Thursday, August 29, 2013

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus- Review

Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Published by Harper Teen
Available Now
Paperback 304 pages
Personal Copy
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Barnes and Noble
Goodreads- The authors of the bestselling novel The Nanny Diaries, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, bring you the story of a girl who gets her heart broken…and figures out a foolproof way to get over her ex.
Over You’s Max Scott had a hard time getting over Hugo, the boy who dumped her. Now it’s Max’s mission to help NYC girls get over their broken hearts fast, and with dignity. Now Max’s life is better than she ever imagined it could be. Her new business, Ex, Inc., is booming. Better still, her friendship with Ben, a truly sweet guy, could turn romantic. But when Hugo reenters the picture, Max realizes that she isn’t over him. At all.

Funny, touching, and romantic, Over You is the kind of book every girl will fall head over heels for.

This is one book I chose for a great summer read and now I get to tell you why. Max got her heart broken by Hugo. It was so bad that she left boarding school because of it and now she takes on-line classes. Even though she couldn't get over Hugo, she's determined to help other girls not go through what she went through. She has a really ingenious plan to help girls not just get over that first awful night, but those first four weeks so that eventually the girl looks like she's better off without the boyfriend to herself and to him. This quote from the book sums up Ex, Inc.'s business motto-

"But every day there's going to be a little window of time where you feel not just 'barely alive,' not just 'okay' but positively euphoric. Winning American Idol euphoric. And that window is going to get longer and longer each and every day. Because your body knows that surviving this....elephant is going to bring you a level of strength you have not yet known. I promise. Any my system will speed what organically can take months, or years, to a few weeks. Today (first day after breakup) we're aiming for about a thirty-second window, okay?"
I so wish that I had had an Ex, Inc. in high school! I know a lot of girls that would have wished for it, too. Break ups are devastating at that age and the feeling that you'll never get over it is even worse. But Max has broken it all down to a science and she's using her work as a research project of sorts to get into NYU. Seeing Max and her assistants in action was a thing of beauty! Whenever Taylor, the girl we get to see the plan worked on from start to finish, needs a boost or is about to do something stupid, someone is there to catch her. And I think I might have said this once or twenty times before that, I love boys, I really do, I am happily married and have two sons. But there is nothing I love better than having a girl getting even with a boy. And I get to see that in this one, though it doesn't work out quite like I thought it would.

All in all, Over You is a fun break up and fall in love all over again book. It's light and entertaining and great for these final days of summer or when you just want a quick book to make you smile and forget everything for awhile! Contemporary romance lovers will adore this one!  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Exemeus Blog Tour

The Exemeus by Folami and Abeni Morris
Published January 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Royal Colours Ink
Paperback 337 pages
Received an e-copy for blog tour for review
To Buy Links-
Goodreads-  Hyalee Smith is dead, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her short life was devoted to love and to hate. Love of the man who stole her heart, hate for the man who stole the world. Murdered by the government she swore to destroy, she has been given another chance to make it right. But to save the planet, she needs the help of the most powerful mystic the world has ever seen—unfortunately he hasn’t been born yet. 

In a world where fear is the only currency, Dephon has committed the ultimate crime:inspiring hope.

His only goal is to make it safely through ninth grade, but on a post-apocalyptic Earth run by the Treptonian government, it isn’t that simple. Heir to a legendary power, Dephon Johnson is the only threat to the government’s rule. And on Trepton, all threats must be eliminated. When hundreds of assassins are dispatched to neutralize him, Dephon is forced to fight back. His only chance of survival is to enlist the aid of the greatest warrior the world has ever known. The only problem is, she's been dead for 13 years.

Today is my stop on The Exemeus Blog Tour put together and deftly executed by the one and only Candace at CBB Book Promotions. You can find the rest of the tour HERE.  Make sure to check out The Exemeus Scavenger Hunt, where you can win a Kindle Fire or $150!  The first stop is at My Guilty Obsession, where you can get the first clues on this incredible journey for an amazing prize!  The Scavenger Hunt starts on Monday, August 26th and runs through Friday August 30th.  Chances to win are through midnight on September 1st.  Buy your copy of The Exemeus today, if you haven't already! (It's only 99 cents on Kindle and Nook tonight as I'm setting up my review).

My Review
Honestly going into this novel, I was expecting a middle grade book. Not so, this is definitely a Young Adult Fantasy complete with a romance (clean) and a dystopian/apocalyptic world though we don't see a lot of that. There are several worlds we see and it's interesting how the authors chose to narrate the novel. 

I'll start with Dephon Johnson. He's a bit of a weakling. He's not exactly a "nerd" in that he's not especially smart. He likes to read, but that doesn't really make him a nerd. He's definitely the victim of the football team, their favorite target in fact. It's painful just reading about what they do to him and even more painful to watch him just take it. But Dephon finds out he is not meant to be a helpless weakling for long. He is tasked  to read a book in nine days, a huge book, by a woman with supernatural powers that his dad seems to hate. He finds them arguing and some kind of earthquake shakes the sewers that the people of Earth now live in.
That is one part of the narration, Dephon in his present day reading the book and talking to an amazing girl who lives inside the book.

While he reads the book, he gets a 3D version of the past. His parents' past starting from the day his mother meets his father. The projection makes it feel like he's really there and he sees things as they happened, even his parents stealing the book he is now reading from another planet. This is the other type of narration. It isn't even flashback, because it isn't the actual characters going back in their memories. The book is projecting their lives, it has recorded their lives. It works really well with this type of book. 

There is so much fantasy to understand that having a little bit in the past and a little in Dephon's world is easier to make sense of it. The two come together in one big clash towards the end of the book and you have some hope for the future of planet Earth. It really sucks the way it is in Dephon's time.

I won't even get started into the worlds but I would definitely call them very imaginative. Some of the missions I wish had gone into greater depth, but most I was glad they glossed over the technical stuff. There is a lot of romance, but very clean, and the romance strengthens the powers of the characters. It's a lot to take in and a lot to keep up with but so creative. I had such a great time reading it, I can't wait for the next novel due out early next year!!
About the Authors
Folami and Abeni Morris are a sister-sister writing team. Together they wrote (and rewrote) The Exemeus, somehow managing to accomplish it without murdering one another. Despite their facial similarities, tendency to finish each other’s thoughts and stick up for each other constantly, no, they’re not twins and thus deserve their own individual bio.
 Folami Morris:
 Folami grew up in the tiny city of San Mateo Ca, where nothing ever happens and no one ever leaves. She went to Xavier University for undergraduate, getting her B.A in physics and her B.S in Biology. After graduation she returned to California, to live in an even smaller city, where even less happens, Antioch Ca. During this time she escaped the monotony by hanging out with her imaginary friends Hyalee and Dephon, and by writing the Exemeus. She finally escaped to Queens NY and now realizes that quiet and tiny aren’t so bad. 
Abeni Morris:

 As luck (and logic) would have it, Abeni grew up in the same tiny little town as her sister, then she too escaped to the tinier town of Antioch. She has yet to leave. She received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood development from Cal State East Bay. She is the mom of two amazing kids, who swear that they deserve a percentage of the book proceeds and a ton of the credit. At least she raised dreamers.

And now for the giveaways! 1 winner will get the Kindle 6" e-ink,  1 will get a $25 Amazon Gift Card and 1 will get a Paperback of Demon's at Deadnight by A and E Kirk!!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 26, 2013

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review and Interview

Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenche Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Publisher Running Press Kids May 28, 2013
Available Now
Paperback 272 Pages
Received finished copy for review from publisher
To buy links-
Author Links-
First is my Interview with Jenny Torres Sanchez about herself and her novel.

1) In your book, Death Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia, Frenchie and her friends hang out at a coffee shop called Harold's. Where did you hang out with your friends at their age?
We hung out in parks, downtown, and coffee shops too, actually. There was a very cool little coffee house called Yab Yums in downtown Orlando where we used to go a lot.  It later became Harold and Maude’s Espresso Bar. It no longer exists (I think it’s some sort of club now, not sure), but I’ll forever be grateful it did when I was a teen. They had local art on the walls and it was just a very cool, relaxed kind of place.  I didn't learn until later when I was in college (taking a course called Death and Dying) that Harold and Maude is also a movie about a boy obsessed with death. You should check it out, if only for the opening scene (watch it to the end). Frenchie and Harold would definitely be friends.  
2) Frenchie has a fixation with Emily Dickinson and death in the novel. Did you have any fixations when you were in high school?
Oh, I was pretty obsessed with music and death myself. Music just seemed to express my feelings and mood in a way I couldn’t. I found a lot of solace and comfort and inspiration in it then and still do now. And I’ve always been intrigued by death and grief.  It’s just so unknown and mysterious and something we will all experience, but of which none of us have any true knowledge. 

3) Frenchie reads the obituaries and even sleeps in the cemetery down the street from her house. Have you ever spent the night in a cemetery? 
Oh, definitely not! I could never sleep in a cemetery. I’d die of a heart attack as soon as it started getting dark.  I'm very easily spooked and the ability to spook myself is comical. I’ve run out of my house before convinced it was haunted. 

4) Joel and Frenchie have had plans to go to Chicago and live in an apartment together for awhile now, but things happen to change that. Have you ever had a friend let you down like that? 
No, but I let down a friend like that once. One summer, I was supposed to go to Hungary with one of my friends. We had tickets and everything. But I backed out at the last minute because I met this awesome guy and wanted to spend the summer with him instead.  It worked out. I married him. 

5) Frenchie is an awesome nickname! Did you have any cool nicknames?
I wish. No, my first attempt at a nickname was Lizzie because my middle name is Elizabeth, but it didn’t stick. Then I tried to make everyone call me Jet (my initials) but that didn’t work either. So, I pretty much have always been and will always be just Jenny. (Extended information about my name on my website).

6) Tattoos are a part of the story. Do you have any tattoos or what would you get if you were to get one and what would it mean to you?
I do have a tattoo. It’s a yin yang sign because I’m a huge believer in the idea of opposing forces in the world that work together as a whole to balance things. For me, specifically, it’s a reminder of how nothing is all good or all bad. It helps me see or remember the good in bad times and helps me stay grounded in good times. 

7) Frenchie has been devastated by the night with Andy. Do you think if she could relive that night, she'd choose not to be with him?
I think at some point, Frenchie would choose not to be with him, like, when she’s really consumed by her confusion and depression and grief. But by the end of the book, I think Frenchie realizes that there’s a reason she and Andy had that one night together. Maybe she offered some sort of comfort in his last hours, even if she didn’t know it. And she recognizes that in the end, that night changed her, in a crucial way, in a way that made her better even if it was painful (as bad things often have the potential to do). So I think once she gets to this point, she can accept that their paths crossed and wouldn’t change it. But at the beginning, in her anger, yeah she probably wishes she’d never known Andy Cooper. 

8) If Andy had left a note for Frenchie what would it have said?
I don’t think Andy really thought of the impact his suicide would have on others, especially not Frenchie. But if he did, and had a chance to leave a message for Frenchie, I think he’d keep it simple. I don’t think he could say anything more than:
I’m sorry. But thank you, for being there, and for one cool night. 

Thank you so much for being here and answering my questions!

For my review-

Frenchie is obsessed with death. And she's depressed. And who wouldn't be? Her long time crush took his life after spending his last night visiting weird places with her. Does she take it personally? Did he choose to spend his last night with her because she was special? Or did she just happen to be there and had a car? What was that night all about? And how does she get past it? And why don't any of her friends see that something is wrong with her? Why are they so self involved that they can't see she's suffering? And why can't she tell them what happened?

Lots of questions, some answers. This isn't exactly an uplifting novel, but it isn't depressing. It's just a novel about life. Sometimes, shit happens. And sometimes, you just have to figure out how to get past it and go on.
Sometimes, you don't get the answers you need, but you find understanding anyway. Andy and Frenchie spent an incredible night together. They talked and laughed and she thought "Finally, he sees me. We're gonna be together." So when she wakes up the next morning, she's expecting a day full of  "happy, happy, happy!" Instead, she wakes up to the news that Andy was found dead that morning. Frenchie goes from 60 to 0 in 6 seconds flat. She hits a brick wall and just can't get back up again. We follow Frenchie through her attempt to swim through her feelings of depression and confusion.  She makes several huge blunders, not that everyone else smells like a rose, but Frenchie is prickly to the point of being mean and rude.

The question is, did I like Frenchie? And the answer is yes. How can I not feel for her? She's gotten the ultimate rejection whatever Andy meant it to be, for Frenchie, it feels like rejection. She thought the night with Andy meant something good was happening in her life. And Andy ended his life. And changed Frenchie's forever. She is stuck. Her application to art school was rejected. Her best friend has dumped her for a girl. She's got nothing. Except a gravestone in the cemetery down the street that bears the name "Emily Dickinson" (not THE Emily Dickinson) and music. I loved Frenchie's brutal and I do mean brutal honesty at times. I'm sure she was lashing out, but she did feel what she was saying. I like a character that doesn't mince words. She had a mother and father that were present if a little clueless. They worried about her. And I liked Colin, the bouncer at the music club that eventually helps Frenchie get through it all. I thought he was kind of creepy and lecherous at first, but he turns out to be one of the good ones.

I loved the journey, loved the characters, and I loved Jenny Sanchez's writing style. The dialogue was sharp and smart with a bit of humor, a bit of bite, and a bit of philosophical thought. Frenchie wasn't warm and fuzzy but a very believable character. The various friends are also richly developed and give even more depth to the story. The setting feels like the author lived there, is describing her old neighborhood. And the story is about growing up and moving on. Stuff happens. That's what Death, Dickinson and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia is all about.

I received a copy of this novel from the publicist for review. I did not receive compensation for this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Apocalyptic Journey of Penelope Playing the Part of Odysseus-Review Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (e-ARC provided by Publisher)

Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: Henry Holt and CO.
Available: August 27, 2013
Received from Publisher for Review
Hardcover 240 pages
To Buy Links-
Amazon/ Kindle/ B and N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

From Goodreads-Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.
In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated. 

Wow, this is the first apocalyptic fairy tale like book I've ever read. Well, it had fairy tale like aspects. And Greek mythology. And mad scientists. And magic. How about everything but the kitchen sink. Though that was probably in there as well.

Pen is the main character, a young girl in high school, wrestling with who she is, a fierce love of her family and her dog, best friend to two girls that she loves dearly, so smart that she reads the encyclopedia for fun. She is like a mother bear protective of her little brother. She wants to protect him from anything that could hurt him in this world, yet she is not a killer, or even someone that could hurt another. She doesn't even kill bugs. She loves art and likens a lot of things she sees to famous artwork that she's seen thanks to her mother taking her and her brother to art galleries. She is special, but doesn't know how special, until she needs it.

Venice- Pen's little brother. He has dreams of the world ending and monsters coming for him. He hides from them in his mind. He's smart and tries to be tough, like boys are supposed to be. He is tough. He's special too.

Hex- He becomes a sort of leader of Pen's new family when she goes to hunt for her family. He does what must be done. He's a singer, a fighter, a leader and smart.

Ezra- Rescued by Pen and Hex. He's a brilliant artist and a mean chef. He provides good company on their journey.

Ash- A gifted musician, and very beautiful with dreadlocks and lighter than paper bag skin, another person picked up to join the Odyssey to find Pen's family.

Kronnen- The bad guy. Evil genius. Cause of the apocalypse. Don't need much more than that.

The World- It starts with "The Earthshaker" and then the wave. The earth suffers several severe earthquakes and then several tidal waves. Pen is saved because she ran back inside holding Argos, the dog, before the wave could claim her. But it got her family and Argos. And the world is silent. For a long time. Her father thought something was going to happen and he stocked up on food and water. She doesn't see anyone else.
She's afraid she might be the only one still alive. The air is ashy. There are fires. And the water has risen.
Everything is crumbling. It is apocalyptic and unlike most stories, there is no one around to marshal the troops and take charge. There aren't enough people left to marshal. No government in charge. Nothing.

The Story- The first half of the story begins with the destruction of the world and Pen looking back on her life with her family and her friends. Then she gets a chance to escape and she goes on an Odyssey like journey. She even picks up a guy, Hex, who reads from the Odyssey. Their "trials" mirror those of Odysseus' on his trip home from Troy. That is to a point. Then, maybe it's my interpretation that I can't see the relevance in the second half, it bears no more resemblance to The Odyssey. Yet, love and hope, almost unbelievable hope lives in Pen's heart and is rewarded for her faith.

What I thought-
I will say the writing is incredible. I've never read anything by this author but I am truly in awe of her powerful writing. I could feel Pen's feelings as she sat in her pink house near the sea and marked red lines on the wall to count the days since "The Earthshaker". I felt that lonely without Block ever having had to write that word. She showed me lonely. That's a gift. I definitely recommend this novel. I had a good time trying to match the parts of the story to what I knew (not much) of The Odyssey. Is it sad that I know more about The Odyssey from reading MG and YA novels than because I have actually read The Odyssey itself? I have to admit that I felt as if I was reading two different books. The Odyssey part was really working for me. And then I felt like the last part was just rushed and very un- Odyssey like. I thought the formula was working. I liked the ending, but either the book should have been longer and should have followed The Odyssey formula or there should have been a longer second part to the story. The ending just came too quick.
But what it all came down to was faith and hope can be found in even the worst of places. So you'll find if you see where Pen (Penelope which was Odysseus' wife's name) finds hope. And faith. Tiniest of places. And now that I think about it, if Pen had had to wait for ten years like Odysseus and his wife and his son did,  I wouldn't have liked the ending. So maybe it's good Ms. Block didn't follow that part of the Odyssey.

Anyway, I'd recommend this novel to just about anyone. I'd say it hits fantasy, apocalyptic, paranormal, Greek Mythology, family relationships, LGBT, magical realism, romance. Haven't hit your genre? Sorry, then just read it because of the great writing. It isn't contemporary and there aren't issues per se, there's really not enough people left to preach their brand of morality. It's definitely for an older reader as there is some violence, some sexual acts (not gratuitous), and some language.

I received an ebook of and Advance Reader's Copy of the novel from the publisher. This did not influence my review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellner

Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellener
Publisher: Disney Hyperion August 20th, 2013
Hardcover 352 pages
Received from publisher through NetGalley for review
To Buy Links-
Author Links-
Goodreads-  Jake Schwartz is not looking forward to middle school. Puberty feels light-years away; he’s not keen on the cool clothes or lingo; and he has the added pressure of preparing for his bar mitzvah. The only saving grace is that Danny Uribe, his lifelong best friend, will be by his side…
Or will he? Since Danny’s summer growth spurt, there’s been a growing distance between him and Jake. Danny is excited to explore all that junior high has to offer…especially the girls (and most notably Hannah, Jake’s older sister). But gang life has its allure, too, and he soon finds himself in over his head.
Meanwhile, Hannah is dealing with her own problems–being queen bee is not easy. The other girls are out for blood, and boys are so…exhausting. Danny surprises her with his maturity, but can Hannah’s reputation survive if she’s linked to a sevvy? And what would Jake think about her hooking up with his best friend?
Dorothy Wu could not care less about junior-high drama. She is content to stay in her bedroom and write epic stories of her adventures as a warrior mermaid maiden. But that changes when she discovers the school’s writing club. There, she meets a young lad with heroic potential and decides that life outside her fantasy world just might have some appeal.
In the course of one year at San Paulo Junior High, these four lives will intersect in unique and hilarious ways. Friendships will grow and change. Reputations will be transformed. And maybe someone will become a man.

Trash Can Days reads more like a young adult novel than a middle grade novel so I'd definitely recommend it for the highest end of middle grade readers to ya readers. It chronicles the lives of the narrators through one year at middle school. But there are words like slut written in the bathroom, a lot of bullying, and gang violence and hooking up. It just feels like an older novel even though the characters are in middle school.  Maybe I don't know what goes on in middle school? If it's as bad as this, I am so glad I'm not there anymore and maybe I should cut my rising 8th grader a little more slack. What does this say for high school? Or is this just what happens in California? There are a lot more questions this novel raised and it's made me ask a bunch of questions of my kids.

The main characters of the novel, Jake and Hannah Schwartz, Jake's best friend Danny Uribe and Dorothy Wu all come from a school called Arlington, attended by the privileged children of movie stars and directors, music stars and other such people along with a few lucky kids that live near enough to attend. When these students join the rest of the student body at San Paulo middle school, a small microcosm of the world seems to form. All kinds of students from different backgrounds with different troubles, different goals and different cliques (or no cliques) mix together in one soup pot called middle school. Teddy Steinkellner writes separate chapters from each characters point of view, sometimes a random character narrates which can be a little jarring as you try to figure out who this person is, but for the most part, the narration works well. Four characters is not too many to keep up with. Their personalities are so distinct yet overlap and interweave in a way so that at the end, they come together for one pivotal showdown. You'd never believe from the beginning of the novel that this where the end would lead.

I think the synopsis, as is true in so many cases, gives away way too much. I know it's supposed to hook you as a reader and maybe it did when I first grabbed the book off NetGalley. But I didn't reread it before I read the novel so I had no idea what was going to happen as I read. It was so much better that way! I had no preconceived notions, no thoughts, I didn't know anything. I was blind as to who these kids were and where the story was going. Try to read it that way. So much better.

What Trash Can Days reminded me was that no matter what group you are in, popular, eccentric, gang you still have pressures and worries that you have to deal with. And despite your friends changing alliances, your changing body, the changing scenery, there will always be someone, somewhere that you can identify with if you just take a chance. There will always be someone that you don't get along with. And your friends will change as your interests change. ( And, puberty will come, no matter how much you think it won't, it will eventually get there!)

I'd recommend this novel to older MG and all YA lovers who like contemporary reads. I wouldn't call this dark, but it isn't light either. It has it's own hopeful outlook at the end. It's written very well, lean on description, but you still get an idea of what "The Big Top" looks like and the view from on top of it. Despite the length, the novel flows rather quickly with a satisfying conclusion.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I just thought I'd share that I did ask my kids about their experiences in middle school. My Jake (rising 8th grader, he's a nerd, no friends, awkward but puberty has hit, he's been shaving since 6th grade) says here, in NC, there are no gangs, no kids that are called sluts or whores, no PDA's in school, no one makes out. Now I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that he's probably not in the loop. But you never know, the quiet ones seem to know a lot. Now, I do believe him about the gangs. I doubt our little city, especially at his school has a problem with gangs.

Then I asked my rising 11th grader about his middle school experience. He is more like Hannah Schwartz We lived on Cape Cod when he went through middle school. Actually, the school he attended was K-8 so it wasn't separated. The town we lived in was Sandwich. There weren't any gangs, not a surprise. But there was a lot going on sexually. A lot more than kissing. Somehow, that didn't surprise me either. I got to know some of the girls since they all attended the same school and my son played sports. I have heard some stories, now that he's older, that make me cringe. In fact, I stop him and tell him I don't want to hear any more.

So, is it location that makes the school experience that different? Or is it the kid? Or both? What do you think? What have any of your experiences been? How recent are they?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review-Darker Days by Jus Accardo

Darker Days- The Darker Agency #1
By Jus Accardo
Published: August 26th 2013
Publisher: Entangled
Received copy for review from Publicist
Pre-Order- Kindle/ Barnes and Noble
Jessie Darker goes to high school during the day, but at night she helps with the family investigation business. Cheating husbands and stolen inheritances? They’re your girls—but their specialty is a bit darker. Zombie in your garage? Pesky Poltergeist living in your pool? They’ll have the problem solved in a magical minute. For a nominal fee, of course...

When gorgeous new client, Lukas Scott, saunters into the office requesting their help to find a stolen box, it sounds like a simple case—until the truth comes out. The box is full of Sin.

Seven deadly ones, in fact.

They’ve got five days to recapture the Sins before they're recalled by the box, taking seven hijacked human bodies with them. Easy peasy—except for one thing...

There’s a spell that will allow the Sins to remain free, causing chaos forever. When the key ingredient threatens the life of someone she knows, Jessie must make the ultimate choice between love and family—or lose everything.

You are going to love this one! Jessie Darker is one fast talking, sarcastic, tough paranormal butt kicking heroine. She has an almost constant inner dialogue going on that  is smart and funny, commenting on what she sees, does, hears, until you get to know her inside and out. She's got a great relationship with her mother. She knows her mother's looks and how to diffuse her anger. And her mother can read Jessie like a book. Though I am nothing like Jessie, I could definitely identify with her and loved her opinions about life and high school boys and love. She is a character I am going to love to learn more about!

This is a paranormal book, a hard thing to find with all the contemporaries flooding the market these days. It's a breath of fresh air to read something fun and light with a new mythology-demons. I haven't read many demon books so I don't have a lot of built up knowledge about the world. I thought it was pretty easy to follow with a little bit of a twist at the end that made it really interesting.

I enjoyed the novel, it's light and entertaining. No heavy stuff, lots of laughs, crazy good metaphors. Jus Accardo's writing is lean without being dry. The characters that we care about for this story are developed just enough that we understand them and want to stick around to read more about them.
Highly recommended for lover's of YA Paranormal with romance. 

Thank you to Anjana at Entangled for the review copy of this novel. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Airship Pirates, Vengeful Kings and Questing Princes In Charmed Vengeance by Suzanne Lazear- A Review

Charmed Vengeance (The Aether Chronicles Book 2)
By Suzanne Lazear
Published August 8th, 2013 
Available Now
Publisher: Flux
Received from Publisher through NetGalley for review
Paperback 382 pages
To Buy-
Amazon/ Kindle/ Barnes and Noble/ Book Depository/
In the Faerie realm, Noli Braddock's relationship with her best friend V has grown into something more. But V's mother, Faerie Queen Tiana, has ruled that they are forbidden to see each other. Returning to the mortal realm, Noli joins the crew of her brother's air-pirate ship, the Vixen's Revenge. There she discovers that her brother has hired the scallywag Faerie huntsman, Kevighn Silver. While serving as shipmates, Kevighn and Noli learn that the Earth Court King plans to find a forbidden artifact--one that will bring destruction to everyone Noli loves.

This is the second book in the Aether Chronicles Series and is definitely not a book that can be read as a stand alone. Just to let you know, there will be spoilers if you haven't read the first book.

Noli is having a hard time in this second book. The sprite inside her is taking over for periods of time and she can't remember anything while the sprite is in possession of her body. To make matters worse, V. is forced to break the sigil she wears that gives her the protection of his house, essentially breaking their understanding that they will marry. But Noli isn't the type to faint and die from things like this. Noli is the type to fight and trust that things will get better and she and V. will get back together. And she isn't going to wait for it to happen. I love how Noli fights against the sprite who likes fancy dresses and pretty shiny things, a big hindrance while Noli works on a big shiny engine on Jeff's airship. Sometimes the sprite and Noli can share consciousness, but sometimes, Noli wakes up to the horror that the sprite has done. It's horrible only because the captain of "Jeff's ship" is Vix, a female women's rights activist who isn't prone to pretty things like fancy dresses and shiny things. 

Jeff, Noli's brother, shows up at just the right time and is a great addition to the characters in this series. He is ultra protective of Noli as are all of his shipmates. He knows something happened to her and that sometimes she seems to disappear even now. He is very worried about her, and as he is in love with Vix and she him, they share their worries. We also find out that, though some of his actions are illegal, some of his illegal actions involve rescuing kidnapped children. And for that, I can certainly forgive him for being an airpirate!

V. is in this one again and YAY! for that. I love that everything seems to not work out too easily for V. He travels with James and we get to learn a little more about him. It's fun to see the two of them questing together. But what I love most is seeing how much V.'s mission is to get back to Noli.

The world is once again 1901 alternate United States. More or less the same, but steampunk and some of the states are altered. There is a war with Hawaii called the Pineapple Rebellion as they try to retain their independence from the United States. And the state of Deseret which is a fictional state and one of the author's own creation. There is child trafficking which, according to the author did happen (and continues) at the turn of the century. Airships, machines, and the Otherworld all intermingle. The Fae mingle with the human world without most of the human's knowing. However, the Otherworld and the Human world are co-dependent and without balance in one, there is no balance in the other. This was a theme that was explained in Innocent Darkness. It continues in this novel.

The story is very interconnected. Noli runs away from her mother and grandfather who want to take her to Boston for "The Season". She is on Jeff's airship, The Vixen's Revenge (there's a story in that name, I'm sure) but it's not Jeff's ship, he's just the pilot. The captain and owner is Vix, the woman Jeff is in love with and who Noli has to convince that she's not a "lady" but an engineer and feminist enough to be on board the ship. A problem for sure with the sprite inside of her. V. has to make good on the favor he promised his mother the Queen Tiana which becomes a quest. He drags James along who is, understandably, in sad shape. That quest becomes another quest and Queen Tiana, as well as fellow members  of the Otherworld hinder them at every turn. And then it seems that the world has Noli and V. just missing each other at every port and turn. It was a cross country race despite the fact that they weren't trying to find each other. A shocking ending concludes this fast paced and breathless novel. 

No second book syndrome here. Though it might take a page or two to get going, this novel is fast and action packed, full of adventuresome air pirates and questing faeries, nefarious  otherworlders and our lovable Noli and V. and another couple to fall for Jeff and Vix! The ante has been upped in this series!  Noli is still the key even if she wasn't sacrificed and I can't wait to read the next book in this series!!

The author- Suzanne Lazear- Contacts-
Now if you can't find her somewhere on the internet, you aren't looking!!!

Again, I received an ARC of this novel from the Publisher through NetGalley for review. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday- REDS!!!!!

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme created by Jill at Breaking The Spine so we can share with each other the books we are just dying to read. Some of us may be swayed by the covers (me). Some of us may be swayed by the book summaries (me) and some of us may be waiting for the end of a beloved series (me).
Whatever the case may be, HUMP DAY, as the camel might say is the day for sharing with each other what we are dying to get our hands on. I don't know about you, but my pre-orders on Amazon is so full it's going to take a small fortune to pay for it, one I don't have! So, I think it's time for a job, but that will seriously cut into my reading time. What is a book hoarder to do?? 

In any case, (while I'm thinking) I have brought you this one before, but it's closer to publication time now AND, I have traded in my own blonde locks, gone back to my brown hair and added some red highlights. So I thought it only fitting that I feature this book again.

Red by Alison Cherry
Publisher Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Hardcover 320 pages
Release Date October 8th 2013
Goodreads Synopsis-Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

I do hope this isn't one of those books I've built up so much in my mind that it doesn't end up living up to my expectations. What do you guys think? Are you even looking at this one?? Heard anything about it?

And since there is still no cover for Requiem the 3rd book in Maggie Stiefvater's Books of Faerie I'll just say have a great Wednesday, don't forget to enter all my giveaways. I'm participating in the Last Hurrah Hop that starts on Sunday. And today marks the first day of an actual vacation for me so I won't be around until Monday. Have a great few days!!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess- Review, Interview and Giveaway

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Available Now
Published by Egmont USA July 23rd, 2013
Hardcover, ebook 288 pages
Received through M&M Publicity for Review
To Buy Links-
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Indiebound/ Kobo

GoodreadsA hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.
Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.
Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.
Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.
 This is a funny, often hilarious look at real teens with real problems stuck in a recovery center, isolated from family and friends, forced to face that they have issues and then what their issues are. As I read this novel, waiting for my sons to get out of math camp (!!), I had to cover my mouth and hide I was laughing out loud. I have never had that problem before. But some of the lines early on had me just crying from laughter. 

The two main characters Emmy and Justin have funny, sarcastic teenage voices that ring true.  Emmy is the Chinese American adopted daughter in a family where she doesn't "look" like she belongs. She lets her ideas about how things look influence her beliefs about how her family feels about her. Then a boy, of course, diminishes her self worth even more. She develops anger issues and an eating disorder that lands her at Heartland Academy.  Justin is there for getting caught doing something totally embarrassing and then taking an overdose of Tylenol. But he does have anger issues and supposed sexual issues.  Each chapter is told from one of their points of view.

Here's why I think the book works so well. It's funny, laugh out loud moments are interspersed with snarky teenage sarcasm and comments. A cast of characters that separately are just a mess, but in a group, in Anger Management, working together, they rock! Each one has a unique problem from sexual abuse to compulsive lying, but their very smart group leader makes them work together to earn privileges. They work together, learn together, threaten, force, lie, cheat, steal and do just about anything to make sure they get those privileges. It is a beautiful thing to see!

The authors of A Really Awesome Mess have taken some really dark and scary issues and without belittling them or making them seem any less serious, they've brought some levity and laughter to the situation. Teens suffering from anxiety, depression, eating disorders or any type of mental health issue should appreciate a little laughter as some medicine. I take mental health very serious yet found this novel a refreshing break from other "issue" books. I encourage you to read it and see if it doesn't make you smile!

Recommended for older teens due to sexual references, language and adult situations. This is a contemporary YA novel for 16 and up.

I received a review copy of this novel from M&M publicity for this review. This in no way influenced my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The authors of A Really Awesome Mess were kind enough to answer a few questions for me. 
A Really Awesome Review....

1) In your novel, Justin gets caught by his dad in a really embarrassing situation. What is the worst/most embarrassing thing you've ever been caught doing ?
Trish-  There are so many it's hard to pick just one...I guess I'll go with the time I had a huge crush on this guy, and he told me I looked good in my glasses and with my hair in a ponytail--basically how I look when I first wake up in the morning. Not pretty. I showed up at a party that same night with my glasses on and my hair up. My friends were like, "Are you okay?" I never wore my glasses ANYWHERE unless it was a desperate situation, like I'd lost a contact and ran out of replacements or something, and I'm insane about having my hair perfectly flat ironed and down, so they could not understand what had gotten into me. The minute Mr. Crush saw me, he grinned and said, "I guess someone likes me." And then walked away. So I got caught blatantly liking him way too much, and being way too eager for him to like me back. It totally didn't work out.

Brendan- I once farted really loud during a test when the entire classroom was silent.  I was the teacher. 

If I was giving out prizes for the most embarrassing Brendan would be the winner though Trish yours is very, very close! Teenage girl mortification lasts longer! Thank you for being SO honest! And for those of you reading this, this is the kind of humor you can expect in the novel.

2) I found myself actually snorting in public at some of the funny things that were in the novel. Give me your favorite line/lines in the book that isn't a spoiler.

Trish-  Fav line:  "Yeah, that's totally badass. Not killing yourself even when you think you want to. Take a lot more balls to stay alive, don't you think?"

Brendan-  I love Diana, so I have to choose a Diana quote: 
"And I am a weepy little bitch," Diana said. "Oh no, wait, that's all of you." 

3) The group leader tries to use one of Justin's jokes about being at Hogwarts to foster group camaraderie. He says he'd be in Gryffindor for courage. Which house would you be in at Hogwarts and why?
Trish-According to the online quiz I just took, Ravenclaw, because I am "witty, intelligent and capable." So, same as Emmy! 

Brendan-  I've actually spent way too much time thinking about this question. It's dogged me since I read the first Harry Potter book.  I guess it's between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff.  I think Hufflepuff gets kind of a bad rap as the loser house, but come on--Cedric Freakin' Diggory!  So, yeah, Hufflepuff. 

4) If you had to attend Heartland Academy, what would have sent you there and would you be a conformist or a rebel?

Trish-I think I would've been sent there for having adoption issues even though I'm not adopted! I come from a family of marching band/theater people, but I am an athlete and was also a cheerleader in high school and college. So, I always felt like the outlier of the fam. At Heartland, I would've resisted the process with everything I had at first, but then would've totally gotten into it. 

BrendanI'm pretty fortunate in that I got a relatively mild dose of the anxiety and depression.  But those are totally my issues, so that's what would have landed me in a therapeutic setting.  And certainly as a teen I was terrified of getting in trouble and never wanted to make an authority figure mad, so I would totally be the kid who toed the line. 

(I'm with you Brendan. Don't make the authority figures mad!)

5) At the fair, each of the group members has to challenge themselves to be bigger than their issues. What would you have done at the fair to challenge your teenage self?

Trish- I would make myself pursue something I was interested in rather than just saying I wanted to do it but being too scared to actually go for it. So maybe I'd have to get onstage play guitar and sing with a band.

Brendan- I have always had a problem with rides that spin. It's not that I'm really afraid of them, it's just that I know from experience that they make me puke.  So I suppose that's what I would have to do.  I'm sure Diana would enjoy the subsequent puking.
6) There are several specialized classes Emmy and Justin have to attend. What specialized class would you have to attend? What would one of your favorite classes be either educational or elective?

Trish- I could've used a good Intro to Poetry class, because I was always writing the WORST angsty poetry in high school and desperately needed some tips to get better at it. I also think Anger Management through Power Chords would've been a great one for me.I pretty much would've liked any class--elective or educational--as long as the subject matter was in my wheelhouse: Music, writing, books, art, psychology.

Brendan-  I don't know if they offer a class in "not being a dick," but I certainly needed one of those when I was a teen.   

7) The novel ends at a good place, but I have so many questions still. Will there be a sequel?

Trish- Brendan? What do you say? Should we go for it again?

Brendan-Hmm. I haven't seen Trish's answer yet,  but I guess I will say that a sequel isn't currently on my radar.  I think one of the great things about reading, or any kind of art, but I think especially reading, is that once you read the book, those characters belong to you too, and your idea about what happens next is as valid as anybody else's. 

8) Anything you'd like to add? 

Trish- Thanks so much for reading our book and letting people know about it. That's the best part about being an author!

Brendan-  I would just like to say something about the tone of the book.  If you're looking for a really grim, harrowing ride through the torments of mental health issues, those books are easy to find, and this is not one of them.  These issues are close to both of our hearts, and we intentionally set out to write a book that would be entertaining and fun and hopeful.  Because when you're living with these issues, you've got enough grim in your life already. 
That is so true Brendan. I sometimes forget that fact. No that life is grim when you're living with these issues, but that we can laugh about them. But without being able to laugh through them, life does look pretty grim. So I appreciate the humor and the hope.  And thanks to both of you for taking the time to answer my questions!!

And now, I have the opportunity to give away one copy of A REALLY AWESOME MESS!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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