Friday, April 24, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: May 5, 2015
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Review:
This book is my new favorite thing! I went in to this not realizing it was a Beauty and the Beast re-telling with faeries. I’m not usually one for re-tellings and I’m not crazy about faeries but leave it to Sarah J. Maas to take two things I’m not really keen on and make me absolutely love them!

After nineteen year old (I would class this book as New Adult) Feyre kills a wolf in the woods that happens to be a faerie in disguise she is forced to live on Tamlin’s estate. Initially, Feyre is suspicious of Tamlin and his court but as time passes she begins to learn more about their world and is drawn in to their mystery and curse. A curse that could kill not only the faerie’s country but Feyre’s human lands to the South.

My favorite thing about this novel was the characters. Feyre is smart, strong and had a Katniss Everdeen, hunter air, about her. Tamlin took me a little longer to like but once I finally came around to him it was totally worth it. He is the perfect mix of swoony and stoic. Lucien is Tamlin’s right hand man and he never failed to make me laugh and smile. It was Rhysand who truly surprised me. He doesn’t appear until later in the novel, and I wanted to hate him, but I loved how shady he was. I can’t wait to see more of him in future books.

I would have loved this book if it was only about the characters but A Court of Thorns and Roses had the added bonus of a wonderful mystery and a quick paced plot. When Feyre arrives at Tamlin’s estate she isn’t told anything about them and is left to uncover the clues of the curse in order to break.

Overall, I adored A Court of Thorns and Roses. The characters were well rounded and multi-faceted and the plot was quick and always interesting. I definitely need the sequel right now! If you haven’t already, make sure you snag yourself a copy of this novel.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater's Daughter
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
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Review:
Twylla’s mother is the Sin Eater and Twylla trained her entire childhood to take over for her mother. But a chance encounter with the Queen revealed Twylla to be Daunen embodied a Goddess who can consume poison and not be killed. A Goddess who can kill anyone with just a touch.

The world building was my favorite aspect of The Sin Eater’s Daughter. The world is well thought out and has a Game of Thrones, medieval-esque vibe. I really enjoyed the history of the realm. I wish that this part of the story had been expanded. Alas, the main focus of the story was on Twylla and the cringe-worthy romance that surrounded her.

Initially I was fine with Twylla. I thought she needed more of a backbone but being taken to the palace at a young age, and struggling with the fact that her skin could kill someone, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. This might have been okay but as the story progressed Twylla never got any better. She looked to everyone else to defend her and she became almost unbearable to read about.

My other issue with The Sin Easter’s Daughter was the romance. Twylla is given a new, extra cute, palace guard and the two of them fall in insta-love. But Twylla is also engaged to Prince Merek and she might just have feelings for him as well *Cue eye roll*.

Overall, The Sin Eater’s Daughter started out so strong but Twylla’s lack of backbone, the insta-love love triangle, and the fact that the character’s weren’t fleshed out really took away from the story. I’m seriously on the fence about whether I will read the sequel or not.

*Note: This novel totally ends the same way as season 2 of Veronica Mars. Just saying.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Paradise City by CJ Duggan Blog Tour + Giveaway


Paradise City
Author: CJ Duggan
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Synopsis: 
There's bound to be trouble in Paradise . . .
When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they'd send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she's sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she's thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie's not so sure.

Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie's never experienced, but all that's about to change. It's new, terrifying . . . and exciting. But when she meets Luke Ballantine, exciting doesn't even come close to describing her new life. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one. The resident bad-boy leader of the group, he's sexier than any boy Lexie has ever known.

Amidst the stolen moments of knowing looks and heated touches, Lexie can't help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?
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Interview
How did writing Paradise City differ from writing the Boys of Summer series?
The Boys of Summer had been in my head for many years and I wrote it with no expectation in mind with how it would be received, it was just a story I wanted to tell. Paradise City is the next level for me, it's exciting, new territory with brand new charters and setting. It's grittier and edgier than the Summer series, and I had such a blast creating it. It's also one of the first Australian New Adult Romances to be affiliated with a traditional publisher (Hachette, Australia) - something I am very proud of.
If Paradise City had a theme song what would it be?
Definitely Cool Kids by Echosmith (on repeat) Among many others.


Your novels are set in Australia and I love your use of Australia slang! For your US fans what is one Australian slang word we should know before reading Paradise City?
I'm married to an ex-shearer so I am quite accustomed to Australian slang. It's when I receive messages from people overseas that tell me they had to Google what a Car Bonnet was (Car Hood) or a Car Park (Parking Lot) The one I am always rather cautious about and pause when I got to write it, is how 'thongs' have a very different meaning in America, and it's definitely something that you don't wear on your feet. I learnt this out the hard way when I went to Disneyland and walked into a charming tourist shop and asked for some thongs before I quickly corrected myself after the rather strange look from the shop lady. Flip flops! I mean Flip Flops!

I do love bridging the gap in the cultural divide, I love that reading is educational, even on the smallest of scales. 
What was the last book you read and loved?
The Duff by Kody Keplinger - Love it!
Can you share anything about your next project with us?
Working on the follow up book to Paradise City with Paradise Road available September 2015. I can't say too much, but what I will say is that it was a lot of fun to write and it kept me guessing the entire time.

About The Author
C.J. DUGGAN is an internationally bestselling author who lives with her husband in Mathoura, a rural border town of New South Wales. Her self-published Summer series has sold over 180,000 copies worldwide, and PARADISE CITY is her eighth book, and the first in a new series of New Adult romance.

When she isn't writing books about swoony boys and 90s pop culture you will find her renovating her hundred-year-old Victorian homestead or annoying her local travel agent for a quote to escape the chaos.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein Blog Tour + Giveaway


Becoming Jinn
Author: Lori Goldstein
Publisher: Feiwel + Friends
Publication Date: April 21, 2015

Synopsis:
Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!
Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
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Becoming Jinn Playlist
When I’m writing, listening to music with words distracts me from the words I’m trying to extract from my brain and get down on the page. And yet pure silence causes my mind to wander. My sweet spot is listening to instrumental music, sometimes classical, sometimes something like Bonobo, but most often, it’s one thing played on repeat: the Downton Abbey soundtrack.

I listened to those songs nonstop while writing Becoming Jinn and they’ve become the soundtrack to my writing life (minus the few songs with vocals!). The two albums together last for almost two hours, and when the first few notes sound, I’m instantly in writing mode. The familiarity and repetition allow me to push out all other distractions and focus solely on my writing. 

While I don’t have a playlist that I’ve listened to while writing or revising Becoming Jinn, the playlist here is a musical journey through the novel. Each song in this list represents a pivotal scene in the book in chronological order. I’ve kept it spoiler-free, so you’ll have to see once you read the novel if you can you figure out which scenes the songs toward the end go with. And here’s a link to a Spotify playlist with them all: https://play.spotify.com/user/lorigoldsteinbooks/playlist/46n9E5IBJuF0SSHLzXbjOm 

1. Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks – When Azra wakes up to find her life changed and she’s now tied to the Afrit, she doesn’t give herself over to this life easily: “I'm not ready to make nice; I'm not ready to back down; I'm still mad as hell, and I don't have time; To go 'round and 'round and 'round.” 

2. You Make Me Feel by Cobra Starship – I cannot hear this song without picturing a room full of people dancing and having a blast at a party. While that’s not exactly the party scene in Becoming Jinn, this still fits for me: “You make me feel so; La la la la la….” 

3. My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson – The friendships Azra begins to develop with Henry in a couple of important scenes couldn’t be summed up better: “You got a piece of me; And honestly; My life (my life) would suck (would suck) without you.” 

4. Pompeii by Bastille – Toward the middle of the book Azra grants a wish, but it doesn’t turn out the way she hopes. It’s her first real glimpse into the responsibilities associated with being Jinn: “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” 

5. Feel Again by One Republic – A brief moment of calm precedes the storm that Azra faces at the end of the book that leads into book 2. The happiness in this song is what Azra feels before tragedy strikes: “I'm feeling better ever since you know me; I was a lonely soul but that's the old me; A little wiser now from what you've shown me; Yeah, I feel again; Feel again...” 

6. Smile by Mikky Echo – There’s a scene toward the end of the book in which Azra is hit with the weight of something that happened in her past and it hits her hard. But as this song says “the worst is yet to come.” 

7. Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons – And then the worst comes. The lyrics here are perfect for what Azra must face: “Oh, you tell me to hold on; But innocence is gone; And what was right is wrong.” 

8. I Won’t Back Down, version by Johnny Cash – Azra at the end of Becoming Jinn, ready for what’s to come in book 2: “There ain’t no easy way out; I’ll stand my ground; and I won’t back down.” 


About the Author

My debut novel, the Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy Becoming Jinn, is a modern spin on the traditional tale of wish-granting genies. It will be released on April 21, 2015, by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s. The sequel will follow in Spring 2016. I am represented by Lucy Carson of The Friedrich Agency.

Too much of my day involves chatting books, obsessing over The Vampire Diaries, and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter. Find me at @loriagoldstein and follow my blog at www.lorigoldsteinbooks.comor my Tumblr at http://lorigoldsteinbooks.tumblr.com. Like my author page on Facebook for fun book-related photos, tidbits, and happenings as well as news on Becoming Jinn.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

The Ruby Circle
Author: Richelle Mead
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
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Review:
I can’t believe this series is over. Vampire Academy has been in my reading life for a long time and I was ecstatic when I learned about the Bloodlines series. After a rocky start in the first book I fell in love with The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell, but something started changing in The Firey Heart, and by Silver Shadows I was losing interest. I went in to The Ruby Circle with high expectations. I wanted the series to woo me once again. Instead I was left feeling a whole lot of meh.

The plot of The Ruby Circle picks up where Silver Shadows left off. Adrian and Sydney are staying at the Moroi court and trying to avoid the Alchemists. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though and soon Adrian and Sydney must leave to rescue Jill. This wasn’t a bad plot it was just meh. It lacked the immediacy of Richelle’s other books and it felt rather basic.

A mediocre plot would have been okay had the characters been given a chance to shine. Unfortunately, the characters only followed the plot and there wasn’t much growth from any of them. Adrian and Sydney had completed their character arcs and there was nothing more for them to do. Still, Adrian did find time to shine and once again he was my favorite character in this book. That guy’s just awesome.

Sadly, the mediocre plot led to a so-so ending. It was a nice closure for Adrian and Sydney but I feel like Richelle left the world open for yet another spin off.

Overall, I loved the first few books in the Bloodlines series but as the books progressed I felt myself being drawn further and further away from the series. The Ruby Circle instead of going out with a bang went out with a whimper. If there is another Vampire Academy spin-off series I will have to think long and hard about reading it. I want something more then meh.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

10 Book Quotes that I Love

I love motivational quotes...or just quotes in general so this was a super fun top ten Tuesday for me. I can't wait to see the quotes everyone else has chosen, so make sure to leave your links in the comments!

1 "A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent" -William Blake, Auguries of Innocence


2 "Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so." -Belva Davis

3 "She refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring." -Zelda Fitzgerald, The Collected Writings

4 "Isn't that...Isn't that what friends do? They change our perspective on the world. Part of why we care about them is because we love that feeling. The feeling of being changed." -Marie Rutkoskil, The Shadow Society

5 "I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me." -S.E. Hilton, The Outsiders

6 “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ― Oscar Wilde

7 "People shout when they don't have the vocabulary to whisper." - Maggie Steifvater, The Raven Boys
8 "I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time." -Banksy

9 "I said, I prefer the ocean when it's gray. Or not really gray. A pale, in-between color. It reminds me of waiting for something good to happen." -Lauren Oliver, Delirium

10 Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ― Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Monday, April 13, 2015

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

One Thing Stolen
Author: Beth Kephart
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
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Review:
One Thing Stolen is about Nadia Cara a teen who moves with her family to Florence, Italy and begins to change. Nadia is able to understand everything that is going on around her but she can’t communicate with the rest of her family. Nadia also feels the need to steal things and use them to create intricate bird’s nests.

This novel is written from Nadia’s perspective and because of her weird mental state her thoughts are hard to follow. There are no dialogue tags at all. As a result most of the novel doesn’t make sense. It is jumpy, disjointed, and I had a hard time distinguishing between what was really happening and what Nadia thought was happening.

About 75% of the way through the book the perspective shifts from Nadia to her best friend who finally tells us exactly what is going on. Although, after being in the dark for so long I found the grand reveal to be lackluster.

Overall, this book wasn’t my cup of tea. It was well written and I thought the end result was interesting but the journey to the end was tedious and cumbersome.

Friday, April 10, 2015

YA Summer Reads Blog Hop + Giveaway


Interview
Summer is almost here, and that means beautiful beach days, backyard barbeques, and digging deep into that TBR pile. To help you set the mood, young adult authors Janet Gurtler, Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, and Juliana Stone share their favorite summer songs. Perfect for partying or for playing poolside while your read your favorite book.
Janet Gurtler (The Truth About Us):
1. Katy Perry- Fireworks- This song just reminds me of the summer and taking my son to swim meets when he was younger, both of us singing at the top of our lungs!

2. LMFAO- Party Rock Anthem- Another ‘sing at the top of my lungs songs’ that I will never get tired of. It makes me feel free and loose and happy, just like summer!

3. Spice Girls- WANNABE- Because how can you not feel happy when singing…’I really really really wanna ziggy zig zag!’


The Truth About Us
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: April 7, 2015 

Synopsis:
Flynn’s from the wrong side of the tracks, but he may be just right for Jess…
The truth is that Jess knows she’s screwed up. She’s made mistakes, even betrayed her best friend, and now she’s paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.
The truth is that she wishes she was the carefree party girl everyone thinks she is. She pretends it’s all fine. That her “perfect” family is fine. But it’s not. And no one notices the lie…until she meets Flynn. He’s the only one who really sees her. The only one who really listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart, and no one seems to care. But Flynn is the definition of “the wrong side of the tracks.” When Jess’s parents look at him, they only see their differences, not how much she and Flynn need each other. They don’t get that the person who shouldn’t fit into your world might just be the one who makes you feel like you belong. 

About the Author
RITA Award finalist Janet Gurtler’s young adult books have been chosen for the Junior Library Guild Selection and as Best Books For Teens from the Canadian Children’s Book Center. She has had her writing compared to Judy Blume and Jodi Picoult and that makes her happy. She has volunteered at a few soup kitchens and hopes to do more. Giving back is so important. Janet lives in Okotoks, Alberta, Canada, with her husband, son, and a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce. 

Jennifer Salvato Doktorski (The Summer After You And Me):
1. “It Must Be Summer,” by The Fountains of Wayne, because every song by them makes me happy and because the lyrics mention the Jersey Shore.

2. “Come to Me,” by The Goo Goo Dolls, because that song was in constant rotation while I wrote my latest YA novel and the video is both romantic and touching.

3. “Island in the Sun,” by Weezer. I love it so much, it’s my ringtone! Every time I hear this song, it puts me in a good mood and makes me think about sipping Pina Colada’s on a Caribbean island. It was also featured in the teen movie Aquamarine, which I wind up watching every time it’s on.

The Summer After You and Me
Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: May 2015

Synopsis:
For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn’t just the perfect summer escape, it’s home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can’t help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.
Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy’s summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.

About the Author
Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of two YA novels and is a freelance nonfiction writer. Her first paid writing gig was at The North Jersey Herald & News, where she wrote obituaries and began her lifelong love of news and coffee. She lives in New Jersey with her family.
Juliana Stone (Some Kind of Normal): 
1. All Summer Long by Kid Rock. Lynard Skynard influence aside, it’s the perfect melody and lyrcis to conjure a hot summer day on the water with friends.

2. La Isla Bonita. This is an old Madonna song but I love the latin feel of the music.

3. Stay with Me by Sam Smith. This song makes me feel melancholy and definitely reminds me of last summer.

Some Kind of Normal
Author: Juliana Stone
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 5, 2015

Synopsis:
What is normal? For Trevor, normal was playing fast guitar licks, catching game-winning passes, and partying all night. Until a car accident leaves him with no band, no teammates, and no chance of graduating. It’s kind of hard to ace your finals when you’ve been in a coma. The last thing he needs is stuck-up Everly Jenkins as his new tutor, those beautiful blue eyes catching every flaw.
For Everly, normal was a perfect family around the dinner table, playing piano at Sunday service, and sunning by the pool. Until she discovers her whole life is a lie. Now the perfect pastor’s daughter is hiding a life-changing secret, one that is slowly tearing her family apart. And spending the summer with notorious flirt Trevor Lewis means her darkest secret could be exposed.
This achingly beautiful story about two damaged teens struggling through pain and loss to redefine who they are, to their family, to themselves, and to each other is sure to melt your heart. 

About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Juliana Stone fell in love with books in the fifth grade when her teacher introduced her to Tom Sawyer. A tomboy at heart, she split her time between baseball, books, and music—three passions that carried over into adulthood. When she’s not singing with her band, she’s thrilled to be writing young adult and adult contemporary romance, and does so from her home in Canada. 
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

Girl on a Wire
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
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Review:
Reading this book I realized that I know way more about circus life then I thought I did. Since Water For Elephants I have noticed a lot of books are using the circus as a whimsical setting for their novels and this knowledge seems to be rubbing off on me. I think that’s one of the reasons that, although I enjoyed this book, I found myself comparing it to a lot of other stories and it ended up losing some its magic.

Jules Maroni is a high-wire walker just like her father. She’s been performing for as long as she could stand on the wire and Jules wants to be just like her high-wire walking hero, Bird Millman. Early in the novel Jules convinces her family to join the Cirque American despite the presence of the Maroni’s rival family, The Flying Garcia’s.

Bird Millman
I liked this old family rivalry and all the secrets that it held. It gave the story a fantastical feel. I’m also a total sucker for curses, tarot cards, and other sorts of magi. Initially the mystery and the secrets behind the rivalry of the Marioni’s and Garcia’s drew me in. But I was able to figure out everything around 60% in to the story. So the ending felt very drawn out and I found myself getting a little bored.

Luckily, the relationship between Remy and Jules kept me reading. I liked their late night training rendezvous’. It was a sort of forbidden love, although the only characters that really cared were grandparents so it didn’t feel all that forbidden. Still, I liked both of these characters and it was the slow-burn kind of romance you can’t help but root for.

Overall, Girl on a Wire was a fun, although rather predictable novel. I enjoyed the setting and characters and plan on reading more of Gwenda Bond’s writing. I’ve heard good things about her other YA novel Blackwoood.