Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer

The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer
"For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always -- but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret. But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been hiding secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris -- and Lily's own identity."- summary from Amazon

WOW. I really enjoyed this book and didn't see the twist coming. Archer has written a fantastically creepy, suspenseful read. It's a fairly slow book though, building up to the climax steadily. What kept me going was Lily's voice and the need to figure out who Iris was.

I also liked Lily's interactions with Ty and seeing that relationship develop and also seeing her friendship with Wyatt and how Ty's presence created a rift between them. Watching Lily's mom do a little descent into madness (or is it?) was an interesting aspect to see too.

Overall, a really well-written sophomore YA effort from Archer- let's hope a third book doesn't take so long to release!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
"When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back–a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blankness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself."- summary from Liz Coley's website

Go get this book and read it now. That's really all you need to get from this review.

Wait, you want more? Actual reasons? You aren't just blind followers? Alright, fine.

I TORE through this book, you guys. I have not done that with a book in a long time. I finished it in like 36 hours, reading 100 page chunks in each sitting. I could not put it down. Coley does an amazing job of getting into Angie's head and showing the reader what the human mind is capable of. I don't really want to say too much because it could be considered a spoiler (didn't really think it was til I read some reviews on Goodreads, lol).

There's also a lot of interesting relationship aspects to this- Angie has to go back into her life 3 years later and renew these relationships with her parents, extended family, friends, etc. I thought Coley did a wonderful job at making these reformed connections realistic; Angie has to come to terms with a lot of things, making it difficult to dive back in.

There was a little subplot of the book that I was a bit disappointed. It's brought up, there's a big reveal, and then I felt like nothing really came of it. At least, not as much as I expected or would have liked. I thought there could have been more done with it.

Overall, just read this book. It's simply compelling and just mind-blowing. An amazing debut!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Giveaway- Born Wicked and Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

"Blessed with a gift...cursed with a secret.

Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship - or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word . . . especially after she finds her mother's diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood - not even from each other."- summary from Amazon

Want a chance to win these two awesome books? Penguin Teen is offering one of my readers a chance to win a paperback of Jessica Spotswood's Born Wicked and an advance copy of the sequel, Star Cursed! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your email address by Monday, June 3 at 9pm EST. This contest is for US residents only.

I've read both books and they are simply fantastic, so be sure to enter!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Symptoms of My Insanity Fun Facts Book Trailer Tour

The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf is out in stores now and here's a look at the awesome trailer! Not only that but below the trailer, read on for a fun fact from Mindy about it!

Fun Fact from Mindy: Our Izzy had to leave for another job before we could get the outdoor shots, so I'm the one playing "outside Izzy."

(Yes, that's me doing a spastic-supposed-to-be dramatic run at 2:26)

For fans of Louise Rennison, Sarah Mlynowski, and Stephanie Perkins comes a laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

Izzy is a hypochondriac with enormous boobs that won’t stop growing, a mother with a rare disease who’s hiding something, a best friend who appears to have undergone a personality transplant, and a date with an out-of-her-league athlete who just spilled Gatorade all over her. Yes, Izzy Skymen has a hectic life. But what Izzy doesn’t realize is that these are only minor symptoms of life’s insanity. When she discovers that the people she trusts most are withholding from her the biggest secrets, things are about to get epic — or is it epidemic?

Please be sure to check out Mindy's website, Twitter and Facebook!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beautiful Creatures by Margie Stohl and Kami Garcia

Beautiful Creatures by Margie Stohl and Kami Garcia
"There were no surprises in Gatlin County.
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that's what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything."- summary from Amazon

Yes, yes, I know. I'm like 4 years too late to this party, but hey, at least I finally read it (which I mainly did cuz of the movie). I did enjoy this book, but not as much as many others have. I didn't think it was absolutely amazing, but it was pretty good.

Stohl and Garcia do a great job making the setting come alive through their prose, and that really makes the book, I think. It pulls you in and lets you be part of the story. All the mythology behind everything was explained very well and I was never confused by anything. Learning along with Ethan was a good way to let everything unravel before the reader. I also loved that this was a paranormal book being told from a guy's perspective as opposed to the girl.

I will say that another thing that initially put me off reading the book was the length. Yes, I love reading with a passion but long books scare me. I feel like it'll take me forever to read and with running the blog, I need to stay ahead and all that jazz. So long books tend to be ignored for a while. And yes, it did take me a while to read this book, but whenever I was reading, I was enthralled and turning pages quickly. What mainly took so long was just fitting it into my reading schedule and just getting it from the library (it was always on hold). It didn't feel like a long book at all.

This is a great book and I'll definitely be reading the sequel, which I actually have an ARC of because when I was at BEA 2010, they were trying to get rid of the last few on the final day and my friends and I happened to be walking by so I grabbed a copy. I'm excited to see where the story goes next!

FTC: Received hardcover from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
"When Doctor Victor Frankenstein died, he left behind a legacy of horror...as well as two unacknowledged, beautiful twin daughters. Now these girls are seventeen, and they've come to Frankenstein's castle to claim it as their inheritance.

Giselle and Ingrid are twins, but they couldn't be more different. Giselle is a glamorous social climber who plans on turning Frankenstein's castle into a center of high society. Ingrid, meanwhile, is quiet and studious, drawn to the mysterious notebooks her father left behind...and the experiments he went mad trying to perfect.

As Giselle prepares for lavish parties and Ingrid finds herself falling for the sullen, wounded naval officer next door, a sinister force begins to take hold in the castle. Nobody's safe as Frankenstein's legacy leads to a twisted, macabre journey of romance and horror."- summary from Amazon

This was just an average book- it wasn't that good, but it wasn't that bad. I thought the concept was intriguing and there's some interesting plot points, but I could've definitely gone without reading this book. There was a lot of telling rather than showing and maybe that was just a consequence of it being told in journal format from both daughters' perspectives, but still. The dialogue was a bit stilted too, and not just because the book took place in the 1800s. The ending was a bit abrupt, and a little too tied up (and you all know how I like my endings tied up nicely, but this was just too much and didn't feel right).

Overall, if you wanna read this book, get it from the library. It's a fairly quick, scary(ish) read, but nothing to run out and get.

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Skylark by Meagan Spooner

Skylark by Meagan Spooner
"Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city.

Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply.

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she's ever known...or face a fate more unimaginable than death."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book, though I don't think it's for everyone. There's very little dialogue, at least not until the end, and Lark spends a lot of time trying to get somewhere. So there's a lot of prose and internal thoughts and occasionally events happen for some excitement. If you're looking for more of an action book, this isn't it. But I loved following along on Lark's journey and her voice made it easy to read the book and it kept a good pace.

Spooner does a good job setting up her world in such a short space since Lark escapes within the first 100 pages, and of course Lark compares the new world to the one she just left, and also reminisces about it. It's interesting the way magic is used and utilized in various settings, and it's clever to have it be used in more than one way. It's very versatile.

I'm intrigued to see where the story goes next (there's two more books) and I hope to spring back into Lark's world soon!

FTC: Received hardcover at BEA (signed!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Blog Tour- Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden by Jessi Kirby
"Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely loved Kirby's debut and have been meaning to read her second book In Honor since I got it last year, but being on this blog tour forced me to find time for Golden, her third book. Reading this really made me want to read In Honor, which I'll probably do very soon. Kirby crafts these wonderful coming-of-age tales that are just perfect; I really loved Parker as a main character and seeing her grow over the course of the novel.

The mystery of the novel made it very interesting too; that, along with Kirby's compelling writing, really kept the story moving. I had problems putting the book down. I wanted to see how everything would turn out and it was simply amazing. I just loved it.

In terms of characters, there's mainly just Parker, Kat and Trevor. Yes, there's Parker's mom, and the teacher, but it felt to me like those three were the main focus. It was nice to see a small cast of characters and get to know them. Their interactions were very realistic and they just felt like real friends. Seeing Parker and Trevor get closer throughout the novel was fun too.

Overall, seriously, just pick up this book. It's awesome and a perfect way to start the summer!

Follow the rest of the blog tour by clicking here and here's a giveaway for all of Jessi's books:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC: Received e-galley from Edelweiss. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Of Triton by Anna Banks

Of Triton by Anna Banks
"Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm. Syrena law states all Half-Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance in the Syrena world turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?"- summary from Amazon

So I read this book pretty quickly. After the events in Of Poseidon, I wanted to continue Emma and Galen's story as soon as possible. And oh my goodness, I loved it!! I did want to punch a few characters (the bad guys, not like Emma or Galen), and most of the beginning of the book could've been shortened if people just stood around and talked things out. I was seriously thinking that the whole time, even though I loved the drama and action of it; I was like "OMG just stay there, listen, and talk things out. It will be so much better that way.". I tend to think that a lot when reading some books.

But anyway, I really enjoyed the new dilemma that cropped up and how it was resolved. I also liked the occasional tackling/punching of the bad guys by the good guys throughout the book and may have said "YES!" while pumping my fist. The ending was really nice too and I loved how things turned out. I was positive this was a trilogy though, but it feels like this is THE end so maybe it's a duology? I don't know, but at least if there is another book, this one didn't have a big cliffhanger like the first one.

Overall, a great sequel and I'm so glad I read these books. Definitely check them both out when Of Triton comes out next month!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
"Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk."- summary from Amazon

I'd been wanting to read this book for a while, but hadn't gotten around to it until a blogger friend of mine asked for my copy of the sequel when I was looking to get rid of some books (I'm running out of room!). Of course, as soon as she asked, I was like "Can you wait a bit while I read both books?" LOL. Luckily, she agreed.

And I gotta say, I'm actually glad I waited until now to read this book because that HUGE cliffhanger of an ending made me want the sequel right away. Seriously, if you haven't yet read Of Poseidon, wait until Of Triton comes out so you can read both back-to-back.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. Banks' debut is a great take on Syrenas (aka mermaids, but don't call them that to their faces), filled with some wonderful mythology, humor, and a lovely romance. First off, the mythology is nice and well thought-out. It was fun learning it all as Emma learned about it, and made the story compelling. The humor was another bright spot; if there's humor in a book, it really endears me to it and I'll admit that I laughed out loud a few times.

The romance was fun and I liked seeing Galen and Emma's interactions morph into romance. They're a cute couple. What made it interesting was Banks' idea of switching POVs between the two of them. I liked being able to see their perspectives on certain events and learn what the other was thinking. With this, we got a lot of different settings in case Emma and Galen happened to be apart.

Overall, a fun debut and I definitely recommend this if you're looking for a good romance or mermaid/Siren read.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Signing Recap- Sarah Dessen at Flyleaf Books

So last month on April 16, I attended the kick-off event for Sarah Dessen's What Happened to Goodbye paperback tour in Chapel Hill at the awesome Flyleaf Books. This is my fourth time seeing her (she joins the legion of authors-I've-seen-multiple-times like Maggie Stiefvater, Jodi Meadows, and Melissa Marr) and it's just so much fun. Added into the mix was her awesome publicist and a friend of mine Elyse! It was great seeing them both again.

So anyway, I drove down, grabbed a VERY quick dinner beforehand and got some expensive gas (my tank actually hit E just as I pulled in), then headed over to Flyleaf. I got there just a few minutes before the event started, so was only able to say a quick hello to Elyse before going to find a seat. The place was PACKED. I was one of like four males in attendance (one of whom was Sarah's husband)- not sure if they were just with their girl friends or if they really did like Sarah and her books. I found a seat and started reading The Moon and More while I waited for the event to start.

A bookstore employee (maybe the owner- can't remember!) introduced Sarah and then Sarah talked a little bit about What Happened to Goodbye, and also gave a little hint of The Moon and More. She even read an excerpt- the beginning of the book, which I'd just read, lol. So I was like "I just read that and now I'm hearing it!"

After that, she took questions for about half an hour, ranging from inspiration to her favorite boy and girl main characters to write to the editorial process. Sarah's very funny and I love listening to her speak. After the QnA, she signed books. I stayed near the back of the line because I wanted a picture and a chance to chat with her a bit. Since I had a TON of time (like I said, it was packed so the line was very long), I started more of The Moon and More. This girl behind me looked at the cover and asked "Where did you get that?" She was the first person to ask, though MANY girls had walked by and looked at me puzzlingly. I told her that Sarah's publicist had sent it to me and that I'm a book blogger. I gave her my last business card that I had with me (forgot to stock my wallet with them before I left) and we struck up a conversation and gave each other book recommendations. She was actually a graduate student at UNC and was doing her thesis project on Sarah Dessen, so she used me as a source. We were only able to do one question before we got up to Sarah. Sarah waved at me and was like "James, hello!!" (which made me feel good inside; I like authors who are nice to me) and we chatted for a few minutes while she signed my ARC. I got a picture with her and Elyse, who I had to include because she's an awesome publicist and I love seeing her.

I found out the girl's name was Melissa, and after we got our books signed, we sat down and had a little mini-interview. It was nice for me because I love being asked questions (well, ones I can answer); seriously, if you see me at an event, just ask me a bunch of questions about books, blogging and writing and it will be a fun time. But anyway, she's using me as a source for her project, which was very sweet of her.

I almost forgot- while she and I were chatting, some young girl came up to us and asked how I'd gotten an ARC of The Moon and More. I pointed to Elyse, and said "Sarah's publicist sent it to me." Then, as I was explaining WHY she sent it to me ("I'm a book blogger."), the girl just said "Oh" and walked away IN THE MIDDLE OF MY TALKING. I only said two sentences! You can't stick around for both? While it was rude, it was also pretty funny.

Since we had been chatting, the line had finished, so Sarah was just signing stock and getting ready to leave. I hung around for a few minutes, then said bye to everyone. I thought it was funny that we all had to get up early the next day- them at 5am for a plane, me at 5:30 for work. I got all the way to my car before realizing I should have used the restroom so I went back in and asked where it was, then used it. I'm really hoping those booksellers know I was there for the event and was not just there to use the bathrooms, then leave.

All in all, another fun book event and I may go see Sarah again during her tour next month. We shall see!

Pic 1- The outside of Flyleaf Books
Pic 2- The LONG signing line (you can see a bit of Sarah's table on the left there)
Pic 3- Me, Elyse, and Sarah (from l to r)
Pic 4- Sarah signing stock and also the huge poster they had made for the event. How cool is that?!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Blog Tour- The Savage Blue by Zoraida Cordova

I'm so pleased to be a part of The Savage Blue blog tour and to have Zoraida on my blog today with a fun little guest vlog she did! It's all about the difference between writing Book 1 and Book 2. Enjoy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the rest of the tour stops as well as an awesome giveaway on Zoraida's website! If you haven't read The Vicious Deep yet, go get it! If you have and want to continue Tristan's story, The Savage Blue is out in stores today!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blog Tour- The House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini

House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
"Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the portable electronic devices they could want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job in the wake of a mysterious incident. Now in dire straits, the family must relocate to an old Victorian house that used to be the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff—a house that feels simultaneously creepy and too good to be true.

By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbors has sinister plans for them, they're banished to a primeval forest way off the grid. Their parents? Gone. Their friends? A world away. And they aren't alone. Bloodthirsty medieval warriors patrol the woods around them, supernatural pirates roam the neighboring seas, and a power-hungry queen rules the land. To survive, the siblings will have to be braver than they ever thought possible—and fight against their darkest impulses. The key may lie in their own connection to the secret Kristoff legacy. But as they unravel that legacy, they'll discover it's not just their family that's in danger . . . it's the entire world."- summary from Amazon

I really liked this book. It wasn't perfect, but it was a great book to pass the time with. The adventure starts quickly and keeps getting more compelling as the story goes on. The kids find themselves in increasingly dangerous situations as they learn more about the world they're in. However, sometimes the dialogue just felt a bit off-key to me, and there were some other aspects that didn't sit well with me (just something like a coincidence or whatever, nothing major).

But it's a fun novel with some great main characters at the center of it. The siblings' relationship feels very real and you can tell the love they have for each other even through the bickering. I'm hoping that more of the family legacy will be revealed in future books because it felt a bit vague in this one, and not enough of a reason was given for the "sinister plans" mentioned in the summary.

I'm not sure I like the idea of this being a series. This was close to 500 pages and it felt like it could have been a stand-alone. The ending does set up a second book, but not sure how they'll continue past Book 2. Overall, it's a good summer beach read and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

To see more of this blog tour, go to these blogs for the other stops:

April 23: Bookalicious.org
April 24: Hobbitsies
April 25: There’s a Book
April 26: Katie’s Book Blog
April 27: YA Bibliophile
April 29: Tripping Over Books
April 30: Book Brats
May 1: Good Books and Good Wine
May 2: Book Chic

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.