Friday, May 31, 2013

Blog Tour- The Trickster's Totem by H.B. Bolton Review and Giveaway

Today is the blog tour stop for The Trickster's Totem by H.B. Bolton Blog Tour stop. You might recall (or maybe not) my review of H.B. Bolton's first book The Serpent's Ring. This is a Middle Grade novel but would be suited for a younger reader of YA fantasy. I received an E-ARC of this novel from the author, H.B. Bolton for review purposes. My review is based solely on my opinions of the novel. Thanks to Candace at CBB Book Promotions for including me in the tour which you can follow HERE.
Also,I wanted to let you know that The Serpent's Ring is FREE for Kindle May 28th through June 1st!!
The Trickster's Totem (Relics of Mysticus Book Two)
By H.B. Bolton
Available Now
Received from author for review
To Buy Links-
Amazon/  Kindle/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/

From Goodreads-Life has returned to normal for fourteen-year-old Evan and his older sister, Claire. That is until Dunkle, a clever but stinky little imp, pays an unexpected visit to their school. He has come to take the siblings back to Sagaas, the mythical realm of the gods. Once again, a Relic from the ancient Mysticus Orb has fallen into the wrong hands. Only Evan and Claire, with their unique mystical abilities, can help find it.

Through the power of the Trickster’s Totem, a coyote trickster has escaped. His laughter echoes throughout the realm, as he spreads mischief and mayhem. He burns an entire crop of popcorn, carves his grinning image into sacred artifacts, and things really get interesting when he shape-shifts into Evan’s friends.
Claire and Evan must capture the Trickster, retrieve the Totem, and be careful not to become sidetracked by robotic Steampunk animals, “sweet” pixie-like Pains, and a problematic mermaid … all while dodging Mothman-like aces. Most surprising, Evan discovers the true reason dragons exist in the Native American Spirit World.

For Middle Grade readers and higher 
Fans of: Percy Jackson Series

Though this novel could probably be read without having read THE SERPENT'S RING, it would still be better if you read it first to find out how Evan and Claire meet Dunkle the imp, learn about The Serpent's Ring, come into their powers and learn about the fantasy world of Sagaas. Sagaas is like the gateway to all the mythical realms, think of every mythology you can and the pathway to it is there. Which makes this series really interesting because each book tackles a different mythology. This book, THE TRICKSTER'S TOTEM, invovles Native American mythology. I think it's a fabulous way to incorporate so many different worlds and I wonder if they will ever all collide or overlap. I'd love to see that and was actually expecting that in this one when the mermaid that "almost drowns" Evan says mermaids can travel through different worlds. (Evan's in love with a mermaid from the first novel).

Evan- is this novel is a bit whiny, impetuous, but I think all in all, he gets a bad rap. Every time he goes off on his own or does something against what his big sister told him to do, it's been for the greater good. I have to say, when you're in a fantasy world and you're animal totem is a ******(no spoilers) and you can fly and have telekenisis and some new abilities, all bets are off as to who's orders you have to follow. I think Big Sister does not trump Little Brother in this situation. And then, to humiliate him, and she uses those exact words, by making a daisy chain anklet for him to wear so he doesn't go off on his own it's just a real injustice. Then there are his prophetic dreams. If he didn't wander off, he wouldn't know what they need to know to complete their quest. 

Claire- Claire is so boy crazy in this one, I didn't like her. She was deferring to Chayton always which wasn't really like her character from last time. And then she really hated the mermaid , Amadahy without any reason that I could see. I thought she treated Evan like crap and didn't add a lot of insight or intelligence to the story. And she was hard on her brother instead of trying to understand him. Her animal totem was very easy to deal with whereas her brother's was something very dangerous, utterly unique and terrifying and very powerful. 

The World- I love this world as much as I loved the one in the Serpent's Ring. Most of it is woodsy. They enter the world through a tepee.  Totems play a large part in this world. Most everything takes place in the woods except for the odd exception of a Victorian Steampunk underground village created by a colony of Big Foot like animals/people called C'iatqo. Pixie like fairies called "Pains" treat them to a tea party where they drink tea and flower petals that taste like sugar. It's incredibly creative, even the creature they are trying to catch Mica can be found on a map that Chayton draws in the air and it shows his location with colored lights and smoke.

The Story- It's a quest. Just as Evan is bored out of his mind with every day life back home, Dunkle appears in his English class with a request for his help. An urgent request. And so the adventure begins.
There are ups and downs, Evan experiencing most of the lows or being blamed for them. But what is a quest if all goes smoothly. Evan learns a lot about himself, listening to others and the importance of teamwork. I'm not sure that Claire learns much. She just didn't grow as a character in this story. It was definitely Evan's story this time.  But wow, it was very imaginative with lots of creative imagery and plot twists and turns. An adult reader might find it easy to pick out some of the plot twists, but I think a tweener or middle grade reader would be pleasantly surprised. 

I really enjoyed this second installment from H.B. Bolton and can't wait for the next book in the series. She has a unique way of interpreting mythology and combining them and I enjoy that. How many books do you read with Native Amercan mythology, dragons, mermaids and imps in the same story? Not many I bet. Very clean read, great for middle grade and younger young adult readers.

About H.B. Bolton

Author Bio: 
A magical part of H.B. Bolton’s childhood was being swept into worlds of enchanting characters, fantastical creatures and extraordinary powers—simply by picking up a book. As a mother and a teacher, she was compelled to create imaginary worlds of her own in order to share them, not just with her children, but with all children. H.B. Bolton lives in Florida with her supportive husband and two highly spirited children. Shh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young-adult fantasy story, she also writes spellbinding, heart pounding women's fiction. These particular books are written under the name Barbara Brooke, but that's another story, altogether.
Books by H.B. Bolton:
The Serpent's Ring (Relics of Mysticus, Book One)
Breaking Down (a short story)
Hungry (a short story)
Coming May 1, 2013
The Trickster's Totem (Relics of Mysticus, Book Two)

Author links:

Tour wide GIVEAWAY:One person wins $25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
2 people win paperback sets of both books (US)
10 people win ebooks of both books. (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Short and Sweet Reviews Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross and Dare You To by Katie McGarry and Giveaways

I know if you are a regular reader of my blog you don't think I can do it, but I'm thinking that you have probably read many reviews of these books by now and there really isn't anything pulling you here to read my reviews. So I thought I'd make mine short and sweet. Yes I can do it! Just watch! Oh and please, leave a meaningful comment and enter to win one of these two books!

 The Girl With The Iron Touch by Kady Cross
 Available Now
 Publisher: Harlequin Teen
 Received From Publisher through NetGalley for                            review
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ BandN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo
From Goodreads- In 1897 London, something not quite human is about to awaken 
When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What's left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends' lives. 
With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke's sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him...and for Griffin. 
Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel's desolate alleyways to Mayfair's elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine. To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist's ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she's to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn't know she has...

So here it is short and sweet-All the old characters are back with the addition of some new ones. Can't say who or it would ruin the book. I will say that I did like getting into Emily's head a little more. She's always seemed a bit untouchable before. But it was great getting to know what happened to her to shape her into who she is now. Though we got to see into Finley's head more, I almost didn't like it. She was too girly. Don't get me wrong, I love her and Griffin together and I loved where the story line went with them, but it seemed like they changed places with Griffin being more manly and Finley being much more worried with matters of the heart. I suppose that's how it should be, but not what I'm used to from Finley. Her kick a**edness was missing.

The story was great! Action packed and I was certainly guessing until the last possible moment as to how things would work out. I'm still worried for my favorite characters. Their arch nemesis can still get at them and destroy everything and I can't see how they are going to protect themselves now. As I stated above, I loved seeing into the mind of Emily and getting her back story and I did enjoy Finley's frustration at Griffin's aloofness. I just expected her to go beat Sam up rather than pout about it. The new machines and automatons and weapons introduced added to the depth of the steampunk layers that have been building throughout the series.

I highly recommend this series to fans of the other books in the series, to people just venturing into Steampunk, YA lovers, and Alt/Historical fiction. There is some romance and some Victorian talk about sex, more rather implied than stated.

I received a copy of the digital advanced reader's copy of this novel from the publisher for review. This did not affect my opinion of the novel or my review in any way. 

Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Available Now
Received from the Publisher for Review
Hardcover 462 pages
To Buy Links-

From Goodreads- Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the reply. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again....

"I dare you..."

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all....     

Well, what can I say that hasn't already been said? This is one hell of a book. It had big shoes to follow- Pushing the Limits and it more than filled those shoes. It was Cinderella's glass slippers, those thigh high black boots you wore this winter, those platform stripper heels that made you feel so sexy when you wore them out at night. That was this book!

Ryan is the kind of boy you bring home to mama. He treats girls with respect, he listens to his mom and dad (too much) he hangs with his boys on the baseball team. He gets great grades, he's got his future all planned out. And he can read Beth like it's written all over her face. He is a good guy, really good!
And Becca, she's about as opposite as Ryan as you can get. But her motives are as pure as Ryan is. She's been the adult in her family for as long as she can remember carrying not only the physical burden of being the parent, but the emotional burdens of one parent's betrayal and the other's constant disappointment and failures. It's understandable that she runs like a scared rabbit every time someone tries to get close.

Small towns are so hard to live in, everyone knows everyone's business. Gossip goes around like a cold in an elementary school. And small minds tend to breed in small towns. So when gossip goes around about Beth, it's bound to flourish and undermine any good Beth has done or shown. 

The thing I like most about McGarry's writing is, that though there is drama, it's a believable kind of drama. Ryan's got the perfect life on the outside. But just underneath the surface, he's facing all kinds of turmoil. And it's very realistic, what's going on behind the scenes. It's probably happening in big and little cities all over the world as you read this. And Beth's story, while her exact story may have been a bit dramatic, the bottom line was, family and what she felt she owed her mother. Trying to save her, even if it hurt Beth in the process. That kind of thing happens all the time. People go down in flames all the time because they stayed too long for the kids, or tried to work it out, or trusted one too many times. McGarry's story shows the consequences of staying.

Like Pushing the Limits, this is definitely geared toward the more mature YA reader for it's drug use, violence and sex. I highly recommend this novel to anyone that enjoyed Pushing The Limits, loves contemporary YA, YA romance, and coming of age stories.

I received an electronic copy of the advanced readers copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review. This did not affect my review or influence my opinions of the novel.


To enter the giveaway, simply leave a meaningful comment below and some way for me to contact you either through your blog or your email. The winner can choose either book as their prize. Yes, it's open internationally. Contest ends May 31st at midnight!

Monday, May 27, 2013

BE WEIRD AND CHANGE THE WORLD Guest Post By Cricket Baker Author of Ghosting of the Gods

The Ghosting of Gods by Cricket Baker
Available Now
Publisher: John Hunt Publishing
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound

From Goodreads-
Jesse is an apprentice exorcist who defies his priests when he learns his sister is in danger even though she’s dead. When he’s exiled to a haunted world, Jesse must unravel the mystery of ghosts if he is to save her. He plunges into a deadly game of hide-and-seek. The players include denizens draped in monkish robes, ghosts with matted eyes, the dead who tunnel underground in terror, and...Elspeth.
A coven scientist, Elspeth is both respected and feared for her abnormal spiritual powers. Jesse needs--craves--the knowledge of ghosts which she possesses. But is Elspeth a spiritual prodigy, or dangerously insane? The coven scientist begs him to trust her. He doesn’t. But he wants to.
Caught in a world on the brink of spiritual evolution, Jesse struggles to understand Elspeth even as frightening contacts from his sister force him to face the secret, shattering meaning of a verse he knows well: Blessed are the poor in ghost.

Though I haven't had a chance to read The Ghosting of Gods, I loved Cricket's Guest Post and I hope you will too. It's very fresh and unique!


by Cricket Baker, author of The Ghosting of Gods

Let go your mind. Give it over to the author, please. It’s story time.

Weird priestly figures weave through a forest—coven scientists.  Their garments are sewn of sackcloth, their hair tangled and roped, their feet bare despite the bitter night wind. Soprano voices chant Latin and equations...

Strange that your heart doesn’t race despite being doused in fear. It’s so odd and’re frightened, but the beating of your heart slows. One coven scientist in particular catches your attention. She twirls, playfully knocking every lantern along the path, not bothering to look back when flames extinguish. Her every gesture is liquid yet deliberate, and you’re mesmerized. Hypnotized.

Is she the spiritual prodigy you seek?

A stale draft rolls over you, pungent with incense. Suddenly, your gut feels heavy as stone.
You FEEL her knowledge of secret things.

They say she’s abnormal. But inside your body, your soul stirs. You’re intrigued and frightened.
Truth can be...disturbing. You want it anyway. You CRAVE it.

“Rapture,” the coven scientists whisper. “Rupture.” A ghost appears, and the spiritual prodigy closes her eyes, begins to cry...

Okay, you can have your mind back. For now. Story time is over.

My protagonist, Jesse, defies his priests. They pitch him through a vortex to a haunted world where the esoteric spiritual truth he craves is held out like forbidden fruit. He must solve the mystery of what ghosts really are and save his dead sister.

Jesse is unusual/weird, and he’s set to change the world.

Are you?

I mean no offense by asking if you’re weird. By weird, I just mean different. YA books are almost always about the search for identity, the search for finding a place in the world. (Adults read YA books because they’re still trying to figure out who they really are, too.) The impulse to be accepted and to EXPRESS ONESELF is powerful.

Why does this often seem scary and painful? Why do they call it “teenage angst” or “identity crisis”?

Here’s why: Young adults, new adults—even full-blown adults—try to fit in and suppress their spectacular, childish, and weird true selves.

And that is painful.

Teenagers believe it’s awful when they don’t fit in. This isn’t exactly true. What’s painful is wanting to fit in. You know this is true, right? Being who you are without worrying what others think is not only an enormous relief—it sets you free. So here’s the choice you must make: You can fit in, conform, and vanish...or you can let loose, be who you deeply are, and feel so, so, so VERY ALIVE.

It’s this choice that will make your life all that it is.

My character Jesse can save the world, but not if he holds back who and what he really is. Can you understand that your own life is saved by being who you really are? And that all of us benefit if you will give what only your peculiar self can give?
Doesn’t matter if you’re into marine biology, journalism, acting onstage, quantum physics, landscaping, auto design, homemaking, or banking. Pay attention to your quirks and odd obsessions! They’re KEY to making your own unique, thrilling, much-needed contribution to the world.
Secret: It’s not just what you give the world, but how you give it. And that’s all about being your true self, too.

You’re young if you face each day with passion, but that passion only has POWER if it’s authentic. You must give the world exactly what you are. No holding back. Let us in on your weird creativity, okay?

Mine is The Ghosting of Gods. I hope you like it:-)

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for.” ~BrenĂ© Brown

More about Cricket Baker-
Mystical Scribbles of the Scribe/Facebook/Blog

In 2001, Cricket began a journey to fulfill her childhood dream of being an author. Somewhere between raising three sons, moving 3 times, pondering the mystery of life and death, and obtaining a Masters of Education, she found time to develop her writing craft. Many seminars, workshops, and book drafts later, she found her voice with The Ghosting of Gods.

Cricket’s writing combines her appreciation of strong storytelling with a passion for haunted settings and deep spiritual questions to create fiction that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. She especially loves books which are either supernatural or dystopian, so her first novel incorporates both these genres.

In addition to working as a counselor for teens, Cricket spends time developing her next writing project as well as sharing her thoughts on writing and spirituality through her author website(above).

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Review- The Hero's Guide to Storming The Castle by Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Storming The Castle by Christopher Healy
Book provided by Publisher for review
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Available Now
Hardcover 496 pages
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

From Goodreads-Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. 
But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. 
Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes.

There are characters upon characters in this novel! So many that it's really too hard to break it up and tell you about each one. I'll tell you my favorites. Gustav, the Prince Charming from the story of Rapunzel. All he wants to do is clobber somebody. There is no finesse to him. He's got a battle axe and he ain't afraid to use it. Or without it, he'll just jump into the fray. Whichever he feels like. He'd be the large guy on the cover with the blond hair. Oh and he's got a great way with words. Frederic, Cinderella's Prince Charming likes to wear nice clothes. So Gustav calls him "Tassels" and Briar Rose, better known as Sleeping Beauty is also called "Miss Prissy Pants" by Gustav (though I think he might have a secret crush on her).

I also love Liam. He finds out he's a fraud and he is forced to marry Briar Rose, the princess he awakened with a kiss and he's just really having a bad time of it. But, he still manages to pull his bootstraps up and become the leader the League of Princes needs (it should really be League of Princes and Princesses). Not that I'm saying he doesn't make mistakes, he does. Like being jealous of Prince Frederic who is engaged to Cinderella (Ella) who is much more suited to Liam. And having huge holes in his plan to get the treasure, but he's not listening to suggestions on how to fill them. And boy does he want to get out of his marriage to Briar Rose!

The World- Well, it's a fantasyland. There are giants, trolls, gnomes, castles, inhabited and uninhabited. Witches, bandits, enchanted treasures, dragons, all kinds of fantastical creatures you can imagine and magical tears that can heal most any injury. So it's your pretty typical Fairy Tale World.

The Story- In a nutshell Liam is forced to marry Briar Rose to save his friends who have come to rescue him and as usual have bumbled the job. To save them, he must marry her. Briar Rose isn't too fond of Liam, just interested in his treasure room. But when she doesn't find what she wants in his treasure room and finds out it is stolen, she charges Liam and his friends with finding it and retrieving it from the Bandit King, the 10 year old boy who is king of a ruthless army of pirates-Deeb Rauber. (Yes it gets more fantastical than that). Deeb has a warlord from the land of Dar visiting him, the most ferocious fighter ever known and his brought his army to learn and to teach Deeb Rauber's bandits. All at the same time that Liam and Company are going to sneak in for a priceless treasure. And Liam and Company have to try to figure out what Briar Rose is up to, she's planning something and needs the priceless treasure to do it.

Here's my opinion- First this book is almost 500 pages long. That's a lot of reading. I will say that my attention lagged a little in some places. Not because it was boring, but because I was trying to read it in two days and that's just a lot of reading. The romances in this one are a little bigger, but other than Duncan and Snow White, no one is together. There is a whole lot of miscommunication going on or not going on at all. Frederic sees Gustav at Rapunzel's and he leaves not knowing that Gustav is leaving with a Yee Haa! Ella leaves Frederic's after his father kicks her out but then Frederic leaves home too. Liam leaves Briar Rose but he doesn't know where to go. Somehow, I'm betting they all find their way back to the Stumpy Boarhound. Minus Rapunzel. It's just too much for her. I thought the action was great but the sitting around planning was a bit slow and the searching for clues as to what Briar Rose was up to could have been shortened. Also it wasn't quite as funny as the first in the series.

But all in all, it was an enjoyable read and definitely worth me buying my own hardback copy to keep. I can see me reading this to my grand kids one day. (or if I don't have any, I'm hijacking a teacher's class to read it to them!) The characters are funny and stay true to form. Liam makes some major character growth in this one and maybe Briar Rose makes some as well. Frederic does too, standing up to his father. I can't wait to see more of what's to come. I believe Snow White and Duncan probably shouldn't leave the castle again. For the safety of everyone. Especially the dwarves!

There is nary a bad word or compromising situation in the entire book. This book is approved for all reading ages and should be read for all reading ages. Just don't try all 500 pages in one sitting. (Or Two)!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme begun by Jill at Breaking The Spine in which bloggers get to show what books they are saving their pennies for, dreaming about at night, slobbering over, and just plain can't wait to get their hands on! I know this one has been shown probably all over the place, but I'm getting antsy......

Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Children's
Publish Date:  October 15, 2013
Companion to JUST ONE DAY. It will be in Willem's POV. 

"Can you fall in love in just one day? Can you become a new person? How about in just one year? In JUST ONE DAY and its companion novel JUST ONE YEAR, sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey and easygoing actor Willem De Ruiter are about to find out against a guidebook-worthy array of foreign backdrops. Equal parts romance, coming-of-age-tale, mystery and travel romp (with settings that span from England’s Stratford upon Avon to Paris to Amsterdam to India’s Bollywood) JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR show how in looking for someone else, you just might wind up finding yourself."

My question is: Did you read Just One Year? If so, do you think that's her? Allyson? Or is that another girl? What did you think of that ending? Do you think there will be an HEA? Can there be? Or would that be too much, to coincidental? (Personally I'm hoping for an HEA. Nothing is too coincidental for me! I like an HEA!) What are your thoughts on this one?

Please share your links or at least your blog name in the comments so I can visit your WOWs!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review of School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins
Published by Disney-Hyperion
Available Now
Received from Publisher for Review 
Hardcover 304 pages
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

From Goodreads-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! 

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel. I never finished the Hex Hall series, but I think I might have to after reading this novel. Let's start with the characters.

Izzy- She is one of the famous Brannicks who have fought monsters for eons. However, there are only three, uh, make that two since Finley, Izzy's sister disappeared on a routine case. Finley told Izzy to stay in the car, she had it covered and so Izzy did. Now she blames herself since her disappearance. There is no trace of her sister anywhere. Izzy is not the kind of girl that feels sorry for herself. It seems like affection is not freely given or even talked about in the Brannick family. So she stuffs her feelings down and puts on a show of bravado just like mom. But she misses Finley, her only friend. Brannicks don't have friends. They never stay anywhere long enough. But Izzy is a girl. And when she finds she has to go to high school, something she's more afraid of than the ghost that's haunting it, she buys DVD's of cheesy teen shows and magazines to find out how to be a teenager. She is trying to blend in but is a complete failure at it. Izzy is definitely someone you'd want on your side. She puts humans first and unless you tick her off in dodgeball, you're safer with her than anyone else in high school. She may seem awkward to you at first, but show her the ropes and she'll fit right in.

Mom- Hard ass. Cold, stoic. Hidden behind that is a woman mourning the loss of her oldest daughter and at a loss as to how to comfort her youngest daughter. She thinks she's failed at being a mother, missed out on the things real mothers do for their daughters and now she only has one daughter left. Desperate to find any clues to lead her to Finley. Actually loves Izzy hugely, just afraid of showing any signs of weakness or vulnerability.

PMS Memebers- Yes, that is truly the name of the club. Or their initials. Nope, gotta read the book!
Romy- a girl that I would definitely be friends with. Nerdy, outcast, oblivious to those facts and doesn't let it bother her. She's into ghost hunting and has started a club for it. Quick to forgive. Fun to hang out with.
Anderson- In love with Romy. Will protect Romy with his body if he needs to. Did I say loves Romy. Another outcast and doesn't care. Former jock before he blew out his knee. In love with Romy.
Dex- Very funny, dapper guy. I couldn't tell if maybe he was a ghost, but no he wasn't. He wears cravats and pinstripes and has very bad asthma. He loves Izzy's sense of humor and is also a fellow outcast. Doesn't bother him.

Torin- I'm not going to say much about him but to say he's trapped in something and is about 400 years old. He's been with the Brannick family for a long time. Izzy talks to him for advice. He doesn't always give good advice. And he can never be released from where he is trapped. Bad News!

The World- Apparently Izzy and her mother and Finley before she disappeared lived in a small home that existed as part of a compound that used to house hundreds of Brannicks for training. Then it was just the three of them. Fathers of the girls are picked for their bravery and strength, soldiers, Navy Seals, Green Berets. Travel is done through something called an Iteneris which hurts a bit, but gets you from point A to point B quickly. Otherwise, the world is just like ours. Except for the paranormal things that exist in it.

The Story- Simple- Izzy is supposed to go into Mary Evans High (MEH) and get rid of a ghost, believed to be Mary Evans. Izzy is almost disgusted with the assignment it's so easy. But the hard part is fitting in and on the first day she has an accident in dodge ball that gets her sent outside to run laps where she meets Dex. She becomes his idol after she tells him what she did and a fast friendship begins. Izzy finds out that Romy and Dex are on her bus so they become friends and then she joins their club because they investigate ghost sightings. She's more than a bit worried about the trouble they can get into with that. The rest of the story is investigating her friends, the ghost, and Izzy trying to fit in to high school. She thinks she has things figured out but there's a little twist to that part and it seems that she might actually have to hurt someone in order to get rid of the ghost of Mary Evans as she's gotten so strong. Twist, tragedy and a weird thing happens to the Brannick family. The ending was delicious and I'm not sure it's going to work out quite like Izzy and company want it to, but we'll see.

This is a very clean read and great for fans of Rachel Hawkins Hex Hall series, YA Paranormal stories with a little bit of romance, mysteries with paranormal and romance bits, just lovers of YA.

You can find Rachel Hawkins here-
Blog/ Tumblr/ Twitter

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. The opinions expressed in this review were not influenced by this and are completely my own.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Review of The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Available May 21st
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Received from Publisher for Review
Hardcover 320 pages
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound

From Goodreads-
She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.
Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.
But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival.

The Characters-
Meg- Meg is the older sister. She's hurting from all this running, being in witness protection. She's angry at her father. He won't tell her what he did to get them in this situation and it makes her more angry and withdrawn every time they have to move. Six moves in eight months. She has rules now about not getting attached to anyone. Not making friends. Closing herself off to people and keeping her story to herself. Her mother gets worse every day. And her little sister Mary is losing herself. Meg feels desperate to find out why they are in witness protection and to do something about it. I felt desperate right along with her, but I hated every time she pushed Ethan away or wouldn't go somewhere with someone that was trying to be friends with her. I understood her predicament. I could empathize with her, but I didn't want it for her or the people she pushed away. I did like how her character developed though I thought she could have trusted Ethan a little more a little sooner.

Ethan- Ethan is a cute boy. He isn't a hero or a bad boy, he's got a bit of country in him, but when you live in a small town in Louisiana you do what you can to have fun. He is immediately drawn to Meg, maybe because she is new, but there doesn't seem to be any other girl that is vying for his attention. He's sweet, he teaches Mary how to make pizzas in the back of Pearl's where Meg worked. He takes the time to try to figure Meg out. He searches her out at school. He goes out of his way to take Meg and Mary to school and starts to bring Mary out of her shell so that she's more like herself, the person she was before all this happened.

There were so many secondary characters, nicely layered Mary probably had the most back story as the little sister, sharing this terrible journey with Meg. But where Meg was the protector, Mary reminded Meg of having fun, of what it was like to be a kid again. Mary reminded Meg to enjoy whatever there was to live for while they could. Mom was a fall out on the floor alcoholic  and Dad was an angry, stoic bury his head in the sand figure. I think he was trying to make a deal with someone but I could never really figure that part of the story out.

The world-
Natchitoches, Louisiana. It is described as a small town with a quaint downtown, historic homes, cobblestone streets. Farms further out. A lot of the story takes place at the high school, the pizza shop, Ethan's father's farm  or the little bungalows that Meg's family is living in. It's in a rather run down part of town. Her father works in a factory, her mother is too drunk to do anything. And Meg works every day with Mary coming to work with her. It's winter close to Mardi Gras.

The Story-
Of course it's the story about a family in Witness Protection. But it's really about the effects of it on one girl and how she is determined to get out of it. I honestly was expecting a lighter story. But this is not a light story. Ethan catches Meg in a lie the second day of school and she finds herself trying to keep ahead of him most of the time. Meg constantly feels like she's being followed. She has several close calls when the lights go out or her belongings seem to have been gone through but nothing taken. One agent always seems to be right on her tail every time she turns around. And then she finds out the reason they are in Witness Protection. And it's nothing like she thought. And she is even more determined to fix things and get her family out of it. But her planning skills leave a lot to be desired and she has no money to get where she needs to go. And then, her mother gets worse. And it's all down hill from there. I honestly saw no way out of this for her. I figured this would be a series the way this was going. Meg is definitely a determined girl. She doesn't want to keep anyone close to her because anyone that knows anything is in danger. And yet, she can't help her family without a little help on her own. She really tries her best not to get involved with anyone, but she's a senior in high school, halfway through the year. I felt her aching for friends. Her need to fit in. But yet she's not even thinking about that, she's got this huge thing hanging over her head.

I thought the story was really well written, the creepy parts with Meg feeling like she was being followed had me creeped out, too. I was scared right along with her. The twists and turns in the novel will definitely keep you guessing right to the very last page. I wasn't expecting that ending, not the last page. But then again, it wasn't unexpected. The story is fast paced and will have you flipping pages almost faster than you can read them. I loved this novel for the suspense, the romance, the sisterly bond, and the mystery.

I received an e-ARC of this novel from Disney-Hyperion through Net-Galley for review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced in any way. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blog Tour: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland Review and Giveaway

Today I'm excited to be part of the Itching for Books Blog Tour for Nantucket Blue by Leila Howard, a new contemporary young adult coming of age romance. Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for a review copy of the novel through Net-Galley.This one should go on everyone's summer reading list! It's a great beach read!!
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
Available Now
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Hardcover 304 pages
To Buy Links-
For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t. 

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on--most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits--that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue.

Cricket is such a lovable character. My heart went out to her right away even as I knew she was making mistakes. I understood her actions were coming from her heart but I could see from the reactions that they weren't seen that way. Cricket has had it tough in the parental department. Her parents are divorced. Her father remarried to a wife who has a difficult child, one she adopted from a Russian orphanage who has special needs. There is no time for her. Her mother is just depressed. And she'd love someone to wallow in her misery with her. The Claytons are her ideal family and she's over there all the time. But when tragedy strikes them, Jules Clayton, her best friend, cuts the ties that bound her to them and Cricket feels homeless. She's determined to live on Nantucket for the summer for numerous reasons, the biggest being that Jules will need her. I gave Cricket and A for effort. She has absolutely the biggest heart. She helps everyone, is afraid to have her own happiness for fear of hurting someone else. She's almost too good to be true, but she isn't an angel so hold onto your halo.
She's just as vulnerable as the rest of us to corruption. But in a very fun way.

Jules- Didn't like her. The End! You won't either. I dare anyone to tell me they did. Meet me on the playground.

Zach- Jules' brother. Zach was like a breath of fresh air as far as guys in books go. He wasn't the hero to save the day. He wasn't pretending to be anything. He was just Jules' younger brother. He was funny and a familiar face when Cricket really needed one. He knew where to go and how to stay out of trouble and how to avoid people. Even the good beaches. So he was good for Cricket. Someone she'd known for a long  time who didn't resent her relationship with his mother.

There are a lot of secondary characters, plenty, and they all play important roles. Some are more developed than others like Cricket's mom, while Jay Logan, Cricket's crush since 8th grade is hardly known. But some of the secondary characters really bring Cricket's days to life and help fill in the story with some memorable  scenes. There is even a Kennedy like family living on Nantucket.

The world is Nantucket in summer. I don't think it gets much better than quaint little towns with expensive shops, incredible restaurants, little inns and bed and breakfasts, cobblestone streets and an island surrounded by white sandy beaches, sailboats and blue water. I'll take a house there please! Honestly you'll feel like you can walk the streets yourself. And you'll know the inn where Cricket gets a job and lives while she's on Nantucket. I can picture her little room so well. I see the beaches. And the uber rich homes on the beaches. Yeah, not hard to imagine at all.

The story was fantastic! Cricket has to learn that the friend she thought she knew as well as herself has either changed or been only showing part of herself to her. She learns how to stand up for herself and what she wants. To fix her own mistakes and how to be okay with things when she can't change them. She makes a lot of mistakes. Boy does she! This could be called My Summer of Mistakes. She's either putting her foot in it or showing up where she's not wanted or some other faux pas. But it's never intentional. And that's why you'll love Cricket. Her heart is in the right place. And she's on her way to do the right thing when she gets waylaid by something. Or someone gets in her way. Or someone just mows her down. Truthfully, Cricket has much more of a backbone than I will ever have!
You want character growth? Yes, a lot. And the ending, oh so painful, right to the very last words.

This is for mature readers. Drinking, sexual situations and language. It is a sometimes painful coming of age story about growing up, moving on and finding love where you least expect it. 

About the Author-
LEILA HOWLAND loves to read, explore L.A., and engage in funny and meaningful conversations with her friends and family, especially her brother who calls from Washington D.C. whenever he’s waiting for the bus. A lot gets discussed in those phone calls, but they tend to end abruptly when the bus shows up. She can really cut the rug, but wishes she could sing without people covering their ears. A graduate of Georgetown University, Leila spent five years acting in New York where she was a company member of the award-winning Flea Theater in Tribeca. It was a lot of fun and she often talks about “getting back into it.” The closest she has come was a stint as an extra on The Young and the Restless in 2010. Leila now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs. She teaches high school English and blogs for HelloGiggles. NANTUCKET BLUE is her first novel.
Author Links- Tumblr/ Twitter


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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review- Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon

Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon
Available Now
Publisher-Strange Chemistry
Received from Publisher for Review
Paperback 304 pages
To Buy Links
Amazon/ Kindle/ B&N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo
From Goodreads- 
Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she's learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she's feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn't enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she's started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can't deny what she's feeling.

Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what's happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she's actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients... or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year.

So characters. I love characters and there are some characters in this novel! Zenn is one, the main one and for the most part is a likable character. She loves the animals at the Cloister and learning how to take care of them is her focus, the only focus she has. She has closed herself off to people, understandably so- she watched her mother die in an accident with one of the giant Indra's that fuel the starships that travel the galaxies when she was a young girl. And her father has traveled to a far away post doing something secretive. He hasn't been in touch in months. Her Rule is to not get close to anyone because they'll end up dying or leaving or disappointing you. She has no friends her age. So if she is a little animal centric, we can understand why. If she pushes away the cute "towner", Liam, who seems to be showing some interest in her we can understand. But she acts like a thirteen year old and it's kind of  hilarious. "Is he flirting?" "Does he like me? I think he does." "Wait is he trying to ask me out" All those awkward moments at seventeen that most of us experienced at a much younger age seem so funny to watch her experience, but it does still bring on the butterflies. Zenn doesn't deserve to be alone.  She needs friends, a boyfriend perhaps.
But someone to talk to that is close to her age. She doesn't even know how to act around kids her age. Her one soft spot is a Rikkaset (a cat like creature that has chameleon like qualities) she named Katie and is her pet. She shows her human side to Katie when she won't let her guard down with anyone else. And though I love how tough she is, I'd love for her to trust someone (Liam) with the more vulnerable side of her.

Liam- We only get small glimpses of Liam, but they endear him to us right away. Even when he's bad, he's good. Obviously he is more self assured on the outside than he is on the inside. There is a particularly sweet and heartbreaking scene with him and his cat that will make you absolutely know, no matter what, that anyone that can love his pet that much is not a bad person. Maybe makes mistakes, but down deep is a good guy. I liked Liam from the start.

The Towners including the members of the Council- Don't like them. These are the kind of people that don't like what they don't understand. They don't like different. The animals that come to the Cloister to be treated come from planets all over the galaxies and most people blame aliens for an outbreak of a plague that killed millions on Earth. It was proven aliens didn't cause it, but small minds.... Even though the people living on Mars in the town are technically aliens.....they don't see it that way.

There are other characters, minor ones with the exception of Hamish. If you read my interview yesterday, you'll see the description of him, basically a giant beetle with a soundbox to talk to him. About 8 feet tall. He gives me the shudders when I think about what he looks like, but he's a great character with some awesome and humorous moments.

The world is fantastic. I approach Science Fiction novels with a bit of trepidation, worrying it will be too techie for me, but Christian Schoon describes animals like a Whalehound or a Sunkiller so adeptly that with a few words, you're able to understand the size, shape and nature of the animal. Most of the animals treated at the Cloister are harmless with a few exceptions. Mars is livable because of terra farming and generators that keep the air oxygenated. There are no complicated living systems. Politics are politics and Earth is refusing to do business with Mars because of some disagreements about the aliens. There are many little threads of stories going on, but not too many that you can't keep up. The biggest one in this novel is whether or not the Cloister's lease will be renewed for another five years and who is causing all the accidents at the Cloister that is starting to make them look bad and getting the attention of the Council who votes on the lease.

It all comes down to this- Zenn learns that sometimes you have to let people in and you need people. That despite misgivings and earlier assumptions and actions can be forgiven in the face of selflessness. And sometimes people don't leave, they come back. She also learns to trust her talent or power. The Cloister trouble is resolved but many more questions are raised than answered and Zenn makes some hasty decisions based on her visions. There is a lot of -"I knew it was ....." and "Why would..." and "Holy Whalehound!" You never know with a new author if they are going to kill off a character or not, especially when one disappears. I was satisfied with the ending, but definitely know I'll be picking up the sequel. And yes, there will be a sequel. It's not a cliffhanger ending, but you do know our heroes (maybe) need some luck on their side.

This is a pretty clean read. I don't remember any language, but there might have been. Certainly everything else was  very clean. I'd say this novel is for anyone that likes Science Fiction even those that aren't sure if they do. It has a light romance, the kind that is slow building, starts with friendship (maybe). You just have to read it. And there are a lot of accidents with very, very large creatuares so there is a lot of action. Fast paced. I think anyone would enjoy it.
So put it on the list! You'll be sorry you missed it. And don't forget I'm doing a giveaway thanks to Amanda at Strange Chemistry. Look at the post on May 7th, the interview with Christian Schoon to find the giveaway.


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