Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Heart Is a Complex Thing


Expected Publication:  April 21st, 2015
Things We Know By Heart
By: Jessi Kirby
Harper Teen
ISBN-13:  9780062299437

When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend's donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life.  She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent's heart has remained silent.  The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart.  If she finds Trent's, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas -- a guy whose life has forever been changed by this priceless gift.  But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction.  She doesn't want to give in to it -- especially since he has no idea how they're connected -- but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again.  No matter how hard she's falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she's lost...and all that remains at stake.

Review

       I am always on the lookout for books with unique premises.  That said, though this one sounded a bit like a Lurlene McDaniel story, I'd previously read a book by Kirby that I liked well enough.  So I decided to take a chance on this one and try it out.  Let's just say I wasn't particularly impressed.  Quinn is so broken up over Trent's death, that she decides to meet with the people that received his organs after the accident.  The boy who got the heart doesn't reply, so Quinn does what she can to find him so they can meet.  Only, she doesn't tell him about their connection to each other through her dead boyfriend's heart -- and a relationship is built, based on lies of omission.  I wanted something else when I decided to read this book.  I wanted a story about someone struggling with grief and learning to love again.  I didn't really want a love story with the grief as a side order.
       Mostly, it comes down to the fact that this book was bland for me.  I was not surprised by a single, solitary thing that happened to these characters.  Also, as sweet as the romance between Colton and Quinn was, and as much as I liked Colton, I really wasn't so hot on Quinn.  I understand that she was grieving, not necessarily thinking things through.  But just because she was dating Trent and the heart USED to be his, didn't give her the right to find Colton when he didn't respond to her letter.  I honestly find that kind of creepy, truth be told.  What entitles her to find him and build a relationship with him, based on something he has no knowledge of?  I guess the difference between adult me and teenage me, is that I no longer find that kind of thing even remotely romantic (yet another reason that movie Return to Me is bizarre).  
       As someone who is a registered organ donor, I wouldn't want my loved ones harrassing the people who gets pieces of me to help them live their lives.  My heart is just a heart; my soul is what they love and that will be long gone.  Overall, this story was okay, Quinn's family was wonderful and the romance was sweet.  But the cliche, predictable plot and underlying aspect of creepiness was too much for me to truly enjoy it.

VERDICT:  2/5 Stars

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is April 21st, 2015.**

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Two Girls, A Guy, and...the SATs?


Expected Publication:  April 21st, 2015
Wrong About the Guy
By: Claire LaZebnik
Harper Teen
ISBN-13:  9780062252302

As the stepdaughter of a TV star, Ellie Withers has it all: an amazing house in LA, a devoted friend who loved her before she even knew who Ellie's stepfather was, and a burgeoning romance with handsome Aaron Marquand.  But Ellie isn't the kind of person who's content with simply having it all -- the people in her life have to be equally happy.  And, of course, she knows exactly what they need.

When Ellie's plans for her family, her friends, and even her love life don't turn out the way she imagined, she begins to wonder if maybe she could stand to learn a thing or two after all.  Most surprising, though, is that the perfect person to teach her is the last person she'd expect.

Review

       Ellie has a charmed life with her Mom, famous stepdad Luke and little brother in an LA mansion.  But she thrives on getting things to go her way, whether that means sharing her infuriating SAT tutor George with her less motivated best-friend Heather, getting her Mom and Luke to honeymoon where she wants them to, or planning the future of her own love life.  When Luke's best friend's son moves back to LA for his senior year, Ellie thinks this might finally be the time to jump start her own romantic life.  But there doesn't seem to be any chemistry to speak of between the two of them.  With fake girls at school giving her trouble, fights with Heather over college (and surprisingly, a guy) putting a crimp in their friendship, and Aaron not being quite what he seemed on the surface, is it finally time for Ellie to admit that she needs to spend some time on her own life instead of everyone else's?
       I am a sucker for Jane Austen retellings and had previously read Epic Fail and The Trouble With Flirting by this author, and really enjoyed them.  That said, Elizabeth Bennet and Fanny Price were likeable heroines inherently and I was rooting for them in the original stories.  Emma was not really a favorite of mine.  I will say that Claire definitely managed to make the characters more approachable.  I especially liked Emma's Mom and her stepdad in this book, and the overall family relationship (a great one).  Heather was okay, but I do feel like she was dumbed down quite a bit to make the whole SAT situation more believable.  I honestly felt like Emma didn't even need an SAT tutor, but it was a good way to bring George (aka Knightley) into the story and lessen the originally FAR more creepy age difference between him and Ellie (Emma).  The were a few subplots, such as the one with Aaron's true object of affection, the one with a weird girl at school trying to get to Ellie's stepdad through her, and one with the slow development of Ellie's little brother/what could be responsible for it medically.  Overall, a sweet and fluffy retelling of Emma that I enjoyed and would recommend, even if I didn't quite love it.

VERDICT:  3/5 Stars

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is April 21st, 2015.**

Friday, February 27, 2015

Cart Yourself Away From ME


Published:  September 1st, 2012
Cart's Top 200 Adult Books For Young Adults: Two Decades In Reviews
By: Michael Cart
American Library Association
ISBN-13:  9780838911587

Put together with insight and obvious affection, Cart's guide spotlights hundreds of great books for a hard-to-satisfy audience.

Review

       So, let me just go ahead and admit it: I am a complete and total moron, who apparently can't read book titles. Ummm...yeah, I totally thought this was his list of the best YOUNG ADULT books from the last two decades!!! Totally missed the whole, ADULT BOOKS for Young Adults part of the title!



       I had read a book of Cart's before, a history of the Young Adult genre, and found it interesting enough. I thought to myself, hey, why the hell not read what basically amounts to a mini-textbook?



       That said, his list of books was all the boring, bestseller crap everyone tells you to read all the time. I didn't see anything on there that wasn't un-interesting to me personally, or straight off a high school's required reading list! Also, what a douchebag (I know he's older than dirt, as he states his first professional library gig was in 1967, but still! How out of touch can you be, especially when being the "authority" on young adult literature?!)! This is a direct quote from his introduction:

"I didn't regret saying goodbye to these early teen books, though I never dismissed them as being baby books, as some teenagers have over the years. On the other hand I certainly didn't regard them as having much literary merit or posing any particular challenge to high school-age readers. So where to turn to find the constituents of my new collection? The answer was simple: I turned to adult books." 

       FUCK YOU, MICHAEL CART. FUCK YOU FOR JUDGING ME (and my fellow readers) AND SAYING YOUNG ADULT BOOKS ARE FLUFF/WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANCE. JUST...URGH!!!!! Perpetuating stereotypes and generalizations FTW, people.




VERDICT:  0.5/5 Stars (Only because this might be useful to librarians looking for adult books to recommend to teens - if they haven't read them all in school already, as most of these are required reading titles I recognize, etc.)

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Screams All Sound the Same


Expected Publication:  May 26th, 2015
The Tenderness of Thieves
By: Donna Freitas
Philomel
ISBN-13:  9780399171369

Jane is ready for a fantastic summer.  In fact, she's pretty sure the universe owes her one.

This past winter, Jane was held at knifepoint during an armed robbery and the specter of that night still haunts her.  A summer romance with one of the town bad boys -- sexy Handel Davies, who takes her breath away and makes her feel like a bolder version of herself -- seems like the universe's way of paying her back.

But bad boys always have secrets, and Handel's secret just might shatter Jane completely.

Review

       I just seem to be striking out with books lately, and this one was no exception to that rule.  I requested this from the tour site that I belong to, because almost four years later I still remember her book The Survival Kit fondly.  I remembered comparing her to Sarah Dessen and really enjoying myself while reading her books, namely her characters.  I read the synopsis to this one and the comparison to Gone Girl (a book that, despite the hype, I still haven't read yet) did give me a moment's hesitation.  But I decided to request it anyways, even though the synopsis doesn't exactly cover up what the big "secret" Handel's keeping is regarding.  I have a soft spot for bad boys.  Well, me and this book did not get along.
       It started with a phrase the author, narrating as Jane in first person, uses in her thoughts - "me and my girls."  That phrase sounds like some sort of animal pack, or something out of a Brooklyn-ized Mean Girls revival.  This phrase happens at least four times within the first chapter.  I flipped through and it happens way more than just that, with "the girls and I" heading chapter thirteen, for example.  I am a freak and I know this, fully admitting it right now.  But something about that phrase SCREAMS ghetto trash, Maury-show contestant -- or rich, spoiled, partying Daddy's girl.  Either way, I cannot STAND that phrase.  I have come to the collective realization that I am now officially old in a way that I never was before.  Plus, the whole first chapter is a "meeting" between Handel and Jane, where he says her name twice, she says his once and he walks away.  Then she goes and rehashes the whole thing to her friends as an "interesting" story.  Overall, I think the current generations might like it, but I'm an old lady.  I kept thinking to myself, who talks like that?  And in what universe are this girl and her friends interesting?  Not for me.

VERDICT:  DNF, No Star Rating

**I reviewed this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book's expected publication date is May 26th, 2015.**

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spark Rising (Progenitor Saga #1) by Kate Corcino BLOG TOUR: Excerpt & Giveaway!!!



Spark Rising by Kate Corcino
Publication date: December 15th 2014
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction

Synopsis:

All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.
Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.
Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.
Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.
The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.


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AUTHOR BIO:

Kate Corcino is a reformed shy girl who found her voice (and uses it…a lot). She believes in magic, coffee, Starburst candies, genre fiction, descriptive profanity, and cackling over wine with good friends. A recovering Dr. Pepper addict, she knows the only addiction worth feeding is the one that follows the “click-whooooosh” of a new story settling into her brain.

She also believes in the transformative power of screwing up and second chances. Cheers to works-in-progress of the literary and lifelong variety!

She is currently gearing up for publication of Ignition Point and Spark Rising , the first books in the Progenitor Saga, a near future dystopian adventure series with romantic elements, science, magic, and plenty of action.

Author links:



EXCERPT!!!

       Spark Rising’s Lena Gracey does things her way, with few apologies, even as Alex Reyes uses her need for vengeance to draw her into a revolution. Frustrated, angry, and tired, all she wants is a physical release, and she turns to the one man she thinks can give her that with no strings attached. But the strong chemistry born of hard-won friendship and the electrical power that seethes in both of them guarantees they both get more than they bargained for…

“I know you want me.”
Alex growled and narrowed his dark eyes. “We all want you, because you’re special.”
“Then give me fifteen minutes. You want to fix it. That will. Give me that.”
“Fifteen minutes of tension relief? That’s what you’re asking for?”
This isn’t about feelings, she told herself. No feelings.
Lena lifted her chin. She wouldn’t play by anyone else’s rules. “Yes.”
“Yes?” Alex nodded. “It’s not me, then. Not personal.” He looked past her, his eyes hooded. When he brought them back to her again, she could see the decision he’d made. “Sounds like something I can live with.”
She leaned in as he reached to slide his hand up her jaw.
His palm cupped her face, fingers tangling in her hair as it slid forward. His thumb moved across her lips. Lena slid her knees up onto the seat to either side of him, straddling him as he pulled her mouth to his.
Like the first time, the contact was more than lips meeting, the electric flare deeper and brighter than it had been with Jackson. But this time, the only thing soft about his kiss was his lips.
Energy surged between them. As his tongue traced the inside of her lips, a blazing trail of shocks flared in her skin and exploded like bright lights behind her eyelids. He sucked at her lips, first one and then the other, and energy welled up from her. As he pulled and coaxed, the rising flow felt like fingers stroking deep inside. Each time he drew her lip into his mouth to suckle at the energy, those fingers of power slid up inside of her, moving toward him, leaving a quivering, electrified trail behind. He drew her power into himself.
Lena pulled away, and the electricity crackled white energy between their wet mouths. It hurt, little sparks popping against nerve endings. Alex’s eyes were glazed. He wanted more. But it was her turn.
She lowered her mouth again, pulling the energy from him this time as she darted her tongue between his lips. She framed his face with her small hands and tapped the energy deep within him to draw it up into her through his nerves, his skin, his lips, and tongue.  exploded like bright lights behind her eyelids. He sucked at her lips, first one and then the other, and energy welled up from her. As he pulled and coaxed, the rising flow felt like fingers stroking deep inside. Each time he drew her lip into his mouth to suckle at the energy, those fingers of power slid up inside of her, moving toward him, leaving a quivering, electrified trail behind. He drew her power into himself.
Lena pulled away, and the electricity crackled white energy between their wet mouths. It hurt, little sparks popping against nerve endings. Alex’s eyes were glazed. He wanted more. But it was her turn.
She lowered her mouth again, pulling the energy from him this time as she darted her tongue between his lips. She framed his face with her small hands and tapped the energy deep within him to draw it up into her through his nerves, his skin, his lips, and tongue.
Alex groaned and wrapped his hands around the backs of her legs. He slid them up, cupping the curve of her bottom, fingers caressing the crease that led him to her inner thighs. He drew her to him.
She allowed it, pressing against his body. She wanted more of him. More pressure. More skin against skin. Her hands sank down from his face to slip between them, pulling on his shirt. She pulled it up and off, tearing her mouth from his for an instant to yank the shirt over his head.
He worked the buttons of her shirt, fumbling at them in his hurry. He freed the last of them, spreading her shirt open and back and pushing it off her shoulders. He sat back to look at her.
She followed his gaze to his hands. They spread wide across her ribcage, his sun-darkened brown 

skin stark against her pale freckles. Above his hands, her skin curved into the slight swell of paler 

skin and peaked nipples. He slid his hands up to palm her sensitive breasts, and she pressed into him, 

sliding her hands up to cover his.  His thumb circled her nipple then slid away as he pulled her up.

         He drew her into his mouth, the power slicking electric hot up her nerves.  She arched her back, 

melting into him, already shuddering with the force of the energy surging through her as he licked at 

her.  He slid his hands around her back, pulled her closer, holding tight.  Everywhere their skin met, 

the searing flux of energy wove between them.  Each time their skin parted, a white arc of heat 

spanned the distance and danced along their skin, joining them.

         Lena sank lower, pushing her hand between his waistband and his skin.  She slid her fingertips 

along his lower belly before dipping lower.  The soft, almost delicate skin she found was a contrast 

to the rigid flesh it covered.  She wrapped her hand around him and pulled energy along the length of 

him.
         
         Alex's hands and mouth stilled and his eyes closed.
         
         Like that, do you?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bite-Sized Review: K is For Knifeball, A Contact Sport You'd Do Well to Avoid...


Published:  September 26th, 2012
K is for Knifeball: An Alphabet of Terrible Advice
By: Avery Monsen & Jory John
Chronicle Books
ISBN-13:  9781452103310

Adorable illustrated characters lead readers down a path of poor decision-making, and alphabetical, rhyming couplets offer terrible life lessons in which O is for opening things with your teeth, F is for setting Daddy's wallet on fire, and R is for Racoon ( but definitely not for rabies).  With plenty of playfully disastrous choices lurking around every corner, this compendium of black humor may be terrible for actual children, but it's perfect for the common-senseless child in all adults.

Review

       What is with this trend of humorous books, that are "made" for children (but not really)?  The authors of this book also wrote one called "All My Friends Are Dead."  I kept having their other book recommended to me and was told constantly how funny it was - so, I figured I'd give this one a shot.  After all, any book titled "K is for Knifeball," must be read and enjoyed with all the funniness the aforesaid title entails.  Except for the fact that while, yes, this book made me smile a little bit, it actually wasn't something that I found hee-haw-larious like I expected.  My expectations were probably WAY too high to be met in any realistic way, especially after all the recommendations.  Really though, the best ones are already given away in the synopsis on the back of the book.  Which, with the whole alphabet covered (kind of, they cheated with a couple letters in my opinion) you'd think there'd be plenty of room for funny stuff.  But they seemed more intent on going for the cheap laughs.  It might be black humor, but it was by no means SMART humor.  And to me, that was it's biggest failing.  What I personally want is the "Adventures of Knifeball."  But you know what they say about not having everything in life.

VERDICT:  2/5 Stars

*No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.*

Friday, February 13, 2015

Henge (Le Fay #1) by Realm Lovejoy BLOG TOUR -- REVIEW, GIVEAWAY!!!



Henge by Realm Lovejoy
(Le Fay #1)
Publication date: November 11th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Synopsis:

Modern-day Camelot. Where knights no longer carry swords. Magic is dangerous. And those who seek control are not to be trusted.
Sixteen-year-old Morgan le Fay is a fire user. An ordinary girl with an extraordinary skill, she has the ability to create and command fire at will. Her dream is to become the Maven—the right hand of the future King Arthur. In the chance of a lifetime, Morgan is selected to join Arthur’s Round, an elite group of young magic users from which the new Maven will be chosen.
Along with the other fire, water, and wind users in Arthur’s Round, Morgan is rigorously trained and tested. The handsome Merlin, a brilliant water user, takes a particular interest in her. Is his friendship to be trusted, or is Merlin simply trying to win the position of Maven for himself? Among the many rivals Morgan faces is the current Maven, Mordred, who seems determined to see her fail.
But Morgan has a secret—years ago, her mother was executed for using fire magic, and Morgan’s desire for justice makes her more than ready to take on the challenge before her. Can she prevail in Camelot’s tests of survival and magic? Only time—and Morgan’s powerful fire—will tell.
_________

“Camelot meets Hogwarts meets Panem in this intriguing, well-written beginning to a planned YA series.”–Kirkus Reviews




Trailerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qoGAE2s8RE

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AUTHOR BIO:
Realm Lovejoy is an American writer and an artist. She grew up in both Washington State and the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle and works as an artist in the video game industry. CLAN is her first book. You can find out more about her and her book at realmlovejoy.com

Author links:



Review

       It's hard to find a good Arthurian retelling these days - even harder to find one that's a MODERN retelling of the well-known legends.  Realm Lovejoy's Henge, the first in a series about a teenaged Morgan Le Fay, is both of these things.  I started reading this book and was immediately drawn in by Morgan who seems like such a good girl, living in an isolated area with her overprotective father Gorlois, who has been told to hide her elemental ability with fire most of her life.  At least, she's been hiding her abilities ever since her mother was executed for the murder of her husband using her abilities.  But it's Morgan's dream to one day be Maven (basically main advisor) to Arthur once he's on the throne, like her Grandfather was to the Prince's grandfather.  So Morgan sneaks away to compete for a place in the trials for Arthur's Round, whom the Maven will ultimately be chosen from.  Even competing with a forged license and against her father's wishes, Morgan is chosen to participate in the competition.  But does she even have any chance of winning when the man who convicted her Mother, the current Maven, Mordred, seems to be blocking her at every turn?  And when some very fishy incidents involving the other candidates (including her friend Guinevere, and rival Merlin) and near death experiences seem to point towards illegal magic usage, Morgan may be fighting for more than just Maven - she might be fighting for her very life...
       Morgan was such an easily connectable main character.  She loves her father and still misses her mother, even after all these years.  She just wants a chance to prove that she's not going to make the same mistakes her mother, Morgause, did and to renew her family's legacy.  Morgan starts to really come into her own once she's competing in Arthur's Round, really learning to control the fire and do things with it she never imagined.  I liked that Lovejoy put Mordred in a position of power, and in opposition of Morgan, especially considering that in the legends he's her son!  It was an interesting dynamic, almost verging on complete role reversal.  Morgan's the one trying to take over Mordred's position of power, instead of helping him depose Arthur.  The take on elemental magic was interesting and the conspiracy involving some of the other candidates, along with the iffy-ness of Merlin's honesty/innoncence in the incidents makes things even more interesting.  But probably my favorite things about this book were: Morgan's friendship with Guinevere, who has a healing ability (I have NEVER seen them represented as friends before in ANY retelling!), the twist near the end about what really happened the night Morgan's mother murdered her husband (never saw it coming) and the prophecy/visions Morgan has for her future.  Not going to say anymore because I don't want to spoil it, but I really enjoyed this book!  Can't wait to read what happens next and I'm really excited for Morgan's further adventures.  I highly recommend it!

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*An ebook copy of this book was provided via the author and Xpresso Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review.  No money or favors were exchanged.  This book was published November 11th, 2014.*

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