Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dream Boy by Madelyn Rosenberg and Mary Crockett

Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg
Available July 1st
Pre-order Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository
Indiebound/ Kobo
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire 
Paperback 336 pages
Reviewed E-ARC provided by publisher for review
YA Magical Realism
Series??? I believe it's a stand alone

Goodreads-Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class. 

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

So, this was not at all like I expected. Though the characters in the book are in their junior year of high school, they seem much younger, maybe 15 or so. And the danger/tension factor wasn't quite there like I had hoped it would be.  Fun facts, if you are at all familiar with the Roanoke area of Virginia was reading about the places that were an actual part of Roanoke. TEXAS TAVERN which, in the book was THE TEXAS GRILL.  It was described right down to the clientele and the cook. And the football teams. My husband was quite distressed (my words not his) when Chilton (the fictional high school in this book) trounced his real high school team, Cave Spring because he played on the team. Oh and Mill Mountain Coffee, love getting coffee there! My in-laws live in Roanoke and only drink decaff. I don't do decaff in the mornings so Mill Mountain is a favorite place to go for my caffeine fix. Overall though, it was an interesting concept, though complex, with curious characters and a plot that will definitely pique your senses if dreams appeal to you in any way.


To me, the most fascinating character in this novel was Will, Annabelle's best friend since kindergarten. He wears funny t-shirts with sayings like, "I listen to bands that don't exist yet." He is a photographer and he makes a pact with Annabelle that if they don't have dates for Homecoming in ten days, they will go together, "just as friends", you know. They type Morse Code on each other's legs to communicate silently. They text each other to talk during a conversation at the lunch table. Will knows just what Annabelle needs He's always got Annabelle's back watching over her even after she finds a date to Homecoming and it isn't him. 

Friends play an important role in this novel. Annabelle has a core group of two girlfriends and then Will, who is her best friend, then Will has his friend Paolo. Will has taken Annabelle's little brother under his wing and they harass each other back and forth, calling each other names. And Annabelle's mom is there, present for curfews and boys in her room and soccer practice and games. Family comes in all shapes and sizes and in this book, it shows that family is bigger than just Annabelle, her brother Nick and her mother.

The real drama of the novel is about dreams. And nightmares. And though we want all our dreams to come true, if they do, does that also mean our nightmares will come true? In the town of Chilton, it's something you need to consider. Annabelle has a unique capability but doesn't know it until it's almost too late. When she learns a little about controlling it, it is at the very end of the novel and I think there is a lot left unanswered that another book would cover. The general large questions are covered, but there are a lot of whys? and hows? that are not answered. I am not sure if there is another book in the works or not.

Who would enjoy this novel? Anyone that loves YA with a hint of magical realism. If you have an interest in dreams this novel has a very compelling and twisty plot involving dreams and nightmares. There is a light romance, yes there is a triangle, but it's fairly obvious who the front runner is even if Annabelle isn't aware of it for quite some time. This is a clean read, just a bit of kissing and a small dollop of humor and even less of mean girl, but their is a good reason for that. It's a very imaginative story.

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

Find the Authors
Mary Crockett- Twitter @marylovesbooks
Madelyn Rosenberg- Twitter@madrosenberg

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog Tour- The Golden Cage by Kaitlyn Davis Review and Giveaway

goldencage (1)

The Golden Cage (A Dance of Dragons #0.5) by Kaitlyn Davis


From bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis comes a fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Graceling, and Game of Thrones.

In the land of Ourthuro, cruelty is a way of life. The king rules with an iron fist and no one dare defy him--no one except his daughter. Princess Leena is keeping a dangerous secret, she has fallen in love with a soldier and it would mean both of their lives if her father ever discovered their affair.

But Leena will risk it all to be with the man she loves--her heart, her life, her freedom. And when her brother's birthday celebration takes a dangerous turn, Leena is forced to make a decision that will change the fate of her nation and eventually the world.

The Golden Cage is a prequel novella to The Shadow Soul (A Dance of Dragons #1)--available now!

Free Novella:

Author Bio:
Kaitlyn Davis is the bestselling author of the Midnight Fire series, a young adult paranormal romance, and the A Dance of Dragons series, a young adult epic fantasy. Kaitlyn graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Writing Seminars. She's been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to finally share her work with the world. She currently lives in New York City and dreams of having a puppy of her own.


This is a novella but it packs a lot of "grab you" in such a small page count! A king with 12 daughters and one son. At his fifth birthday he is gifted a sword with jewels and a sharp edge and because of a small misstep by the servant presenting it to him, the little boy becomes a barbaric image of his father in one small act. It is the last act that gives Leena the push to leave with her lover. She wanted to save her half brother, keep him from being like their father, but seeing no chance of it now, she and her lover plan their escape. As you can imagine, things aren't that simple.

It's a good story, Leena reminding me of a strong heroine from other stories. For some reason it feels like this setting is in the Far East, but there really isn't a reason I can say why. Just my idea. I thought at first with the twelve sisters this would be part of a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. No, not at all. There is the hint of political scheming going on, a barbaric and misogynistic ruler, and adventure. I've read the synopsis for the next full novel and I can't see how they are connected at all, but I am going to read it. The story is not unique, but it is compelling enough that I want to know what happens to Leena and what that next story has to do with her story.

If you enjoy fantasy, I think you'll enjoy this one. The world building has just begun but the palace, the place where Leena lives is the Gold kingdom and down it goes from there until the stone meets the ocean. I think this is going to be really good. And even the hint of dragons....I'm ready to read more.

I nabbed a free copy of this off Amazon for Kindle awhile back and it is still free as I write this. So grab it and see if you think it's a series you might enjoy. The price is good....FREE!!

                                                                     Author Links:


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Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars Movie Review Briefly

Probably not the best time to go see this movie is the day before your son goes in for surgery, even if it's just for a torn ACL, or so they said. Still, there is a lot of crying and you know....death, loss, almost dying, sickness, the thought of losing your child and what parents must go through.
And yeah, so I am sitting there holding my son's hand through most of the movie trying not to be too loud with my crying- you know how you need to wail but you know you shouldn't? That was me- and I'm thinking "What am I doing here today???". But my son wasn't bothered by it. He was more worried that I wouldn't be able to keep it together long enough to drive us home.

I don't go to a lot of movies. Even less books turned into movies. But other than some things being out of order, I found this one to be done remarkably well and close to the book. I will definitely be buying the soundtrack because the music were a great accent to the feelings being portrayed at the time. It's just an excellent movie, really all around.

And, if you need to clear your emotional trunk, you know the one with all that junk you keep locked away that builds up until it's so full and you're irritable and you just really need to cry but you can't? This movie will give you every reason to cry. It isn't always sad. It isn't always happy. I am such a visual person and seeing Hazel Grace up there feeling like a grenade and seeing Gus up there philosophizing about oblivion made the book come alive for me. If only all book to movie adaptations were done as well as this one.

If you enjoyed the novel, The Fault in Our Stars, you will most likely enjoy the movie as it stays very true to the book. The actors seemed to really understand their parts and their characters and nothing was overdone for the sake of drama. It was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green only on the big screen. Well Done Hollywood!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blog Tour-The Revealed by Jessica Hickam Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge

*This summer I'm participating in Book Sparks Summer Reading Challenge which you can read about here.
Each week, a different book is chosen, which you can read the reviews of or grab a copy for yourself. Just visit Book Spark's home page to find out all the details.This week's book is THE REVEALED by JESSICA HICKAM, a paranormal dystopian set in a war ravaged USA trying to come back from a catastrophic World War. The first presidential election in what is left of the United States is about to take place and Lily Atwood is the daughter of the leading candidate.

The Revealed by Jessica Hickam
Publisher: Spark Press 
Available June 17th, 2014
YA Dystopian/Paranormal
Reviewed e-ARC provided by Publisher for review
To buy links (pre-order) Amazon

Goodreads- Lily Atwood lives in what used to be called Washington, D.C. Her father is one of the most powerful men in the world, having been a vital part of rebuilding and reuniting humanity after the war that killed over five billion people. Now he’s running to be one of its leaders.

But in the rediscovered peace on Earth, a new enemy has risen. They call themselves the Revealed – a powerful underground organization that has been kidnapping 18 year olds across the globe without reservation. No one knows why they are kidnapping these teens, but it’s clear something is different about these people. They can set fires with a snap of their fingers and create a wind strong enough to barrel over a tree with a flick of their wrist. No one has been able to stop them, and they have targeted Lily as their next victim.
But Lily has waited too long to break free from her father’s shadow to let some rebel organization just ruin everything. Not without a fight.

Lily Atwood is the main character in the Revealed and while she has her faults, fear is not one of them. Since she turned 18, she has been waking up to black letters taped to her window on a seemingly very secure compound- They are from The Revealed and are increasingly threatening. They are letting her know they can get to her no matter where she is. To that end, Lily decides she should live a little before she dies. Makes sense, right? However, Lily's decisions are a bit reckless and she is rather naive. As the novel goes on, she spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about The Revealed. Yes, I'd be scared, too. No one knows what happens to the 18 yr olds that are taken, only that they are never seen again. But for being so scared, she becomes rather careless with her own safety. And she is obsessed with a boy she has spent only a small amount of time with, one that she is willing to risk everything and ruin everything for, just to have a chance to speak to him. So, Lily was a bit off and on for me.

The plot though was good. The world has suffered devastation and every country is trying to rebuild. Leaders from every country will be visiting the former US for the election. Lily's dad is running against Roderick Westerfield, his former friend and now total political opposite. While Lily's father wants to make peaceful changes, helping the people, education and college for everyone, healthcare available for everyone, Westerfield wants to keep two social classes, the incredibly rich and powerful and the poor and powerless.
We don't get to see a lot of political campaigning, there isn't any real t.v., just news reports. We just know that Lily's parents are gone on the campaign trail all the time leaving her home alone with her security team and the help, the kitchen staff and the maids. During all of this, Lily is trying to get a handle on her fear of being taken by The Revealed. 

The Revealed does come. And Lily is taken. It's what happens after that, what happens when Lily is taken that makes the story really interesting. And unless you want me to give the plot away, I have to stop here.
The paranormal part is the amazing things the Revealed can do, twisting the elements to work for them, controlling plants to wrap around arms and legs to bind people. Freezing or heating things at will. Wind or complete stillness. They don't need weapons, they have nature on their side. And how they get these abilities is unbelievable, or maybe just believable enough. I can't decide.

Who is this for? YA Dystopian lovers. Especially if you love a dash of paranormal and politics with your dystopian. This is a first in the series and I'm hoping Lily will be a little more firm in who she is in the next book. The plot is good and  I believe is strong enough to keep you entertained through the novel.

Find the author

Thanks to Book Sparks for the Review Copy
Join the Challenge and win a Kindle

*Parts of this were borrowed from Heidi at Rainy Day Ramblings

Friday, June 13, 2014

BLOG TOUR-Guest Post from Author Madelyn Rosenberg of DREAM BOY and GIVEAWAY!!

Do you remember when I featured this book on my blog as a Waiting on Wednesday pick???

Well it's coming out July 1st from Sourcebooks!! And I have one of the authors here today with a wonderful blog post about dreams and music and their writing process. I think everyone will enjoy it! And of course there is a giveaway that absolutely EVERYONE will enjoy, I am sure!!! First, a little about DREAM BOY!!

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class. 

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

You Can Be Anything You Want to Be Except...

When I was a kid, my mother told me I could be anything I wanted to be. Then one afternoon she heard me singing and she amended her statement.

“You can be anything you want to be,” she said, “except maybe a singer.”

I hadn’t really wanted to be a singer until that moment. But as soon as she said it, I envisioned myself with a microphone. When I hit high school, I wondered if I might be the sort of person who could pull off leather pants. Never mind that I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket or that standing in front of a bunch of people made my lungs feel like they were wrapped in cobwebs. I was ready to rock! The shower was my Madison Square Garden. With the exception of my bat mitzvah, the shower remains the largest venue I’ve ever played. Because I never became a singer; I became a writer instead.

I started off as a journalist, covering everything from cops to higher education. And then I got the beat of my dreams: I became a music writer. For years, I covered all of the bands that came through our pocket of Southwest Virginia. In the rock world, we never got the people at the top of the charts; we got the bands on their way up or down (I saw Def Leppard in 1999 instead of the 1980s, for instance).

In the country world, though, we got the bands at the tippy top. I saw old-school artists like Merle Haggard and George Jones and Willie Nelson. I saw new country artists like Faith Hill and Martina McBride. Which got me thinking that maybe I wanted to be a country singer instead of a rock star. (I still think a song I wrote called Fishing for Love could be a hit for Alan Jackson. Just saying.)

When I moved from journalism to fiction writing, my songs came with me. And that’s when I got my big break. Because in fiction, you’re creating a world. And a world isn’t complete without music.

For Canary in the Coal Mine, my middle grade novel that came out last year, I tried an old-time song that featured lots of A minor. In real life, nobody heard that song but me. But in the book? Everyone knew it, and they sang it during a key scene.

When Mary Crockett and I were working on Dream Boy together, we named the town after Alex Chilton, one of my favorite musicians of all time. And then we went about writing songs to help build our world.

Annabelle’s dreams are interrupted by her alarm clock. The alarm clock meant music. I’d tried rock and country, so here we tried rap. (Love is patient, so they say in Corinthians…) By writing our own songs, Mary and I didn’t have to get the rights for somebody else’s. We also wrote Evasive Maneuver, a grinding heavy metal piece that I not-so-secretly hope Metallica will want to cover. We wrote Manic Panic, which ended up on the cutting room floor. We named the bands on Will’s iPod and we named the bands that Annabelle and her friends saw at their favorite club. (The Pacers were named after the car, which I always wanted to own despite their reputation for blowing up; their song, Kerosene, was actually a song my husband’s band played back in the day.)  We also wrote the love song Will and Annabelle danced to during homecoming.

So in real life, my mother was right: I never became a singer. But my songs are playing on a radio in Chilton, Va. They’re on somebody’s iPod. And at the homecoming dance, a kid just asked the DJ if he could play a tune by Rosenberg and Crockett. We’re not scheduled to appear at Madison Square Garden yet, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. In the fictional world, anything can happen.

Madelyn Rosenberg

That means I can be twenty five again and tall and smart! And I can do college all over again and.... oh the possibilities :) My mom said I'd never be an artist Madelyn. It's okay, I'm a lot of other things!!!

And so for the giveaway!!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Guest Post- S.R. Johannes "How to Find Great Indie Books"

Today I have S.R.Johannes here to share some insights on how to choose a good Indie Book. She should know. She exploded onto the Indie scene with her first book Untraceable back in 2011. Since then the series has had two more books with Unstoppable just releasing in the beginning of June. Shelli published as an Indie author when it was still a little harder to do it, when Indie still had a bit of a bad reputation. But her Nature of Grace series has proved Indie books are going strong. Here's what she has to say about choosing your Indie book.

How to Find Great Indie Books

Over the years, the term self published author has taken on many folds of meaning. It used to mean "bad quality". But over the years that has changed some. Yes, some are still bad, unedited, and not worth the money spent; but many indie books are very good. The quality of indie books isn't as much of an issue as it has been in the past.

Indie books spread over all genres: romance, teen, new adult. There is something for everyone but it is hard to know what is good and what is not.
It is estimated that, in 2013, over 500,000 were self-published. So it can be tough to find the ones worth paying for in a sea of so many.

I love indie books... and I love supporting them. Why? Because I think a lot of indie authors not only write well but work hard. They deserve a chance.

What to look for:
1. Ratings - look at them closely (the number of them and the ratings)
2. Awards - have they won any and if so - are they reputable.
3. Reviews - if they have mainstream reviews - it shows
4. Cover - is it professional
5. Editing - read the sample. Is it clean or riddled with typos.
6. Other indie authors - if you read one see who they are promoting and you may be able to find others. I know I try to promo books I am proud of.

A few places you can trust
• The Indelibles - I know all of these girls personally and they are not only bestselling but award-winning.
• The Alliance for Independent Authors (Alli)
• Indie Book Awards
• IPPY Awards

I actually did a post today on June indie books if you want to check out some great new titles.

UNSTOPPABLE (Nature of Grace #3) SR Johannes

After everything that has happened, Grace moves to the Everglades to live with her grandmother, Birdee, and hang out with old man Rex, Birdee's "friend with benefits". Grace quickly befriends Dylan, Rex's nephew, and Dylan's girlfriend, Sadie, who is a die-hard teen activist. Sadie spends her time leading protests against the roadside zoos that run rampant in Florida with a total disregard for animals or the flimsy law.

One day while out in the marshes of the Everglades, Grace and her friends rescue an abused—and endangered—Florida panther. She and Birdee spend time rehabilitating the animal. But when the panther runs off, Grace follows it to Uncle Bob's, a large roadside zoo they all have been protesting. One that is illegally filled with a variety of endangered and exotic animals. Before she can rescue the panther, she and her friends are kidnapped by the ruthless owner and dragged deep into the Everglades for a hunting challenge. 

Only this time, Grace is the prey. 

During a sick game of cat and mouse, Grace and her friends are offered one chance at survival, but only if they reach civilization before being caught. With a small head start and very little supplies, only time and skill stand between the hunter and the hunted. But out in the Everglades, there may be more dangers than Grace realizes.

Against all odds, Grace must make it out alive and win, or everything she holds dear could be lost.

Unstoppable is on sale in ebook. The paperback releases later this month. 

(Note: if you have another ereader device - see these instructions for getting a Kindle ebook converted to your ereader. It's easier than you think.)

If you haven't read Untraceable or Uncontrollable, you can get them in paperback and ebook at all major booksellers including AmazonAppleSmashwords, and BN.


16-year-old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. 

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father. 

Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.


As Grace recovers from tragedy, her science class is chosen by Agent Sweeney at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to help with research on the new "Red Wolf Reintroduction Program". 

While she’s excited about helping with the conservation of the endangered wolves, Grace knows this means being outdoors in the worst winter recorded, in a place she no longer feels comfortable. It also means working closely with Wyn (her ex) and his annoying girlfriend (Skyler), a girl whose idea of getting close to nature is picking silk plants and growing fake plants. 

After a couple of wolves show up dead, Grace almost quits. However, when a fellow project team member goes missing, Grace continues the assignment under a renewed suspicion that someone might be sabotaging the conservation program. She quietly begins to hunt for clues. 

Little does she know, she is being hunted too. 

I plan to read all three of these this summer. I live in North Carolina somewhat near the mountains and I was born in Florida, not in the Everglades. But I've driven over them. And that novel interests me the most. You know people have introduced all kinds of non native species of reptiles into the Everglades when their Boa Constrictors get too big to handle. They dump them there in the glades. And those and other reptiles thrive there. T-H-R-I-V-E! I want to read UNSTOPPABLE right now!!! Thanks Shelli!

Monday, June 9, 2014

How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker

How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love by Ken Baker
Available Now
Published by Running Press Kids
Reviewed Finished Copy from Publisher
Contemporary YA Fiction
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Indiebound/
Book Depository/ Kobo

Goodreads"Thick. Heavy. Big boned. Plump. Full figured. Chunky. Womanly. Large. Curvy. Plus-size. Hefty." To sixteen-year-old Emery Jackson, these are all just euphemisms for the big "F" word—"fat." Living on a Southern California beach with her workout fiend dad, underwear model sister, and former model mother, it is impossible for Emery not to be aware of her weight.

Emery is okay with how things are. That is, until her "momager" signs her up for Fifty Pounds to Freedom, a reality show in which Emery will have to lose fifty pounds in fifty days in order to win the million dollars that will solve her family's financial woes. Emery is skeptical of the process, but when the pounds start to come off and the ratings skyrocket, she finds it hard to resist the adoration of her new figure and the world of fame. Emery knows that things have changed. But is it for the better?

First, I want to warn those of you with eating disorders or that are triggered by certain things, this book may not be for you. Emery goes on a very severe diet. She counts calories, halves her super restrictive diet and discusses it in detail. She exercises, a lot. She obsesses about her weight. Yes, she is overweight but once she starts losing she becomes a machine. So even for me, I felt like I should go take a walk after I finished reading. Keep it in mind. I did enjoy the book, especially the ending. No, tied up in ribbons and bows. It was a very realistic ending and I thought it was in keeping with Emery's character. Well done, Mr. Baker.

Characters- Emery- I liked Emery's wit and blase attitude when it came to her weight. She really wasn't bothered by it, or at least she didn't think she was. But she did want to make the weigh ins during the contest. She suddenly starts to become a role model for teen girls everywhere. But is she really a good role model? Losing 50 lbs in 50 days. Is that even possible? I loved Emery. She was smart, both book smart and in real life. She didn't belong with this family. She was better than any of them. As much as they pushed, she was smart enough to get her own deal.

Emery's mom- She comes off as judgmental, superficial, and a bit flighty. But she does actually have a brain and a reason behind what she does. She doesn't think about Emery's feelings as much as I believe a mother should, she seems to care about the fame and the money, always the money.

Angel-  This is the skinny popular sister who shuns Emery because she's fat and is embarrassed by her. She also wants a career in t.v. so she sees the opportunities that the t.v. show represents for her.  Like everyone else, Emery's feelings are never considered. It's all about her.

Dad- Dad travels a lot as a motivational speaker and he's not around much. It seems that he may be the root of Emery's eating problems.  Dad is disappointed in Emery but hides it well. Still, Emery knows his disappointment.

The people from the weight loss reality show- They are all despicable to me. They drive Emery to the point of complete exhaustion. They practically give Emery an eating disorder and cause her to sneak food. She exercises constantly so that she makes her weight goals. She is constantly worried about it. From the nutritionist to the exercise trainer, they all push her way too hard.

Ben- Really, the best character by far. He is funny and self deprecating but not uncomfortable with his size. He loves Emery just the way she is and does not think she needs to change and is not fully in love with the idea of  her participation in the weight loss show. But he does support her by being there for her. And in the end, that's what matters the most.

The world- live t.v. How much worse could it be? Being in high school, overweight, and having your weight loss chronicled on live t.v. for the entire world to see. Really, how much worse could it be??? Give me mean girls any day!

The story- Though it seems simple - Emery going on a radical weight loss plan on live t.v. to lose 50 pound in 50 days, it's much more complex. Emery has a vlog and it's through that that she speaks her mind really. And that's where most of her followers come from, the girls that identify with her on some level whether they are battling weight loss, body image issues, or some other personal trial. They rally behind Emery believing in her. Emery has to deal with the instant celebrity, popularity has never been in her sights and she has to deal with Angel's jealousy. Even Ben is not safe. And the money. And the worry, did she lose enough weight this week? 

What I thought- So I always wonder how female writers can write male voices so well, especially teenage ones because they are so closed off. I have two, I know. They don't tell you anything. But I also wonder how men write female voices so well. I think Ken Baker did a great job at sounding genuine as a girl with a weight problem in a family that doesn't have one, as a superficial, unsupportive sister and a few other assorted girls. And of course, in my limited knowledge of the male teenager, I felt Ben was just as genuine. The story was the selling point for me. Emery is so complete and satisfied with herself just the way she is and doesn't want to do the show. Until, late one night as she's eating a snack, she watches something on t.v. and then discovers a family secret and I don't know if it's one or both but it spurs her to have an interest in at least having an audience with the show producers. Once again, this book makes me detest reality shows as the show invades absolutely every private inch of Emery's life, cutting and splicing her relationships apart until she is floundering in isolation with her nutritionist and trainer. As I mentioned above, the ending is an Emery kind of ending and I thought it was perfect for the story. 

Though I wouldn't call this fluff, it's not so deep that you come away feeling gloomy. Again though, do heed the warning if you have triggers for eating disorders. It left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. Emery's sarcasm and the romance with Ben is enough to keep the book from feeling maudlin. But I wouldn't exactly give it a beach bag recommendation. It is a realistic look at the way big girls move around in the world and how they see themselves versus how they are made to see themselves versus how others see them. It's ultimately about being who you are and not letting someone else tell you who you are. It's a lesson we all want to learn earlier rather than later.

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

Ken Baker

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Blog Tour- Fury-Book One of The Cure Series by Charlotte Mc Conaghy Review and Giveaway


    Fury: Book 1 of The Cure by Charlotte McConaghy

    348 pages,

    Published March 25th, 2014 by Momentum Books, Pan Macmillan

    In the tradition of Divergent comes a novel about a world where negative emotions are stolen ... and only those with fury can stand up and fight. Eighteen-year-old Josephine Luquet wakes naked and covered in blood that is not hers on the same day every year—when the blood moon is full. Josi has not responded to the "Cure"—an immunization against anger mandated by the government—and believes herself to be a threat to others.
    Then she meets Luke. Luke has had the Cure but seems different to the other "drones"—and he's dead set on helping Josi discover the truth about herself before the next blood moon. But time is running out. Is Luke willing to risk his life to be near her? Does he truly understand what violence she is capable of? Raw and full of passion, Fury is a story of love in a dystopian world, and how much we are willing to forgive in the struggle to remember our humanity.

    Goodreads | Amazon


    Reading Slump you say? I hand you this book and jump up and down waiting for you to get sucked in. It won't take long. The lure of the synopsis alone should tempt you. If not, you will get hooked almost instantly. I didn't expect this book, but wow. Let's begin with the fact that's it about feelings. Good and bad, we have to have both to understand and appreciate each, that's the argument. Well apparently the government in Fury has decided to inoculate people against negative emotions. The book is about the results.

    Characters- Josephine/Josi- This is her story. Her parts of the story are heart breaking. Everyone has betrayed her from the time she was a child. She was in the foster system from a very young age but ran away as soon as she could and she's been running ever since. She is one of the few that hasn't been "cured" of her feelings. She doesn't know of anyone else that hasn't been "cured"  but there are rumors. Every year, the night of the Blood Moon, she looses herself to some unspeakable transformation and wakes up the next day, broken, bruised and covered in blood. And every year, the damage to her body is worse. The damage to her mind, immeasurable. 

    Luke- We get Luke's point of view as well as Josi's in the story. I love it because he's telling a totally different story than Josi's.  He is all about her. Finding a cure. Protecting her. Finding answers. Making her happy for as long as he can. He is amazing and suddenly makes everything clear. And he is keeping secrets of his own. Though he may not wake up bloody and bruised on the night after the Blood Moon, he has something just as big going on.

    Anthony- The story is also told from his point of view. It might seem odd, as he is Josi's psychiatrist/therapist, but it actually works really well. He is what Josi calls "a drone." One of the population that has been inoculated against feeling. A lot of the story is him and Josi talking through her therapy. It's very interesting listening to his thoughts as Josi talks to him. 

    The World- Okay, this part was a bit tricky. It is hard to understand why the world is exactly the way it is. At some point there was a plague that destroyed the world and cities were walled up and people were inoculated against feelings. It was supposed to stop crime. But it hasn't. It's just stopped people from caring about it. No real feeling comes through. People don't grieve. 
     Luke's mother remarking on the death of Luke's brother, her son:
        "I know it's true,...Your father hasn't laughed in years. Even before Dave. (the dead     brother/son) I feel plagued by the thought that I might not be missing my son enough. I can't.......feel anything enough."(Chapter 13)

    The highest form of government is called "The Bloods" but they aren't really explained. They seem to be all powerful, a bit like the FBI or CIA. They control everything. There are police, but they bow down to the power of the Bloods. There is also a very scary group of wild people called "The Furies" who most seem to think are an old wives tale, but they are like zombies. Eating human flesh and mindless in their chase for it, they are the only thing worse than the Bloods. 

    Not being "cured" makes a person unique in that they stand out as "abnormal", something is just off about them and a person's natural instinct is to avoid them. So Josi is left alone by everyone. She is very isolated and honestly, hopeless. The people in the world are completely mindless. They commit crimes and it doesn't even register with anyone. They can hurt each other and no one will come to the aid of the person being hurt. Josi cannot stand the way these people are, completely void of emotion, so calm it's eerie as if they are soulless. 

    The story- In a nutshell, it's the story about life in a world devoid of emotion. How people respond to pain, fear, shock, hurt, death, anger, anything negative is completely inappropriate or inadequate. It's about standing up for things you know are right despite the consequences. Luke's brother lived by a quote - " All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." He died by it too. It's the story of two men trying to save one girl from the terrible thing that happens to her on the night of the Blood Moon and about feelings.

    My thoughts: So this really blew me away! The story starts out with Josephine talking to her psychiatrist, trying to explain to him how important it is that he separate her from her roommate in the asylum she is in and that even that isn't enough as the night of the Blood Moon approaches. She fears for the safety of all the people in the asylum because she turns into something other than herself, something more powerful, stronger, faster, smarter, something more than human and something inhuman as well. And she will kill everyone in the asylum if Luke doesn't get her out. Where Luke is, we have no idea. Not right then and not for a while. But finding out about Josi and her disorder is fascinating. I could not put this book down. 

    As I read, especially when Josi wished she had schizophrenia, I couldn't help but make comparisons to our world and mental health and feelings. We all think it would be so easy to just follow along blindly, yet it goes against our nature not to question beliefs and authority, especially at Josi's age of 19. For her, a diagnosis would make her life so much easier and for us, giving it a name would make it clear, we can excuse the behavior if it has a name, especially a mental illness. I was worried, hoping the author would tread lightly in this mine field. She did. She did an excellent job!! 

    Josi has an eidetic memory, so she is able to quote things word for word. When her psychiatrist, Anthony tries to feed her the company line she says: "Actually, Doctor,....that journal was written by Harold Connolly who has a PhD in philosophy, not a medical doctorate. So it's all personal conjecture, with no scientific basis. What makes anger a disease if hapiness and lover not as well?" I smile at Anthony and add, "Doctor Harold Connolly was also a religious fanatic----something that causes far more irrational thought than an emotion could. So how about we both refrain from calling this piece of dribble the truth?" (Chapter 3) 

    And another extremely relatable quote:

     "Story of our civilization: all problems can be solved with a bucket load of pharmaceuticals." (Chapter 7) Now isn't that the truth! Don't try to fix anything just throw some pills at it. Didn't work? Throw some more pills at it. We are a pill popping nation!

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I could find everything in this novel relevant to our world today. It was just neatly wrapped up in a dystopian with a great story. And that wasn't all! There were some beautifully poetic moments written in: 

    This apartment was empty when I first moved in but we have filled it with words, thousands and thousands of words, so that now the walls heave with the effort of containing them all. (Chapter 9)

    Between a story you can completely immerse yourself in, characters that are distinct, memorable and likable and the relevancy of the story to today's world, I found this novel incredibly fascinating and I was unable to put it down. I saved two days to read it, but I couldn't turn it off to do anything else but read it until the end. This is a series, so this is the first book, but it leaves off at a good point. There is no way I will miss the next book in this series. I am already anticipating an incredible follow up! This is an amazing writer. Maybe it's something about authors from Australia, but this is another Aussie that has knocked it out of the park!

    I received a free copy of this novel from the tour organizer for review. I was not compensated for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

    About the Author:

    Charlotte started writing her children’s fantasy series ‘The Strangers of Paragor’ as a teenager and has since gone on to publish five novels. After a Masters degree in Screenwriting she wrote ‘Avery’, the first in her adult fantasy series ‘The Chronicles of Kaya’, published by Random House. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, and has just released a new dystopian sci-fi novel called ‘Fury – Book One of The Cure’, published by Momentum.

    Connect with the author:


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    Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Blog Tour- The Dragon's Egg by H.B. Bolton Interview, Review and Giveaway

    Okay, I'd first like to ask you to hang in there with me for my post. I realize it's long, but there are just a lot of things to know about this series and I'm doing an interview and review. There is a giveaway at the end and right below this is a link to the rest of the tour that you will definitely want to follow. I can't say enough good things about this series. My excitement for it grows with each book. It is definitely a recommended read!

      The Dragon's EggThe Dragon’s Egg (Relics of Mysticus- Book Three) by H.B. Bolton

      Sure, the glass castle floating over Evan’s head makes him uneasy, but that’s the least of his worries. With each step inside the Dungeon of Dreadful Dreams, he must battle against his worst nightmares. One after the other, wispy smoke-filled bull sharks come at him — he must remember they’re only illusions pulled from his imagination by those dreaded shadowlike hands. If only the vengeful dragon circling above was also an illusion and didn’t have his mind set on destroying the one person who can control him: Emrys.

      Inside the castle’s glass tower, Emrys sleeps in an eternal slumber, and Evan’s uncertain whether he can save the great wizard. Especially now that Emrys’ former student, the Lady of the Lake, has joined forces with the cunning immortal Alamaz. Together they have already stolen the Dragon’s Egg, but their greed doesn’t end there. The Siren’s Pearl calls to them, and that means only one thing … Atlantis is in trouble.

      Join Evan, Claire, and Dunkle — along with a few other unlikely heroes — as they travel across the realm of Medieval Legends, float through the Ancient Isle of Avalon, plunge inside the Dungeon of Dreadful Dreams, and be there when Atlantis rises once again.

                                                Book Trailer | Amazon | Goodreads

      The Serpents Ring

        The Serpent's Ring (Relics of Mysticus- Book One)

      Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum … that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.

      Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous fish and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.

      tricksters-totem-cover-low-res-200x300The Trickster's Totem (Relics of Mysticus - Book Two)
      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.


      1    1)  You've written quite a few different mythologies in your series so far; which one would you like to be a part of, including the current book that's touring, The Dragon's Egg (Book Three)?

      Good question. I’ll have to say that I’d like to travel to Atlantis with Evan, Claire, and Dunkle: explore the mysterious island, swim in the sparkling sea, collect exotic shells from the beach, communicate telepathically with Atlanteans, and relax in a crystal chamber ... oh, and go on an incredible adventure.

      2    2)Take a character from any of your novels and put him in one of your other novels. Given the different mythologies, how does he fare? Who do you think would adapt the best/the worst?

      Let’s take a character from the oceans of Asgard in The Serpent’s Ring (Book One) and place her in an American desert in The Trickster’s Totem (Book Two). According to Norse mythology, Himinglaeva’s father was the sea god Aegir. Each of his nine daughters symbolized a different part of the wave.
       Himinglaeva represented the transparency of water through which one could see the heavens. Although this character played a small role, her personality stuck with me: a mixture of Luna Lovegood from the HarryPotter series and Lucy Pevensie from the Golden Age of Narnia.  

      The question is, how would a goddess derived from the sea cope with the dry, expansive desert? In truth, I have no idea, but it would be interesting to watch Evan and Claire discover a way to help her. In fact, maybe I’ll bring her — as well as her mermaid friend Lazonia — to the deserts of Egypt in The Mummy’s Amulet (Book Four) so we can all find out J

      3    3) Which world do you think Claire and Evan would choose to live in if they could never go home? Would they choose separate worlds?
      They would choose different realms, which is a problem since they’d prefer to stay together. Evan misses Asgard and his time spent there. To make matters more difficult, he hasn’t been able to shake Lazonia from his mind. Claire would live in the Native American Spirit World if she were able to. In the end, I believe they would choose *mild spoiler alert* to be raised by their “grandmother” in Atlantis.
      4    4) What would Claire and Evan have to say to you about the way their adventures began in the first book, The Serpent’s Ring (Book One)?

      They would express surprise at discovering they have mystical abilities but then would proceed to show them off.

      5    5)  How much of the mythology you use is real, and how much is creative license?
      I spend a ton of time gathering information for each mythological realm used in my books — ranging from gods/goddesses, monsters, and magical creatures — to learning more about each time period: architecture, appropriate clothing, native food, and furniture. I enjoy bringing mythological characters to life with as much
       historical accuracy as possible but then offer a little twist. For example, I had learned that flibbertigibbets — from medieval legends — were known as tempters in the form of winged serpents who enjoyed whispering into one’s ear. I imagined that perhaps one would appear as an adorable, kittenlike creature who could lure Evan away from his friends,   only before changing into a hideous, evil creature … but I don’t wish to give too much away. To answer your question, most of what I write is based on research but with a tremendous amount of spin, or creative license.      


            6) What is your favorite book from your childhood?
      As a child, I would dive into fantasy stories such as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, and so many others. As an adult, I still feel the thrill and enchantment of such stories.



      The Dragon's Egg jumps right in to the action as soon as you open the book. Evan, Claire and Dunkle, the imp, are still in Sagaas looking for Alamaz and the missing relics. Everything starts coming together for me in this novel. The main characters, Evan and Claire are learning how to use their powers and spirit totems they gained in previous books. The worlds they encounter fascinated me, Camelot, Avalon, the Otherworld, meeting the Orchestra of the Dead so many worlds and magical beings and creatures. I love traveling through these places, some I've heard of, some I haven't, with Claire, Evan and company and experiencing everything they do. I also appreciate the author's imagination. The way she weaved the story in and out of different folk stories and myths, the fae, The Day of the Dead, and even a back story for how Evan and Claire are even able to enter Sagaas, the world between the Earth and The Land of the Gods. Things take an evil turn at the end of the novel when Evan and Claire find out who Alamaz really is and Ethan is captured. I can only imagine what will happen in the next book THE MUMMY'S AMULET.

      I highly recommend this series for lovers of fantasy, middle grade readers and above. Their are budding romances, lots of references to various mythologies, Celtic, Atlantis, Native American, Greek, just to name a few. It's a well written series with various creatures from fae to unicorns to imps. Impressive powers are bestowed upon Claire and Evan, sister and brother and a strong bond is shown between them. Family is important as well as friendships, despite what those friends are, magical beings or animals. It's a really enjoyable series.

      I received a copy of this novel from the tour coordinator in exchange for my review. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.


       About the Author:
      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.

      Connect with H.B. Bolton here:

      $25 gift card (Int), paperback set of all 3 books (US), ebook set of all books (INT)

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