my seat wondering, "WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?!"  

Okay, so maybe hiding under the covers is more like it, but whatever. Don't judge.
  
The ending left me satisfied and the mystery itself was something that could have easily been pulled from today's headlines. 
 
I generally shy away from books with a high creep factor, they tend to give me nightmares, but I'm glad I gave this one a chance! You should too. 

 
 




 


Monday, July 21, 2014

#ReadISLA Flashback: Lola And The Boy Next Door



Hey guys, today we're going to San Fransisco to hang out with Lola and Cricket!




Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)
Series: Anna and The French Kiss #2
Publication: September 29, 2011
By: Dutton 
5 Stars! 


Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.



*Review originally posted in October 2011*
 
Lololololo-la! Sorry, can't help but hear the Kinks song in my head each time I hear the name, see the title...you get the picture. I thoroughly enjoyed "Anna and The French Kiss" and was really looking forward to "Lola" and I was not disappointed! The more I read, the more I flipped back to look at it and swooned over the tiniest details that were included. (I heart stars!)

Once again author, Stephanie Perkins has created unique characters full of heart, passion and who are just plain fun to read!
LOLA has all the love and heart pounding romance that ANNA did but with a couple of interesting twists thrown in. There's also a few unexpected guests who had me squealing with delight and I DO NOT squeal. (Really, I don't) Plus, Lola has not one, not two, but three cute boys... T-H-R-E-E! Let's take a peak at them shall we?

If you could take a rainbow, a few rays of sunshine, some shooting stars (for their sparkle factor), and maybe even a snowflake or two, mixed them all together and shook them out, Lola is what would you get. She's bright, colorful, full of life and has a sparkle that's all her own. 

Max is our resident rocker bad-boy. What makes him bad? Well, for starters, he's a "few" years older than Lola. Her two Dads aren't too thrilled with the idea of him but then again they're dads. He's cute, he sings and writes music, has multiple tattoos and engages in less desirable behavior (according to dear old "Dads) which, of course, makes him a total chick magnet.

Cricket is Lola's neighbor and childhood friend. He's not only cute, nice and super intelligent (he invents cool stuff like Barbie elevators) but he's tall - really, really tall. He's also the twin brother of Calliope Bell (aka figure skater extraordinaire/mean girl). Lola's parents like Cricket and there's a bit of history between he and Lola which isn't all happy, happy sunshine but no biggie, because he's the very definition of "Tall drink of water". Thirsty much? Yes.I.Am!

Whose the third cute guy? Well, now, that would just spoil the fun so you'll have to read it for yourself. *wink* *wink*

Lola struggles with making the right choices sometimes as a way to protect herself or those around her from getting hurt. This is familiar territory for her considering she's had her fair share of pain either from her mother's behavior or for being ostracized for her appearance. What she learns is that in order to be true to yourself, you have to "be" yourself, regardless of what others think...you have to live fully and without fear. (You wanna wear a pink wig, a sparkly tutu and combat boots? You go girl!) 

She also discovers that some things are worth the risk if you're willing to give it a chance. Even if it's a second, or a third chance and she finds that when it comes to love, sometimes you have to go back to the start in order to cross the finish line.

COVER REVEAL: Play On by Michelle Smith


Play On
Author: Michelle Smith 
Expected Publication: April 2015
By: Spencer Hill Contemporary
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma's flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she's also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there's something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek -- he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21896076-play-on?ac=1



Author Bio:
Michelle Smith writes books for teens (and adults who aren't ashamed of their love for YA). She's a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and is a complete sap. She advocates for mental health awareness, and is a strong supporter of The Trevor Project, Love is Louder, and To Write Love on Her Arms.

Michelle lives in North Carolina with her family.

 
 

 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just Call My Name (I'll Be There #2) by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Just Call My Name (I'll Be There #2)Series: I'll Be There #2
Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan
Publication: August 5, 2014
By: Little Brown Books For Young Readers 
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

The happily-ever-after of Holly Goldberg Sloan's acclaimed debut, I'll Be There, is turned on its head in this riveting, emotional sequel about friends, enemies, and how those roles can shift in a matter of moments.

Emily Bell has it all. She's in love with a boy named Sam Border, and his little brother has become part of her family. This summer is destined to be the best time of their lives--until a charismatic new girl in town sets her sights on Sam. Now Emily finds herself questioning the loyalty of the person she thought she could trust most.

But the biggest threat to her happiness is someone she never saw coming. Sam's criminally insane father, whom everyone thought they'd finally left behind, is planning a jailbreak. And he knows exactly where to find Emily and his sons when he escapes...and takes his revenge.


*I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

There was a lot of buzz surrounding this book at ALAMW and I got excited just listening to one of the publicists at Little Brown get excited. At the time, I wasn't aware that it was actually the sequel to book one, I'll Be There, and while it can be read as a stand alone, I think in order to truly understand what these characters have been through, reading the first book is a must. 

Holly Goldberg Sloan's poetic prose drew me in immediately and her ability to tell the story from not just one or two POVs, but from all of the character's POVs left me a little awe-struck. One would think so many different voices would get distracting but it doesn't, and she weaves them together so seamlessly that you don't even realize you've slipped from one character's head into another until you're already there. In both books, she lays out a story that reminded me of a connect-the-dots picture. Up close, it looks like nothing more than a bunch of dots dispersed across a page, but once you finish, you're better able to see how each of those dots is joined together to form a bigger picture.

I was a few pages into Just Call My Name before realizing there was, in fact, a book that came before it, and I wanted to have all the pieces to this story puzzle before continuing. So I found a copy of I'll Be There at my library, read it as fast as I could and loved it. I was fully invested in Emily, Sam and Riddle and when I came to the final page I had tears pooling in my eyes and a smile plastered on my face. I was happy knowing they would all be okay, satisfied with the way it all ended. 

And here's where my feelings get mixed up...

I don't think every story needs a sequel. Doing so means more characters, more strife and sometimes it changes how the reader views the original characters overall. (Okay, so maybe just this reader, but still.) Sam, Emily, Riddle and the rest of the Bell family have already been through hell and back in book one, so why drag them through it all again? I guess maybe some readers wanted closure as far as Sam and Riddle's father goes, but for me, I had that in book one. And yeah, Sam is naive and will come up against some of the things he did in this book, but again, he and Emily were tested enough in book one. The ending for this one felt rushed and even though the romance isn't the main focus, I still wanted to see more happy times for Sam and Emily.

Having said all of that, this is definitely worth the read, it's a great example of sacrifice, forgiveness and love, and the writing is fantastic! 



 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Conner

The Things You Kiss Goodbye
Author: Leslie Conner
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Publication: June 24, 2014
By: HarperCollins Audio and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged edition
Amazon | Goodreads

Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him. Over the course of the summer, Bettina falls in love with Brady . . . and with the new freedom that comes along with him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this "cowboy" is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina, or "Beta," as he nicknames her.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean losing her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can't help that her breath catches when he smiles, or that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she's anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.


*I received this audiobook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

Audio Rating: 3 Stars
Lauren Fortgang does a really good job of portraying each of the characters, capturing their unique accents and bringing the story to life. 

Story Rating: 
This story was much darker and grittier than I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, I usually like dark and gritty YA, but this just wasn't the book for me. Jen Ryland from YA Romantics does a much better job of explaining what goes on in this story than I can. You can find her thoughts HERE.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Every Time I Think of You by Tracey Garvis-Graves

 We are so excited to share the cover for the upcoming Every Time I Think of You, by New York Times bestselling author Tracey Garvis-Graves. 
 We also have the first chapter available for you to read!







Title: Every Time I Think of You
Author: Tracey Garvis-Graves
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: 9/16/14

Add on Goodreads

Thirty-year-old Daisy DiStefano has two people she holds dear: the grandmother who raised her, and her three-year-old son, Elliott. But when Daisy’s grandmother is killed in a seemingly random act of violence, Daisy must take steps to protect herself and her child.

Despite a thriving career in San Francisco, thirty-six-year-old Brooks McClain has returned home to spend what little time his mother has left before she succumbs to the deadly disease that is ravaging her. The seasoned investigative reporter has taken a position with the local newspaper and been on the job less than twenty-four hours when he’s summoned to cover the death of Pauline Thorpe.

Brooks is all business, but the more time he spends with Daisy DiStefano, the more invested he becomes; there’s something about a single mother, a defenseless child, and an unsolved crime that has stirred Brooks’s protective instincts like nothing ever has before.

And when the unthinkable happens, Brooks will do whatever it takes to clear the name of the woman he’s fallen for and the child he’ll protect at any cost.

Romantic and suspenseful, Every Time I Think of You shows how far two people will go to fight for the ones they love, and the life they’ve always imagined.




Pre-Order Every Time I Think of You at Amazon

Chapter One

  Three-year-old Elliott DiStefano hid underneath his mother’s bed when the shouting started. He didn’t understand what the raised voices coming from the living room meant, but instinct told him to hide.
  No one ever yelled in his house. Sometimes they used a different tone with him, firmer. “Stop climbing everything, you little monkey,” his mama would say or, “It’s time to pick up your toys and get ready for bed,” Nana would announce. Most of the time he would do what they said, although sometimes they had to ask him twice, especially if what he’d rather do was play a little longer. But they never spoke to him in such a harsh way, and they never told him to shut up like the man in the living room just did to Nana.
  Elliott clutched his favorite green army man tightly in his hand. His nana had given him a bath after their early dinner at five, and asked if he was ready to put on his pajamas. “I can do it myself,” he’d told her, and she’d smiled and walked out of the bedroom he shared with Mama, closing the door behind her. She’d promised they could watch a movie and that Elliott could have one of the cookies they’d baked earlier that day for his bedtime snack. But then someone knocked on the door and now there was yelling and no movie and no cookie.
  The man’s voice was scary and mean. Nana sounded like she was crying and as Elliott’s fear grew he began to tremble. The yelling got a little louder, followed by a crash and a thud. Then nothing. Was the bad man still there? What if he’d left but planned to come back? Elliott could no longer hear Nana’s voice and he wondered where she went. Did she leave? Did she go with the man? He curled himself into a tight ball and began to cry silent tears.
  He had no way of knowing how much time had passed. It was dark under the bed and the crying had tired him out, so he rubbed his stinging eyes and took a little nap. When he woke up he desperately needed to go to the bathroom. His mama and Nana had been so proud of him when he stopped wearing diapers, and he hardly ever had accidents, but he couldn’t risk leaving the safety he’d found under the bed. The minutes ticked by and though he tried his best to hold it, he peed in his pajamas, soaking himself from the waist down. He started to shiver.
  It was quiet for a long time and then someone banged on the door and shouted something, but Elliott didn’t know if that was bad or good. He heard voices in the living room, not yelling, just talking, but he remained hidden. Mama would be home soon and she’d know what to do. Elliott decided to wait for her under the bed.
  More voices, drawing closer. The door to the bedroom opened. Elliott froze, wondering if it was the bad man coming to get him. He didn’t make a sound as a pair of legs wearing dark blue pants, with a stripe down the side, came into view. If he didn’t say a word or make any noise, maybe the person would leave.
  No one would have known he was there if he hadn’t coughed at that very moment. It was a bit dusty underneath the bed, and Elliott already felt a little wheezy, like he might need another dose of his medicine.  The legs bent as someone crouched down to look under the bed and Elliott squeezed his eyes shut, terrified of what he might see.
  “It’s okay.” The man said, speaking softly. “I’m a policeman. I’m here to help. Can you come out from under there?” Heart pounding, Elliott didn’t answer. He couldn’t.
  More footsteps. More dark blue legs. Elliott stayed put. No one was yelling, but Elliott’s heart was still beating fast, and his body felt like Jell-O. A lady wearing a dark blue uniform lay down on the floor next to the bed. “What’s your name?” she asked. She sounded a little like his mama. Her smile was nice like Mama’s, too. He didn’t think a bad person would smile at him, so he answered her. “Ewiott,” he whispered.
  “My name is Officer Ochoa but you can call me Regina, okay?” He nodded. “How old are you, Elliott?” she asked. Using the hand not clutching the army man he held up three fingers.
  “Three, huh? That’s a good age. I want you to know that you’re safe and no one will hurt you. Can you come out from under there? Here, take my hand.” She stretched out her hand to him and he hesitated but finally touched her palm with his fingers. She urged him gently toward her. Once he was close enough she reached in and grabbed him by his pajama top, pulling him the rest of the way out.
  Elliott blinked and let his eyes adjust to the light. One of the officers noticed his wet pajamas, and his shivering, and they wrapped his Thomas the Tank Engine comforter around him, speaking in low, soothing tones.
  “I want Nana and Mama,” he said. They could barely hear him.
“What is your mama’s name?” they asked.
  “Daisy,” he said. He knew this was true because it was the name other people called her when they said hello. And it was easy to remember because it was the name of a flower, and he liked flowers.
  “Do you know your last name?”
  He nodded. He and Mama had practiced saying it. “DiStefano,” Elliott said. Maybe it didn’t come out as clearly as it sounded to him because they repeated it back like a question and he nodded.
  The officers exchanged a glance and one of them said, “Got it.” The officer who spoke scribbled something on a pad of paper and left the room.
  “We’re going to take you to the police station and we’ll call your mom so she can come get you,” Officer Ochoa said. “Okay?”
  He wanted his mama more than anything, so he said okay, and when she bent down and scooped him up, comforter and all, he put his arms around her neck. She hurried down the hallway and just before they got to the door, when he would have tried to look for Nana to make sure she was coming too, Officer Ochoa pulled Elliott’s head down to her chest and all he could see was the dark blue of her uniform.  

Trailer

 


About Tracey Garvis-Graves
Tracey Garvis-Graves is the author of On the Island and Covet. She lives in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, two children, and hyper dog Chloe. She blogs at www.traceygarvisgraves.com using colorful language and a snarky sense of humor to write about pop culture, silly television shows, and her suburban neighborhood. You can e-mail her at traceygarvisgraves@yahoo.com. She’d love to hear from you.


So what do you all think? Are you as excited to read this as I am?!