Friday, May 29, 2015

BEA & BookCon

Hi, everyone!

I'm sorry for the lack of posts this weekend. Today I attended BEA and I will be at BookCon for the rest of the weekend. Which means no formal posts until Monday June 1, 2015. If you follow me on social media (buttons on the right side-bar) you can see updates of everything I'm doing and experiencing.

After BookCon is over I will be sure to post about all of my experiences and everything that I've learned.

I hope all of you have a lovely weekend =)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Court of Fives by Kate Elliot


My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

Published by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Expected Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Pre-order it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

If there is a YA fantasy out there you can normally expect me to be looking it. Judging by the synopsis, it reminds me of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and if it's at all like that then I know I'm going to love this. I've also read that this is similar to Game of Thrones so I'm pretty much sold. Other than that, I have to admit I love the idea of a character being of one class and disguising his/herself to discover other social statuses. In those cases, there is pretty much always a forbidden romance and if I'm a huge sucker for those. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Firewalker by Josephine Angelini ARC Giveaway


This giveaway is now CLOSED. The winner will soon be notified and will have 48 hours to respond to me or I will have to draw a new winner. Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Firewalker (Worldwalker #2) by Josephine Angelini ARC Review

4/5 Stars
Details of the Book
paperback ARC, 337 pages
Published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Preorder it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

Synopsis: Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

What a mess Lily has gotten herself into. I didn't love this book as much as Trial by Fire but it was still good. It's sexy and action-packed but darker than the first installment of this trilogy. It wasn't the darkness that made me lose some of my affection towards this story. It was the lying. The main couple lying to each other because they think it's for the best is a plot device I've seen too many times (Divergent fans you know what I'm talking about) and I hate it each time. Rowan and Lily's relationship is lacking in this one and it breaks my heart. The fact that I feel upset about it is exactly what I think Angelini wants though, so well done. 

The plot takes some interesting turns and never for a moment does Angelini let you feel like you've figured everything out. I'm really curious about what's to come next and I don't know how I'll be able to handle waiting for the next one. 

Strengths/Likes:

1) The plot becomes more and more complex as the story goes on. Angelini gives you absolutely no clue as to what's going to happen next. I swear, my heart was racing with each page turn. 

2) Angelini knows exactly how to make the reader see into villains side, feel bad for them, but still hate the at the same time. No villain is justified but no villain is just bad for no reason. 

3) There are a few new characters and I'm happy to say that I like them all. Normally I prefer to stick with the main group that appears in the first novel, but the new group merges perfectly with the old. 

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) As I mentioned above, I can't stand the things happening between Lily and Rowan. I'm tired of this plot device. When a couple keeps secrets from each other, even ones that might hurt one another, it always is the wrong thing to do. Although, I will say that the lies being told does not justify Rowan's reactions in my book; but my lips are sealed. You guys will have to read it yourselves and find out what he did. 

2) In Trial by Fire the story is told through three POVs. Lily's, Lillian's, and Gideon's. In this book, it's mostly through Lily's but at random times switches to other characters. It's pretty confusing. 

Favorites Quotes/Moments:

1) More than once, she'd found herself defending the awesomeness of Star Wars or The Matrix when Rowan shrugged derisively at both Luke Skywalker's and Neo's fighting skills. 

"It looks fake," he'd said apologetically. "And there's nothing special about being able to run up walls or do back flips over an opponent. That's kid stuff for a mechanic who has even a halfway competent witch. And the way Skywalker handles his weapon"--he rolled his eyes--"twirling it around like a toy so it makes a cool noise. What an idiot." 

"But Luke is in space. You can't fly through space in a spaceship," Lily argued, deeply offended for Luke's sake.

"No. But I don't need to," he'd replied, pulling Lily close. "All I need is you and I can go anywhere."

2) "What can you do?" Una said. "He's a geek. But he's my geek." 

Lily laughed. "Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but you two make kind of an odd couple. 

"You think?" Una replied, smirking. "Believe me, it was a shock to me too, but he grew on me. Like a fungus."

"But he's your fungus, right?"

"Right."

3) "Do you wish I wasn't here?" 

"I want to say yes, but I can't. You're not safe. Everyone here wants a piece of you, but I guess I'm even more selfish than they are. I don't just want a piece, Lily. I want all of you. I want you with me wherever I go, even if that puts you in danger."

4) "Love is being willing to become the villain so that the one you love can stay a hero."

5) "You've never ridden a horse?" Caleb asked Breakfast, an eyebrow cocked in disbelief. 

"I try to avoid any mammal bigger than me. Most of them have really sharp teeth," Breakfast replied. 

Caleb got back on his horse, shaking his head. He looked at Lily. "Where'd you get this guy?"

"I grew up with him."

"He has the survival skills of a napkin."

"Napkins can be useful."

"Great. I can blow my nose on him."

To read my review of Trial by Fire click here

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Q&A with Paula Weston

I have been in love with the Rephaim series since I first received an eARC of Shadows in July 2013. I haven't been able to wait for the US releases of the following books since. I'm so excited for Burn the last in the Rephaim series *sniff sniff.* These books are amazing and if you haven't checked them out yet, do yourselves a favor and get them now

It is my pleasure to introduce all of you to Paula Weston!



Paula Weston is the author of the Rephaim series (Shadows, Haze, Shimmer and Burn), which has been published in Australia, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Shadows has also recently been translated into Turkish (with Haze to soon follow).

For her day job, Paula is a  journalist-turned-government communications specialist, where her writing involves a lot less profanity. :)
She also loves to read, blog, cook, eat, drink and travel and tends to get passionate about human rights, ethical food production… actually, she can get passionate about pretty much anything.

Paula is a huge fan of Australian literature, fantasy/paranormal writing across books, TV and film; she loves comedy; is a closet comic reader and TV addict; and is borderline obsessed with the Foo Fighters.



Q: Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why?

A: I’d have to say Gaby. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was fairly impulsive and impatient, and *possibly* had had some anger issues.  ☺ When I was writing Gaby, I had to channel that younger version of myself, and I was surprised at how easily the voice came. 

Like Gaby, when I’m under stress or threatened, I tend to react with action - so I certainly identify with that part of her personality. For me, doing something – even if it’s not the smartest option – feels better than doing nothing. (And yes, I’m still working on that part of my personality!)

There’s another key part of Gaby’s experience that resonates with me – how she comes to terms with her past. I’m not always proud of some of the choices I made when I was younger. I’ve changed a lot since then, and I always hope that people from my past judge me on who I am now rather than who I was then. Which is not that similar to what Gaby faces – even though she can’t remember being the person everyone keeps telling her she was. (Her struggle of reconciling who she used to be with who she is now becomes a bigger issue for her in Burn.)


Q: If there were one thing that would make you stop reading a book, what would it be?

A: Gratuitous sexual violence – particularly involving women and children. I find those scenes very hard to read under in any context, but they especially repel me when it’s obvious they have no greater purpose in the plot aside from shock value.

Arguably, there are stories where that sort of violence is pivotal to the story and the character’s journey (e.g. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Kite Runner). But when writers use sexual violence as a way to ramp up conflict and tension – without a meaningful narrative context – it helps ‘normalise’ that type of behavior. It’s emotionally draining and distressing to read.

There have definitely been books I’ve started skimming for that reason. (I very rarely quit a book altogether, but I know it’s not working for me as soon as I find myself skimming.)

Q: If you could have any superpower what would it be, and why?

A: I can’t go past the Rephaim power of being able to shift anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye. Aside from making international travel so much more comfortable and affordable (not to mention quicker!), it would also be handy in day-to-day life!

Q: What material possession could you not live without?

I’d like to say ‘nothing’, but I left my phone at home the other day and had to drive all the way back from work to get it because – it turns out – I can’t live with out it. So I guess that’s my thing. In my defence, it’s the material possession that connects me to all the people I care about – and the wider world. I’m also a little obsessive about having a notebook and pencil/pen on me at all times.

Q: What happens now that The Rephaim series is coming to the end? What’s your next project?

I’m about 22,000 words into a brand new novel (a stand-alone story). I’m still getting to know the characters and working out the nuances of the plot – and thoroughly enjoying the process. (Plus, it’s distracting me from the fact I have to let go of the Rephaim characters, which still hasn’t fully hit home.)

It’s still very much a work in progress, but I can say that it will be a thriller in a contemporary Australian setting, and that two of the narrators are older teens. There’s also a specific twist I can’t tell you too much about, only that it’s not angels (or any other supernatural creature).

Thanks for having me on the blog! ☺

Thank you, Paula for doing this interview with me =)

If you guys want more information about Paula and her books, you might be interested in the links that I have listed for you below.



Pre-order Burn by Paula's Australian Publisher: Text Publishing (or wait for the USA release in 2016..I won't be doing that though haha)

Teaser for Burn (Read only if you've read Shimmer.)

My reviews of Shadows, Haze, and Shimmer.




Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hold Me Like A Breath (Once Upon A Crime Family #1) by Tiffany Schmidt Review

1/5 Stars
Details of the Book
eARC, 400 pages
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Synopsis: Penelope Landlow has grown up with the knowledge that almost anything can be bought or sold—including body parts. She’s the daughter of one of the three crime families that control the black market for organ transplants.

Penelope’s surrounded by all the suffocating privilege and protection her family can provide, but they can't protect her from the autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise so easily.

And in her family's line of work no one can be safe forever.

All Penelope has ever wanted is freedom and independence. But when she’s caught in the crossfire as rival families scramble for prominence, she learns that her wishes come with casualties, that betrayal hurts worse than bruises, that love is a risk worth taking . . . and maybe she’s not as fragile as everyone thinks.

I liked the idea of this book more than the actual book. There were parts of it that showed potential but that was the problem. They were just parts. The plot was all over the place. Somewhere around the middle I had no clear picture of what the author was trying to accomplish. At the times where I wanted to dive in and feel for the characters, I couldn't. I felt sympathetic but not empathetic

Strengths/Likes:

1) I think Penny and Carter had a cute relationship. 

2) Char is cute. I would date him ;)

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) I felt nothing while reading the book. Whether it was a intense, sad, or a sweet moment, I felt nothing. The deaths were ineffective and came off cliche. 

2) I couldn't figure out this book. It's identity seemed to waver between mafia book and a contemporary romance. 

3) This book had a lot of fat. There were so many details that I found to be inconsequential. 

Favorite Quotes/Moments: 

1) His laughter was rich and thick like melted chocolate. It seemed to pour slowly over me, erasing so much of my foreboding and replacing it with the sweetest sensation. Like smiling through a blush. Both of which I liked doing. 

"Now I've exposed my cheesy side too." He peeked at me with a sheepish grin. "I don't suppose there's any recovering from being the cheesy, persistent stalker who made you bleed?"

"Well, when you put it like that..."

2) My phone rang as I was brushing my teeth. "Miss me already?" I teased.

"I did." Char stated it as a simple fact, unashamed, unembellished.

I climbed into bed and pressed my giggle into a pillow before I took a deep breath and said, "So tell me about your day."

"Not going to lie, it was kind of surreal. I spent it with the most gorgeous girl I've ever met and she's not bored with me yet."


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker


My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!


Synopsis: Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

The Witch Hunter was listed as a recommendation for me on Goodreads based on my "read" list. I love Fantasy YA and this one just sounds awesome. I've been told by other lucky ducks that this is a fun read. Reviews I have read have talked about witches (a bit obvious, I know), ghosts, and pirates. 
If that doesn't sound fun to you, I don't know what will! 

To learn more about this book here are some helpful links:



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Book Blitz: In The Beginning There Was Us by Ingrid Jonach

It's a pleasure to once again welcome Ingrid to my blog! Some of you may have seen my interview with her about her book When the World Was Flat (and we were in love) along with my review and all of my other posts relating to that marvelous book. Now she's back with her new book In The Beginning There Was Us. 

It's all thanks to Ingrid (of course) and Dianne from Oops! I Read A Book Again that I'm able to share these goodies with all of you! We have a giveaway, an excerpt from In The Beginning There Was Us, a guest post by Ingrid herself, and more! I invite you all to pull up a chair, get a warm beverage and enjoy everything we have in store for you ;)

About Ingrid

Ingrid Jonach writes books for kids and teens.

Her young adult sci fi romance novels When the World was Flat (and we were in love) and In The Beginning There Was Us are available now.

She is also the author of the picture book A Lot of Things and the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan Australia.

Ingrid has worked as a journalist and public relations consultant, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing with Honors in Communications.

She lives down under - in Canberra, Australia - with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.

Website: http://ingridjonach.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/IngridJonach
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ingrid-Jonach/172887016112319
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/IngridJonachAuthor

--
Why I Love Writing sci-fi YA
by Ingrid Jonach


I love writing for young adults—mainly because I like reading young adult novels, so I guess I feel like I'm writing for myself. And, even though I’m now well beyond the traditional age bracket, my favourite contemporary author remains Sarah Dessen (who has just released her twelfth novel Saint Anything. Yay!).

When I was writing books for kids, I used to get asked all the time whether I had kids myself. I somewhat sheepishly replied, ‘No,’ as if this somehow disqualified me from being able to entertain and educate that age group. After all, I was a kid once myself.

And that’s exactly how I look at my obsession with young adult novels. I was—not too long ago—a teenager and it left an indelible mark on me. I think what really appeals to me about writing for young adults is that you’re exploring the transition to adulthood, which gives you some really heavy themes like the loss of innocence and search for identity, coupled with characters who vary vastly in maturity.

I’ve always been a big fan of fantasy—more so than science fiction. The books I adored growing up were mostly supernatural (for example, anything by Australian author Victor Kelleher). I particularly adored the horror genre. I devoured anything with vampires in it (WAY before Twilight) and cut my teeth on R. L. Stine.

When I started pitching my first young adult novel—When the World was Flat (and we were in love)—to agents, I actually described it as a fantasy novel. Embarrassing as this is for someone with a writing degree to admit, I wasn’t a reader of science fiction and thought of it largely as stories set in space (hard science fiction). When I finally pieced together that Albert Einstein and his Theory of Everything were science and NOT fantasy (duh!), I started describing my story as science fiction fantasy and then soft science fiction and now science fiction romance and sometimes speculative fiction. The genre, however, that I think really sums it up is the non-existent genre of urban science fiction (a hypothetical counterpart to urban fantasy).

My follow up young adult novel, In The Beginning There Was Us, is also urban science fiction (I’m just going to go ahead and coin it as a genre). Both of my young adult novels look at re-imagined histories and possible scientific explanations for the inexplicable in a contemporary setting. For example, scientific theories I have developed (or dreamed up) about ghosts and luck. I use the term ‘scientific’ loosely, of course. The theories are only based in science – the rest is based in what if?

You know how kids go through the ‘why?’ phase. They ask what you’re doing and when you tell them they want to know why. And when you tell them why their next question is inevitably, ‘why?’ I think I’ve never left that phase behind. I enjoyed maths at school until my teachers stopped being able to explain to me why I needed to understand trigonometry and calculus. Then I dropped it (something I somewhat regret, but that saw me pass my final exams with flying colours!).

This insatiable curiosity has led me to the science fiction genre. The romance that’s spread throughout my novels is just the icing on the cake. Couple both of those with the young adult demographic and I have so much scope for my imagination! 

--

In The Beginning There Was Us

Purchase: Amazon | Smashwords |
Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Blurb: What would you do if you were God? If you had the power to not only give life, but take it away in the blink of an eye? These are the questions that haunt fifteen-year-old Abbey Baxter after she resurrects a boy, long lost to the ages. 

The achingly beautiful and eternally melancholy Cole not only serves as a welcome distraction from her long-time crush, Elwin, but also eases the heartache that persists since the sudden passing of her younger brother, Junior, four years earlier. 

As the intrigue of her relationship with Cole deepens, so too does the mystery that surrounds a growing phenomenon sweeping through her small West Virginian town, transforming the lives of its residents. Around her, two bedroom cottages are transforming into mansions without explanation and residents are waking up to bank balances that have tripled overnight, all under the watchful gaze of the sinister American Laboratory for Particle Physics, located on the outskirts of town. 

As Abbey searches for answers in a bid to solve the mystery in partnership with Elwin, she’s forced into a realization that that some things are better left buried, including her newfound love, Cole. 

This cautionary tale of heartache and obsession explores the endless possibilities of the universe and its devastating impact on two young lovers from different worlds.

--
Excerpt from In The Beginning There Was Us

I’m dreaming about Cole and in my dream, he’s lying beside me on the grass, listening to me talk nonsense. And I mean that literally. It’s a dream after all.

We’re talking about how we’re getting married in the Fall. When I ask whether he wants to get married in Albert Falls or Italy, he tells me his hometown had been part of the European Apocalypse.

I stop speaking mid-sentence as Cole brushes my cheek with his fingers. He leans towards me, his porcelain skin dappled in the sunlight that filters through the leaves.

“Abbey.”

I open my eyes. I’m curled up on my side with the grass tickling my cheek. I blink owlishly at a pair of red skate shoes. “Cole?” I mumble.

I roll onto my back and stare up at a wide smile and a mop of light brown hair. “Elwin. Hi.” I return his smile as I realize he’d just called me Abbey, instead of Quasi.

I sit up too quickly, moaning at the rush of blood to my head.

“Are you OK?” he asks, crouching down and steadying me with an arm around my shoulders.

“Head spin.” I rub my temples, trying to get rid of the black spots in my vision. My heart’s thudding like a bass drum, but that’s because I’m in his arms, not because of my blood pressure.

“Have you had lunch?”

I shake my head.

And thus begins the best thirty-five minutes of my life. Elwin buys us hot dogs and sodas, before settling down beside me on the grass to watch the game. It feels like we’re on a date.

“Do you like volleyball?” he asks.

I choke on my mouthful of hot dog as I laugh.

Elwin grins and nudges me companionably. “I forgot. It sends you to sleep.”

“I shut my eyes for like a second,” I lie.

“You were snoring.”

I gasp and nudge him back. “I was not!”

He chuckles, flashing me a picture perfect smile.

I look straight ahead at the court in case I swoon. Is this another dream? It’s been years since I’ve had one-on-one time with Elwin.

I can remember having heart to hearts with him after Junior had died. Mali would be lapping their indoor pool and we’d be stretched out on the chaise lounges talking. It had been good to be able to take off my Moretta mask for a while—even Mali had been speechless when it came to Junior.

That was when I’d started crushing on Elwin majorly—like stealing strands of hair from his comb and hiding a photo of him in my underwear drawer majorly. Yeah. I know. Stalker.

“How was New York?” Elwin asks, tilting his head and studying me with gold-flecked eyes.

The key chain in my pocket digs into my thigh and I shift my weight as I’m reminded of Cole. “Good,” I say.

“How was your mum without…” He doesn’t even have to add “Junior.”

I shrug as I give my earlobe an absentminded tug. “OK.”

“At least you got a full week with the folks,” Elwin muses and I think about his own parents. It’s been about six months since they were last home and even then I think it had only been for three weeks.

“Have your parents called?” I ask.

He nods. “I told them not to come home. I’m not sure they would have let them in during those first two weeks anyway.”

There’s something in his tone that makes it sound like coming home hadn’t even been a consideration for his parents.

They’d often talked about moving to New York or Los Angeles since they'd launched Buzz-O-Rama, but the Kendricks have lived in Albert Falls since their great-great-grandfather emigrated from Ireland. Mr Kendrick likes to joke that he bleeds coal dust and I actually think he misses working at Albert Falls Coke & Co.

Elwin gives a whoop as his eyes return to the court.

“What happened?” I ask.

Elwin shrugs. “Buck hit the ball,” he says and then touches his finger to the side of his nose. “Between you and me? I hate volleyball too. All I know about it is that it involves a ball and a net.”

I laugh, my face flushing as I finish with a snort.

Elwin grins and then reclines on his elbow on the grass. There’s no conversation for six lots of five seconds. I actually count each tick of the clock on my watch.

I’m about to put myself out of my misery by commenting on the weather when Elwin finally speaks, as if the thirty seconds had been one second.

“Did you hear about the Hallifords?” he asks.

I could kiss him for starting a conversation. Correction. I could kiss him period. “No,” I say, making myself look at his eyes, instead of at his lips.

“Do you know their house on Fourth Street?”

I nod. Albert Falls is hardly New York. It’s not even Brooklyn. It’s a duplex in Brooklyn. My dad’s on lean-on-the-fence-and-talk-for-two-hours terms with Mr Halliford, who works as a janitor at Albert Falls Elementary. And my mom used to be friends with Mrs Halliford, who’s expecting their third child in October.

“I think it’s about twice the size of our house now.”

“What?” The Hallifords live in a three-bedroom cottage that looks like it needs a lick of paint and a new roof. It’s definitely no Buzz-O-Rama Mansion. “How?”

“It literally happened overnight,” Elwin says. “I spoke to Jeremy Blundall this morning,” he continues and then pauses. “I think you know his sister Katie. She’s your age. Maybe older.”

Katie Blundall? She’s thirteen! “She’s two years younger,” I correct him and he shrugs, not noticing my flushed cheeks as he continues his story about the Hallifords.

“Jeremy said he went to bed next door to a cottage and woke up next to a mansion. You’d think he would have woken up if there was a house being built next door. He said Mr Halliford was just as stunned as everyone else.”

“Hmmm… Weird.”

“Welcome to Albert Falls,” Elwin says with a nod to one of the soldiers.
--
Sold on In The Beginning There Was Us? Enter the international giveaway!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Leveller by Julia Durango ARC Review

4/5 Stars
Details of the Book
paperback ARC, 247 pages
Published by HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 23, 2015

Synopsis: Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.
Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them. 

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

What a fun read! In fact, I laughed out loud on more than one occasion while reading. Nixy and I would be best buds. She has a lot of snark and I feel like she's my spirit animal. The main problem I would say with this book is that I don't quite understand the motive of the bad guy, but other than that I enjoyed it. If you're in-between books, I would suggest this one because it's funny, light, and short.

Strengths/Likes:

1) If you follow me, you know that I love a sarcasm. Nixy is as sarcastic as you can get. Her and I would get along splendidly.

2) I loved everything about the MEEP. All of the details and descriptions of it just sounded awesome. I'm a bit of a gamer myself and I really connected with the real game references such as how many tries it took Nixy to bee Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

3) There was just the right amount of romance. It wasn't overflowing and it wasn't cheesy.

4) This book was just so fun to read. There was drama but no darkness. I wouldn't say it was light but it was just really pleasant. It made me feel happy while I was reading it.

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) As I said already, I don't understand exactly the antagonist motivation. I could only see his motives in theory but there was no evidence in the book to back it up. At least in my opinion.

2) It was too short. I wanted to know more about what's going to happen next.

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) "He looks around and wipes the sleep out of his eyes, then smiles sheepishly at Mom and me. "How are the two most beautiful girls in the world?" he asks as Mom leans down to peck him on the cheek.

2) I shake my head at my grinning parents. "You guys are cracked."

"Indeed," says Dad, bowing to Mom and taking her by the hand as if she's the queen of England. "Cracked as crackers. Now if you'll excuse us, the Premium Saltine and I will be off gallivanting and dreaming of Cheez Whiz for the remainder of the day."

Mom gives us a courtly beauty-pageant wave. "Catch you on the chip side!" she calls as they exit the dining room.

Everyone laughs at her joke, even though chips have nothing to do with crackers, and Mom is obviously too tipsy to make the distinction. I laugh, too, but make a mental note to hide the third bottle of champagne chilling in the fridge. Someone's got to keep her head in this family.

3) "Now begins the great adventure," Kora reads. "Though I leave behind a body, my soul will live forever in the MEEP."

Oh for the love of God and sprinkled donuts. What a drama queen. I try not to roll my eyes, but I obviously don't succeed because my dad frowns back at me.

4) "Okay, So Wyn Salvador looks like a sleeping angel, if angels are hot guys with long lashes and lips that beg to be kissed. This irritates me, as I'd rather he sported a jerk face when I give him the takedown he deserves."

5) "So how do you like the view?" he asks, trying to keep a straight face.

I can't help it. I burst out laughing. "Do you mean the one of the ocean or the two tiny freckles near your ear? Because if you're talking about freckles, I think they're a divine enhancement. Let me guess: you used a 'buy one get one free' coupon at the Freckles Emporium?"

Wyn makes a face. "I'll have you know my avatar is one hundred percent me, right down to the last freckle."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver Review (Spoiler Alert)


4/5 Stars
Details of the Book:
Hardcover, 384 pages.
Published by HarperCollins
Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM | Book Depository |

Synopsis: I’m pushing aside 
the memory of my nightmare, 
pushing aside thoughts of Alex, 
pushing aside thoughts of Hana 
and my old school, 
push, 
push, 
push, 
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

It was hard for me to like this book. Not because it wasn't good but because of the lack of Alex. The entire time I was grieving his loss while Lena had other things to deal with. This book does turn the trilogy into a love triangle and Oliver makes it difficult not to like Julian. My main problem with this book is related to the direction of the plot. I fell in love with Delirium because of Alex and Lena's relationship and because this book stepped away from that. I didn't want to move on from Alex and in this book Lena has to. Oliver's writing is so entrancing that even though I wanted more Alex, to me it's still a great book. 

Strengths/Likes:

1) Even though I missed Alex, I thought the plot was very interesting. There was a lot of action and new elements to the world.

2) As much as I didn't want to I really liked Julian. In fact, I felt bad for him most of the time.

Weaknesses/Dislikes:

1) Why, why, WHY did Lena never attempt to find Alex?! I think we're supposed to believe that he's dead but she had no confirmation of that. Lena risks life and limb for Julian, a guy she barely knows but she didn't do the same for Alex. This made me question her feelings for Alex to begin with. It made me question their entire relationship and therefore questioning the very foundation for me loving Delirium.

2) This is related to my first dislikes, I don't like how quickly Lena fell in love with Julian. I understand that they went through something terrible together and gained feelings due to their situation but Alex had been gone for such a short period of time. I just felt that it was too soon for her to "move-on."

3) I know a lot of people like Raven but I found her to be really irritating. I wasn't interested in her story or her in general. I had no idea how or why she became the leader of their group of Invalids.

Favorite Quotes/Moments:

1) "Love, the deadliest of all deadly things.
It kills you.
Alex.
When you have it.
Alex.
And when you don't.
Alex."

2) "This is what hatred is. It will feed you and at the same time turn you to rot."

3) "Alex loved books. He was the one who first introduced me to poetry. That's another reason I can't read anymore."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spolight Feature Tour: Spelled by Betsy Schow (Giveaway + Excerpt)

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Advance Praise for Spelled

“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” -School Library Journal

“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” --Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform School series

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” --J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, "Spelled" is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” —Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)

Synopsis:

Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.
Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

Pre-order Spelled: Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kindle |  Nook

Author Info:

Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Show and in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals.

Website | Twitter





Excerpt from Spelled:
Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.

Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.

Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”

The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.

I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”

“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.

In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.

I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.

Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.

After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.

Until he opened his mouth again.

“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”

Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.

And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

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