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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman

These Broken Stars by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman
"It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help."- summary from Amazon

I really liked this co-written debut, but don't feel like it's for everyone. Being that Lilac and Tarver are alone on this planet, there's a lot of internal monologue from each of them and they only have each other to talk to for the vast majority of the novel. It is very similar to Spooner's Skylark, which I also enjoyed. There's a lot of space and time to really flesh out these two characters and give readers a chance to really get to know them. But not a lot happens in the book- it's very character-driven and deals a lot with their emotional arc as they journey across the planet and figure out how to get home.

The chapters generally flip back and forth between Lilac and Tarver (a couple times, it may stick with one or the other for a couple chapters) with little one-page transcripts between Tarver and an interrogator cropping up between each chapter. I liked those- it was an interesting choice to include those and generally were used to discuss something that had happened or was about to happen.

Overall, I'm interested to see where the story goes from here (there's two more books in the trilogy), especially as the next book, This Shattered World out in November, focuses on two new characters (just found that out from Goodreads).

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Tour- Burn Out by Kristi Helvig

"Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth's final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns "red giant," but discovers her fellow survivors are even more deadly than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone--her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun--one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with mercenaries to take the weapons by force, Tora's fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James.

She is shocked when James accidentally fires one of her father's bio-weapons--weapons designed to work only for her. She'd felt a strange pull to James from the start, but the odds of someone sharing her energy vibration are statistically miniscule. Tora must quickly figure out who she can trust, as she must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father's request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence."- summary from Goodreads

I have a hardcover copy of the book to give away, courtesy of Egmont USA! All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post by next Monday, May 5 at 9pm EST. US/Canada residents only! If you want to get extra entries, comment on the other blog tour posts happening this week at Curling Up with a Good Book, Live to Read, and The Cozy Reader. Curling Up's post will be up today while Live to Read and The Cozy Reader will be posting tomorrow (Tuesday April 29).

And here's an interview with Kristi:
1) How did you get the idea for Burn Out?

A strange combination of a watching a science documentary about the sun burning out, a song, a vivid dream, and a scorching hot day that left me wondering what would happen if the temperature kept rising. That dream also involved my main characters, Tora and James, along with some powerful weapons I’d never seen before. The story about one of Earth’s last survivors when our sun burns out early came pretty quickly after that.

2) You have a PhD in Clinical Psychology. How did you get involved with writing in general, and specifically YA sci-fi?

I started writing picture books and Nancy Drew fan fiction in early childhood, but never even considered that writing was a viable career choice. It was something I did for fun and aside from some angsty teenage poetry, I didn’t write again until a few years ago. Instead, I went to graduate school, got my Ph.D. and became a clinical psychologist. For several years, I worked on a locked unit with teen girls who’d been committed by youth corrections. They were smart, tough, and funny, not unlike my main character, and I learned a ton from them. After the birth of my second child, I started writing again and joined a critique group. I’ve always been a huge sci-fi fan (BSG is the best show ever!), but never planned on writing sci-fi until the aforementioned events in question #1.

3) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor(s), or if you don't like those, a favorite snack to have while writing or as a reward for writing?

I’m not so much a jelly bean girl, but love, love, love Cadbury Creme Eggs. It’s really good for me that they’re seasonal or I’d be in trouble. I’m in the midst of edits for Book 2 right now and decided to have a Cadbury Egg for breakfast. I wish I was kidding. :)

4) What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about it?

I’m doing copyedits for BURN OUT: Book 2 right now and will finish by next week (I’ll deserve a Cadbury Creme Egg for sure!) After that, I’m finishing (finally) a YA fantasy about an assassin ballerina. I’ve been working on it in between edits and promotion for the BURN OUT books, so it will be nice to get back to it again.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! :)

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. She muses about Star Trek, space monkeys, and other assorted topics on her blog and Twitter. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Grab a copy of BURN OUT on Amazon, Indiebound, or Barnes & Noble.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Reboot + Rebel by Amy Tintera + Contest!

Reboot by Amy Tintera
Rebel by Amy Tintera
"Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders."- Reboot summary from Goodreads

"After coming back from death as Reboots and being trained by HARC as soldiers, Wren and Callum have finally escaped north, where they hope to find a life of freedom. But when they arrive at the Reboot Reservation, it isn't what they expected. Under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader, Micah, the Reboots are about to wage an all-out war on the humans. Although Wren's instincts are telling her to set off into the wilderness on their own and leave the battle far behind, Callum is unwilling to let his human family be murdered. When Micah commits the ultimate betrayal, the choice is made for them. But Micah has also made a fatal mistake . . . he's underestimated Wren and Callum."- Rebel summary from Goodreads

So when I received an ARC of Rebel a couple months ago on its own (rather than in a Harper ARC package), I asked on Twitter if I should read Reboot at all. I had wanted to read Reboot last year when it first came out but I never received an ARC and it's generally difficult for me to fit non-ARC books into my reading schedule. I was assured by a few people (including Amy Tintera herself) that Reboot was a fabulous book and everyone was jealous of me having Rebel already. I tracked Reboot down at my local library and read the two back-to-back. I quite enjoyed them both and read a good chunk of each in a sitting (I read like 150 pages of Reboot while waiting for my roommates to come home one night, and 100 pages of Rebel laying in bed waiting for dinner).

I'm really glad first off that this was a duology and that I waited to read them together. I always hate having to wait between books so it's always nice when I don't get around to something until later and am able to just continue right away after a cliffhanger. Although Tintera does do a good job of ending Reboot at a good place where one adventure ends and another begins, so it's not too bad. But it was nice to stay in the world and see what happens to these characters next.

In Reboot, the reader gets to know Wren and follow along on her journey in escaping HARC with her new trainee, Callum, and watching them fall for each other in the meantime. Tintera sets up the tension between them well, and gives good reason for them to be together. The added bonus then in Rebel is that the reader gets to flip back and forth between Wren and Callum, giving some great insight into Callum's character and providing a nice storyline and emotional arc for him as well. While they do spend a good amount of the book together, they spend a lot of time apart so the dual narrative is necessary to stay on top of the story.

The world building is done very well and the concept is very interesting; it's kind of a little twist on zombies. The only thing that slightly bothered me was the similarities to The Darkest Minds by Alex Bracken. Obviously there's no copying here as both came out just months apart from each other, but it was just intriguing to me how similar the set-up was.

Overall though, this was a fantastic new entry to the dystopian YA genre, and I'm excited to see what Tintera comes up with next!

I'm also giving away my ARC of Rebel by Amy Tintera- all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your email address by Friday, May 2 at 9pm EST! US/Canada residents only!

FTC: Borrowed Reboot from local library, received Rebel ARC from publisher. Links above are Amazon Associate links; any profits go toward funding contests.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Red by Alison Cherry

Red by Alison Cherry
"Felicity St. John has it all: loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she's right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power--and everybody knows it. That's why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she'd be a social outcast faster than she could say strawberry blond. Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it--money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn't about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?"- summary from Amazon

This was an interesting book, but was a little too far-fetched for me at times. I will admit to laughing every time Felicity mentioned the phrase "red cred". I could never really take what she was going through seriously, though the general underlying message is something I do believe a lot of readers will relate to- the struggle to be yourself fully, no matter how scary that idea is.

Felicity is fairly self-centered, though considering the environment she grew up in, it makes sense but that doesn't make it any less easy for the reader to follow her along on her journey. The best scenes, in my mind, were the ones with Jonathon, her art show co-captain, where a more vulnerable and carefree Felicity came through; their chemistry is undeniable and it was sweet seeing them together.

Overall, this debut is worth a look but it definitely requires a suspension of belief. I'm eager to see what Cherry writes next.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy
"What if you'd been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, who she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that's as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her archnemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger). But just when Alice's scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the con­sequences of all that she's said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she caused irreparable damage to the people around her—and to the one person who matters most?"- summary from Amazon

This was a really interesting book- flipping back and forth between Alice and Harvey, and past and present. It got a little confusing at times, trying to keep up with the timeline. It's definitely not a book for everybody; Alice is fairly unlikeable throughout the book, though she has her reasons. But I know other readers couldn't really get past it, especially the hot-and-cold way she treats Harvey. I really liked how Murphy ended the book; it felt really realistic and made so much sense. She also did a good job with the leukemia aspect of the book, clearly having done her research.

Overall, a great debut and I'm excited to read more from Murphy.

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blue Blood by Susan McBride

Blue Blood by Susan McBride
"To the dismay of her high society mother, Cissy, Dallas heiress Andy Kendricks wants no part of the Junior League life—opting instead for a job as a website designer and a passel of unpedigreed pals. Now her good friend Molly O'Brien is in bad trouble, accused of killing her boss at the local restaurant Jugs.

Though no proper deb would ever set foot in such a sleazy dive, Andy's soon slipping into skintight hot pants and a stuffed triple D bra to gain employment there and somehow help clear Molly's name.

But Andy's undercover lark soon brings her into too-close contact with all manner of dangerous adversaries—including a shady TV preacher, a fanatical Mothers Against Porn activist … and a killer who is none too keen on meddling rich girls."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed McBride's YA trilogy and so when Witness Impulse (an imprint of Harper) put her adult mysteries on Edelweiss as part of the re-release campaign, I jumped on the chance to read them. This is the first of the Debutante Dropout mysteries (there's 5 books total) and I'm excited to read more. This was a really fun chick-lit mystery and kind of reminded me of the TV show GCB (though this was written before that show aired). Andy is a great main character and I loved following her along on her journey to help out her friend Molly. There's also of course the beginnings of a cute little romance between Andy and the detective Malone, which was very sweet to see.

Overall, a really good start to this fun mystery series and I cannot wait to read more!

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More Than Good Enough by Crissa-Jean Chappell

More than Good Enough by Crissa-Jean Chappell
"Half native. Half white.
One hundred percent nothing.

My mom doesn’t want me. My dad just got out of jail. They want me to go live with him on the reservation, in the Everglades. Trouble is, everybody there just ignores me.

At least I get to work with Pippa on my film project at school. We used to be friends when we were like twelve. Now that we’re hanging out again it’s like old times—except she’s way cuter.

The thing is, I don’t belong anywhere. I don’t fit in on the rez, and I suck at school. My dad thinks I’m an idiot, but Pippa thinks I’m all good.

I don’t know what to think. Am I bad news or am I more than good enough?"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed Chappell's debut and have been looking forward to more from her. I own her second book Narc, but couldn't find the time to fit it in though after reading this, I am going to have to make time. I absolutely love Chappell's writing and I feel like she's writing about characters and settings that no one else does but that needs to be written and told. I don't think I've ever read a book from a Native American's point of view; maybe I'm not looking hard enough though. But what I like is that while Chappell does bring in Native American traditions, it doesn't feel like that is all that defines Trent. He's still a regular boy that I think readers will relate to; the main aspect of the book is about finding your place in this world. The book is a quick read, and there is a sweet little romance in it.

Overall, I highly recommend this book along with Chappell's writing in general. Please check her books out; you won't be disappointed.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

I See Kitty by Yasmine Surovec

I See Kitty by Yasmine Surovec
"Love that Kitty! The most adorable picture book of the year invites the very youngest cat lovers to find Kitty in the world around them.

Chloe loves kitties. She wants a cat so much that she sees Kitty everywhere she goes: at the bus stop, in her backyard, in the starry night sky, even in her dreams. From debut children's book illustrator Yasmine Surovec comes a story so adorable that if you don't already love cats you will by the time you're done reading it. In the tradition of iconic preschool books like Where's Spot?, I See Kitty uses bright, bold artwork to appeal to very young readers and charm them for generations to come."- summary from Amazon

As I'm sure you all know- at least long-time readers will- I love cats. So when an opportunity to get an ARC of this book showed up in my inbox, I jumped all over it even though I don't usually review picture books. I read it immediately upon receiving it, which wasn't too hard to do since it's a picture book.

I've loved Surovec's Cat vs. Human comics for a long time, and it seems like an ideal idea to write a picture book all about cats. She does wonderfully with it- the artwork is done very well (a more polished and broader look than her comic work) and the story is very easy to follow. In the middle section, it's all about finding the hidden kitty that Chloe sees, which I think will be fun for the young ones reading this book. I particularly enjoyed Kitty City and would like to visit there sometime.

Overall, this is a wonderful book to get your kids (or yourself at any age if you love kitties!) to get them started on the right track of loving kitties and not those dirty dogs. :)

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Last Present by Wendy Mass

The Last Present by Wendy Mass
"Amanda and Leo have a history with birthdays. Now their friend's little sister, Grace, has fallen into a strange frozen state on her birthday, and Amanda and Leo must travel in time in order to fix whatever's wrong. As they journey back to each of Grace's birthdays, they start seeing all sorts of patterns . . . which raise all sorts of questions.

Amanda and Leo are going to have to unravel the threads of the past and present - and travel much further than they ever imagined - if they're going to save Grace. Luckily, a little birthday magic always helps in the charming and funny Willow Falls series by Wendy Mass, where everything is possible and there are no coincidences."- summary from Amazon

I simply adore Mass' books- they always manage to put a smile on my face and make me think about stuff. Even though these are middle-grade books, Mass never underestimates her readers and writes these thoughtful yet fun stories that are just so compelling to read. I'm always amazed at the topics she covers and the deft hand she writes them with.

I'm a little sad to see this series end but I think Mass did a great job ending it. It was wonderful being back with Amanda and Leo, going on one final adventure with them. There's some interesting twists and turns throughout the book, and a lot of Willow Falls history comes to light. It's really fascinating and such an enjoyable read.

Overall, another great book from Mass and I'm excited to read whatever she has up next!!

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tuesdays for the Taking + Excerpt Tour- The Taking by Kimberly Derting

I've got two awesome things for you guys today. First off, the weekly Tuesdays for the Taking question all leading up to the release of The Taking by Kimberly Derting on April 29! Then, I'm kicking off the Excerpt Tour with an exclusive excerpt from The Taking! How cool is that? First, here's some info on Derting's latest book:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer meets The Fifth Wave in this chilling and explosive new series. The last thing Kyra Agnew remembers is a flash of bright light. She awakes to discover that five whole years have passed. Everyone in her life has moved on—her parents divorced, her boyfriend is in college and dating her best friend—but Kyra's still the sixteen-year-old she was when she vanished. In order to find out the truth, she and her friend Tyler (the only person who seems to understand her since she got back, he also happens to be her ex-boyfriend's brother) the two of them decide to retrace her steps from that fateful night. They discover there are others who have been "taken," just like Kyra. Only, Kyra is the first person to have been returned past the forty-eight-hour taken mark. With a determined, secret government agency after her, Kyra desperately tries to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had . . . but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

Doesn't that sound so good?! I'm so excited to read this book. And I'm giving you all the chance to win an ARC of The Taking and some swag. The contest is open to US residents. All you have to do is answer this week's Tuesday for the Taking question on this post (or on Twitter when I post it there- use #TheTaking and @bookchicclub when you reply!)- What's your favorite sci-fi book? (I should also mention I suck at being creative and coming up with questions, lol).

Now it's time for the excerpt:

The silhouette of a little boy stood above me, shadowed by the glare of the sun behind him. I blinked harder, still trying to sort it all out, and I could see his expression then, a look of delight. He held one hand behind his back.

Spread out like marbles in front of my face, I saw an array of brightly colored candies that looked suspiciously like gum balls or mini jawbreakers.

“What are you doing here?” the boy asked, the hint of a slight frown shifting the planes of his freckled face.

I searched for an answer, and when I couldn’t find a suitable one, I asked one of my own, “What are you doing here?”
The boy looked back over his shoulder. “Waiting for my mom.” Past him, I saw the gas pumps and a small convenience store behind them. I squinted against the sunlight and read the sign: Gas ’n’ Sip. A woman was at one of the stands, filling the tank of her red minivan.

What the—the Gas ’n’ Sip, really? How the heck had that happened? When had that happened? I shoved the base of my palms into my throbbing eyes, trying to crush the pain away. Eyeing me curiously, the boy absently popped a piece of the candy or gum into his mouth from the hand behind his back as I struggled to sit upright.

It wasn’t easy. Apparently, I’d slept outside all night. And behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip no less. That panicky feeling shook me, and I glanced around uneasily, wincing as I realized that the rotting smell had been garbage.

“Robby!” The woman yelled, and the boy’s head whipped around.

“Gotta go,” he whisper-told me as if we’d developed some sort of bond and I required an explanation for his departure. “You want these?” He held out his hand, palm open to reveal his remaining candies: three red ones, a green, and four yellows.

I thought about turning him down. They looked sticky. But my mouth tasted like I’d just licked home plate, so I nodded instead.
He held them toward me, and I accepted his gummy offering as they peeled, rather than dropped, from his skin. “Thanks,” I said before he skipped away.

You can find the next excerpt on the tour by going to my friend Sara at Novel Novice!

Pre-order The Taking from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or IndieBound!

Kimberly is the author of the BODY FINDER series, THE PLEDGE trilogy, and THE TAKING (coming Summer 2014 from HarperTeen). She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the ideal place to write anything dark or creepy...a gloomy day can set the perfect mood. She lives with her husband and their three beautiful (and often mouthy) children who provide an endless source of inspiration.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blog Tour- Into the Dark by Bree Despain

Haden Lord, the disgraced prince of the Underrealm, has been sent to the mortal world to entice a girl into returning with him to the land of the dead. Posing as a student at Olympus Hills High—a haven for children of the rich and famous—Haden must single out the one girl rumored to be able to restore immortality to his race.

Daphne Raines has dreams much bigger than her tiny southern Utah town, so when her rock star dad suddenly reappears, offering her full tuition to Olympus Hills High’s prestigious music program, she sees an opportunity to catch the break she needs to make it as a singer. But upon moving into her estranged father’s mansion in California, and attending her glamorous new school, Daphne soon realizes she isn’t the only student in Olympus who doesn’t quite belong.

Haden and Daphne—destined for each other—know nothing of the true stakes their fated courtship entails. As war between the gods brews, the teenagers’ lives collide. But Daphne won’t be wooed easily and when it seems their prophesied link could happen, Haden realizes something he never intended—he’s fallen in love. Now to save themselves, Haden and Daphne must rewrite their destinies. But as their destinies change, so do the fates of both their worlds.

A pulsating romance of epic proportions, Bree Despain’s The Shadow Prince will leave her fans breathless for the next book in the Into The Dark series.

1) How did you get the idea for the Into the Dark series?

The series was inspired by both the song “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” by Deathcab for Cutie and also by my love for all things mythology. The song got me thinking about the idea of following someone into the unknown for the sake of love—which then lead me to think about the Greek myths of Hades and Persephone, and also Orpheus and Eurydice. Because what’s a scarier unknown than the Underworld?

2) What are you currently working on? Can you tell us anything about it?

I am currently working on revisions for the second book in the Into The Dark series. I can’t spill much about it, but I can say that I am hoping there will be a couple of big twists that will take readers by surprise.

3) I've asked you before your favorite Jelly Belly flavor (it was watermelon), so now I'd like to ask your favorite snack to have while writing, or as a reward for writing?

Cinnamon Bears! I think they’re a Utah/Western US thing. For anyone who hasn’t had a cinnamon bear before, they’re kind of like a gummy bear but they’re spicy cinnamon flavored with a touch of sweetness. I especially like them dipped in melted dark chocolate. My doctor is trying to get me to give up my cinnamon bear addiction—but I really don’t think I can write without them!

4) What book(s) are you currently reading, or are about to start? Any 2014 books you're excited to read?

I’m currently reading SCARLET by Marissa Meyer and then the new Veronica Mars book is next in line. The 2014 book I am most excited about is SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch.

Bree Despain is the author of The Dark Divine trilogy: The Dark Divine, The Lost Saint, and The Savage Grace. She rediscovered her childhood love for creating stories when she took a semester off from college to write and direct plays for at-risk, inner-city teens from Philadelphia and New York. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, two young sons, and her beloved TiVo. You can visit her online at www.breedespain.com.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole
"For Cassandra Randall, there’s a price to pay for being a secret atheist in a family of fundamentalists—she has nothing good to write on an online personality quiz; her best friend is drifting away; and she’s failing English because she can’t express her true self in a poem.

But when she creates a controversial advice blog just to have something in her life to call her own, there’s no way she can predict the devastating consequences of her actions. As her world fractures before her very eyes, Cass must learn to listen to her own sense of right and wrong in the face of overwhelming expectations."- summary from Amazon

This was just an okay book. I went through it fairly quickly, and may have skimmed some of it (so easy to do when reading an e-galley). It's an interesting concept and my fascination with religion, particularly the fundamentalist kind, probably kept me reading this long after most people would have stopped. I think readers will identify a bit with Cassandra, but her lack of self did get on my nerves sometimes. I also liked her gay brother and the subplot surrounding him and his boyfriend; it was nice to see that issue brought up in this particular setting. The element of the Tarot cards was intriguing and I liked learning about them along with Cass throughout the novel. There's also a cute little romance between her and a boy in her English class, which was sweet to read.

Overall, a good debut that shows some promise. It's not a bad way to spend an afternoon; if the summary sounds good to you, I'd recommend picking it up. It's a paperback too, so doesn't cost much!

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer

The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Robin Palmer
"Sixteen-year-old Annabelle Jacobs never asked to be famous, but as the daughter of Janie Jacobs, one of the biggest TV stars in the world, she is. Growing up is hard enough. Having to do it in public because your mother is a famous actress? Even harder. When your mom crashes and burns after her DUI mug shot is splashed across the internet? Definitely not fun. Then your mom falls for a guy so much younger than she that it would be more appropriate for you to be dating him? That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen."- summary from Amazon

I loved this book. I've enjoyed Palmer's earlier books, but this one is a little bit darker and also more focused on the mother/daughter relationship than on a romance for the main character. There's still some wonderful humor throughout the book though that had me laughing out loud quite a bit.

Annabelle is a great main character- very funny, very strong but she is also very flawed, insecure and scared. She feels very human; trying her best to keep up a cool, strong front when on the inside, if anything goes off her plan, she freaks out and has to fix it, usually after using one of her unhealthy coping mechanisms to calm down. It's a very brutal, interesting look into the supposed glamorous lifestyle of Hollywood.

Like I said earlier, the main focus of the book is on Annabelle and Janie's relationship. Palmer shows us in the beginning how bad things are, and also including some memories from earlier years to get the full picture. As the book goes on, both of them have fantastic emotional arcs and really grow by the end of the novel. Both also have some cute romances- Janie with her co-star Billy, who's a really sweet, insightful guy, and Annabelle with Matt, who really helps bring her out of her shell.

Overall, this was a pretty good book, and I'm excited to see what Palmer has in store next.

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