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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review: Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout (10/10)


Summary:
Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.
All Katy can do is survive. 
Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?
Together, they can face anything.  
But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together? 
Review:

At this point in my life, I should have written enough so that I would be able to review a book with ease and clarity. Jennifer L. Armentrout has left me speechless and without even a sliver of the eloquence I’d need to give Origin, the latest installment in the Lux series, justice. Truly, this series ceases to amaze me, delivering one book after another that steps up the bar considerably and brings us the jovial, wonderful, pure incredibility that is the Lux series.
     In Origin, we pick up with Katy, the wholly spunky and slightly nerdy—albeit in the most adorable sense—blogger/ alien hybrid. At the end of Opal, Katy was alone with an Arum (AKA scary dark aliens who have a fetish for hybrids) in Daedalus, an institution with a reputation to strike fear into any Luxen or hybrid. It is the place that held Dawson and Bethany captive until they escaped and were rescued, respectively. It is the place that supposedly kept Blake’s Luxen friend separated from him. It is the place that Katy is now having the life sucked out of her by an Arum.
     ‘“This is going to hurt,” the Arum said. He leaned in, his face inches from mine and his breath cold against his mouth.
“Oh God,” I whispered.
A burst of pain encompassed every cell in my body, and the air flew out of my lungs. Suspended there, I couldn’t move away. My arms didn’t work. Someone grabbed me from the side, but I couldn’t feel. It felt like I was still screaming, but there was no sound.
There was no Daemon.”
     Doesn’t that just give you chills? It is the ultimate cliff hanger, and Jennifer L. Armentrout far from disappoints with the opening of Origin. We are immediately introduced to the new, harsh, terrible setting of Daedalus, from the cell/quarters where Katy stays and is constantly monitored, to the medical rooms where “thorough” examinations take place, to the training rooms, where Katy is made to fight against unstable hybrids to test her own stability with the Source. The entire ordeal of Daedalus was exhausting for Katy and for me as a reader, because Jennifer does such a tremendous job in delivering her story that it truly felt as if I were the one being held captive by a secret government organization. I felt as if I, not Katy, was being subjected to these terrible training sessions and physical exams, being made to eat the bland food and live in a constant state of “what torture is next?” I missed Daemon for my own reasons, but I also felt the pure, deep yearning for Katy’s other half as she spent days, then weeks and months, without Daemon Black, the Luxen—light alien—who healed her and mutated her into a hybrid, therefore connecting them in a way that went beyond the bond they’d previously shared.
    Daemon may be my favorite male character, like ever. Don’t worry, though. In Origin, to make up for missed moments between Daemon and Katy, Jennifer L. Armentrout has given us half the book told magnificently and so accurately in the POV of Daemon Black, the hottest alien I’ve ever heard of. I’ve said this a million and one times: I am not a fan of different POV’s. However, the voice of Daemon is so brilliantly accomplished that it only made the story that much better. I loved reading about the love and vulnerability that Daemon had, seeing what went on in his head beyond the snarky comments, and most of all, kissing—and other stuff—scenes are SO much steamier when told from Daemon Freaking Black. While Katy’s world stays very much stagnant in Daedalus, Daemon is on super speed as he goes to rescue her. It was amazing how Jennifer could portray all of the emotions that went through his mind as Daemon went to rescue Katy. There was a masculinity and pride that is so unique to Daemon. I love it so, so, so much. Once Daemon and Katy are together, interesting turns of events cause everything around them to change, but their relationship only grows stronger. I am obsessed with the idea that a semi-nerdy blogger can end up with that glowing piece of you know what, and the way Jennifer writes their love story makes it seem like a real life possibility.  I’m not going to spoil the entire book for you, but let me just say this: Nancy Husher, the head honcho at Daedalus, makes a VERY interesting proposal that will shock your socks off when they are in Daedalus…in conjoining rooms…with a shared bathroom…with no cameras….Get my flow? Nancy Husher is one messed up lady. But really, all women who wear pantsuits are, aren’t they? She is, after all, behind the experiments at Daedalus, some of which scar Katy physically and emotionally, such as hurting her fatally to get Daemon to heal her. Origin is by far the most gruesome but riveting installment of the series. I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be this one. The blend of humor, fantasy, romance, and action made for a top-notch read, one I can see having worn, overly loved pages in a few years from all the re-reading.
One note; there is a bit more steaminess in Origin, and a word to the wise: you cannot prepare yourself for the hotness that is Daemon Black, and you cannot deny the hotness that is Daemon Black, and you cannot turn away from the hotness that is Daemon Black, but be aware that if you are young and impressionable that you might want to save a few pages here and there for later so that you can fully appreciate this incredible hotness that is, what? Daemon Black, of course. Especially when Katy and Daemon leave Daedalus (do they escape, or do they get released? You have to read and find out), they certainly make up for lost time. There is an interesting twist in the book at the point of leaving Daedalus, which I’m not going to ruin if you haven’t read it, but if you have: was that not the best impromptu thing in the entire universe??? And how it happened in the “My Blog is Better Than Your Vlog” tee? YES! YES! YES! Trust me that when I say that you will not want to miss out on this ending, I mean it whole-heartedly. I haven’t given books 10’s out of 10 since my newbie blogger days, but this is a must –read and it deserves it! Jennifer Armentrout, you rock my socks off!!!!

Find it on Amazon~Find it on Goodreads

What did you think about Origin? Comment what rating you would have given it in the comments below!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

August @SonorousWords

Hi, all!
August is FANTASTIC in terms of YA releases. Here are my favorite picks that are getting me pumped for this month.


The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford--August 1
Infinityglass by Myra McEntire--August 6
The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce--August 6
The Apollo Academy by Kimberly P. Chase--August 6
Hover (The Taking) by Melissa West--August 6
The Deepest Night by Shana Abe--August 13
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke--August 15
Love Me by Jillian Dodd--August 15
The Rise of Hotel Dumont by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson--August 20
The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle--August 20
Life, Love, and Lemons by Magan Vernon--August 20
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas--August 27
Deception by C.J. Redwine--August 27
The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore--August 27
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick--August 27
To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story by Sonya Sones--August 27
Overpowered by Mark H. Kruger--August 27
Descendant by Lesley Livingston--August 27
Love in the Time of Global Warning by Francesca Lia Block--August 27



Friday, July 26, 2013

Author Interview with J.H. Trumble

Hi, all!
Today I am posting an author interview with J.H. Trumble, author of Don't Let Me Go, Just Between Us, and Where You Are, as well as a review of Just Between Us, which releases on September 24, 2013. Let's start with the review:



Review:

     In Just Between Us, J.H. Trumble confronts the sensitive topics of sexual orientation and HIV head on, which is wholly refreshing. When we begin, Curtis and Luke, two awesome guys who have real life strengths and weaknesses, are only similar in three things: their neighborhood, their school band, and their sexual orientation. Curtis and Luke are gay. Before I say anything else, this is not a cliche "gay" book, one where the entire story is all about the characters being gay. Curtis doesn't want to be a designer when he grows up, and Luke doesn't have a pretend girlfriend so he can stay in the closet. Instead, and the reason why this read is so completely refreshing, Just Between Us is a really great story where the main characters just happen to be gay. 
     At the start of the story, Luke is a high school student who has real, relatable problems in his life. For example, his dad is out of the picture...sort of. Luke's Mom, Mrs. Chesser, put aside her love for her husband for the mental and emotional well being of her son, as Luke's dad is homophobic and not open to his sons lifestyle. Though she doesn't know it, this action means a lot to Luke, because on the night he came out to his father, Luke's Dad hit him. Luke never told his mom, but she kicked her husband out nonetheless. I love Luke's family--dad excluded. His mom is one of those people that you can open up to about anything, who is understanding and maternal in the best possible way. And then there is Luke's little brother, Matt. He is everything Luke is not, at least in their father's eyes. He's a boy scout, a camper, an outdoors type of kid. He loves to fish and hunt, and Luke doesn't know how to hold a chainsaw--literally. Matt is allergic to ants, and though that doesn't seem like an important detail, it shows how protective his mom and Luke are of him, and (Spoiler!) it brings Luke and Curtis together. Luke is by no means feminine, but he's by no means a mountain man either. To be honest, it's part of his charm. 
    Curtis Cameron is a college student; he started at UT and moved to Sam Houston to start over after his freshman year. In the meantime, he's helping out with the marching band at his old high school. Luke doesn't catch his eye at first, except in a negative way. He's the stand out in the band in a bad way, always messing up and agitating everyone. When he and Curtis meet, Curtis is confused by Luke's sulky behavior, until he realizes that he may have been insensitive to the high school kid. In his attempt to make up for it, Curtis actually gets to know Luke. He likes what he gets to know. Before we know it, a romance is blooming, and it is a romance that I LOVED reading about. It was cute, and innocent, and sweet, and all things adorable. Everything is going great with them, and I absolutely loved the friendship--maybe more?--that initially form between these two gents. Everything is going great, that is, until Curtis gets a bad case of the flu. Between that and an angry voice mail from an ex, he gets tested for HIV as a precaution, or a confirmation that he was okay. But Curtis isn't okay--he has HIV, and his life is upside down. His relationships in the past are coming back to haunt him, and that is putting his new relationship on hold. Though I totally get how Curtis reacted, pulling back into a deep, dark, lonely place, I hated that he pushed Luke out of that place as well. When he finally tells Luke and asks him to keep it a secret from his father, twin sister, and band mates, he still struggles with his disease, and it's as if he has given up on life. The only thing that can show him light again is love. Luke brings him that, and it's special to read about. As they battle with little problems and big ones, the thing that anchors them is each other. The end of Just Between Us is humorous and one you won't want to miss. I rated this read with 7/10 stars. Make sure to buy it when it comes out in September!

Now for the interview:

1. At what age did you start writing?

I started my first novel at the age of about 22. I’d been studying novel-writing for awhile, but I hadn’t taken the plunge. The story I started was about a somewhat-forbidden interracial relationship. Now that I think about it, my themes haven’t changed much! Oh, and I only managed about 10 pages before giving up. It took quite awhile before I got my nerve up to try again. Quite awhile!

2. I love the characters of Luke and Curtis so, so much. Do you take inspiration for them from people in reality or did you dream up these awesome guys all on your own?

I do, actually, take inspiration from real people. Luke is loosely based on a young man who was in my son’s marching band. I didn’t know him, nor was my son close friends with him, but after observing him for a few years I started thinking he’d make a really interesting character. Same thing with Robert. Curtis, not so much. But when I picture him, I picture Daniel Tosh from Tosh.O. What can I say? He’s a cutie.

3. If you had to put a celebrity face behind the character of Luke, who would you pick? And Curtis?

I can’t do it! And if actors were ever cast as my characters, it would be a really tough adjustment for me. They existed only in my head for so many years. But I can adjust to anything! (Hollywood, call me!) And maybe Daniel Tosh would like to try his hand at acting.

4. How would you describe your writing in five words? 

Honest, raw, and always evolving.

5. How would you describe yourself in five words?

Old enough to know better.

6. I find that I'm curious what it would be like if I had a novelist parent. What were your kids' initial reactions to your books? 

My daughter was just 14 when she first read DLMG. She hadn’t read anything in awhile, so I was thrilled when she spent two entire days reading my book. I’d hear her laugh out loud in her room here and there, and then she’d come into the dining room where I was working and say, “Mother! I am shocked.” We had some great laughs over some of the scenes. It was the same with WHERE YOU ARE. She loves the books.

My son? At 18 he’s very proud of me, but he couldn’t care less about reading my books. Few of his friends even know I write.

7. In JUST BETWEEN US, I really enjoyed reading about the characters' flaws, from Luke's homophobic father's refusal to accept him for who he is, to Curtis' fear of letting go and bring loved the way he deserves. If you were in the same shoes as Curtis when he tests HIV positive, do you think you would have exhibited this same fear?

I wrote the characters the way I imagined I would react. So, yes, absolutely, I would have felt the same fear, the same despair. From my research, I think that’s a common reaction to such a devastating diagnosis. Despite advances in treatment of HIV, it’s still a damn scary virus. I don’t imagine that its affect on a young man’s self-image can be overstated.

8. On a less serious note, what is the grossest, most terrible Jelly Belly flavor you could possibly imagine? (Readers, if you don't get it, go start reading)

Oh, that’s a tough one. It’s a toss-up between skunk spray and vomit. My daughter brought home a box of BeanBoozleds one day while I was working on JBU. Much hilarity and gross-outs ensued. I couldn’t help thinking that that was exactly the kind of thing Matt would love. So in the novel it went.

9. Do you have a favorite place to write?

I always write at my dining room table. Anywhere else and I feel too much like I’m missing out on life. There are plenty of distractions and interruptions, but I get all antsy if I try to work in a café or anywhere away from home, really. Frequently, the TV is on as well. I’ll find myself sometimes staring at the TV with no awareness of what I’m watching. I’m just thinking about my characters.

10. I appreciate that even though sexual orientation is a theme in your writing, it doesn't feel like I'm reading a book about sexual orientation. You managed to create a great story while still delivering an even better message. How would you describe that message?

Thank you! I guess if I had to distill a message it would be two-fold:
            There are going to be risks in life, but don’t let that keep you from living or from loving.
            You are going to screw up in life, but that doesn’t make you a screwup.

Now that I think about it, these two “messages” seem to be themes in all three of my books.

11. What is a question, about your writing or otherwise, that you wish you got asked more often?

Where can I buy your books?

12. What is a question, about your writing or otherwise, that is the most difficult to answer?

Why aren’t your books in my local bookstore? (I hope they are, but when they’re not, it’s a little complicated).

13. Dog person or cat person? Just curious!

I have both! The dog likes me more, though. The cat—pft!

14. Are you currently reading anything? 

Yes! I’m reading an amazing book by Jennifer Hritz—I, TOO, SUFFER IN THE GARDEN. It’s a book about a gay man who is struggling in his various relationships. That’s a very simplistic description, but believe me when I say that this is the best book I’ve read in years. It’s beautiful, compelling, heartbreaking. I HIGHLY recommend it. Jennifer wasn’t able to traditionally publish it in 2008 because it was gay lit, so she self-published it. But oh my gosh! What an incredible book. I hope your adult readers will try it too! I doubt it would really appeal to YA readers.

15. What book inspired you as a kid?

I think every book I read inspired me in some way. As a kid I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew. In junior high I first read Gone with the Wind. As a young adult I was all about everything Stephen King.  I don’t recall there being a YA category when I was that age so I was reading James Michener, Dean R. Koontz, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Really, anything I could get my hands on.

Thank you so much, Anna! What fun questions. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Autumn by Sierra Dean (7.5/10)


Review
This is a Galley review and I was completely honest when writing it.

     I was hesitant before starting Sierra Dean's first installment in the Dog Days series for a few reasons. First, I wasn't sure if the werewolf-ish theme could compare to the greats, like Andrea Cremer's books or The Wolves of Mercy Falls books by Maggie Stiefvater. Then, the summary doesn't do the book justice. It makes it sound corny and borderline childish, when in fact Autumn is thriving with depth and holds the old fashioned quality that makes for a good story. There isn't anything particularly incredible or out of the box about the plot, but the flow of Autumn and the execution really make it special. The particular voices of the main characters, Cooper, whose family is cursed in that all the males will turn into the same type of dog from a story in their past, and Lou, the new girl in Poisonfoot whose family is interesting in its own way, are very unique. I love the relationship of Lou and Cooper, from his hesitance to be with her and her determination to do just that. Despite their families' and pretty much every single person in Poisonfoot's wishes and warnings, Lou and Cooper are still drawn undeniably to each other, which makes for a certain Romeo and Juliet quality that will just capture your heart. As the mystery of the curse unravels, secrets about the small town and its history spill out. The readers follow Lou and Cooper from each point of view as they discover the secrets and discover more about themselves. I really enjoyed this journey, especially the balance between the paranormal and reality. Lou has some special gifts that are new to me, which is an impressive achievement in its own since I've read about dang near every creature or gift out there. If I had to compare Autumn to another YA book, I'd say it most closely relates to Beautiful Creatures. That said, it is very individualistic, but if you are a fan of Kami Garcia's and Margaret Stohl's series, then I think you will appreciate this book like I did. I give Autumn by Sierra Dean a 7.5/10, and right now it is only $2.99 on Kindle, so go buy it!
Summary:

     Cooper Reynolds’s life is going to the dogs… literally.

As if being a high school senior in a small Texas town wasn’t hard enough, Cooper has bigger things to worry about than who he’ll take to prom and whether or not the Poisonfoot Padres will win homecoming. He has less than a year before his eighteenth birthday, when a curse placed on his family will doom him to live in coyote form forever.

The last thing he needs to complicate his already messed-up life is a girl, but fate has other plans in mind for him when it brings Eloise “Lou” Whittaker to Poisonfoot. She’s grouchy, sarcastic and has no love for her new Texas home, but she might be exactly the right person to help Cooper break the curse.

The clock is ticking, and Cooper will have to decide if he’s willing to let Lou in on his dirty little secret before it’s too late.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (10/10)


Review:

I read Anna and the French Kiss what seems like years ago and have visited it many times sense. I only just discovered I hadn't done a review yet, which is CRAAZYY! So, here it goes:

     Stephanie Perkins is a literary master that can rival the greats--Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Jane Austin, all of them! But, actually. Her writing makes me crinkle my toes and causes my cheeks to literally ache from smiling and shouting at the worn pages like my dad shouts at the TV on Superbowl Sunday. All Stephanie's writing, but especially in AATFK, is phenomenal in that it sucks the readers into its plot like a black hole--yes, I realize that black holes don't actually suck, but you get my flow. Stephanie Perkins is worth a blog rave the size of the entirety of the Harry Potter series. In AATFK, Anna is shipped off to boarding school in The City of Love (AKA, PARIS!) by her dad, who writes cheesy, unimpressive books that may or may not exploit the realities of illness. Anna has to move from Altlanta, from her little brother Seany who she shows an immense amount of motherly protection towards, her BFF Bridgett, and her crush, Toph, who works with her at her awesome gig at the movie theater. As one can imagine, it would be pretty tough to leave all that behind, even if school Paris does sound enticing in a way school doesn't anywhere else. But Anna is content with what she has, and especially with her senior year looking so bright, Paris is the absolute last place she wants to be. I don't know what I'd do if my dad told me he was shipping me off to a foreign city for a year. I don't think that would float my boat so much. Anna handles it perfectly, a balance of embracing her future and hanging on to her past. On the first night in her new digs, Anna is trying to muffle her cries in her pillow somewhat unsuccessfully when Meredith, her hall neighbor, helps her out big time with helpful advice and some hot cocoa. While the cocoa is probably far from instant, Anna's friendship with Meredith is just that. Meredith doesn't judge her because she is illiterate when it comes to French and she wears sneakers and she is homesick like nobody's business. Soon after she meets Étienne St. Clair, who is most definitely my all-time favorite boy in the whole universe of YA books. He's like that cappuccino you get that is the perfect blend of hot and cold, hard and soft.  Étienne is an American with an English accent who speaks fluent French. Did you get that? If you didn't all you need to know is that while he may be short, he is more delicious than any cappuccino. Most people call him St. Clair, which fits; he is the guy that is always smiling, the one that all the boys like and all the girls love. He runs into Anna--literally--on her first night, and from then on she can think of nothing but his soft hair...which sounds creepy, but is surprisingly romantic and adorable. He is dating Ellie, who used to be in the artsy/likable group with St. Clair, Meredith, and Josh and Rashmi, the annoying but cute in a mushy sort of way couple whose lives are composed of bickering and make-out sessions. After she graduated and moved on to bigger, badder things, it seemed like the only trace of her at the lunch table was the resentment in the air from her old besties and the occasional mention from St. Clair. This doesn't help Anna, who is falling head over heels for St. Clair, despite her feelings for Toph back home and the risk of losing him as a friend. She holds out, but when St. Clair's mom becomes ill, Anna is there for him in a way even Ellie isn't. She is there for him emotionally and mentally and most importantly as a true friend, and that's exactly what St. Clair needs. Stephanie Perkins does a fantastic job of introducing tragedy without turning her book into one of Anna's dad's crappy novels. The readers are not overloaded with corny crying scenes, but at the same time we aren't deprived of the raw emotion that St. Clair is experiencing. To make her writing even better, there are other problems in the plot, like Josh skipping school, Ellie, even Anna's mangled feelings about Toph, but not one takes away or distracts from the other, which is wonderful. The big turning point is Thanksgiving, when Anna and St. Clair are the only ones still at school. I won't give anything away, but let me say this--there is a bed involved. I love how Stephanie plays with us, never giving us enough to satisfy us, but allowing us just enough to keep us begging on our knees for more. Étienne and Anna have an uneven relationship--holding hands at the movies one day and then ignoring each other completely the next-- but that is what makes AATFK so darn enjoyable. It keeps you on your toes. This is a 100% must read and a 10/10.




Summary:

     Anna can't wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris--until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?



$aver $aturday

$aver $aturday

Hola, Ciao, Sveiki, Konnichiwa, HEY! It's time for the saver segment I started, which helps you guys find great books that won't empty your wallets.
















Flight by Alyssa Rose Ivy ~ $0.99

The Redemption of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen ~ $2.99

Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut ~ $2.99



Friday, June 28, 2013

Cover of Perfect Lies


I absolutely love this...

What I'm Reading: Invisibility by Andrea Cremer


Invisibility by Andrea Cremer

     Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

Review: Relatively Famous by Jessica Park


Review:


Relatively Famous, by Jessica Park, is a great read that both middle grade readers and young adult readers will enjoy immensely. When we begin, Dani, a normal fifteen year old, is living with her mom and her mom's professional chef BF, Alan, in Little Springs, Michigan. Everything is going pretty well for her down to earth family of three, with Alan and her mom Leila's five year anniversary, and a summer of fun with her best friend  Sam. Despite a bit of rockiness in the facts that Alan doesn't propose to Leila and Sam's family is undergoing financial instability, Dani is content. But when she finds out through a mob of tabloids at school that her father is the famous/infamous action star, Mark Ocean--who is claiming that he doesn't have a daughter--her world in Little Springs is rocked like a hurricane hit. I was impressed at this point already, because Jessica managed to take a somewhat overdone theme and turn it into a surprisingly cute story. Dani travels to sunny old CA to stay with Mark for the summer, having no idea who leaked the story to the paparazzi and no idea what to expect with dad. At first, it's comical to read about all of the spray tans and hair extensions, but Dani is a nice character because she manages to stay grounded--mostly--while at the same time adapting to the lifestyle of her new Cali friends, even managing to ground her orange move star dad a bit while she's at it. The transformation is predominantly on the exterior for Dani, but it's really nice to see Dani's dad change so much on the inside. He learns to love in more ways than one, and he develops a fatherly connection with Dani that is special to read about. Any young adult or middle grade reader would appreciate the simplicity of Jessica's writing that has an underlying depth in the relationships that are obvious, like Dani and Mark's, and not so obvious, like Dani and Nathan, one of her new friend's seemingly nerdy brothers. It's not obvious because of the lifeguard hottie who has a thing, if you can call it that, with Dani, so don't worry--there is no lack of romance in Relatively Famous. The thing that I thought was really great about this read was the balance that it was home to--between grounded and flashy, Dani's old life and new, her back-home friends and her Cali friends, her love interests, and even between her mom's boyfriend and her shiny new dad. I give this book a 7/10, and I really recommend it, especially for younger readers.


Summary:

Relatively Famous delivers Hollywood with heart... High school freshman Dani McKinley's world is rocked when she finds out that she is the daughter of B-list actor and notorious womanizer Mark Ocean. Mark is all too eager to get his acting career back on track, so he follows his agent's advice about cleaning up his image and invites his "new" daughter to spend the summer with him. Armed with credit cards, club memberships, and a new wardrobe, Dani spends the summer navigating the foreign culture of Hollywood. Her new friends school Dani in everything from attaching hair extensions to managing the paparazzi. She meets Jason, a gorgeous young personal trainer who is easy on the eyes and wildly flirtatious . . . But is this smug hottie the one for Dani? Or will she ignore her friends' eye rolling and go for Nate, the goofy but sweet surfer? Even tougher than all the new social pressures, is the challenge of trying to deal with her father. What Mark Ocean has in wealth, he sorely lacks in parenting skills. The fatherly interest Mark feigns has everything to do with charming the public and virtually nothing to do with connecting with his daughter. Dani desperately tries to teach her father that being a dad is not just about supplying her with Prada bags and trips to movie premieres, and the result of the clueless actor's attempts at fatherhood is both funny and heart-wrenching. Follow Dani and Mark while they struggle to figure out what it means to be father and daughter, and as they navigate their own complicated love lives. Humor, tears, heartache, and teen angst will leave you aching to see how their dilemmas are resolved.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire


Review:
To say I am a fan of Jamie McGuire's work is the understatement of the year. I have read Beautiful Disaster dozens of times, and the greatness of the book doesn't even come close to lessening after every time. I can't even tell you how excited I was to begin Walking Disaster, the companion novel told from the point of view of irresistible bad boy Travis Maddox, who may possibly be my favorite male character EVER. Walking Disaster did not disappoint--not even a  little bit. This was actually the first time I actually felt the male character was believable, and I don't know if Jamie McGuire was a drool-worthy player in another life, but the way she executes his character is ridiculously incredible. As you relive the love story of Abby (Pigeon) and Travis (Mad Dog) Maddox through the eyes of Travis, it isn't at all like you're just rereading Beautiful Disaster. While the sequence of events are much the same, Jamie allows us some insight into Travis' thoughts and life outside of Abby that we only guessed at before. But the thing is, as much as he tries, once Abby Abernathy steps into Travis' life, there really only is Abby. I love how he's not the player hat we thought throughout the beginning, and I love how Travis shows us another side of his brothers and family life, and I love how he respects Shep's wishes about America but not so much about Abby...the list goes on. I love everything about Walking Disaster. You will not want to put it down for even a second. At the end, there is even insight into their life years after college, and it is so perfect I can't even describe it. This is a must-read if there ever was one, and I give it an 8/10.

Summary:

Finally, the highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Disaster.

Can you love someone too much?

Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Author Interview with Lance Umenhofer

Ciao, Bellas!

I recently had the privilege to conduct a mini Q & A with Lance Umenhofer, author of the poetic fiction, And the Soft Wind Blows. I hope you'll check out his site and his book on Amazon, which released in April. Enjoy learning more about this cool author!


1. At what age did you discover your passion for writing?

I think it was seventh grade, when I read aloud a short story about George W. Bush and his cat, Dubya, who lived in a cabin in the woods.  I remember the whole class laughing, including the teacher, and I think that was the small spark that eventually ignited into a passion during my freshman year of high school, where I began writing song lyrics.  I soon found that I enjoyed writing lyrics to the songs more than the music, and one day I had the epiphany that: "Hey, these all are poems, why don't I just write poetry instead?"  And the rest is history...(as they say).

2. What book inspired you most as a child?

Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of a "child."  Nothing really comes to mind until I was fifteen, during the summer before my sophomore year of high school, when I read The Catcher in the RyeThe Great Gatsby, and Catch-22.  Reading these three books in one summer truly marked my first loves for reading.  I remember thinking: "Why haven't I been taught these books in school?" because throughout my schooling, I was forced to read a lot of Shakespeare and the Romantics (Nathaniel Hawthorne), and I was almost completely deterred from reading anything of any sort, but then I realized that were boatloads of literature out there that I could truly love and relate to (which weren't such a horror to read).

3. How long did it take you to complete And the Soft Wind Blows?

The first draft?  Three weeks.  Then six months of editing.  Ha!

4. What are you currently reading?

Well, nothing today, but last week I just finished up Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the first time.  Even though this is the only novel I've ever read by him, he easily climbed up to the top of my influences' list.  Speaking of influences, next up is F. Scott Fitzgerald's Six Tales of the Jazz Age, and I couldn't be more excited.

5. If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Creative, Funny, Happy.

6. If you had to describe your novel in three words, what would they be?

Poetic, Quirky, Real.

7. Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Dog!  I grew up with two wonderful, little puggies whom I miss dearly.

8. What is you all-time favorite book? Poem?

Jeez.  Way to put me on the spot.  My go-to answer for this (seemingly easy) question is Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!  In fact, for my birthday, one of my friends bought me a first edition of it!  It's one of my most treasured possessions, for sure.  As for favorite poem (again, not easy at all), my go-to is Ginsberg's "Howl."  There's something about those Beats that will always influence me, especially their motto: "First thought, best thought."

9. Did any events in your childhood come into play in your writing?

The easy answer: yes!  But then again, I've always believed that writing is 80% experience and 20% craft.  Therefore, every moment I've ever experienced "comes into play" in all of my writing.  There's nothing specific in my childhood that came to the forefront in And the Soft Wind Blows, but every character I write is a conglomeration of the many different people I've met throughout my life, even those I remember from childhood.

10. What is a question that you wish you would be asked more frequently than you are?

Well, instead of lashing out at me for writingwordslikethis, I wish that some reviewers (who will remain unnamed) would clarify the reasons why I do it, so let's clear the air here: I do it for two reasons, the first is that my novella is written in a style I call "Poetic Fiction," and by combining words like that, my intention is to slow readers down so that they don't pass right over them but instead really get a feel for the amount of poetry I spent so much time crafting, and the second reason is that each one are things the reader should pay attention to.  Without boring you to death, just know that they all serve their purposes and aren't meant to make you hate reading me.  Gosh!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Divergent Competition

HEY!
Go to this site and vote for your state for a chance to have Veronica Roth come to a bookstore near you! TEXAS is in the lead now...keep it up! I want to meet this amazing author.

http://www.epicreads.com/divergent/sweepstakes/

Hi, my name is....

Hola!

So I was recently asked by someone if I had any recommendations for a specific type of girl--one who is shy, but doesn't want to be. Most of the books that I'm obsessed with are home to feisty, fiery, fierce heroines. So this question stumped me. Now that I've had some time to scroll through my kindle and GR, here are some inspiring reads about girls who struggle to shine in their minds, but in reality are just as bright as the Clary Fray's and the Katniss Everdeen's. Here are my top 5 picks! Click on the covers for their Amazon link.


The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson




Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout



The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han



Just Listen by Sarah Dessen




My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick


Review: Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins (8.5/10)


Review:

After reading Sweet Evil, by Wendy Higgins, you thought it couldn't get any better, right? Wrong! Sweet Peril, if you can believe it, is deeper, more emotional, and even hotter than the previous installment. Haunted by demon whisperers who are a little suspicious of half guardian angel, half fallen angel Anna, our awesome main character has to work for her dad, something she never thought she'd do. In Sweet Evil, Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, is there with her to help Anna in these dark times of substance abuse, but Kaidan has separated himself from Anna for both of their safeties at the beginning of the book, and it is super painful for not only Anna, but the READERS!! We want our Kaidan! Wendy Higgins does an incredible job at allowing us to feel all the emotions that plague Anna's mind, such as the conflict over embracing her dark side and the obvious torture of being away from Kaidan. So much so do we step into the shoes of Anna that when her father sends her and some old friends on missions to recruit other Nephilim, it feels as if we are the ones travelling around the world with the balance of humanity on our own shoulders. Further, when Anna and Kaidan FINALLY reunite, I swear it is the sweetest, cutest, sexiest thing I have ever read all wrapped into a lustful bundle of Kaidan-ness. Wendy's style of writing is like velvet, and she plays with our minds in the most wonderful ways. She hints at things between Kaidan and Anna but doesn't fully divulge, and then she will completely divulge but hide other things, and it's incredible. I cannot stress this enough--go buy this book!

Summary:

Embrace Your Destiny
Anna Whitt, daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, promised herself she'd never do the work of her father—polluting souls. She'd been naive to make such a claim. She'd been naive about a lot of things.
Haunted by demon whisperers, Anna does whatever she can to survive, even if it means embracing her dark side and earning an unwanted reputation as her school's party girl. And all the while there's Kaidan Rowe, son of the Duke of Lust, plaguing her heart and mind.
When an unexpected lost message from the angels surfaces, Anna finds herself traveling the globe with Kopano, son of the Duke of Wrath, in an attempt to gain support of fellow Nephilim and give them hope for the first time. It soon becomes clear that whatever freedoms Anna and the rest of the Neph are hoping to win will not be gained without a fight. Until then, Anna and Kaidan must put aside the issues between them, overcome the steamiest of temptations yet, and face the ultimate question: Is loving someone worth risking your life?



Find it on Amazon ~ Find it on Goodreads

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What I'm Reading: School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

Click on the picture to buy School Spirits on Amazon!



Fifteen-year-old Izzy Brannick was trained to fight monsters. For centuries, her family has hunted magical creatures. But when Izzy's older sister vanishes without a trace while on a job, Izzy's mom decides they need to take a break. Izzy and her mom move to a new town, but they soon discover it's not as normal as it appears. A series of hauntings has been plaguing the local high school, and Izzy is determined to prove her worth and investigate. But assuming the guise of an average teenager is easier said than done. For a tough girl who's always been on her own, it's strange to suddenly make friends and maybe even have a crush. Can Izzy trust her new friends to help find the secret behind the hauntings before more people get hurt? Rachel Hawkins' delightful spin-off brings the same wit and charm as the New York Times best-selling Hex Hall series. Get ready for more magic, mystery and romance!

Review: Of Triton by Anna Banks (9/10)


Review:

Heyo,
I feel like I could probably pass on writing a review of Of Poseidon's sequel, Of Triton by Anna Banks, because truth be told, everyone already knows that anything involving Galen and Emma is bound to be Ah-MA-zing--which of course, it was. Sequels are notorious for disappointing, especially when you have to live up to something as wondrously creative and incredible as the first installment in Anna Bank's young adult series. Of Triton, however, not only escaped the cliche of letting me down, but may have even surpassed its previous read. I loved, loved, loved this book, from the very beginning with insane amounts of bad-assity and action initiated by someone surprising (*cough* Nalia) and even more depth of Emma's character as she fights to understand what is truly right in her newly screwed up world, to the gentle romance that weaves its way in and out of the story. I'm obsessed with the relationships that take place as well, and even though Emma's mom/ Nalia/ Grom's mate/ heir to the throne dating Galen's older brother was bordering on creepy, it was interesting to read about lost love reuniting and the reactions of Emma and Galen. Emma has to face so much because of this, as she understands what she is and how she was made...not like that:/. This read balances romance, action, politics, and comedy perfectly, even throwing in a teaspoon of tragedy that I swear will make your head spin. The ending is one you will literally be so satisfied with while at the same time inwardly cursing Anna Banks for not giving you more. This is a must-read and a 9/10.

Summary:

Emma has just learned that her mother is a long-lost Poseidon princess, and now struggles with an identity crisis: As a Half-Breed, she’s a freak in the human world and an abomination in the Syrena realm. Syrena law states all Half-Breeds should be put to death.

As if that’s not bad enough, her mother’s reappearance in the Syrena world turns the two kingdoms—Poseidon and Triton—against one another. Which leaves Emma with a decision to make: Should she comply with Galen’s request to keep herself safe and just hope for the best? Or should she risk it all and reveal herself—and her Gift—to save a people she’s never known?

$aver $aturday

Cursed by S.J. West--$3.99
Eyes of Ember by Rebecca Ethington--$2.99
Free Four by Veronica Roth-- $0.89


Review: Everblue by Brenda Pandos (6.5/10)

HELLO!!!
I am SO sorry that I have been gone for all this time! I had a concussion at the end of the year from lacrosse, so no computadora for me:( ....And THEN, everything just got crazy with make-up work, sports, and about anything else overwhelming that you don't want to deal with. I'll try to post like a bazillion and one reviews over the next couple of days to make up for my suckishness. To begin: here is a review about a little read I just recently finished--which just happens to be FREE ON AMAZON at the moment! (Therefore, no excuses not to move those fingers around the keyboard and download this book!)


Review:
    
      Everblue ((Mer Tales-Book One), by Brenda Pandos, was not one I was expecting to like. It wasn't so much that I have learned that mermaid books usually don't live up to my expectations and tend to fall towards cheesy--of course there are exceptions, *Cough*, Of Poseidon, *Cough*--and I definitely didn't judge this book by its cover, which is beautiful. In actuality, the beginning of the book just didn't do it for me. You understand, I read a lot of books, and I go through even more samples, trying to filter out the good from the great so that I can bring you all the great. So when I'm going through all of these samples, I cannot buy every single one and must decide based on the short quantity that I've read whether it is worth continuing. This particular read didn't excite me. I found it almost slow, and the main character, a redhead named Ashlyn (Ash for short), whiny and tedious. I like my alpha females to exhibit depth and spunk, two qualities lacking from Ash and he start of Everblue. However, I couldn't have been more wrong to discard this one as just nother boring mermaid book. New ideas and mer-concepts that I have never encountered in YA reads, such as "promising", which is basically the mermaid version of Twilight's "imprinting", and the thought of a world thriving with life hiding under the Earth's mantle. There were alluring sirens, Irish brutes with a soft side, and stinging barbs protruding from mer tails. Truly, this read is innovative among its fellow mer books, thriving with as many creative ideas as a true underwater landscape. I was wrong to put it down after a few chapters, because the story really heats up about a third of the way through, when there are some accidental and romantic and some not so accidental and far-from mushy promisings that occur between Ash, her neighbors and best friends Fin and Tatiana, and the mer prince, slimy Azor. The story heats up even more when aspects from human life, like a cute boy who has a thing for Ash, a best friend who is endearing and annoying all at once, and an accident that could rock Ash's swimming scholarship and plans for the future, come into play. This read is free right now, and it isn't especially long, so I do recommend it. It's hopeful and creative--a breath of fresh air after being trapped under dark waters. I give Everblue a 6.5 out of 10.


Summary:

     She wanted her life to change ... he wanted his to stay the same.Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Swimming and spending time with Tatiana, her best friend, are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college, and Ash hopes to finally ditch her longtime crush for Finley, Tatiana's twin brother. But when Tatiana and her family fail to return home after a family emergency, Ashlyn chooses to do something drastic to find them.Finley Helton and his family are good at blending in as they run their sailing charter business in Lake Tahoe. But together, they guard an ancient secret. When a not so routine meeting forces Finley, Tatiana and their mother to return to Natatoria and Fin's father on a dangerous mission, Fin can't stay caged up for long.Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, and a simple lifesaving kiss could change their lives forever.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Chosen at Nightfall by C.C. Hunter (9/10)



Summary:
Don’t miss this magnificent final chapter in the breathtaking Shadow Falls series!  Kylie’s epic journey is about to lead her exactly where she belongs…

     When Kylie Galen entered Shadow Falls Camp, she left her old life behind forever and discovered a world more magical than she ever imagined. A place where you’re two best friends can be a witch and a vampire…and where love doesn’t happen the way you’d expect.

     When Kylie’s most powerful enemy returns to destroy her once and for all, there’s only one way to stop him—to step into her full powers and make a stunning transformation that will amaze everyone around her.  But her journey won’t be complete until she makes one final choice…which guy to love.  Should she choose to the werewolf who broke her heart but will give anything to win her back, or the half-fae who ran from their attraction before they had a chance?  Everything she’s learned at Shadow Falls has been preparing her for this moment—when her fate will be revealed and her heart claimed forever.

     From author C. C. Hunter comes Chosen at Nightfall, the final book in the New York Times bestselling Shadow Falls series about a camp for paranormal teens.


Review:
     If you had to pick between Lucas, the über sexy were with a jealous streak, or Derek, the sensitive fey who you would literally can comfort you with a single touch, who would you pick? The better question is, HOW could you pick? Along with boy troubles, Kylie Galen has had to deal with ghosts, family drama, and a sociopath bent on ending her. In Chosen at Nightfall, the action heats up even more. Lucas and Kylie's relationship is a roller coaster. Te goods are really good, and the lows are pretty darn low. Struggling with stereotypes, tension between species, and traditions that Lucas has to break to be with Kylie are just a few of the problems that put walls between them. After all, he may or may not have married a werewolf behind Kylie's back...Nonetheless, I found myself rooting for him the entire time, especially when he started fighting hard for her. The chemistry between Derek and Kylie is different, closer to a friend relationship, but he's not a member of he love triangle that I wanted gone. He's still an awesome character, and there's some twists in this installment that I swear you'll love. Boy drama is always fun to read about, but the action in Chosen at Nightfall kicks some major booty. Mario and Kylie finally have to battle it out in a scene that will rock your socks off! Chosen at Nightfall can be summed up as a deliciously brilliant read that will have your eyes dry from the lack of blinking as you read from cover to cover. It's a must read in my book!