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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
"Sydney has always felt invisible. She's grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last."- summary from Amazon

Dessen's latest novel is another engrossing, heart-wrenching and hopeful read. Sydney is definitely a character I feel most of us can relate to at some point or another in our lives. There are times all of us feel invisible to others, whether for a time here and there or for most of the time like in Sydney's situation. I enjoyed reading Sydney's journey throughout the book- being with the Chathams and their friends, working on herself and her family, and becoming more confident. The scenes I enjoyed the most were the ones with Layla, Mac and their friends as well as Sydney and Mac by themselves slowly turning into more than just friends, which Sydney tries to refrain from for most of the novel.

Overall, a fantastic new addition to Dessen's collection of works.

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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
"Here’s a list of things Pip Bartlett can talk to:

Miniature Silky Griffins
Basically, all magical creatures

Here’s a list of things she can’t talk to (at least, not very well):

Basically, all people

Because of a Unicorn Incident at her school (it was an accident!), Pip is spending the summer with her Aunt Emma at the Cloverton Clinic for Magical Creatures. At first, it’s all fun, games, and chatting with Hobgrackles, but when Fuzzles appear and start bursting into flame at the worst possible places, Pip and her new friend Tomas must take action. Because if the mystery of the Fuzzles isn’t solved soon, both magical and unmagical creatures are going to be in a lot of trouble."- summary from Amazon

I've been looking forward to this book for ages. Both of these authors are favorites of mine, and this seemed like such a clever concept for the two of them to work on together. This was such a fun book to read and the illustrations and pages from the Official Guide with Pip's own notations were very cool to see too. The central mystery of the Fuzzles as well as the witty prose propelled me through the book very quickly and made sure it was difficult for me to put it down. I'm extremely excited to read the next book in the series (which was supposed to be out this April, I think, but now has been pushed back to October sadly) and any future books. This is an inventive and interesting story that should delight anyone.

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard
"The signs are everywhere, Jory's stepfather, Caleb, says. Red leaves in the springtime. Pages torn from a library book. All the fish in an aquarium facing the same way. A cracked egg with twin yolks. Everywhere and anywhere. And because of them, Jory's life is far from ordinary. He must follow a very specific set of rules: don't trust anyone outside the family, have your work boots at the ready just in case, and always, always watch out for the signs. The end is coming, and they must be prepared.

School is Jory's only escape from Caleb's tight grasp. With the help of new friends, he begins to explore a world beyond his family's farm. Then Caleb notifies the family that the time has come for final preparations: digging in their backyard canyon at night. Every night.

As the hole gets deeper, so does Jory's doubt about whether Caleb's prophecy is true. When the real reason for their digging becomes clear, Jory must choose between living his own life or following behind Caleb, shutting his eyes to the bright world he's just begun to see."- summary from Amazon

This is a crazy book to read. Hubbard creates such a suffocating atmosphere whenever Jory is home under the watchful eye of his father Caleb and a freeing, curious atmosphere at school and with his new friends. It's so weird knowing that families and larger cults like this exist in the world. It's an interesting journey too following Jory along as he sees the outside world, learns more about it, and opens his mind to the rational. The climax of the book is suspenseful and unexpected, pulling the reader quickly along to see how the confrontation turns out.

Overall, a very good, insightful book and I can't wait to read more from Hubbard.

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

One by Sarah Crossan

One by Sarah Crossan
"Tippi and Grace share everything—clothes, friends . . . even their body.

Tippi and Grace. Grace and Tippi. For them, it's normal to step into the same skirt. To hook their arms around each other for balance. To fall asleep listening to the other breathing. To share. And to keep some things private. Each of the sixteen-year-old girls has her own head, heart, and two arms, but at the belly, they join. And they are happy, never wanting to risk the dangerous separation surgery.

But the girls' body is beginning to fight against them. And Grace doesn't want to admit it. Not even to Tippi. How long can they hide from the truth—how long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?"- summary from Amazon

I haven't read Crossan's prose novels yet but I'm really enjoying her verse books (The Weight of Water and Apple and Rain). This was such an interesting book to read as well as a heartbreaking one, and the verse format really hits that note so well. The succinct language gets to the heart of the joy and pain that these conjoined twins are going through, especially as they face this new obstacle. It's a fantastic, page-turning read and one that will stick with you for a while.

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
"Dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom, Willowdean has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all."- summary from Amazon

I loved Murphy's debut (and it came at a good time for me, going through chemo just like the main character) and was so excited to read her follow-up novel, especially after hearing so much buzz about it. This book did not disappoint- it is heartbreaking, beautiful, funny, emotional, empowering and so many other things that you would want in a novel. Willowdean is a wonderful main character for anyone to read about, root for, and empathize with; we all have our own insecurities, whether by ourselves or when we find ourselves navigating a new relationship like Willowdean does.

Overall, this is a fantastic new book from an emerging talent. I cannot wait to see what Murphy does next!

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

City Love by Susane Colasanti

City Love by Susane Colasanti
"In this first book of a captivating new series by bestselling author Susane Colasanti, three girls share a Manhattan apartment the summer before college begins. City Love captures the essence of summer love, self-discovery and sisterhood, a perfect fit for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Jennifer E. Smith.

This summer will change everything for Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna. Sadie is all about dreaming big and following her heart, hoping her soul mate is right around the corner. Darcy wants a summer of boy adventures with New York City as her playground. Rosanna is running from dark secrets of her past, desperate to reinvent herself. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.

Told from alternating points of view, City Love resonates with the moments when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once...in a way it will never be again."- summary from Amazon

I love Susane Colasanti's books and this one is no different. I'm excited to be reading this new trilogy from her and spending three whole books with these characters, though it does mean some cliffhangers happen in the end which leaves me eagerly anticipating Book 2. The perspective changes each chapter and rotates between the three girls; most of the time, they do seem to be apart and doing their own thing, but sometimes Colasanti shows more than one interpretation of an interaction between the three of them, which is interesting to read.

This is such a fun, breezy novel to fly through, though there are some serious and adult themes going on, being that they are all going into college and on their own for the summer. Starting to navigate an adult life is difficult and things pop up that you've never had to deal with before on your own. Colasanti does a great job bringing these situations in to her three characters and seeing what happens. I'm quite excited to see what happens next in Book 2.

Overall, a great start to a new contemporary trilogy (you don't see much of those) and I highly recommend it.

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

Friday, November 6, 2015

Blog Tour- Traffick by Ellen Hopkins

The sequel to “Tricks,” Hopkins’ latest book follows five teenage victims of sex trafficking — from all walks of life and gender orientations — as they try to extricate themselves from their current situations and find a new way of life.
TRAFFICK (Tricks, #2)
By: Ellen Hopkins
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Pages: 528
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Five teens victimized by sex trafficking try to find their way to a new life in this riveting companion to the New York Times bestselling Tricks from Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heart wrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

Goodreads | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon | Powell's |BAM |S&S

I was so excited when it was announced that Ellen was writing a sequel to Tricks. While it's not my absolute favorite Hopkins book, it's easily in my top 3. It's so great to jump back in to these five teens' stories, essentially picking up right where things were left off in Tricks, and seeing them dealing with their experiences and their attempts to move on from them. Of course, I'm particularly interested in Seth's story the most, being a gay man as well, but each story is so compelling and enthralling that it's hard to put the book down for any length of time. And the verse format makes it even easier to just think to yourself "Just one more section.".

I don't think Hopkins really needs any extra help in selling her books. By now, everyone should know how simply fantastic her writing is and how emotionally raw yet hopeful her storytelling is. As it is, I highly recommend this sequel.

About Ellen

Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and five NY Times Bestselling novels-in-verse. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing.

Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of ChildrenÕs Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

She is a regular speaker at schools; book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world.

Social Media Links:
Goodreads | Website | Twitter |Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

You can follow along with the tour here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 30, 2015

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
"In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?"- summary from Amazon

This is one hell of a debut book. It's gripping, poignant, and extremely thought-provoking. Silvera has a fan for life in me now.

FTC: Bought hardcover at Politics and Prose for signing. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Ash and Bramble by Sarah Prineas
"The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story. Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy-tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy-tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after."- summary from Amazon

A captivating, brilliant and original take on Cinderella and fairy tales in general. Prineas has a fantastic debut YA on her hands.

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg

The Porcupine of Truth by Bill Konigsberg
"Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn't really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who's long held a secret regarding Carson's grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before. Together, Carson and Aisha embark on an epic road trip to find the answers that might save Carson's dad, restore his fragmented family, and discover the "Porcupine of Truth" in all of their lives."- summary from Amazon

I am a huge fan of Konigsberg's books, and this latest one is no exception. Carson is a wonderful character to follow along with, and I loved being in his head and going on his journey to find out this secret. Aisha is a great companion for him to have on the trip. The two of them together were very interesting and their conversations were fun, insightful and thoughtful. What I love about this book is that it is a humorous book while having a serious message (or two) at its core. It's simply fantastic writing and I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone and everyone.

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Banned Books Week- The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

"It's Omri's birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?"- summary from Amazon

I'm so honored that Random House emailed me about participating in their Banned Books Week blog tour, spotlighting some of their own banned books. There was only one book that I'd actually read and was surprised to see it there because I could not remember anything wrong with it when I read it as a child. So while I waited for my copy to arrive, I did some research. What I found were claims about racism in the book, and alleged condoning of white superiority.

First off, the book was written in 1985. Times have changed since then and we've become more of a PC world, where everyone has to walk on eggshells to avoid offending anybody for any reason. Secondly, when Little Bear and Boone are brought to life, BOTH speak in a stereotypical manner, but Omri is also shown over the course of the novel to think past the stereotypes that he's seen in books and movies and therefore learns more about each respective culture. He realizes that they're not so different from him and sees them as equals rather than just toys. We're all just people with the same wants, needs, emotions, etc.

The white superiority claim doesn't really make much sense when reading the book. It does start off with Omri thinking of all the fun he'll have with a live Indian toy, but that is quickly dismissed once Omri realizes that he has to take care of Little Bear (providing food, shelter, and other things). And honestly, with the way Little Bear takes over Omri's life, it's almost the other way around; Omri is actually very subservient to Little Bear in the beginning when they are first getting to know each other. As the book progresses, they (and Boone too) come to a friendship and understanding. Perhaps the claim would also have more legs to it if Omri didn't also turn Boone (the cowboy) and Tommy (a WWII medic) into live people too. He's not just owning an Indian or playing with an Indian; he is equal opportunity with the magical cupboard.

I'm honestly glad that I read the reasons why it has been banned before reading the book because it was hilarious to see those claims demolished with every page I read. I don't know which book those people read (if they read it at all), but it was certainly not the same one I read, which was one of friendship, loyalty (for everyone involved- Omri, his friend Patrick, Little Bear, and Boone), understanding, and respect for all people, no matter the race (or size).

Have any of you read The Indian in the Cupboard, either recently or as a kid? What did you think about it?

I also have a copy to give away of The Indian in the Cupboard as well as a Banned Books Week poster, all courtesy of Random House. The contest is open to US residents. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Friday, October 9 at 9pm EST, along with your email address.

Check out the rest of the tour-

Sunday, September 27- Good Books and Good Wine + Live to Read0
Monday, September 28- All About Romance + Bookie Moji
Tuesday, September 29- Word Spelunking + The Eater of Books
Wednesday, September 30- The Mod Podge Bookshelf + Curling Up with a Good Book
Thursday, October 1- ExLibris + Alice Marvels
Friday, October 2- Book Chic + Words Sweetheart
Saturday, October 3- YA Bibliophile + The Irish Banana

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored this book; it's such a powerful and poignant debut. It's a compelling read and Mim is a character that I really enjoyed spending time with and watching her journey (both figurative and literal) throughout the book was great. The book at times could be a bit stream-of-consciousness, which I always enjoy, and I liked Mim's letters to her mom that she writes on her journey (along with some illustrations). Arnold's characterization of everyone is impeccable and even through short times with the secondary characters she meets on her trip, I really got a sense of who they were as a person and wanted to spend time with them and read their interactions with Mim.

Overall, a fantastically written debut and I am so excited to read what Arnold writes next!

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

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec

My Pet Human by Yasmine Surovec
"Oliver is an independent kitty. He has his run of the neighborhood and looks at his animal friends with their fussing humans with pity. But when a freckle-faced girl moves into town, Oliver sees the opportunity to train a human to provide him with a few creature comforts. And if he can help her adjust to her life and make a new friend, that's just all in a day's work. The real surprise comes, however, when Oliver needs Freckles just as much as she needs him."- summary from Amazon

This was THE CUTEST BOOK EVER. I loved it- Oliver reminded me so much of one of my cats Samson (both are tuxedo cats) and it made for a much more fun read. I will pretty much read any Yasmine Surovec book from here on out; she totally gets cats and what it means to own one (or several). It's nice to read books about cats from a cat lover, as it's one of my favorite subjects. There's a lot of humor, heart, and cuteness in this book. I highly recommend it.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
"Abram and Juliette know each other. They've lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don't really know each other--at least, not until Juliette's mom and Abram's dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don't speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a year later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite Juliette to Taco Bell.

To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins."- summary from Amazon

This was such an interesting book, and a great concept to begin the novel at. I loved reading about these two characters (the story is told in a dual narrative, which I always love) as they grow closer, help each other out with their personal issues and the issue of what happened between their families, and eventually come to fall in love. It's a very well-written book.

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hold Me Closer by David Levithan

Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
"Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say—and he’s going to say it in song.

Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan.

Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage . . . and the world will never be the same again."- summary from Amazon

Tiny Cooper was one of my most favorite parts of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which Levithan co-wrote with John Green, as he was for a lot of people. So I was extremely excited to see that he was getting a spin-off book of sorts. I checked the book out from my local library and promptly read it in one afternoon. The book is written as the musical that we see glimpses of in WGWG, which makes for a quick, fun and interesting read. It's a fantastic glimpse into Tiny's life growing up and being himself. I highly recommend the book regardless of if you've read WGWG previously. It's good as a stand-alone, though there are some spoilers from WGWG toward the end so be aware of that if you plan on reading WGWG at some point.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett

Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett
"This never-before-published collection of fourteen funny and inventive tales by acclaimed author Sir Terry Pratchett features a memorable cast of inept wizards, sensible heroes, and unusually adventuresome tortoises.

Including more than one hundred black-and-white illustrations, the appealingly designed book celebrates Pratchett’s inimitable wordplay and irreverent approach to the conventions of storytelling.

These accessible and mischievous tales are an ideal introduction for young readers to this beloved author. Established fans of Pratchett’s work will savor the playful presentation of the themes and ideas that inform his best-selling novels."- summary from Amazon

I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett and really enjoyed reading this collection of short stories from him over the years. From what I read, this is a combination of stories he wrote when he was younger as well as a few new ones. The artwork in the book too really adds to the stories and makes them so fun and playful. It's such a seriously good book and I highly recommend it to everyone.

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
"Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?"- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adored this latest book from Moskowitz. It's beautifully written, thought-provoking, and poignant with plenty of humor too. Moskowitz does a great job writing Etta's journey and including some fantastic side characters that I loved spending time with (particularly Bianca's gay brother James). There's several big-button issues dealt with in this book, which she handles very well, but the overall message of the book is learning to accept yourself as you are no matter if you're dealing with an eating disorder, sexual orientation, or whatever else. Love yourself, do your own thing, and find friends that will support you along the way.

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

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
"Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely adore this series from Johnson. It's sarcastic/funny just like her other books, but also very dark, very thought-provoking, and very supernatural. While I was not a fan of the two-year wait between the last book and this one, it was definitely worth the wait as the book is simply fantastic. The series as a whole is breath-taking and awesome, and I am really looking forward to the final book whenever it comes out.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blog Tour- Love Lies Beneath by Ellen Hopkins

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Collateral comes a gripping novel about a woman caught in a love affair that could be her salvation...or her undoing.

Tara is gorgeous, affluent, and forty. She lives in an impeccably restored Russian Hill mansion in San Francisco. Once a widow, twice divorced, she’s a woman with a past she prefers keeping to herself.

Enter Cavin Lattimore. He’s handsome, kind, charming, and the surgeon assigned to Tara following a ski accident in Lake Tahoe. In the weeks it takes her to recover, Cavin sweeps her off her feet and their relationship blossoms into something Tara had never imagined possible. But then she begins to notice some strange things: a van parked outside her home at odd times, a break-in, threatening text messages and emails. She also starts to notice cracks in Cavin’s seemingly perfect personality, like the suppressed rage his conniving teenage son brings out in him, and the discovery that Cavin hired a detective to investigate her immediately after they met.

Now on crutches and housebound, Tara finds herself dependent on the new man in her life—perhaps too much so. She’s handling rocky relationships with her sister and best friend, who are envious of her glamour and freedom; her prickly brother-in-law, who is intimidated by her wealth and power; and her estranged mother. However perfect Tara’s life appears, things are beginning to get messy.

Writing in beautiful prose, Ellen Hopkins unveils a new style while evoking her signature poetic form that readers fell in love with in Collateral and Triangles.

Goodreads | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon | Powell's


“After eight highly successful young adult novels-in-verse, I decided to explore more mature subject matter and wrote my first two novels for adults utilizing my signature verse-style formatting. I changed directions with my third, Love Lies Beneath, choosing to write in prose to better connect with an older audience, some of whom might be resistant to the fiction/verse merger.

I will continue to write YA, of course. (My twelfth YA novel publishes Fall 2015.) Teen characters are hugely appealing to me.
But some topics I want to write about demand adults as main characters. My first adult novel, Triangles, explores midlife directional changes, and my second, Collateral, follows a Marine couple through four deployments, with the inevitable consequences. Please visit the BOOKS page here to learn more.

Love Lies Beneath is sexy, chilling noir fiction about a woman who has it all—wealth, beauty, possessions; everything, except love, which she finally discovers at forty, after three failed marriages. While everything is perfect at first, things change when the doctor’s teenage son moves in. It’s then the lies begin to appear. But who, in fact, is the liar?

Expect the sequel to Love Lies Beneath in 2016 and more books for mature audiences in the future.”

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and I have a quick interview with Ellen:

1) If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

I’d go back long enough to tell my parents (both deceased) how much I loved them then and how much I appreciate them now. We think there’s plenty of time to tell people things like that, but we don’t really know how long we’ve got.

2) If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?

Stephen King, Barack Obama, Johnny Depp, Elizabeth Warren, Ellen DeGeneres. My politics are showing, I guess. But that would be one heck of an evening!

3) Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

I’m currently writing the sequel to Love Lies Beneath and a YA called Chameleon, about parental alienation. In the future I might move into something a bit more speculative, but who knows? All I know is I’ll be writing until they pry my dead, cold fingers from the keyboard.

4) Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

In November I’ll be inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. I’ll hang on a wall with the best Nevada writers of all time, including Mark Twain!

5) What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?

The final scene! I love writing twists. The hardest character to write in Love Lies Beneath was the protagonist, Tara, who’s not exactly likeable. But you do learn to relate to her as the story progresses.

6) What hidden gem do you have in your bookshelves?

A circa 1924 copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder

My Secret Guide to Paris by Lisa Schroeder
"Nora loves everything about Paris, from the Eiffel Tower to chocolat chaud. Of course, she's never actually been there -- she's only visited through her Grandma Sylvia's stories. And just when they've finally planned a trip together, Grandma Sylvia is suddenly gone, taking Nora's dreams with her.

Nora is crushed. She misses her grandmother terribly, but she still wants to see the city they both loved. So when Nora finds letters and a Paris treasure map among her Grandma Sylvia's things, she dares to dream again . . .

She's not sure what her grandma wants her to find, but Nora knows there are wonderful surprises waiting for her in Paris. And maybe, amongst the croissants and macarons, she'll even find a way to heal her broken heart."- summary from Amazon

I love reading a new middle-grade from Lisa Schroeder; they're simply the cutest books and she really nails the voice of little girls so well. Plus, there's the exotic, romantic locale of Paris and a middle-grade version of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and you've got yourself an awesome, page turner of a book. Nora is a wonderful main character and she has a clear emotional arc in the book which was wonderful to follow along with.

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu

The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu
"When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything.

The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist.

As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real."- summary from Amazon

Omololu's third novel is her best yet- a highly suspenseful book full of twists and turns. I could not stop reading this book because Omololu knows how to build the mystery and suspense slowly. Lexi is a great main character and it's interesting to see how she figures everything out. There's some false leads and I was pretty surprised with who the killer actually is, and the reason behind it. And there's a sweet romance that pops up throughout the book which I really enjoyed too.

Overall, such a great book and I strongly urge you all to check it out as well as her other previous books too. Omololu is such a fantastic writer.

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

Friday, May 29, 2015

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

Anything Could Happen by Will Walton
"When you’re in love with the wrong person for the right reasons, anything could happen.

Tretch lives in a very small town where everybody's in everybody else's business. Which makes it hard for him to be in love with his straight best friend. For his part, Matt is completely oblivious to the way Tretch feels – and Tretch can’t tell whether that makes it better or worse.

The problem with living a lie is that the lie can slowly become your life. For Tretch, the problem isn’t just with Matt. His family has no idea who he really is and what he’s really thinking. The girl at the local bookstore has no clue how off-base her crush on him is. And the guy at school who’s a thorn in Tretch’s side doesn’t realize how close to the truth he’s hitting.

Tretch has spent a lot of time dancing alone in his room, but now he’s got to step outside his comfort zone and into the wider world. Because like love, a true self can rarely be contained."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely ADORED this debut. It was such a quick, engrossing read that I had problems putting it down (a problem when reading it during breaks at work) and flew through it so fast. Walton took a coming-out story and made it different, focusing instead on all the different kinds of love we find in our lives as well as the love we need to have for ourselves and who we are so that we can be our truest selves.

Tretch is a fantastic main character and I am positive many readers will find a bit of themselves in him. The book may focus on a gay teen boy but the feelings, emotions and experiences he goes through throughout the course of the book are ones that are felt by all. Every person has a part of themselves that they hide from everyone else, trying their best to put out what they think everyone wants to see. It may not be as big as homosexuality but it still creates a similar sense of isolation from those around you.

I really enjoyed the parallel too between Tretch's situation and that of Matt's two dads- it provides an interesting contrast and also shows what Tretch is missing. That ability to be open about who you are and being able to share that with someone is magical. It was adorable seeing Matt's dads together whenever they were in a scene. Along with that, it was really cool to see a friendship like Matt and Tretch's- a real, close friendship even though Matt doesn't know Tretch is gay. (SLIGHT SPOILER AHEAD) The way they interact and hang out together was a bit of an inspiration; I kind of want to read a sequel to see how things are between them now that everything is out in the open.

Overall, I highly recommend this debut and cannot wait to see what Walton comes out with next. Everything about this book- the writing, characterization, humor, insight- was simply superb.

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright + Interview

YOLO Juliet by William Shakespeare and Brett Wright
Srsly Hamlet by William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone
"Imagine: What if those star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet had smartphones? A classic is reborn in this fun and funny adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays!

Two families at war.
A boy and a girl in love.
A secret marriage gone oh-so-wrong.

<3 and h8. The classics just got a whole lot more interesting. ;) tl;dr A Shakespeare play told through its characters texting with emojis, checking in at certain locations, and updating their relationship statuses. The perfect gift for hip theater lovers and teens. A glossary and cast of characters are included for those who need it. For example: tl;dr means too long; didn’t read."- summary from Amazon These were such quick, fun reads and both authors were very clever in rewriting Shakespeare for the modern age and incorporating current slang, emojis, and various smartphone apps/lingo (checking in to places, using the Notepad for soliloquies, etc.) to convey each play. The books are still broken up into 5 acts (and then scenes within each act), just like the real plays so it's easy to follow along. I'm really excited to read the next books in the series and I hope they do well and go through the whole Shakespeare canon. And I also hope that this leads a lot of today's teens to see Shakespeare in a new light and bring them closer to his works. and here's an interview with Brett!:

1) How cool is it to have your name next to William Shakespeare's on a book? Was it hard to re-write the play into the more 21st-century friendly format?

I keep joking, "Take that, high school teachers and college professors!" when I see my name in a byline with William Shakespeare. In all seriousness, I love Shakespeare and it's a ridiculous honor to see my name next to his. I like to think he'd find the humor in this adaptation, and that he'd be excited to see language evolving as writers continue to find new and innovative ways to communicate -- yes, even through emojis! The hardest part of rewriting the play was creatively figuring out how to convey certain actions and emotions that didn't make sense in a text message. Otherwise, it was a blast to imagine these beloved characters with smartphones.

2) You're writing a second book in the OMG Shakespeare series based on A Midsummer's Night Dream (which is my favorite Shakespeare play, so yay to that!). How is that coming along? And do you have any original books that you're writing?

I absolutely LOVED writing A MIDSUMMER NIGHT #NOFILTER even though the play-within-a-play structure made it ten times harder to execute than YOLO JULIET. There were so many characters, settings, and mixed-up scenarios to juggle, but from that mayhem springs the humor at the heart of the play. I work full-time as a children's books editor, so although I'm not currently writing anything wholly original, I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by words and books all the time.

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

Blueberry and Buttered Popcorn . . . together! I also find Peach and Lemon Lime irresistible. Actually, just give me the whole bag, sans Licorice. As a special reward, I'll treat myself to a little Ben & Jerry's "Half Baked." And by "a little," I mean a whole pint.

4) You have a day job as an editor. How did you get into publishing, and what is your favorite part of the job? Does being an editor help your writing at all?

My main focus in undergrad was creative writing, but my college also offered publishing courses, so I enrolled in classes like copyediting, desktop publishing, book overview (where I worked on a children's book the entire semester), and before long I was interning in New York after graduation. Some very generous people took a chance on me and I've been working in publishing ever since. The best thing about being an editor is reading something new and connecting with it on a level you didn't even realize existed. Editors read so much that after a while, it can all blend together. Nothing beats being able to help develop and nurture an exciting new voice you can't wait to share with the world. It certainly doesn't hurt having an editorial background when it comes to writing, but it doesn't give me a magical advantage. I understand how important an editor is to the process from taking a good book to a great book, and I wouldn't have been able to do this without that invaluable support.

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

It's been months but I'm still thinking about Jandy Nelson's I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN with its beautiful, poetic language. I'm currently between reading I. W. Gregorio's NONE OF THE ABOVE and Becky Albertalli's SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. One day I'll find time to get to the rest of my list, which includes Adam Silvera's MORE HAPPY THAN NOT, Tommy Wallach's WE ALL LOOKED UP, and Katie Cotugno's 99 DAYS.

FTC: Received hardcovers from publisher. Links above are Amazon Associate links; any profits go toward funding contests.