Monday, March 23, 2015

Ask Me by Kimberly Pauley

Available Now
YA Magical Realism
Publisher- Soho Teen
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ MP3 CD/ B&N/ BookDepository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads: Ask Aria Morse anything, and she must answer with the truth. Yet she rarely understands the cryptic words she‘s compelled to utter. Blessed—or cursed—with the power of an Oracle who cannot decipher her own predictions, she does her best to avoid anyone and everyone. 
But Aria can no longer hide when Jade, one of the few girls at school who ever showed her any kindness, disappears. Any time Aria overhears a question about Jade, she inadvertently reveals something new, a clue or hint as to why Jade vanished. But like stray pieces from different puzzles, her words never present a clear picture.
Then there’s Alex, damaged and dangerous, but the first person other than Jade to stand up for her. And Will, who offers a bond that seems impossible for a girl who’s always been alone. Both were involved with Jade. Aria may be the only one who can find out what happened, but the closer she gets to solving the crime, the more she becomes a target. Not everyone wants the truth to come out.

****Minor spoilers******
I was disappointed with the mystery in this one, I'll just let you know right up front. I knew right away who it was that was the psychopath doing the killing. However, my husband made me doubt myself because with the initial killing, we get the killer's point of view and my husband pointed out that it didn't give a gender. So I did question myself, a little. But it's always the charming smarmy one. What would have surprised me is if it had been the guy everyone was warning her about. But that was not the only thing that was disappointing in the book. One girl had a chance to save herself from being killed. It was clear that she was going to have to be killed to keep her quiet so why, why, why didn't she tell her best friend or someone else what had happened? I can understand being confused and upset, but if I had been in her place, even at her age, the police would have been my first phone call when I got home.

So, I didn't buy into the stupid girl premise. We aren't that dumb. Then, Aria had to be dumb too because she had to fall for the psychopath and even when he was asking her questions like, "Who is going to die next?" she didn't catch a clue. Really? Why would someone ask that question? And why not go right to the girl's home and tell her? Call the police? Tell her grandparents?  I know Aria had never had friends because of  her weird "oracle" abilities, but she gets a couple of friends and stops thinking. And the obvious questions were avoided. I don't think you can have an oracle and avoid the most important questions. Who did it? Can  X be trusted? (fill in X with several names) Is X in danger (definitely putting Aria's name in that spot). 

And then, throughout the book, it is emphasized that almost every oracle in the bloodline has lost her ability by the age of 17. But Aria has gone past her 17th birthday and hasn't lost her ability. She also has a book with a lot of information about her bloodline all the way back to the original oracles. But nothing  comes of that. And nothing comes of her not having lost her abilities. Is there another book in the works? Will we get some more information on what important information is in the book? What the importance of Aria keeping her abilities means? Will she retain them and become a consultant for the police?

I also had a little trouble with the reason she was with her grandparents. Now, her grandparents were golden! They were the best thing about the book! I loved that her grandfather would ask her about who would win the races and he would interpret her cryptic answers so he could win a little extra money for them as they were very tight on money. They loved Aria and I loved how when boys started coming over Grandpa got his shotgun out and started cleaning it! Very great pair!! But I didn't understand why her parents blamed her for their split. Why they didn't send money for her expenses. I just think the whole story with the parents needed some more back story.

So, while I read it and liked the author's writing, I didn't think it was a great mystery. Too obvious who did it right from the start. The girls were all portrayed as too stupid to figure out who the bad guy was because he was cute and (oh my fluttering heart) he paid attention to them. The oracle story needed depth and closure.
And the parents not paying support and blaming Aria for the breakup of their marriage, didn't work for me either. Aria's instant popularity was hard to buy as well.

I think the reviews have run the gamut on this one so enter at your own risk. If you've read my review, you'll probably be disappointed with the book've been forewarned and your expectations will be lowered. I wouldn't say this is the worst book I've ever read, not even close. I wouldn't recommend it, but I didn't hate it. It's just one of those "meh" books to me and because I wanted to review it, I was honest about what I didn't like about it. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it! To each her/his own!

Monday, March 16, 2015

After the End by Amy Plum

After the End by Amy Plum
Available Now
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Goodreads- She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.
World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.
At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.
When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.
Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.
Okay, I'd like to say right off the bat that I thought the beginning chapter of this story was phenomenal!! I bought into the whole WWIII premise even though I knew going in that it hadn't really happened. But then the next page, or Chapter 2, is a spoiled 18 yr old getting expelled from his rich kid high school while his father tries to buy his son's way out of trouble. Ripped me right out of the story. I really was disappointed to be taken out of the wilderness so quickly. Eventually, it worked for me but I would have loved if the story had been written in Juneau's point of view for a longer period of time and then had the story from Miles' point of view. Just a little bit longer. But in any case, this story really was good. I haven't read Amy Plum's other series but I found this novel easy to read and really fascinating. I put myself in Juneau's shoes and tried to imagine what our world looked like through her eyes. Couldn't do it. I am not able to unknow what I do. But she is very wise for not having computers and smart phones and GPS. And her survival skills are top notch. As well as her abilities to be able to read people both literally and figuratively. Of the two characters, I preferred Juneau over Miles for most of the book. She was honest, spare with her words, her mind was clear, uncluttered with unnecessary thoughts or words. Silence with her was natural and not uncomfortable. I liked her being one with the Yara. She loved and communicated with her dogs. She took care of the earth. She made friends with homeless people. What's not to love about Juneau? She started out like a wise toddler and grew in a couple of days to the genius of our species or some species.
Miles on the other hand was a total screw up through most of the trip. He was a spoiled rich kid who didn't want to work in the mail room for four months so he tried to take the easy way out by finding Juneau for his dad and bringing her back to his dad. HA! HA! Joke was on him, though. He spent most of the trip believing he was with a woman with schizophrenia who was delusional at best and dangerous at worst. Then there was the raven Poe that she insisted ride in the back of his BMW, nesting in his clothes. I love the nuggets of information Juneau throws at him. When he complains that the bird will poop all over his back seat, Juneau says he won't do that because then he'd have to sit in his excrement and birds are smarter than that. Score one of many, many points for Juneau.
The story that Juneau and her clan had been isolated because they believed in WWIII and that they were survivors of the war is really plausible considering where they live. But as Juneau's beliefs fall apart, so does her belief in the Yara, everything she's  been taught by her mentor, even by her father. Her faith in herself is shaken so that she's not even sure what is true about herself anymore and her gifts are lost. She meets some interesting people in her journey to find her clan, even some of her enemies become interesting to her, providing some knowledge that she needs. It's a cliffhanger of an ending but seems to be heading in a good way. The book is very fast paced and my hope is that they eventually end up back in the wilderness of Alaska on Juneau's territory being chased by the bad guys. I want her to make painful traps and smear them with bear scent so that they are begging for death! But they aren't headed there now.
I highly recommend this one for book lovers of dystopians/realistic fiction with a little supernatural thrown in. There is nothing in this but a little kissing so that I think any age can read this one. I couldn't stop reading it once I got started. I am really excited about the next book in the series. And really happy I took a chance on this series. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Perfect Ruin- The Internment Chronicles One by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin- The Internment Chronicles One by Lauren DeStefano
Available Now
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YA/Fiction/ Dystopian

Goodreads: On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream, unless you approach the edge. Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close can lead to madness, like her older brother Lex, a Jumper. She takes solace in her best friend Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry. When she investigates the first murder in a generation, she meets Judas. The suspect was betrothed to the victim, but Morgan believes he is innocent. Nothing can prepare Morgan for the secrets she will find – or whom she will lose.

So, I have discovered the joy of reading for pleasure! You know, when you first started out blogging and you didn't know about ARCs and you didn't have a schedule for posting reviews. Do you remember that time? I have just rediscovered that time. I am loving it! And really working on my TBR list! I'm excited about reading again! So this one has been sitting on my Kindle since November of 2013!
I haven't read anything by Lauren DeStefano but I knew the reputation of the Chemical Garden Trilogy  so I thought I'd try this expecting, I don't know, hoping for something very different in the dystopian genre. I was really surprised by this one. First that Internment was described as it was, an island floating in the clouds, made as if a giant hand had scooped up a piece of land from below and placed it there. So I could really picture what Internment looked like. And the size of it. It is contained in the air so there is no slipping out unless you jump, but there are ferocious winds that surround the border of Internment so that something happens to anyone that tries to jump. That seems man made, but who knows? And Internment sounds like a place of punishment, doesn't it? Kind of like how Australia started out as a penal colony. But we don't get a lot of history about the early days of  Internment, only that there have always been royalty and there used to be a kind of hierarchy of people being used as slaves. So you couldn't always be anything you wanted to be just by dreaming. And why do people want to get off of Internment? Why aren't they content? They don't have to worry about food, money, a job. They do have a space problem on Internment. You have to sign up to have a child and there are no accidental babies. You have to get the ok from the King.

So, throughout the book, I'm thinking why jump? I know why Lex jumped. I know why Alice is upset. I get the idea of why the murder happened. There is rebellion going around and it needs to be stopped. But I'm thinking about our world compared to Internment and trying to figure out why rebel? What is so bad about it? Certainly there are rules, but we have them as well, they are called laws and they maintain order, somewhat. There is relative safety on Internment. Even the Jumpers aren't punished. There don't appear to be slums or  homeless people. So is it curiosity that makes them jump? The desire for more than what there is on Internment? There is freedom already on Internment. But there is a lack of space. So a need for more must be the motivation. More space, more information, more freedom, more choices, more chances.
I'm not sure what they are going to find when they get to the ground, but I know what's to be found in our world. I hope they aren't disappointed. As I write this, the second book is due out tomorrow. I'll know what happens in a bit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

The Distance Between Lost and Found
By Kathryn Holmes
Available Now
Harper Teen (Epic
Hardback 292 pages
Realistic Fiction YA

To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ B&N/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads:  Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?


First, I would kill my parents for naming my Hallelujah. Can you imagine the teasing she got? But there is a very cool reason for naming her that so she wears the name proudly. And she should. Hallie, as her friends call her, is probably one of the most resourceful, quirky, self critical, reflective characters I have ever fallen for in YA. I call Hallie quirky because of her religion. I am not one that reads books with any kind of religion in them, in fact, I run the other way. Probably due to my own questions about religion. But Kathryn Holmes introduces a very religious group without being preachy in the least. The camping trip Hallie and the others are on is a church youth group retreat. And who is the bad boy? The preacher's kid. I so wished a bear had gotten him but no such luck. Anyway, when Hallie and Rachel and Jonah are separated from the rest of the group there are a lot of questions that come up about God. Did God plan their harrowing experience as a test? Does God just sit back and watch them suffer? How can God let bad things happen to good people? You might have asked these things yourself. I know I have. I liked the way the teens approached them and especially how Hallie answered them. Again, it DID NOT come across as "You have to believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior!!!!"  It was refreshing to see these questions asked by the teens in some very difficult situations and even coming from a religious upbringing have them not have all the answers.

Okay, why else did I like Hallie. At first she is very self critical because of  the situation she let herself get caught in and then didn't correct the mistake. It was a mistake, but everyone believed the preacher's son over her. Because why? She'd never done anything like that before. Why was everyone so quick to believe something so bad of her? Even her parents? Hallie has everything bottled up inside of her and she judges everything she does. She puts herself down in her own mind before anyone new can. She even pushes the new girl, Rachel, away before she can get hurt by Hallie's reputation. But, later, the self criticism turns reflective after she talks to Jonah and she realizes her mistake. And with that one talk, the criticism becomes a powerful tool in motivating her. It's gentler, not harsh, nudging, not judging, urging her forward.

You will have to read about her resourcefulness for yourself but the way she uses the forest, the things she finds in their backpacks, her inner strength, it all makes for an incredible story of survival. I promise this is not a religious story though it is thoughtful and mindful of God's plan. It just raises questions, looks for answers. It's a story of forgiving yourself and others. Starting over and finding the strength to go on when all you want to do is quit. I think there is something in it for all of us.

It's a YA story. Realistic fiction about survival in the wilderness. There is some drinking, mean girl situations and some suggestive talk. Very PG-13. I highly recommend this novel. It's going on my favorites shelf!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Blog Tour- Chronicles from Chateau Moines by Evelyne Holingue

Chroniclesfrom (1)
Welcome to my tour stop for Chronicles from Chateau Moines by Evelyne Holingue. This is a middle grade historical fiction. The tour runs March 2-13 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule. 

About the Book:

September 1970: Scott’s mother has recently died and his father gets the crazy idea to move his family from California to Normandy. Now Scott has to learn to live without his mom while adjusting to France. In his seventh grade class there is only Ibrahim who comes from another country. Scott doesn’t even want to play his guitar anymore. Why does his father think that life will be better so far from home?

Scott has no idea that his arrival is also a challenge to Sylvie. While her best friend is excited to have an American boy at school, Sylvie cannot say one word to Scott. She can’t even write good songs in her notebook anymore. Why is life so different since Scott moved to Château Moines?

Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protest era and told from the perspectives of twelve-year old Scott and Sylvie, this is a story about loss and friendship, music and peace, and also about secrets.

Although this is a work of fiction, the cultural, social, and historical background of the early 1970s in France and the United States inspired the writing. At the end of the book the reader will find a list of the songs, the names of singers, and bands mentioned through the novel as well as some elements about fashion, immigration in France, the Vietnam War, and other cultural, social, and historical facts relevant to the period of time.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


This novel is steeped in cultural references to the early 70's with it's Levi's and "hang ten" shirts, and the music of Janis Joplin, Joan Baez and the Beatles, (okay late 60's to early 70's) and of course, the Vietnam War. If you are a fan of this era and especially this music as the story has music central to it's theme, then you will really enjoy this novel. I'm not a fan of the era. Maybe because I grew up during that time period, but I was hardly aware of the Vietnam war or music even. I was too young. I don't know why, but the 70's are not my favorite time in music, history, culture etc.

But, despite the novel being set during this time period, the universal themes of loss, feeling alone in a crowd, prejudice and belonging are something I could relate to, no matter what. The story is told in alternating chapters between Sylvie, a French 12 yr old aspiring singer/songwriter native to Chateau Moines and Scott, a 12 yr old transplanted Californian who plays the guitar. Music is their universal language despite the fact that Sylvie has never told anyone, even her best friend Annie that she writes songs. It's natural that Scott and Sylvie become friends as they have music in common but because Annie has no idea of Sylvie's interest in music, Scott comes between them.

Scott is also fighting the loss of his French mother to cancer just months ago. It was her desire that they move to France after her death, but he just can't get the hang of things. While he appears to be some kind of exotic delicacy to the French girls there, he just feels like a fish out of water. He's thousands of miles from his beloved beach in Santa Monica and a million from his mother. He doesn't know if the locals are making fun of him. He can't seem to catch on to the customs and the hundreds of ways they greet each other and he doesn't understand what's going on with his dad and the librarian. So, he decides to organize a peace rally. And he asks his class to join. It isn't unanimous, in the class nor in the town. But it does bring about some interesting changes in everyone including Scott, Sylvie and Annie.

The book isn't fast paced so take your time reading it. I read it over the course of a week. It gave me a lot of time to reflect on the characters and their motivations. It's been a very long time since I was 12, but I do remember when I was young everything was so, so important. And immediate. I reacted to everything so I think the author really got the characters right. However, I did not have teachers like Monsieur Leroy. Nor did I have a town that I could wander the streets freely. Chateau Moines sounds like a really idyllic place to grow up, even if it is fictional and has it's fair share of problems. The castle it is named after, well who wouldn't love a castle to explore and then the ancient forests right outside the city to get lost in or have a picnic in. And the descriptions of the bakeries and the Rue Principale with it's shops and the market. Makes me want to live in any city in France! And eat!

I recommend this novel to middle grade readers and up. It is realistic fiction and for those who have an interest in the 70's, the Vietnam War, a 12 yr old trying to assimilate himself in France and a family living with loss. And 12 yr olds on the brink of discovering the real world. Enjoy!

About the Author:

evelyne0115I was born and raised in Normandy, France, where I spent most of my childhood reading. 
My first published piece of writing was a poem about a man spending Christmas behind bars. I was eleven years old and wasn’t paid for my work, but I was hooked.
I studied French Literature at the Université de Caen and at the Sorbonne in Paris and worked in a publishing house before moving to California, following my husband.
It was a challenging time in my life as I was leaving my own career, my family, my friends and my beloved Paris behind.  But how could I say no to the dreams of the man I love?
Readers enjoy escaping the familiar for the unknown.  Being a foreigner is discovering the unknown day after day, not only for the time of a book. However, since most things in life come with a silver lining, I credit this move for giving me the opportunity to write. Through my words, I share my affection for my native and adoptive countries that I love equally. 

Two (2) kindle copies of Chronicles from Chateau Moines (INT)
Ends March 18th

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This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Monday, March 2, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find Chris Rylander here: Twitter

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