Friday, March 13, 2015

Bite Sized Review: Lois Lane - A Real Work of Art


Published:  March 4th, 2015
Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art
By: Gwenda Bond
Capstone
ISBN-13:  9780000000

In high school art class, Lois Lane demonstrates her undeniable talent.....but not for painting.

This is an official teaser short story for the young adult novel LOIS LANE: FALLOUT that takes place before Lois moves to Metropolis.

Review

       I normally don't care too much for short stories, especially ones that are under 50 pages long.  I know that a lot can be conveyed in them if the right writer is guiding the ship -- but more often than not, these short stories and novellas for popular YA book series are just useless filler.  This was available on NetGalley, so I requested it and hoped for the best.  And I got it!  Lois Lane is exactly how I wanted her to be - sassy, smart, and self-aware.  Of course, she's a teenager, so there is some self-doubt.  Lois is constantly moving around as an army brat, and she's in a new town again.  All she wants is to figure out something that she's good at, something that can be just for her.  So, Lois decides to try out an art class, and manages to get into more trouble than you'd think possible.  If you're a fan of Lois Lane (especially as portrayed by Erica Durance on Smallville, who this Lois really reminded me of!), try reading this.  I am now super pumped up for the full-length book coming out in May.  I enjoyed Gwenda Bond's style and I will LOVE reading more of Lois' misadventures!  Highly recommended.



VERDICT: 4/5 Stars

*I received this book from Capstone, on NetGalley. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. This book was published on March 4th, 2015.*

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Love Strung (Love # 2) by Jamie W. Matlock BLOG TOUR -- Excerpt & Giveaway!!!



Love Strung by Jamie W. Matlock
(The Love Series #2 - can be read as a stand-alone)
Publication date: January 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult

Synopsis:

Country music hopeful, Kennedy Masters is a leap-before-you-look type of woman. Live in the moment, the here and now. That’s her policy – anything other than that is boring, and she’s never been particularly interested in boring. So, when she makes the irratic decision to join country music’s reigning star, Mick Callahan, on his tour bus after a show, she’s just living right up to her life’s motto.
The only problem? Her snap decision making lands her on the front page news and it’s for less than desireable reasons. Even worse is the fact that Mick decides she’s his next conquest, irratically announcing to the public that they’re engaged.
Her only option? Hiding out at the Callahan Ranch until the storm blows over – a decision that she’s not altogether pleased with, but one that she must follow considering the circumstances. When unexpected sparks fly upon meeting Mick’s mysterious older brother, Griff Callahan, Kennedy’s left sorting through matters of the heart – something that’s not exactly her forte.
And her career? Well, it’s been labeled TBD.
Kennedy must figure out a way to deal with her heart and her career, all while fighting her own feelings and fending off someone else’s.

Purchase:



AUTHOR BIO
Jamie W. Matlock is the author of The Love Series, which includes Love Aced & Love Strung. Bored with punching a clock and watching dust collect on the frame of her marketing degree, she decided to turn her lifelong hobby into a career and hasn't looked back since.

Known for mixing both humor and drama into her novels, she likes for her readers to experience a gamut of emotions while enjoying one of her stories. She's also a sucker for flawed protagonists, strong male characters and incredible sex scenes, so be on the lookout for all three in each of her novels.

Outside of writing, you can find her spending time with her family, yelling at a television screen during sporting events, nursing her coffee addiction and coupling a good book with a glass of wine.

Author links:



EXCERPT

       "Kennedy, I don't like to share."  He had grown downright serious, the words coming out as a growl.  "And since I've come to the realization that I can't keep my hands off of you, I'm sure as hell not going to share with Mick."
       His possessiveness curled around me, making me feel things that I couldn't process, didn't understand.  It presented emotions that I wasn't comfortable with, made me want to run yet at the same time, enticed me.  The dichotomy of the struggling emotions was staggering.  "We're not together," I pointed out.  "You don't have any claim over me or me, you."
       My words were a lie, something said mostly out of confusion and I regretted them as soon as they left my lips.  Shamefully - truthfully - I'd be his whatever as long as he'd have me.  I wasn't sure of a lot of things where Griff Callahan was concerned, but I was certain of this:  I wanted him and was absolutely powerless to stop it.
       His eyes went heavy, narrowing as they fixed on me.  "Sure as hell didn't feel like it when your legs were wrapped around me so tightly I could barely breathe.  Or when your thighs spread wide so I could step in between them.  Or when your back arched towards me as cries of pleasure fell from your lips when I kissed your nipples."  The growl reigned supreme, his voice bouncing off of the walls.  "Let me tell you something, Kennedy.  If you think that was good, just wait until you see what else I have in store for you, what else I have planned for us.  You'll be begging me for more, screaming my name in your sleep because you'll want it so bad."
       "I'm sorry," I mumbled, his words leaving me in a hot stupor.
       "You're going to be sorry," he informed me, his hands finding either side of my neck.  He brought my face close to his angrily, possessively, his thumbs pressing down over my cheekbones.  "Sorry I wasn't your first and begging me to be your last," he mumbled.  His eyes stared at my lips hungrily, my brain processing his tongue sliding over his.  "Tell me what you want, Kennedy," he demanded, his voice barely above a whisper, his anger seeping through making his gruff voice shaky.
       "I-I don't know," I stuttered.
       He jerked my body suddenly, my eyes widening in surprise.
       "I-you," I managed, the words tumbling out as if he’d shook them from me.
       "No part of you wants him?  Not even the smallest inkling?  You better let me know if you do and I'll walk away right now."  I could hear the bitterness in his voice, the poison that the thought provoked.
       "You…only you.  I don't know beyond that," I admitted hesitantly, wanting to say the right thing without give away too much.
       "In what way?"
       "Griff, please stop.  You're making me uncomfortable."
       "Oh, like the erection that I've had since you showed up in my kitchen with that damned silk robe on and nothing else?  Or the fact that I can't fucking sleep because every time that I do, all I can see is you and that robe and your nipples, hard and erect and so damned perfect-"
       "Griff, I said I'm serious, okay?"
       "You better not be messing with my head, Kennedy."
       His temper was spiking and my inability to be clear wasn’t helping.  His emotions were all over the map and he was dragging mine along with his.  I needed to smooth things over, to tame the beast that was clearly on the verge of breaking through.  I wrapped my fingers around his thick wrists, doing my best to capture the attention of his angry eyes.
       "I'm not messing with you.  I swear," I said softly.  "I know only a few things.  From the morning that I set eyes on you in that kitchen, there was no denying which Callahan man I wanted.  I can't write a song without it being about you.  I can't stand the thought of you being with someone else, touching someone besides me.  You've got me so twisted and confused, so far from my comfortable center that I don't know which way is up or which is down.  I can't think straight or breathe or form a cohesive thought when you're around.  I want you near me, by my side, on top of me…inside me.  I want you every which way I could possibly have you.  I know I shouldn't, but I do.  I can't understand it and I sure as hell don't know what to do about it, but there's absolutely no way that my body will allow me to leave you alone."

GIVEAWAY

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Every Body Talks


Published: October 17th, 2012 (first published 1999)
Body Bags (Body of Evidence #1)
By: Christopher Golden
Daring Greatly Corporation
ASIN:  B009SLYJ4A

When Jenna Blake starts her freshman year at Somerset University, she's not only living on her own for the first time, she's moving closer to the father she never really knew.  It's an exciting time, filled with new faces and new challenges, not mention parties and boys and...corpses?

Jenna is torn about her future.  She'd like to be a doctor like her mother, but she can't stand the sight of blood.  Her father, a criminology professor, thinks he has the answer -- and sends her to interview for a job with the Medical Examiner -- an interview that takes place in the middle of an autopsy!

When a congressional aide goes violently insane, and then drops dead, the pathology team at Somerset Medical Center discover that his brain was ravaged with disease -- and loaded with insect larvae.  When Jenna takes on her new job, she is drawn into a web of terrifying disease, dangerous politics, and intriguing mystery.  And when one of her professors ends up dead, she starts making connections even the police haven't seen...which will bring her face to face with a pair of killers, one medical, and one all too human.


Review

       I didn't feel disappointed after reading this, like so many of the other reviewers here on Goodreads.  You want to know my secret?  Extremely low expectations, and the prior knowledge that Golden tends to be the master of the pulpy, Alloy-series type of book.  It was a story centered around Jenna Blake, an incumbent college freshman, who is unsure what she wants to do with the rest of her life.  All she knows is that her mother would love for her to be a doctor like her, but Jenna can't stand the sight of blood.  Her Dad gets her an interview with the local Medical Examiner, who hires Jenna as a pathology assistant.  The first big case is a man who was infected with a mysterious illness, of unknown origin and it becomes a priority to find out exactly what happened, when a teacher on campus dies of the same sickness.  Coincidence or murder?  That's what Jenna will have to find out, especially once her and her dad's lives are endangered.  Can she survive her first week at college?
       This book is extremely short and I didn't really expect too much, since it is the first in a ten-book series.  Also, it's original publication was sixteen years ago, in 1999.  Some of the language, situations, etc. are kind of culturally dated (not as bad as most though, surprisingly).  This type of book is the kind that people who are unfamiliar with YA, and it's ever-widening, reach like to cite when they malign it as all being unmitigated "trash."  It's pulp fiction, pure and simple.  I will say that it reminds me of Nancy Drew, in the sense that Jenna is pretty much just a cardboard cut-out, meant to move along the plot.  Hopefully she and her friends (roommate Yoshiko & southern-boy Hunter) will be better characeterized/fleshed-out in later books.  I do wish that the mystery had been more murder/crime and less of a politically driven, thriller type.  I liked it enough to continue and see if the next couple are any good, but overall I wouldn't recommend it unless you like the type of book that's pure, time-wasting cotton candy.  If you want a really great, plot and character-rich series by Golden, try his Hollow series, co-written with Ford Lytle Gilmore.  Now THAT is an awesome series! :D

VERDICT:  2.5/5  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.*

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.**