Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review and Giveaway

Pushing The Limits

by Katie McGarry
Goodreads Summary:

"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.
 So wrong for each other...and yet so right.
 No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

 Oh, you're gonna want this one, today! The romance is amazing, the suffering is heartbreaking and the characters are amazing. Let's take things slow. First the romance, a somewhat scandalous romance between bad-boy Noah and used to be popular Echo. How did that happen? Mutual need for information that turned into something more. But then there's Noah's understanding of Echo's situation. They are both broken, almost beyond repair. But somehow, they came into each other's lives. And like it or not, they have something between them.

The suffering, they have both experienced great loss. Echo has lost her family in a different way than Noah, but Noah, Oh God, Noah! He's trying to be so strong and keep things together and he has dreams for his life but he can't have them and be who he thinks he's supposed to be. When his full story finally comes out, get your tissues out. I have never wanted to reach through a book more and let a character cry on my shoulder than I did Noah. He cried and I was okay with that. I didn't think any less of him for it because anyone in his situation would do the same way before he did. I didn't have quite as much sympathy for Echo only because she was constantly whining about her stepmother. Granted that stepmother used to be her babysitter, but it got just a bit old. I did think she was in a tough spot though. And her losses were no less than Noah's just different.

 So there is Noah and Echo telling the story, which I love! But the side characters are so great and you can see how they add to  Noah's and Echo's lives either making it harder or easier. Lila was Echo's friend before and after that night. Lila is the kind of friend you want to have your back. She doesn't care about popularity or the risks of dating someone unpopular, she cares about Echo. She knows that Echo is not a self injurer like the rumors say, that she isn't a freak and she pulls her over to their old table where the cheerleaders sit, where Grace sits, the one who cares how it looks even if they used to be bffs. Then Noah has his own little crew, Isaiah and Beth, they are his little family in foster care. They all look out for each other. They contribute to Noah's bad reputation but they are all making the best of a bad situation.

Can I just say that I couldn't turn the pages fast enough on this one to see how it ended? I saw no way for a happy ending for anyone. Not with what Noah wanted and what Echo needed. Katie McGarry knows how to deliver a deeply emotional novel with characters that will leave you thinking about them long after you've closed the book. I've been thinking about this novel for a few weeks now. I wanted to write a worthy review. I think I felt every emotion I could reading this novel. I've never pulled for two characters more than these two. I was so divested in the outcome...that's all I can say.

 There is a sneak preview of Katie McGarry's next novel in the back of this novel and I hope she can deliver the same caliber of novel as this one. I'm sure it will be in a top ten of mine this year. So did I make you want to read it? Do you want to know what they lost? What would make bad boy Noah Hutchins cry? Why would Miss Popularity's life change overnight? Don't skip this one. It lives up to the hype and then some!

Here is the trailer for the book just to tempt you even more!!





And for the giveaway! We have Karen at Media Masters Publicity for the Hardback copy of Pushing the Limits today! YAY! for Karen! And for Harlequin Teen!!


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Monday, July 30, 2012

Pushing The Limits Interview with Katie McGarry

Author  Q and A with Katie McGarry

of Pushing the Limits

Bio Info-
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and she remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. Katie loves to visit schools and talk to teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach. Q&A With Katie McGarry



Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?

A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

 Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?

A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the man- uscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it alwaysfelt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek my- thology so it made perfect sense that she would name her chil- dren after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the mo- ment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

Q: Which character is the most “like” you? 

A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities. 

Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school? 

A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have unfortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn't friendship. 

Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to? 

A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The people I grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willing- ly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and congratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision. 

Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you? 

A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even stranger to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

Please come back tomorrow for my review and a giveaway of a hardback copy of Pushing The Limits!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dante's Girl (The Paradise Diaries #1) by Courtney Cole Review Kismet Blog Tour

Dante's Girl

by Courtney Cole
Goodreads Summary:
I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring. 
Until this year. 

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes. 
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise. 
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference? 

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl. 

My heart just might be crazy.

Okay this was an adorably cute and incredibly frustrating novel at the same time. But it worked!  Reece is a girl who is sure of herself. Her inner dialogue is so much fun to read as she tries to talk herself through embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. And she really finds herself in those when she's stranded at an airport and then whisked away with Dante also known as Apollo in her head in a helicopter to his island nation off the coast of Greece. There, instead of spending a summer in dreary London with awkward conversations with her dad, she's invited to stay and intern at Dante's family's olive farm. 

There were times when I wished she would have slugged Dante because he seemed to be acting totally opposite of what he was telling her. And then things would make sense. That was what was frustrating. But they are so cute together and things are really serious between the two as they develop over the summer. She might fall hard for him quickly, but it builds over the summer, so no insta love.

Dante, for all his frustrating signals, is actually a very nice guy. He is very chivalrous but he is also the Prime Minister's son, sort of like the Prince of the country. Certain behaviors are expected of him, certain things have already been planned for his life and just chucking those plans isn't an option.  It's difficult for Dante and Reece to understand each other's cultures and reach a happy medium for the two of them. And then, there is the danger of terrorists attacks against the Prime Minister and anyone around him. The terrorist was a little transparent but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the story at all.

The writing had a nice flow to it and Reece was easy to fall for. She was amazingly resilient being away from anyone she knew and without a friend to confide in when she was confused by Dante. She was kind of like a bulldog going after what she wanted. She would not be stopped no matter what her condition. I really liked that she didn't sit and whine when she was upset about Dante. She was really strong and stood up for herself even if she didn't expect it of herself. It would be really hard not to like Reece. She's a girl from Kansas stuck in the world of European royalty and winging it with the best of 'em!

If you love a great romance between two very different but well matched people, then this is the YA contemporary for you! You will absolutely love the country of Caberra and the people, or most of them.
And you will love Reece and Dante's story! Lots of fun! I highly recommend it!

This is for the older YA crowd as there are mature themes in it.

Heather

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tess, Terrorists and The Tiara by Terry Baldwin Review

Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara

by Terry Baldwin
Will be available in paperback in August
Goodreads Summary:
Thirteen-year old Tess has never been able to compete with her “perfect” older sister, but now she must—if she wants to inherit her grandmother’s priceless tiara. The two girls have been invited to their grandparent’s lake house for the summer to help take care of Grandma who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The sister who earns the most “helpful points” wins the former beauty queen’s crown.

"It’s not easy for Tess, who seems to always get things wrong despite best intentions. And who is that mysterious stranger who’s just moved next door to their grandparents’ summer cottage? 
Does he know that Tess’ grandmother was once the winner of a famous patriotic beauty contest? Or that she keeps her tiara where anyone can steal it? And why doesn’t he have a face?

This is a middle grade novel about relationships, stereotypes, family and doing the right thing. Tess and Brianna are sisters, eighth grade and sophomore respectively and they remind me a lot of Ramona and Beezus in their relationship. They love each other, but they are so opposite and have a hard time getting along. Tess, much like Ramona, seems to get things wrong a lot, but she really only has the best of intentions. Like when she rides her bike to Wilkins store to get information under the pretense of getting candy. She gets the information and the candy, but sticks the chocolate candy in her back pocket and forgets about it. Later, when she remembers it, it's one giant mess. Not intentional, but still, she messed up.  She's worried that the strangers who don't want anyone in their cove are planning to steal her crown. Or maybe Frank with the big "Don't Mess With Me" sticker on his truck is planning to steal it. But what really happens is something much worse. Tess finds out that the people staying in the house next to her grandparent's house are Muslims. She reads all about the girl that wears the burka in an old National Geographic and the restrictions placed on women in Muslim countries (this is an old magazine) and she jumps to conclusions. She runs to Frank with her suspicions, her worries about the Tiara, and Frank jumps to his own conclusions calling them terrorists.

Meanwhile, the competition for "helpful points" is no competition at all. Brianna is winning by leaps and bounds. It seems that she will win the Tiara worth a college education. How did grandma win it? She was the last winner of the "Miss Land of the Free" beauty pageant. So, since no one knew what to do with the tiara, she got to keep it. Though Tess is trying, her imagination, which is never a bad thing,  but is a bit overactive, takes her into overdrive and she gets too involved with the people next door to have time to earn "helpful points."

But, Tess does learn a few things about Alzheimers and her grandmother and life. She learns what's important in life and how good it feels to do the right thing. The novel is easy to read and the pace is fast. Though it's heavy on lessons it doesn't feel that way at all. It does cover a lot of life lessons in such a small book, but the lessons are brief on some points, heavier on others. I enjoyed it and agreed with it and the points it made.

There were some things that I had a little trouble with  There were some stereotypes like Frank with the cars up on blocks in his yard and the junk littering it. And Brianna, a sophomore who wants to study to be a doctor used the word "retarded" when referring to a girl with autism.  As a girl with a 4.0 GPA I'd expect her to know what autism is and not to use such an outdated term as "retarded." And every time someone said "autism" the other person would ask "artistic?" as if they'd never heard the word before. Given the fact that there were cell phones and computers I would assume that it was meant to be contemporary novel.

Despite those complaints, I felt the novel did a great job portraying the post 9/11 prejudices many have towards Middle Eastern looking people before they even discover what religion they are or even what their names are. There is an element of danger and competition. And as I said, Tess reminds me a lot of Ramona so I really enjoyed her character and the growth she showed from the beginning of the novel to the end. 

I highly recommend this novel to MG and up readers. The MC is 13 but the story is great for any reader. I was completely engrossed in the story as I read. It's a bit complex for the younger readers so I'd say it's for the older end of the MG range. And definitely it could carry over to any type of prejudice.

Don't forget the E-Copy giveaway is International HERE.

Heather

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara by Terry Baldwin Interview and Giveaway


Interview with Terry Baldwin Author of

Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara

I'll be reviewing Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara tomorrow, but today I have a really interesting story from Terry Baldwin, the author of Tess.

Bio:
I've been writing books since the 6th grade, so maybe that's why I'm still writing for teens. Since then I've learned to do technical writing which has helped pay the bills while I wrote TESS. I'm married, and my two passions are my wife and my fiction writing. My dog comes further down on the list.

First, I'd like to thank Heather for inviting me to post on her blog. This is a completely different world for me. I've been checking out book blogs for a while and I'm blown away by the care and effort so many people put into great blogs such as Buried in Books.
My novel, Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara, starts with the climax of a beauty pageant. I didn't go into too much detail describing the contest since I think most everybody knows what a beauty pageant is and have probably seen, at least part of one, on TV. The first pageants were held in the U.S., but they are pretty worldwide now, but maybe not quite as widespread as the promoters of the Miss Universe pageant would like to claim.
I'm not positive that the winners of these contests are really the most beautiful women in the world, let alone the entire universe.
If I had written Tess, Terrorists and the Tiara two hundred years ago, though, I would have had a lot of explaining to do. There were no such things as beauty contests in 1812. In fact, I've got a pretty good guess that, here in the U.S. at least, the public wouldn't have put up with one.
Look at what happened to the very first beauty pageant in 1854: A fellow named Phineas, who was an outspoken abolitionist and a future state legislator, held a beauty pageant that had to be closed down because of public outrage. He had to settle for a pale substitute, a contest for which contestants submitted photographs of themselves. Not only was that not nearly as exciting, but the quality of photographs in 1854 left a lot to be desired. Most people in pictures from those days had to pose for several long minutes at a time without moving, so they all look as if they were waiting for a laxative to take effective.
Eventually, though, the idea caught on at seaside resorts where ladies were already in their bathing suits in public anyway. Wikipedia says that the biggest ones were held in Galveston, Texas, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the Miss America pageant is still held.
Something that many people who watch beauty pageants aren't familiar with are “flippers.” Flippers are things that contestants slip over their teeth to make them look better. When I heard about them, I couldn't help imagine a situation where an elegant contestant gets crowned the queen and starts crying (which most of them do), when her “flipper” slips off and the whole world gets to see she's missing every other tooth in her mouth.
That video would definitely go viral.
By the way, that guy Phineas who held the first beauty pageant. His full name was Phineas Taylor Barnum, otherwise known at P.T. Barnum, the founder of the world's most famous circus.
I won't go any further.

That's really interesting! I never even wondered what the P.T. stood for in P.T. Barnum and never knew a thing about early Beauty Pagents. I never even thought about them. Great story!

Here's a trailer for the book:



The Giveaway-






Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview and Giveaway Lisa M. Stasse of The Forsaken

Interview with Lisa M. Stasse

Bio Info-
Lisa M. Stasse was born in Syracuse, New York, and has since lived in Spain, Russia, Hawaii, and North Carolina. She graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Government and English literature, and is currently a digital librarian at UCLA. Lisa loves watching science fiction movies, cooking Spanish food, and dancing around her house to 80's music (when no one is watching). She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their two-year-old daughter. All three of them are learning how to surf.

I reviewed The Forsaken yesterday and have to say I loved it!

Here are some questions I asked Lisa about The Forsaken.

Me-Why did you choose dystopian/post apocalyptic over any of the other genres to write?

I've always loved dystopian lit, and right now there's so much energy in that genre, especially when it comes to YA. Dystopians give you lots of room to tackle big issues, but also tell really compelling and intensely personal stories. I love Divergent and The Hunger Games, so those were big influences on me, among all the other classic dystopians as well, like 1984 and Brave New World (and Lord of the Flies too, if we can count that one!)

Me-What were your influences to write this particular story?

In addition to the books mentioned above, I really wanted to tell a story about a regular girl (one without any amazing traits or powers) who gets thrown into the harshest situation possible and has to not only survive it, but transcend it. I get really influenced by movies and certain TV shows as much as I do by books, so I think the show LOST was a big influence, along with movies like The Dark Knight and Blade Runner. Oh, and I enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth too.

Me-In Alenna's shoes, dropped on an island supposedly filled with psychopaths and killers, what would your reaction be? What would you do first? 

I would be terrified! I would probably try to hide somewhere. But maybe not. Maybe I'd pretend to be a psycho too, so that I'd fit in. Then I could secretly work on my escape plan without attracting any attention to myself. That might work. Maybe.

Me-Dropped on a deserted island, what three things would be the most important to you for survival?

The sensible answer would be water, food, and a phone to call for help. But what I'd really want is some coffee (I definitely can't survive without it!), and some chocolate (again, hard to survive without that), and then I'd probably just sit there and take some cool photos of the sunset with my iPhone. Maybe I'd be happy camping out there for a day or two. It could be fun! ;) Like a desert island vacation.

Me-This is the first in a triology, can you tell us when the next book will be out and what we can expect (or some small hint)?

I'm just finishing up copyedits on Book 2 of THE FORSAKEN trilogy right now (as in literally a couple hours ago I was working on them!) The book will be released next summer. It continues Alenna's journey as she and her friends fight for freedom, and it gets even more epic! But they run up against some unexpected betrayals along the way that complicate their plans.

Me-What do you like to read? What are you reading right now?

I read nonstop (I'm a librarian at UCLA). Right now I'm reading a great nonfiction book called Wild, and I'm also reading Ender's Game again (a great book--I'm so excited about the movie coming out).

Me-Anything you'd like to add?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I really appreciate it. Here are all my links! Come visit me and say hi:


The Forsaken Book Trailer




And for the Giveaway:






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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse Review

The Forsaken

by Lisa M. Stasse
Goodreads Summary:
As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

In the past, I've noted that dystopians are not my favorite genre, but that doesn't keep me from trying them from time to time and I have found many that I love. I have recently started changing my mind with the influx of really different traditionally and indie published dystopians. This one rocked! It read a bit like a horror story to me it was just so unimaginable what was happening. From beginning to end the inhabitants or should I say the  outcasts on the island are constantly barraged by some threat.  There is not a moment's peace where they can let their guard down and relax.

Alenna starts as a normal girl,as normal as can be, traumatized by her parents capture by the government when she was ten.  She follows the rules and is a good little orphan. But you can tell by the questions in her head that she's probably not as quiet as she should be. However, there aren't any mind readers so she should be safe. The girls at the orphanage joke about taking the GPPT tests saying they are all safe because it would look bad if the government run orphanage had been harboring an "unanchored soul", the name they give people who fail the test. Less than 24 hours later, Alenna is running for her life not sure if the boy she's running with is safe or not and if she should go with the painted face people or the girl waving the gun, sure there is some mistake that she got dropped on The Wheel.

Truth is hard to come by on the island. Information is given only on a need to know basis and only if you're trusted.But one thing everyone has in common, they all felt like outsiders and invisible at home. Here, they aren't. Alenna makes friends fast with the girl that saved her when she first arrived Gadya, and  a cook named Rika. The three girls share as much laughter as you can when your village is under constant attack by the "Monk's drones" who use fireworks to burn down their huts and weapons, of course, to kill.
And, Alenna falls for a boy that she saw on camera at the museum they visited the day before the tests were adminstered. He was the last thing she thought of before her test was administered. All before she was dropped here, a boy she's worried about quite a bit. But Liam is off limits according to Gadya, he's hers even if they are broken up and even if Liam likes Alenna. It's not quite insta love, but when you have a life span of about a year, I allow for a little immediate attraction, plus add the constant threat of dying, it probably adds to the intensity of feelings.

I liked that Gadya, Alenna and Rika were such good friends. Rika was a kind hearted person and helped Alenna hold onto what was important, the human part of herself. Gadya kept her realistic, that you had to fight for everything, never believe what you saw and never trust anything, always question. Alenna was a good blend of the two. Liam, of course, was a bit of a sore spot between Gadya and Alenna, but just as  Gadya becomes okay with it things change drastically.

David is another main character though our time is limited with him. Yet when he's on the page, he takes center stage. He is the boy that sacrificed himself for Alenna when they were first being chased by the Monk's followers, the drones, so that she and Gadya could get away. He's later captured during a raid on her village, but he just wants to find haven in her village. He has information for her, but her village doesn't trust him, even if she will vouch for him.  Every time he appears, Alenna is sure of his loyalty but allows the others mistrust of him to seep in until she questions herself. David seems to perform almost superhuman feats sometimes to prove his loyalty.

What a discovery mission finds at the end of their journey is horrifying. I can't say what, but it is definitely something out of a Stephen King novel. The government has no heart in it, at all. If I hadn't been sure of that fact when they dropped hapless teenagers on a desolate island to fend for themselves, I was sure at the end of the novel. The last hundred pages is a terror filled race to more terror, but there is a bit of closure at the end of book one. No big cliffhangers. Lots of questions left to be answered.

To say I was glued to the pages would be an understatement. I'm not sure I've ever read a book of this length in such a short amount of time. It is action packed, the plot moves at a breakneck pace.  I did read the ARC at 375 pages.  That's what the book information says on Goodreads. Anyone that likes a good dystopian should love this one. It's different and though I knew some things would work out, I didn't know how and that's what I liked so much about this novel. I couldn't have guessed at what was going on or why.

The book is recommended for teens 12 and up. I don't remember anything I'd caution readers about except violence.  I received an ARC from the publisher for review. I was in no way compensated for my review. This is my opinion of the book and not a literary review.

Please come back tomorrow for and Interview with the author and a giveaway!

Heather                                      

Friday, July 20, 2012

Knee Deep by Jolene Perry Tribute Blog Tour Stop

Knee Deep

by Jolene Perry
Kindle, Nook, Smashwords,
Summary:

Shawn is the guy Ronnie Bird promised her life to at the age of fourteen. He's her soul mate. He's more uptight every day, but it's not his fault. His family life is stressful, and she's adding to it. She just needs to be more understanding, and he'll start to be the boy she fell in love with. She won’t give up on someone she’s loved for so long.

Luke is her best friend, and the guy she hangs with to watch girlie movies in her large blanketopias. He's the guy she can confide in before she even goes to her girlfriends, and the guy who she's playing opposite in Romeo and Juliet. Now her chest flutters every time he gets too close. This is new. Is Ronnie falling for him? Or is Juliet? The lines are getting blurry, but leaving one guy for another is not something that a girl like Ronnie does.

Shawn’s outbursts are starting to give her bruises, and Luke’s heart breaks as Ronnie remains torn. While her thoughts and feelings swirl around the lines between friendship and forever, she’s about to lose them both.

Take two teenagers who have been separated from each other for years but who have felt like they were in love with each other that whole time and put them together. They've written each other weekly and spent two weeks in the summer together at the beach. But they've only shared the best parts of themselves with each other. And as Ronnie finds out, there are sides to Shawn that aren't something she wants to know. He's moody and angry if she spends time with anyone but him. When she wears heels, which makes her taller than him, he's mad. She actually trades shoes with her best friend so she won't make him angry anymore. He's more than dark, he's controlling from the first page when he rolls in on his motorcycle and she's sneaking out of her house to go appease him about something. She can't stand to have weirdness between them and he knows this.


Ronnie is not this girl that is pathetic and under Shawn's thumb. That isn't how she presents in the book. She's a girl that's in love and you understand how she got from Point A to Point B. I think this novel really shows how easy it is for a girl with a healthy self esteem, a father who is a therapist and is watching her closely, a put together family, friends that really care about her, how this girl can still become a victim of dating abuse. It can happen to anyone. It doesn't just happen to a certain class of people or type of girl. And Ronnie doesn't even believe it's happening to her. She blames herself, not only for the abuse but for causing stress for anyone that's upset over it when they discover it. Shawn's supposed to be the one, she has to make it work.


Shawn is the product of living in an abusive home. He watches his father abuse his mother, he may even abuse Shawn But Shawn, like any abuser has a choice.You'll see in the end how Shawn makes his choices. He is a bully and a baby.Between the two, you know that nothing good can come from him and you're hoping throughout the story that Ronnie will cut and run.


Luke is the best friend who plays Romeo in the school play to Ronnie's Juliet. They've been friends forever and yet Shawn is jealous of him, despite them being best friends. Luke is the best guy friend a girl could ask for. He skips school and watches girl movies with her when  she's suspended for a day. He confronts her about the abuse. He rescues her from herself. 


And Mindy is the best girlfriend you could wish for. She stands by Ronnie even after she find out what Ronnie has been keeping from her. She's really a voice of reason when Ronnie is thoroughly confused about her feelings. She asks profound questions, provides support and most importantly, has Ronnie's back at the most difficult time in her life.


This novel was really well executed. The pacing was even and just right. There wasn't a head long rush into the abuse, just a slow escalation. You know it's coming, but you're waiting to see just what her breaking point is going to be and if she will actually turn away from Shawn the boy she thinks is her soulmate.


The last third to quarter of the book was a complete and welcome surprise to me. There really isn't a lot of surprise to be found in a book about dating abuse, but this one did have some surprises. And I think if you're at all judgmental about girls or guys that get into this type of situation, you'll see how easy it is to dismiss once or twice until you are in too deep and you find yourself believing it's all your fault. The writing was simple to read, no wordy descriptions or wasted emotions. Just very direct and easy to read.


The only thing I wish it had included was resources for teens that find themselves in this type of relationship. I've included an excerpt from the novel provided by Tribute books below for you to read. I really enjoyed this novel! It was completely believable and a great cautionary tale about abusive relationships. 


There is some mature content, attempted date rape, violence against women. I think older teens should read it. As always use your best judgement when considering you maturity level and the reading material.


Excerpt and author information below

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guys Read The Sports Pages Edited by Jon Scieszka A Review

Guys Read The Sports Pages

by Various Authors
Edited by Jon Scieszka


Goodreads Summary:
Ten stories guaranteed to put you in the ring, under the basket, and right behind home plate, from the following perennial all-stars:
Dustin Brown, James Brown , Joseph Bruchac, Chris Crutcher 
Tim Green, Dan Gutman , Gordon Korman, Chris Rylander 
Anne Ursu, Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by Dan Santat

So, I don't really read about sports. I don't watch sports. I do have a favorite team, my college team, but I don't watch them, I am superstitious as they always seem to start losing when I watch. And I really only care if they beat the Georgia Bulldogs and FSU. Yep, I'm a Florida Gator in case you haven't read my profile. And as much as I try to understand my husband's stories about playing football in high school and college,  the intensity of it, I just didn't get it. But I have never been disappointed by these short stories in Guys Read and I still haven't. Yeah, it's sports, but I discovered some things as I read.

First, the stories are really varied, as much as sports are. MAX SWINGS FOR THE FENCES  is written by Anne Ursu, author of BREADCRUMBS. and though it isn't fairy tale like in any way, there is a definite and funny lesson to be learned when you claim your dad is a famous baseball player for the Minnesota Twins and he comes to town. I really felt sorry for Max, the new kid in school, who just wanted to fit in so he told a tiny white lie. But Max, and guys, don't ever underestimate girls. I'm sure Max won't ever again. 

My husband played football, in his free time, in a men's league when I met him, in junior high, high school and on a scholarship in college. Yeah, he is INTO football. It's rare that the t.v. isn't tuned in to some game, usually college, during the fall. But I found out he's been holding out on me. Read the story FIND YOUR FIRE by Tim Green and like me you might find out there is a lot of emotion in sports. Who would have guessed. I found myself tearing up at the conclusion of that one. So you want your son to open up about his feelings? Talk in sports metaphors if nothing else works. It's not that they don't want to talk about their feelings, it's that they are saving it for the game!

Dustin Brown, Captain of the Los Angeles Kings,(NHL hockey for the sports impaired) wrote a really informative and thoughtful recounting of his journey to where he is today in AGAINST ALL ODDS. I rarely watch hockey, been to a few minor league games here in Charlotte, but now I appreciate what it takes for these players to get where they are, the dedication and the sacrifice. I think they are some of the youngest players on professional teams and Dustin Brown's decision between going to college and trying to be one of two hundred out of 30,000 players in Junior Hockey to be asked to the NHL Draft was a life altering decision at such a young age. At 18, the time we will be sending our kids to college, or most of the kids reading this will be going to college, Dustin was playing for the NHL. That's HUGE! It was a definite dream come true, but you need to read his story to see how it wasn't just handed to him. He worked for it. Hard! It's a great story.

What about the rest of the stories? They are all great! I loved the story Chris Rylander wrote I WILL DESTROY YOU, DEREK JETER! And wonder of all wonders, my reluctant reader caught me reading it to my husband (another reluctant reader at 50) and they both want to read it! I'm still not quite recovered but will be handing this off shortly to the younger of the two as soon as my review is done! 
THE TROPHY by Gordon Korman is a great competitive story about finding friendship through sports in the most unlikely of circumstances. CHOKE by James Brown was a great story about taking the fight from outside the ring into it and the joy of knowing, win or lose, you've done what you set out to do.

I think beginning the book with Dan Gutman's HOW I WON THE WORLD SERIES and his lucky grapefruit (he's superstitious, too, though he can watch his team play) and ending it with I WILL DESTROY YOU, DEREK JETER was perfect! I don't care how much you don't like sports, you will find something in each of these stories to take away and remember. And if you're lucky enough like me, you'll find two reluctant readers in your house that want to read it even if one of them is older than you!

This is definitely for your middle grade and above readers. Reluctant readers especially will enjoy the short stories. Again, I enjoy and appreciate short stories for the fact that I can put them down and pick them up again without having to remember where the story was when I left off. This is something I think reluctant readers also appreciate. But make no mistake, anyone will enjoy these stories. I did, and I am no fan of sports!  These stories will stick with me. I may even discuss them with my son....!

Thanks to Kellie at Walden Pond Press for always sending me ARCS of the best books, this one included.
I was not compensated for my review of this novel.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fall for You by Cecilia Gray Review and Giveaway

Fall for You

By Cecilia Gray
Goodreads Summary:
Jane Austen meets Pretty Little Liars in this fresh, new young-adult series!

To say Lizzie and Dante are polar opposites is the understatement of the century. He's a snooty Exeter transfer with more money than Google. She's a driven study-a-holic barely keeping up with tuition. It's obvious that Dante thinks he's way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pushing her buttons.

But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie's quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets... Secrets Lizzie can't seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries...

If you love Jane Austen, especially Pride and Prejudice, this a great light contemporary retelling of the story. Although it's brief and the romance is light as well as the drama, it's a perfect read for a couple of hours of enjoyment. I could see all of my favorite characters (especially because the names were kept the same) but the relationships were different. The setting was a private boarding school in California instead of Regency England but the troubles were still the same. Dante aka Darcy was the same in the beginning as he was in Pride and Prejudice but he warmed to Lizzie as she did to him.

I loved the characters and their interactions, especially the four girls, Lizzie and Ellie who  had been best friends and not exactly enemies but certainly not friendly with Anne and Emma. But the four came together with a common enemy. And four girls could not be more different. I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out. I do want to point out that this is a very light, fun read and short at 123 pages so if you were ever scared off by Pride and Prejudice, you might want to give this one a try.

This was a very clean read and a great quick contemporary YA read.
Thanks to Cecilia Gray and AToMR Tours for a copy of the novel for review. I received no compensation for my review.  Here are the other blogs participating in the tour.



And for the giveaway, please fill out the rafflecopter form below. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eden's Root by Rachel E. Fisher A Review

Eden's Root

by Rachel E. Fisher
Goodreads Summary:
The year is 2033 and the world hovers on the edge of explosion as unexplained crop deaths lead to severe global food shortages. In the United States, the Sickness is taking lives slowly, creeping its way into every family. Fi Kelly has already faced the Sickness in her own family, toughening her beyond her years. But a shocking confession from her dying father will push her toughness to its absolute limits. Saddled with an impossible secret and the mission of saving her little sister, Fi sets out to transform herself into the warrior that she must become to survive the coming collapse. Along the way, she will discover that evil can be accidental and that love can be intentional.

Whew! This novel is a definite page turner! Fi Kelly is only 13 when she learns about the awful famine that is coming and what will most likely happen when it occurs. Her dying father charges her to save her family, her already sick mother and her little sister. She cannot tell anyone about the coming collapse. Since Fi has to grow up in a matter of months and become an adult, it's a little hard to warm up to her. She's a bit like Katniss from The Hunger Games (I've only read the first one so I only refer to her in that one). She's tough, makes the adult decisions despite adults being in the group and isn't afraid to kill if she has to for protection. She goes on food raids by herself in the middle of the night when she might face armed killers, crazy people starving to death or later in the story people called Others, desperate for food and to protect their remaining resources no matter the cost.

What has caused this famine, world wide, killing millions of people. A combination of things, stuff we hear  in the news daily. Pesticides, genetically altered food, fertilizers, unnatural foods filled with artificial everything. It's what becomes known as "Sickfood" named by Fi. "Truefood" is the wild game, fish and nuts and berries they can gather from the forest. "Sickfood" is the cause of cancer, lupus, anything else that people are dying of, which is now just called the "Sickness". Food will not grow in the ground anymore because there is something in the seed that kills the plant before it reaches maturity.

Fi at 14 is The Leader of her Family that includes her sick mother, Maggie, her 4 yr old sister Kiara, The Stillmans, mother Lucy, father John, brother and best friend Sean, and sisters, Rachel, who is also sick and Zoe who is around two. Along the way they pick up others to add to the family. Where are they going? Eden, a place supposedly built to weather this calamity and where the Kelly's were going before her  dad got sick. He was kicked out because the policy is no "Sickness" allowed. Cold hearted.

The storyline is one of the best apocalyptic stories I've read. I read a very, very early version of the story and I'm sure that some of my issues with the story have been fixed so I won't mention them. I've been in touch with Rachel and she assured me it's been through several edits since then. My biggest issue is that I love a character driven novel and I couldn't connect with this child that was an adult in her world. But, this is definitely a plot driven novel and like I said, the plot is incredible. Nothing is overdone, which I think for this type of epic journey novel is hard to do. The raids were mentioned, but only a few were gone into detail and only because something really interesting happened. The journey wasn't so detailed that you were bored with days and days of walking and scenery. Only certain days were detailed. And I honestly didn't expect to cry when the inevitable happened, yet I found myself sobbing. Fisher does a great job of bringing some of the characters to life while others feel a little stilted.

 Again, I read an ARC, and an early one at that. I am looking forward  to reading the second in this series.
I think the horror of this novel was the reality that this could happen. If nothing else will make you go organic, this novel will! Might even make you plant your own vegetable garden! I highly recommend this novel.

There are some violent scenes in the novel, some sexual in nature, strong language and some pretty tough situations. As always choose your books based on your maturity level.

Thanks to Rachel Fisher for this copy of Eden's Root that has been sitting here since January! I'm glad I finally read it! It was such a pleasure to read and I'm looking forward to the next in the series, Seeds of War. Don't forget about the giveaway for both on the sidebar.

Heather

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eden's Root- by Rachel E. Fisher Author Q&A and Giveaway

Eden's Root


Rachel E. Fisher
Facebook is Eden's Root
Twitter is @edensroot
Goodreads Summary:
The year is 2033 and the world hovers on the edge of explosion as unexplained crop deaths lead to severe global food shortages. In the United States, the Sickness is taking lives slowly, creeping its way into every family. Fi Kelly has already faced the Sickness in her own family, toughening her beyond her years. But a shocking confession from her dying father will push her toughness to its absolute limits. Saddled with an impossible secret and the mission of saving her little sister, Fi sets out to transform herself into the warrior that she must become to survive the coming collapse. Along the way, she will discover that evil can be accidental and that love can be intentional.

This is the first day of the AToMR tour of Eden's Root and today I have a Q and A with the author of Eden's Root an all too realistic dystopian/apocalyptic novel, Rachel E. Fisher. Thanks to Rachel and AToMR for the Questions and Answers. 

1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

 Ummm, it may be inappropriate to admit this, but when I started writing Eden’s Root. I’d written as a youngster all through school, but never really considered it for a career. I never got accolades for fiction so much as my poetry, and that I REALLY didn’t see as a career. Besides, I was obsessed with Biology and wanted to be a professor more than anything. It’s when this story started to come to me that I remembered how much I loved writing. And all of the sudden, it seemed like something that maybe I could do…

 2. Do you have a routine that you use to get into the right frame of mind to write?

I like to run on the treadmill. I can go for a long time and zone out, and the scenes start to come to me. It’s like spending time with my characters. But sometimes I just sit down and start writing and see where it takes me. So far I always enjoy it, so I don’t know that I need to force myself to write just yet.

 3. Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your characters?

 Mostly from real people I’ve known, though my characters are a jumble of people, experiences, and mannerisms. I can’t say that one is a direct portrayal of someone I’ve known. But people are fascinating: their motivations, their fears, their secrets… There’s so much going on inside of people that I find informs my characters.

 4. What books have most influenced your life?

 Always a fun question. The Wrinkle in Time series by Madeleine L’Engle (along with everything else she’s ever written). The Jungle Book and Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. Everything ever written by Isaac Asimov. Those are all ones I’ve loved, and that impacted me from a reading and writing perspective. There are actually books that influenced me that are non-fiction. The works of E.O. Wilson (The Naturalist) and the David Attenborough Earth books. I read those over and over as a child, just fascinated with the weirdness that is life.

 5. What do you like to do when you are not writing?

 I like sports and the outdoors. I play tennis and go to the beach. (I live in Florida after all.) I absorb way too much pop culture to be healthy, but since I don’t eat actual junk food, I allow my brain the indulgence. And I love to cook.

Here is a link to a list of the other blogs participating in the blog tour. Tomorrow I will have a review of Eden's Root.


There is also a giveaway of copies Eden's Root. Here is the form you can fill out to win one of the copies below. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Heather

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