Monday, March 2, 2015

Blog Tour- Countdown Zero- Book Two in the Codename Conspiracy by Chris Rylander


















Welcome to the Countdown Zero Blog Tour sponsored by Walden Pond Press!

If you don't know who Chris Rylander is, you probably didn't read THE FOURTH STALL SERIES
by him, something I absolutely recommend. It's a kind of the Godfather meets elementary school and absolutely hilarious. I don't care if you don't read middle grade books, you really need to read it! Okay, I digress so this is the second book in the CODENAME SERIES but I haven't read the first and I wasn't lost at all. There is enough recall in this one to understand what is going on. This one is 007 meets middle school and it's a lot of fun! You can follow the rest of the tour HERE

Countdown Zero- Book Two in the Codename Conspiracy by Chris Rylander
Available Now
Walden Pond Press
Middle Grade/Realistic Fiction

Goodreads-From Chris Rylander, author of the breakout hit Fourth Stall saga, comes the second book in the Codename Conspiracy series, an incredibly funny and clever mash-up of middle grade school story and spy adventure.

Ever since Carson Fender was let go by the secret agency that had enlisted his services to help foil a nefarious plot perpetrated by one of their former agents, he's been back to hanging with his friends, pulling pranks, and not having to lie to everyone about how he's spending his days. And that's for the best, isn't it?

Of course, this was all before a note showed up in his school lunch, informing him that Agent Nineteen had three days left to live, and that there might still be someone inside the Agency working against them. Carson has always been able to rely on his friends--but what happens when there's no one left to trust?

REVIEW
Carson is a prankster, but it just doesn't have the same thrill that it once did. Even Prankpocalypse, the most pranks played at one time ever just doesn't have the same ring to it. Maybe it's because everything pales in comparison to being a secret agent? So, when he gets a message to go to the secret headquarters underneath his school, he's.....got mixed emotions. Excited, apprehensive, tense, unsure. But the mission is one he cannot pass up and soon he's back to lying to his friends again.

Carson, though a prankster and seemingly pain in the ass to the principal and a kid that seems to joke his way through life, he does have some depth. It bothers him that he has to lie to his friends. It bothers him even more that the agency only gives him information on a "need to know" basis. He knows very little about who he is working for and what anyone else in the agency does or who anyone else in the agency is for that matter. Each time he has to come up with a new lie to cover up what he's doing, he feels guilty. And then there is his guilt. If things don't go exactly as planned, unforseen circumstances happen which he cannot control, Carson still feels guilty, his conscience weighing him down heavily.

But I do want to assure you, though Carson has these troubles, the book is fairly light in tone, and a very quick easy read. There is Hollywood style rescues at the last minute and action is non stop. A lot of time, I was holding my breath waiting to see who made it through what. Oh, and if you're afraid of snakes, there is a snake scene, you have been warned! I enjoyed the novel for it's humor, it's nods to The Fourth Stall, it's struggles the young Carson has with being a teen and a secret agent, and the story. I definitely think reluctant readers will find this another great series to enjoy. It is definitely one that I am going to continue reading.



And I get to give away a copy of this novel to one great reader! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below!

Thanks to Walden Pond Press for an ARC of Countdown Zero for the review.

About Chris Rylander:
Author Bio: 
Chris Rylander is the author of the Fourth Stall Saga and the Codename Conspiracy series.  A fan of brown shipping boxes turned on their sides, dance-offs to win a girl's heart, and rice, he lives in Chicago.  You can visit him online at www.chrisrylander.com.



Find Chris Rylander here: Twitter











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Friday, February 20, 2015

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier


Dream a Little Dream (Silver 1) by Kerstin Gier
Available April 14, 2015
Henry Holt and Company
Hardcover 336 pages
Young Adult Realistic/Supernatural Fiction

Goodreads-  Mysterious doors with lizard-head knobs. Talking stone statues. A crazy girl with a hatchet. Yep, Liv’s dreams have been pretty weird lately. Especially this one where she’s in a graveyard at night, watching four boys perform dark magic rituals. 

The really weird thing is that Liv recognizes the boys in her dream. They’re classmates from her new school in London, the school where’s she’s starting over because her mom has moved them to a new country (again). But they seem to know things about her in real life that they couldn’t possibly know, which is mystifying. Then again, Liv could never resist a good mystery. . . .
 


So, would you believe a dream where you could feel the touch of someone's hand? Where you saw dark magic rituals and felt the breath of something sinister lurking in the shadows? What if you woke up and found out you had the same dream as four other boys. And they believed in a demon, even the one with the dreamy eyes who you can't stop thinking about.....No, neither does Liv. Everything has a reasonable, logical explanation. So says Sherlock Holmes. And she and her sister Mia have always solved problems with logic.

Mia and Liv have traveled the world with their mother from one job to another with their au pair, Lottie, who they are much too old for now but can't bare to part with now.  So they find themselves in London with their dog Buttercup and a new family, her mother's boyfriend Ernest and his twin's just a year older than Liv, Grayson and Florence. And while Florence tries to make everyone miserable, Grayson tries to keep Liv from joining his friends in their nefarious game with a book of shadows and seals and a demon demanding loyalty.

I loved Kerstin Gier's Ruby Red Trilogy, a big favorite of mine. As you can tell by the size of the cover I felt it was something you should all see. I think it's beautiful and I can't wait for my own copy. I loved this story! Liv is just one of those characters that cannot be shaken from thinking rationally. She doesn't get scared by obvious innuendos and veiled threats. She's almost one of the boys. There is absolutely NO LOVE TRIANGLE. It is quite obvious who she likes and the romance is done quite well, developing over time. This one is a little more grown up than the Ruby Red Trilogy and it flies by. There is a fabulous picnic in Hyde Park described that made me so jealous. You have to read it for that alone. But the dream sequence are great as well. It's a great start to the trilogy though I'm not sure why it's called the Silver Trilogy.** The translation, as always, is impeccable.

I highly recommend the novel!  And Kerstin Gier's other trilogy as well. It's creative and descriptive and unique. There is some drinking involved and some talk about sex. Nothing graphic. The ending gave me chills.

***I am so stupid. No really, Liv's last name is Silver. Um, no excuse, none at all. Just stupid.****
Thanks to Henry Holt and Co and NetGalley for an eARC of the novel. My review reflects my opinions only and was not influenced by this at all.
Find Kersin Gier


Monday, January 26, 2015

The Darkest Part of The Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Available Now
YA/ Faerie/ Dark Fantasy/
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardback 336 pages
Personal Copy
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio CD/ Audible
BN/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

REVIEW
This is a story about the darker faeries. It reminds me of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely faeries. Capable of love and goodness, but tending toward their dark side, manipulating people and doing truly awful things. It's dark, almost gothic, but not set in a house rather a town, and the darkest part of the forest. It is a place that can be familiar and foreign in an instant and both Hazel and her brother Ben have spent their childhood there fighting the evil creatures that do evil things. But then they left.

The story starts with grown versions of Hazel and Ben and winds itself back to their childhood. It isn't a pretty journey, in the woods, nor at home. But Hazel and Ben make the best of things and find their happiness in the stories they weave about the boy in the glass coffin, the boy they both love. I can understand escaping into stories, especially fantasy. But their faeries are real.

Fairfold is interesting, reminding me of a Southern town that sweeps the ugly bits behind closed doors. Keeps it's secrets so that the tourists don't hear the stories, or if they do, they don't seem to care enough to stop visiting the boy in the forest. The town makes a lot of business off of the tourists. The faeries are good for business so they never say a word about the changeling boy that lives with his brother, the one the faeries tried to steal. They never mind leaving milk and other gifts out for the faeries until someone breaks the boy out of the coffin. Until the attacks on the locals begin. 

I love the way Holly Black takes a simple story, a family story, and explores it on several different levels.  The relationship between siblings, brother and sister, brother and brother, the relationship between parent and child- mother and children, father and children, and family. 

Hazel is the narrator and she is no girl to be rescued. She is smart, brave, and loyal. Hazel loves her brother and Fairfold enough to sacrifice herself if need be. She reminded me very much of the character in BEWARE THE WILD BY NATALIE PARKER, another girl that loved her brother so much, she went into a swamp to save her brother. This novel was just as atmospheric and held me spellbound as I read. 

It was refreshing to see a LGBT character or more that were just characters, complete characters, no stereotyping. So don't think of this as an issue book. It isn't. Imagine, a book with diverse characters and it isn't an issue book. How lovely! 

I highly recommend this novel to lovers of faerie tales, romances, family stories,  This is a great story with a lot of action, a lot of unique fae, and some interesting retellings of old stories. Holly Black includes some of her sources in the back and an interesting list of authors in her acknowledgements. There is some violence in the novel, not gratuitous but this is the fae in what some would call their truer form. They are teens so the usual teen shenanigans happening as far as drinking and thoughts about sex.

FIND HOLLY BLACK HERE



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Beware The Wild by Natalie C. Parker

Beware The Wild by Natalie C. Parker
Available Now
Harper Teen YA/Supernatural/Gothic
Hardback 327 pages
To buy links: Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository/
Indiebound/ Kobo

From Goodreads- It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed. Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her. 

There is a free PREVIEW of the first few chapters of this novel on the Goodreads page. It's what hooked me. Just the first page.


REVIEW

I am such a sucker for a story set in the South. One that just drips with Southern humidity and Spanish moss. That's what reminds me of home. I grew up in the South, swamps are as familiar to me as sunshine. Don't get me wrong, I don't go around stomping through them, but salt marshes precede the beaches I played on and you can hardly throw a rock without hitting a gator. So when I read the first page of this novel, pure poetry and so atmospheric, painting a picture and a warning all at once, I went on a hunt to find this book in a book store immediately.  This is a book I savored, reading bits of it at a time instead of devouring it. I just didn't want it to end. I was trapped in the story just as much as the characters were.

Sterling Saucier, what a name, right? And she lives in Sticks, Louisiana. Oh the alliteration.  The story begins with Sterling sizzling on her brother's car he lovingly restored. It is a week before school is out and her brother has disappeared after a fight with Sterling and their stepfather. One in which he got violent. It's all so hazy. Did he run away? Did he leave because of Sterling? Did he go into the swamp willingly? Does he want to stay there? Sterling starts feeling guilty. She's been starving herself over worry that Phin is going to leave her for college. He's always  been there to protect her. It sounds flimsy at first. A poor excuse for what at first sounds like the beginning of anorexia. But it isn't that. Not at all. I don't want to say much though I will assure you this is not an issue book. There is a romance, slow going, very sweet. The kind that happens in a small town between a boy and girl where everyone knows everyone else. 

This story is about the power of where you come from, how your roots never really leave you.  It's about the power of words, as a reader, you already know words have power. And I have to say that Natalie C. Parker is magical in the way she weaves words. The swamp is as much of a character as the people are playing a big role in the story. It's a mystery, something to be afraid of, beautiful, and fearsome. Books are written about the swamp, it's held back by a fence, the people of Sticks decorate the fence, and burn candles at the fence. 

Sterling is honest to a fault. I like her. Her view of the world is unclouded by judgement or jealousy. She is the epitome of the word love. She loves her family. She loves her friends. And she loves her brother.  She is flanked by her very logical friend Candy, her maybe boyfriend Heath and her sorta sister Lenora May. They make an interesting group whether together or apart.

I'm not doing a great job selling this book, so let me just say this, the language in this novel pulled me in and I found myself understanding so well what the character was saying. Here is one of my favorite passages. If you've ever lost someone, had a breakup, lost touch with someone, you'll understand.

Maybe it's easier to not know the little things. They're what hurts the most when they're gone. What does it matter that Phin loves old cars and painted that '68 Chevelle red because it's my favorite color? It doesn't matter a damn, but looking at that car in the driveway is a knife in the stomach; the guts of my relationship with Phin all cut open and rotting in the sun. I don't want to feel this way about someone else. I don't want to get so close that losing them means losing a piece of myself. (pp. 206-207)
I know what you mean Sterling. I know exactly what you mean.

 Find Natalie C. Parker 
Blog~ Tumblr~FB~Twitter-@nataliecparker

Thursday, January 8, 2015

ARRGH! by Stacey Campbell Blog Tour



arrghbanner
Thank you for stopping by my tour stop for ARRGH! by Stacey Campbell. This is a middle grade fantasy adventure and the tour runs January 5-9 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule!

About the Book:

ARRGH!  by Stacey Campbell, 270 pages

Forced to remain silent after being kidnapped by pirates Christopher must find a way to save an innocent merchant ship’s captain and his daughter from the evil grasp of Captain Redblade proving that friendship and family are worth fighting for no matter the costs.




Amazon | Goodreads | B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound




REVIEW
You know when you agree to do a tour book you never know what you are going to get. ARRGH is a true hidden gem! I loved this story! It's a quick easy read and perfect for young readers. But parents will enjoy reading it too. And you know, if you are a parent, that is sometimes hard to find, a book that is interesting to both you and your chapter reader. 

The story starts out with a young orphan, Christopher, escaping from his situation and finding himself in an even worse situation. He overhears the plans of some traitorous pirates and is discovered by them, dragged onto a ship and sets sail for the Caribbean from London. Even though he has to scrub the decks with sand and water and sleep on the hard floor in the cabin with one of these pirates, he makes the best of his situation. Soon he's friends with the captain's daughter even though he has to pretend to be mute. He has help from a talking mouse and monkey as he uncovers the plans of the pirates he overheard on the docks. The author doesn't waste words or time with unnecessary information. Descriptions are brief, we all can imagine a pirate just from the word. But what scrubbing the decks is, that is explained. The plot is good, an air of danger is always there, with a slight twist at the end. I'd love to see more adventures with Christopher and Lucy. But the story is completely resolved at the end so it is a stand alone. Still, the kids are great together and I'd love to see them again!

This novel is one I highly recommend for middle grade readers. The chapters are good size so a confident reader could read it on their own or a beginner reader could read it with someone else. It's a great story for boys, but there is nothing that makes it specifically a boy's story.

I received a copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author:

Stacey R. CampbellStacey R. Campbell lives in the Pacific North West with her husband, three daughters, three dogs, and a pet turtle named Todd. She is a graduate of the University of Washington. At the age of seven Stacey was told that she would never be the writer she dreamed of being because she is dyslexic. Finally Stacey found that she could not look her children in the eyes and tell them that they could be what ever they wanted to be if she did not do the same. Now Stacey can’t stop writing and loves to help children pursue their own dreams. Stacey is the young adult author of Hush, A Lakeview Novel and Whisper, A Lakeview Novel. ARRGH! is Stacey’s first middle grade book.
For more books from this author, visiting information, and author events please visit Stacey at:

www.Staceyrcampbell.com


You can also learn more about Stacey R. Campbell on
Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest  | Goodreads



Giveaway:
$20 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
2 paperbacks of ARRGH! (US)
ebooks of ARRGH! (INT)
Ends Jan. 21, 2015

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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.







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