Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin #1) by Simone Elkeles | Review

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin #1) by Simone Elkeles | ReviewHow to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin, #1) by Simone Elkeles
Series: How to Ruin #1
Published by Llewellyn Publications on October 8th 2006
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 234
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go with the Sperm Donor to a mall, but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home. 

Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci. 

Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad, a.k.a. “Sperm Donor,” for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer—no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone… 

Goodbye pride—hello Israel.

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I was looking for a fun summer read and I figured this couldn’t be more perfect. I’m a huge fan of Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry series so I had really high hopes for this one. While I did find it a fun read for the summer, I was disappointed by many things about it.

Pros:

  • Setting: To be completely honest, I’ve never been all that interested in Israel as a setting. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a cool place, I’ve just never seen many books set there and I never set out to find a book set in Israel. I’m glad How to Ruin a Summer Vacation was set in Israel though. It’s a unique setting and Simone Elkeles did a wonderful job including not just the atmosphere but the history as well. I may have to see about finding more YA books set in Israel.
  • Romance: I love the romances where the characters start out disliking each other. I feel like characters who argue quite a bit sometimes have the best chemistry and that was the case with Amy and Avi. I could see their romance coming from a mile away but I wasn’t sure how they were actually going to get together. They had their ups and downs but I thought they were really good for each other. They balanced each other out.

Cons:

  • Amy: Amy was one of the most immature characters I have ever read about. She was so self-absorbed. Her dad wanted to take her to Israel to see her grandmother because she was sick. All Amy could see was that her dad was trying to ruin her life. Then she met her family and she treated them like crap. Yes, her cousin was a bitch. However, so was Amy. She didn’t even try to make things work between her and Osnat. I was really let down by that. And honestly, I don’t know what Avi saw in her because she was such a bitch to him most of the time. Really, she was a bitch to everyone.
  • Story: There really wasn’t much going on for the story. This was really just mostly a romance. I was okay with that since the book was so short but if there were more pages to the book, I would have gotten bored. I was hoping there would be more to the story as far as Amy’s relationship with her father and that didn’t happen. I know it could still happen in the next two books but for now, there wasn’t much to that relationship and what there was happened rather quickly.

Overall, How to Ruin a Summer Vacation is not Simone Elkeles’ best book, that’s for sure. I will continue with this trilogy since it is a fun read but I’d definitely recommend the Perfect Chemistry books over this trilogy.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about How to Ruin a Summer Vacation:

Stuck in Books’ review: “If you like contemporary YA then this is good one to choose.”

The Page Sage’s review: “The insight into Israeli culture is fantastic.”

Friday, June 10, 2016

Deeper We Fall (Fall & Rise #1) by Chelsea M. Cameron | Review

Deeper We Fall (Fall & Rise #1) by Chelsea M. Cameron | ReviewDeeper We Fall by Chelsea M. Cameron
Series: Fall and Rise #1
Published by DRC Publishing on January 24th 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 453
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
1 Stars

Two years after her best friend was involved in a car accident that caused a traumatic brain injury, Lottie Anders is ready to start her freshman year of college. Ready to move on. Ready to start forgetting the night that ripped her life apart.

Her plans come to a screeching halt when not one, but both brothers responsible for the accident end up back in her life again.

Zack is cruel, selfish and constantly rubbing what happened to her friend in Lottie's face.

Zan is different. He listens to her awkward ramblings. He loves To Kill a Mockingbird as much as she does, and his dark eyes are irresistible. His words are few and far between, but when he does speak, she can't help but listen.

The trouble is, Zan was the driver in the accident, and now Lottie's discovered he lied to her about what happened that night. Now she must decide if trusting him again will lead to real forgiveness, or deeper heartache.

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Let me just start off by saying that I’m extremely glad I got this book for free on Kindle and didn’t waste my money on it.  Deeper We Fall reminded me why I don’t read self-published books.  There were so many things I absolutely hated about Deeper We Fall.  I’m honestly amazed I even finished it and I’m kind of kicking myself for wasting so much time with it.

Pros:

  • The only good thing this book had going for it was the beginning.  It started off strong, I’ll give it that.  I wanted to know more about what happened after the accident and the secrets surrounding the accident.  It was pretty easy to figure out what the secret about the accident was though so my curiosity didn’t last too long.

Cons:

  • Characters: I didn’t like most of the main characters.  Will and Simon were probably the exceptions.  They were funny and I loved how they treated Charlotte.  Will was a great brother and Simon was basically brother number two.  They were adorable.  Charlotte, however, was whiny and annoying and extremely naive.  She blamed herself for the accident even though she wasn’t even in the car.  She did everything she could to stop her friend from getting in the car, short of dragging her away.  There was nothing she could have done and she constantly beat herself up about it.  Not just herself though.  She treated Zan and Zack Parker like crap for the accident.  Zack was totally to blame but Zan was pretty much an innocent bystander even though he was driving the car.  I could also understand her hostility toward Zack because he was a total douchebag.  Her attitude toward Zan was just mean though.  And for her to then start falling for him just made no sense.  Zan was annoying because he was so obsessed with Charlotte.  I didn’t find his behavior attractive.  In fact, it was a little stalkerish.  He claimed to be in love with her but he never even had a conversation with her before the accident.  That’s not love, that’s obsession.
  • Romance: Okay let’s get into the romance a little more.  Zan and Charlotte obviously have something going on and it was the dumbest thing I have ever read.  First, Charlotte is a giant bitch to Zan.  She was never once nice to him and yet he loved her.  Or at least claimed he did.  Then when they do finally start something, he lets her call all the shots and she’s not willing to let anyone know about them.  And Zan is fine with that.  He doesn’t want to scare her off so he just lets her walk all over him.  I’m all for men and women being equal in relationships and that goes for this situation too.  Zan had no control over what they did or didn’t do.  I hated that.
  • Story: The story dragged for so long.  There was so much unnecessary information.  Nothing even happened with Charlotte and Zan for more than half of the book.  I’m sorry, if there is supposed to be some big important romance in a book, it should happen before I get 70% of the way through the book.  Also, there was pretty much nothing else going on other than this romance that I was pretty sure was never going to happen. There were a few small side stories which I knew were going to be excuses to have more books with these characters but they were pretty much all tied up pretty quickly and didn’t hold my interest.  Everything about this book was predictable.

Overall, I’m just going to stop because if I don’t, I’ll rant for 5 more pages.  I don’t recommend reading this one but it’s free on Kindle if you do decide to pick it up for some reason.  It seems like other readers have really enjoyed it so maybe it’s just that this one was not for me.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about Deeper We Fall:

  • Polished Page Turners’ review: “I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys New Adult, especially those that are heavy on the emotional and not on the sex.”
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sea Spell (Waterfire Saga #4) by Jennifer Donnelly | Giveaway

Thanks to the wonderful team at Disney Hyperion, I’ve got another great giveaway for you guys!

Sea Spell

ABOUT THE BOOK

At the end of Dark Tide, Book 3 in the Waterfire Saga, Astrid leaves her mermaid friends to confront her ancestor, Orfeo, the evil force behind the rise of the monster Abbadon. Orfeo possesses one of the six talismans that the merls need in order to keep the monster locked up forever. But without the ability to songcast, how will Astrid be able to defeat the most powerful mage in history?

Meanwhile, Serafina and her Black Fins train goblin troops for battle against her uncle Vallerio’s death riders. Will Sera ever see her beloved home—and her beloved Mahdi—again, or will the Volneros take over the mer realms while Orfeo takes on the gods themselves? Nothing less than the fate of the underwater world is at stake in this breathtaking finale.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Donnelly is an award-winning author of both adult and young adult books, including Deep BlueRogue Wave, and Dark Tide, the first three books in the Waterfire Saga. For adults she has written a trilogy of best-selling books that includes The Tea RoseThe Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. Her first young adult novel, A Northern Light, received many accolades, among them the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a Carnegie Medal in the UK, and a Michael L. Printz Honor. Her second young adult novel, Revolution, was named a Best Book of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, and the audiobook received a 2011 American Library Association Odyssey Honor. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. For more information, visit www.jenniferdonnelly.com.

EXCERPT

Read the prologue of Sea Spell here.

OFFICIAL LINKS

Learn more at waterfiresaga.com

Follow Disney Books on Twitter and Instagram

#WaterfireSaga

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CONFIRMED PRIZING

One (1) winner receives:

A copy of Sea Spell and branded nail polish.

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Blog Tour: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone | Review + GiveawayThe Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: PLA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Maddie O'Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie's closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie's plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret "death with dignity" cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way - and give the O'Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.

Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.

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The Loose Ends List is one of those books that you will either love or hate and I am definitely on the love side.  I knew from the moment I read the synopsis that this was going to be a book for me.  While it had it’s flaws, I truly enjoyed Carrie Firestone’s debut novel.

Pros:

  • Story:  It takes a lot to switch things up with contemporary novels.  I admit that even though it is my favorite genre, I can really get bored with the books because they all seem to be very similar these days.  The Loose Ends List really brings something new to the contemporary genre.  I’ve read tons of books dealing with death in the family but nothing like this.  Maddie’s grandma is a force to be reckoned with and she’s not gonna let cancer bring her down.  She’s going out the way she wants to and that’s on a cruise with her family by her side. While it’s definitely a sad story, there are so many fun and happy moments to balance it out.
  • Romance: I knew from the start that Maddie’s boyfriend wasn’t going to be the one she ended the summer with and I was glad for that.  He was terrible and her reasons for being with him were terrible.  Enzo, on the other hand, was good for her.  They were going through similar situations and they both needed someone.  Their relationship was sweet and fun and I loved watching Maddie cross things off her loose ends list with Enzo.
  • Writing: I really liked Carrie Firestone’s writing style.  The story never drags and a lot of that has to do with the writing.  It’s not overly descriptive or wordy but it’s also not sparse in descriptions.  I think it lends itself well to contemporary stories although I say that without having read any other kind of story from Carrie.  It really helped keep my interest in the book even if I had issues with some other things.
  • Humor: This is not just a sob story.  There is so much humor woven into the story that it’s almost easy to forget that one of the main characters in the story is going to die.  I loved how Carrie Firestone managed to balance the humor and the heartache.  I never expected to laugh as much as I did throughout The Loose Ends List.  That’s not to say I didn’t cry a ton too but it was pretty even.  A lot of that had to do with Maddie’s grandma.  She was a hoot.  I loved her and I could see why Maddie did too.

Cons:

  • Characters: While most of the characters were awesome, I had some issues with a few.  Take Maddie, for instance.  She was so superficial.  I was beyond annoyed with her attitude at the start of the book.  She admits to dating a guy just because he’s popular and the captain of the lacrosse team.  It’s like she’s always trying to prove herself to someone.  I wanted her to grow up and start doing things just for herself.  Her friends were the same way.  It seemed like all they cared about were boys and parties.  All except for Rachel, Maddie’s friend but not really.  They grew apart because Maddie became popular and Rachel cared about comic books and things like that.  What a lame reason to grow apart.  Why can’t you do both?  Yes, Maddie grows up a lot throughout the book but she really annoyed me for a lot of it, as did the people she chose to hang out with.

Overall, The Loose Ends List is a wonderful read that had me laughing, smiling, and crying quite a bit.  I look forward to reading more from Carrie Firestone.  Check this one out and don’t forget your tissues when you do pick it up.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about The Loose Ends List:

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan | Guest Post

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan | Guest Post

Blog Tour: Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan | Guest PostJulia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Goodreads

Julia Vanishes Julia has the unusual ability to be . . . unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people's senses.

It's a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it's a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned--crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman who is clearly in hiding--though from what or whom?

Worse, Julia suspects that there's a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she'd ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.

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CITY OF EX-BOYFRIENDS

A friend who read an early draft of Julia Vanishes asked me if a certain guy in the book was drawn from a certain guy in my (past) life. He isn’t. But a few days later I was drawing a map of Julia’s home, Spira City, and thinking about the character of each neighborhood – the dark, damp alleys and cellars of the Edge, the exuberantly subversive spirit of the Twist, the glamor and exclusivity of West Spira. That’s when I realized: I’ve dated each of these guys. I can think of at least one ex-boyfriend to correspond with each neighborhood, and if you’ve spent a few years dating, you probably can too.

Forrestal is the guy who seems plausible at first – he’s nice, he’s clean, he gets along with everybody – but you realize pretty fast that there’s nothing here for you. It’s too quiet, all the houses look the same, and all the streets seem to circle around, back to the same place. Go to a brighter part of the city, where garbage is blowing down the streets and you hear music and laughter from inside the bars. Push open a new door. Never think about him again.

The Twist is the guy who sweeps you off your feet, possibly on the rebound from Forrestal, with his energy and jokes and wildness. He is rumpled and drinks too much and he can never stay still for long. He’s a drummer and you’re surprised how good he is because he doesn’t strike you as very focused. He never seems to sleep. It will be fun, but it won’t last, because sometimes you do have to sleep, and while you’re sleeping, he’s going to find someone else to stay up with him. You’ll stay friends, because even if you don’t want to live here, you still want to visit sometimes.

Mt. Heriot is in your evening class on John Donne. He gives you rides home afterwards on his motorbike. He’s shorter than you but not insecure about it, he’s a vegan socialist who reads Hebrew fluently and writes very long poems that he won’t let you read. The relationship lasts a few hilarious, happy, confusing months until the class ends and he goes off to South America with a tiny backpack and his political idealism and for a while life seems very quiet. He will always be your favorite ex-boyfriend.

The Plateau comes to the café where you work on breaks from his construction job. He asks you out on his birthday. You say yes because it’s his birthday and he seems funny and smart and you like the way he looks covered in a layer of sawdust. He shows up for your date scrubbed pink and wearing so much cologne and hair gel that you can hardly breathe. He is sullen and monosyllabic all evening and then shoves you against a wall for a grope at the nightclub. The Plateau might at first glance seem like a respectable, practical sort of neighborhood – the Parliament buildings are there, and the train station – but Hostorak, the horrifying prison for witches, lies at its center, a dark, rotten spot at the core, and you just don’t want to go anywhere near that, really. So run.

West Spira asks you out while you are filling up his coffee. You recognize from the very first moment that this is the kind of man for whom everything is a transaction. You are nineteen and a waitress, and you know what your part of this transaction will be. Still, you say yes, because at this point in your life you are driven by curiosity more than anything else. He takes you out for dinner. He takes you out on his boat. He takes you skiing. One night he starts ranting about taxes and feminists, and you are done. After you break up, he writes you a livid e-mail detailing every cent he spent on you.

You wouldn’t date The Edge if you knew what kind of neighborhood you were stumbling into. You end up with him because you’re lost, and it takes a while to realize just how bad it is. How lost he is. You go a little deeper and it’s all gravestones and then impassable mountains. This is where you learn that you can’t save someone from themselves, but you’ll never feel as guilty as when you leave him behind.

The Scola is the guy who talks to you about books. The streets are well-lit. You can see where you’re going. It’s lively here, but it also feels safe. This is the guy you marry, but you’ll find that a marriage contains every neighborhood within itself, and that you are also full of unexpected corners and derelict neighborhoods. You learn to walk each other with care – to enjoy the familiar, the favorite bookstores and restaurants and wide open parks, to take delight in the surprises and discoveries, and to steer clear of certain streets at certain hours of the night. You think you can’t get lost here, and you’ve stopped carrying a map, but anything can happen in the city.

I don’t know about you guys but I’m definitely planning on checking out Julia Vanishes very soon!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Apollycon Update!

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I don’t know if you’re excited about Apollycon 2017 yet but I am!  And, you know, if you’re not, you probably will be after reading this!

This post will be filled with so many updates, we hope that you can keep up with them all!

Keep reading to get links and info about the Apollycon 2017 venue, hotel, volunteer signups, and TICKETS!

Ready to know all of the things?

Here we go:

Experience Universal Orlando Resort?s two world-class theme parks and vacation like you mean it!

VENUE ANNOUNCEMENT: Apollycon 2017 will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance at Universal Orlando!

APOLLYCON HOTEL ROOM BLOCK: There is a block of rooms reserved at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, at a discounted rate. To book a room, go here or http://bit.ly/Apollycon2017-Hotel. You can book a room for an arrival as early as 3/19/2017, and check out as late as 3/31/2017 with access to the Apollycon 2017 rate. But act fast, the rooms sell out quickly! **If by chance the room block is sold out, you may still contact the hotel to inquire about other available rooms, but they may not have the discounted rate.

VOLUNTEER SIGN-UPS ARE OPEN!: Interested in becoming a volunteer at Apollycon 2017? Sign up here (http://bit.ly/Apollycon2017-Volunteers)! Please be sure to thoroughly read the form prior to submitting the form.

TICKETS: Tickets can be purchased here (https://apollycon2017.eventbrite.com)! The ticket sale will be live at 12PM EST on Friday, June 3rd, 2016. **There has been a ticket update: The FAST PASS (which was previously announced) will no longer be available for purchase. For more info, check out the Apollycon tickets page, or the Apollycon website.

Keep reading to see the Apollycon 2017 schedule, and FAQs!

ICYMI: Apollycon is an event for readers across all genres (including YA, NA, and Adult), which includes a signing event featuring authors and special guests, as well as an after party where readers and authors can connect.

Here is the schedule of events:

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Time TBD (we will release this info closer to the event) – On-site Registration opens (to pick up badges, etc)

2pm-5pm – EXCLUSIVE TITAN SIGNING: This signing will be for TITAN PASS HOLDERS ONLY. All attending authors and vendors will be on site during this session as well. TITAN PASS HOLDERS PLEASE NOTE: This signing will end promptly at 5PM. If you still have books you need to have signed, you may attend the General Signing session on Saturday.

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Time TBD (we will release this info closer to the event) – On-site Registration opens (to pick up badges, etc)

12pm-5pm – GENERAL SIGNING SESSION: This session is FREE to all attendees! Please keep in mind that we are asking that you still register to attend the event. All authors and vendors will be on site and available at this time. Some authors will be ticketed and/or have book limits (that may differ from the general book limitations which can be found in the FAQ section below), so please be prepared to adhere to the specified instructions. The signing will end promptly at 5PM, as we will need to clear the space for the after party which will be occuring later that evening.

8pm-11pmDEMIGOD AFTER PARTY: You must purchase a Demigod pass in order to attend. (This is included with both the Titan AND the Apollyon pass, so you won’t need to purchase 2 separate passes.) The party will include:

  • 1,001 DARK NIGHTS GIFT BAGS FOR THE FIRST 300 PEOPLE! – Be among the first 300 people to arrive, and you will get to take home a bag filled with goodies!
  • MINGLE WITH YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS! – Featured authors & cover model(s) will be in attendance!
  • PHOTOBOOTH FUN – We will have a photo booth with fun props where you and your friends can capture the fun!
  • HIT THE DANCE FLOOR WITH YOUR FRIENDS! – We will have a DJ bringing the tunes!
  • GIVEAWAYS, GIVEWAYS, GIVEAWAYS! – There will be chances to win gift cards, an iPad, a Kindle Fire tablet, signed books, and more throughout the party!

**The Saturday general signing will be FREE for all attendees, but it is important that all attendees have a registered ticket through this eventbrite page.

**For additional information regarding this event including attending authors & vendors, check out the Apollycon website, or the FAQ’s below.

F-A-Q

The Saturday general signing is free, do I still need to register?

YES. If you solely wish to attend the Saturday signing (which is FREE), we are still asking that all attendees register for a general signing ticket.

Are there ID requirements or an age limit to enter the event?

Plan to bring your ID with you when picking up your registration on site. <–This will apply to those of you purchasing a Titan, Apollyon, and/or Demigod pass. Also, there will be a bar serving alcoholic beverages at the after party, so be sure to bring your ID in the event that you wish to purchase drinks.

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

There will be on-site PAID parking available at the venue hotel.

What are the book limitations?

You may bring as many books from home as you’d like, but you can only get 5 books per author signed at a time, and you’ll be asked to go to the back of the line to get any additional books signed by the same author. **Please note: There may be some authors that have a different book limit (less than 5), but we will make a formal announcement on the Apollycon site/social media closer to the event.

Is my registration/ticket refundable/transferrable?

All paid passes/registration will be FULLY REFUNDABLE until January 1st, 2017. Beyond that point, it will be transferable (so you can resell your pass to another attendee) should you no longer be able to attend.

I plan to sign up to volunteer. Do I still need to pay for a pass?

YES. If you are interested in getting the swag/items that comes with the Titan or Apollyon passes, you must still purchase the a pass. If you purchase the Titan pass, and are selected to be an Apollycon volunteer, you will still be granted access to the FULL Friday signing that comes along with it.

Can I purchase books at the event?

Yes! There will be an onsite bookseller with books for purchase. (Hours of operation will be posted closer to date of the event.) Self-published titles will be sold by the author at their respective tables, at the author’s discretion. As we get closer to the event, we will provide a list of books that will be available for purchase at the event. **Please note: There may be limited titles/formats available through the bookseller, so if you have specific titles you’d like to have for the signing, your best bet is to purchase them before the event.

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

You can reach the Apollycon 2017 event organizers (Steph & Hannah) using the messaging options on the Apollycon social media pages, or at apollyconevent[at]gmails[dot]com.

For more FAQ’s, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Apollycon website.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | Review

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff | ReviewPlaces No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Delacorte Press on May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

For fans of Lauren Oliver and E. Lockhart, here is a dreamy love story set in the dark halls of contemporary high school, from New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.

Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

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Places No One Knows is a step out for Brenna Yovanoff.  I’ve only read one of her other books (The Space Between, which I loved) but I felt like I got a sense of her writing from that one.  Places No One Knows is a completely different story from anything she has done before and anything I have read before.

Pros:

  • Writing: Brenna Yovanoff’s writing is what really grabbed me when I read The Space Between and while Places No One Knows is a completely different story, Brenna’s writing shines through.  Her writing is descriptive and can sometimes come across a little heavy but I have always loved that style and think it really worked well with the story here.  I can see why Brenna Yovanoff is Maggie Stiefvater’s critique partner because their styles of writing are similar.  Even if I had hated the story in Places No One Knows, I would have kept reading for the writing alone.
  • Story: The story had it’s strong points and it’s weak points.  When I started Places No One Knows, I was looking for a contemporary story set in high school.  Places No One Knows fits those criteria but it’s a lot more than that.  Waverly doesn’t sleep and in an attempt to get some sleep, she ends up visiting another classmate, without ever having left her room.  He’s the only one who can see her and he’s the only one she visits this way.  He doesn’t run in her circle at school but she is drawn to him for some reason.  They come from very different walks of life but they have more in common than either of them think.  Brenna Yovanoff doesn’t spend much time detailing exactly what Waverly does to be able to visit him but that’s okay because that’s not what the book is about.  It’s more about what happens when Waverly does spend time with Marshall and how that time together (away from everyone else) brings out the truth of who they are and who they want to be.
  • Characters: Pros and cons here, that’s for sure, especially with Waverly.  It’s odd because the thing I hated about Waverly also made me really like her.  She was very much a high school girl.  She let Maribeth put her down all the time, she cared so much about what everyone else thought of her, and she participated in all the cheesy school functions even if she didn’t care about them.  It may not be the case for everyone but I could relate to Waverly so much about those aspects.  It was almost exactly how I felt in high school.  As for Marshall, he was probably my favorite although Autumn gave him a run for his money.  I could understand why they were friends.  Autumn did what she wanted and didn’t care what anyone thought.  She was genuine and she cared deeply for her friends.  Marshall was the same way.  He had a seriously messed up home life and it showed through in everything he did.  He was a slacker and a bit of a nobody and he didn’t mind that until Waverly came into his life.  They both made each other stronger and brought out new sides of each other.  Waverly was finally willing to just be herself with him and he was willing to want more out of life when he was with her.  I loved that about their relationship.

Cons:

  • Waverly: While Waverly did have some pros about her, she also had some very big cons for me.  I almost gave up on this one at one point because I did not like Waverly at all.  She was so shut off from the world that she was kind of impossible to like or sympathize with.  I couldn’t understand her.  I didn’t get why she didn’t sleep and I think that impacted how she acted with people.  I would have liked a little more background about that.  I also would have liked more background about her friendship with Maribeth because it was obvious that she didn’t like Maribeth but she just put up with her, no matter what she said or did.

Overall, Places No One Knows may not be my favorite from Brenna Yovanoff but it’s still a solid addition to her books.  I think it really shows that her talent lends itself to any style story that she chooses to write and I look forward to seeing what she does next.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about Places No One Knows:

  • Wrapped Up In Books’ review: “It’s a complicated and nuanced look at how difficult it can be to inhabit your own skin, especially in high school, and how sometimes, the right person can make it easier to breathe.”
  • BookPage’s review: “Few writers delve as intimately into raw emotion as Brenna Yovanoff as she strips her characters of their practiced self-delusions and faulty coping strategies.”
  • Read.Breathe.Relax’s review: “Places No One Knows offers an intriguing mystery, romantic tension and incredible writing, and if you don’t mind the inclusion of some tough topics then I would definitely recommend it.”
Monday, May 30, 2016

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Review

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | ReviewOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: PLA
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a "Best Book of the Summer" by Glamour and USA TODAY—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

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One True Loves was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid book and I’m glad I started with it.  While I don’t doubt her other books are fabulous, this one was right up my alley and completely blew me away.  I had some high expectations (some blogger friends of mine rave about her books) but not only did she meet them, she surpassed them.

Pros:

  • The story: I was hooked on One True Loves from the moment I read the synopsis.  A woman’s husband goes missing for years, she falls in love and gets engaged to someone else, her husband returns from the dead throwing a wrench in her life.  I wasn’t sure where things were going to go after he returned and I worried things would become a little stagnant but that was so not the case.  While there wasn’t much action, Emma’s dilemma was so interesting and so complicated that I couldn’t stop reading.
  • The romance: It’s hard to say which romance in Emma’s life was more appealing to me.  Both men were great for Emma but in very different ways.  Emma and Jesse fell in love as teenagers and explored the world together.  They had a wonderful relationship that had it’s flaws but overall was very successful.  Emma and Sam met when they were teenagers but didn’t develop a romantic relationship until after Jesse was gone.  Sam was a total sweetheart and, I must admit, definitely my type of guy.  Emma and Sam had a much more mature relationship with a more settled down lifestyle.  Sam and Jesse were very different guys but they both worked for Emma in different ways.
  • The storytelling style: I’m not sure how I really expected Taylor Jenkins Reid to tell Emma’s story but I was surprised by how she did it.  One True Loves starts with Emma and Sam at dinner with her family and Emma gets the call about Jesse being alive.  Then it goes back to high school when Jesse and Emma first met and how they fell in love.  After that it jumps ahead to Emma losing Jesse and eventually finding love with Sam.  Finally, it goes back to the present and shows what happens when Jesse comes home and how Emma decides what she’s going to do now that she has both a husband and a fiance.   I was worried with all the jumping around but it worked and I managed to keep up with Emma’s story no matter what was happening.
  • The writing: I was extremely moved, not just by Emma’s story, but by Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing.  I admit that I don’t typically read chick lit and when I do, I’m not really in it for wonderful writing.  However, that is what I got from One True Loves.  While her writing is not wordy or heavy, Taylor Jenkins Reid still manages to convey a powerful message throughout the book.  One True Loves is a book I could easily flip through and find tons of quotes that really make you think.  Sure it’s a book that will ultimately leave you with a smile on your face but that’s not all it has to offer.

Overall, One True Loves has been added to my favorites shelf and I’m now going to hunt down the rest of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books.  Fans of the chick lit genre will fall in love with this one.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt | Review

Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt | ReviewPaper Princess (The Royals, #1) by Erin Watt
Series: The Royals #1
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 370
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone. 

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.
He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees. 

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Paper Princess did not seem like anything I normally read but I thought I’d give it a try.  I was looking for New Adult recommendations and this one was mentioned more than once.  I figured that must be a good sign and it definitely was.  Paper Princess was a little out of my comfort zone but I’m so glad I gave it a chance.

Pros:

  • Characters: Oh where do I even begin with these characters?  Ella is my favorite kind of girl.  She’s sassy and sarcastic, and badass but also extremely lonely and vulnerable.  Erin Watt managed to perfectly capture all these sides to Ella and make me love every single piece of her.  As for the boys, I admit that I’m not typically into the rude, arrogant, completely jackass guys but something about Reed Royal (and the rest of the Royals) appealed to me.  Reed was the alpha male in the Royal household (except when older brother Gideon was around) and he made that very known.  Callum may be the dad but he wasn’t the one in control of the boys.  Reed was a total jerk to Ella for a good portion of the book but I still managed to fall for him.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that Ella put him in his place but I really do think they worked well together.  It also didn’t hurt that the sexual tension between the two of them was off the charts.  My next favorite Royal was Easton, for sure, and I hope to find out more about his story in the coming books.  And then there was Callum.  He was a total sweetheart and really wanted to look out for Ella.
  • Story: I read the synopsis for this one and really didn’t think there would be a whole lot to the story but I was wrong about that.  Ella is taken in by Callum Royal and given some stipulations about her new life.  If she sticks it out, he’ll pay for her college and if she sticks that out, she’ll get even more money when she’s done.  Seems easy peasy, right?  So wrong.  His 5 sons think she’s a gold digger out to get their dad’s money and will not take no for an answer.  They do everything to make her life miserable, both at home and school.  The Royals have endless supplies of money and they pretty much run the school so it’s easy to get everyone to alienate her.  There is more to their hatred for Ella though that stems from what happened with their parents and the role Ella’s dad played in that story.  I was intrigued about the Royals’ backstory and how each one dealt with the grief of losing their mother.
  • Romance: I don’t even know if I can call what Ella and Reed had between them a romance.  For a lot of the book, they hated each other or at least made it seem like they did.  Their relationship was more sexual tension than anything, at least at first.  As they started to get to know each other I could see where things were going.  They tried to fight it but they had some great chemistry and more in common than either would have guessed.  I loved watching them give in to each other and see what they could offer one another.

Cons:

  • Ending: I know I really shouldn’t hate on a book just because I didn’t like the ending but this one seemed to come out of nowhere.  I actually went back and re-read it a couple times just to see how it would make sense and I couldn’t figure it out.  It’s a huge cliffhanger (which has me dying for the next one) but that isn’t what bothered me about it.  I’m not going to spoil it but I just felt like it was rushed and really didn’t fit with what I knew of the characters.  I’m eager to see how it will all play out in the second book and if things will start to make more sense to me then.

Overall, Paper Princess has been added to my list of New Adult recommendations, for sure.  It doesn’t hurt that one half of the writing duo happens to be one of my favorite NA authors (Elle Kennedy!) but don’t think that’s my reasoning behind this recommendation.  I actually didn’t find out she was part of the writing duo until after I finished the book.  Paper Princess stands on it’s own and while it might leave you with the urge to throw it against a wall, it’s one you should definitely try.

Overall reaction:

What others are saying about Paper Princess:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward | Review

The Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood #14) by J.R. Ward | ReviewThe Beast (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #14) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #14
Published by NAL on April 5th 2016
Pages: 508
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

Nothing is as it used to be for the Black Dagger Brotherhood. After avoiding war with the Shadows, alliances have shifted and lines have been drawn. The slayers of the Lessening Society are stronger than ever, preying on human weakness to acquire more money, more weapons, more power. But as the Brotherhood readies for an all-out attack on them, one of their own fights a battle within himself…

For Rhage, the Brother with the biggest appetites, but also the biggest heart, life was supposed to be perfect—or at the very least, perfectly enjoyable. Mary, his beloved shellan, is by his side and his King and his brothers are thriving. But Rhage can’t understand—or control—the panic and insecurity that plague him…

And that terrifies him—as well as distances him from his mate. After suffering mortal injury in battle, Rhage must reassess his priorities—and the answer, when it comes to him, rocks his world...and Mary’s. But Mary is on a journey of her own, one that will either bring them closer together or cause a split that neither will recover from...

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By book 14, you’d think I’d be over a series but that is so not the case with the Black Dagger Brotherhood books.  J.R. Ward still manages to surprise me with the twists and turns she keeps throwing in her books.

Fair warning: review is spoiler free if you’ve read the first 13 books.  Otherwise, I make no promises.

Pros:

  • Story: Things seem to be moving along with the Lessening Society again.  The Beast starts off with a huge battle and things seem like they are finally back on track with the war between the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the Lessening Society.  I admit, it’s a little frustrating because this war has been going on for 14 books and it doesn’t seem like it’s gone very far so it was good to see such a huge, impactful battle in The Beast.
  • Romance: Rhage and Mary have always been one of my favorite couples (let’s be real, it’s mainly because of Rhage) so I was a little nervous about the story coming back to them and threatening their relationship.  While it definitely puts things up in the air for them, it really shows that they have a strong relationship no matter what they go through and believe me, they go through a lot.  Rhage and Mary don’t have a perfect relationship and they never have.  They went through a lot to get their happy ending and yeah, J.R. Ward kind of throws everything up in the air with The Beast, but she definitely knew what she was doing.
  • Characters: I’m still totally in love with all the original characters and I love that J.R. Ward is revisiting some of their stories but I also really like that she still manages to introduce new ones and tie all their stories together.  There is one particular character that is introduced pretty early on in The Beast who didn’t make sense to the story for quite some time.  When things started to fall into place though, I couldn’t believe where things were going.  It’s hard to believe that I can still be so surprised by J.R. Ward’s books but she manages to throw in some amazing twists that I never see coming.

Cons:

  • Rhage and Mary: I had some serious issues with Rhage and Mary at times throughout The Beast.  Take the very first scene, for instance.  I’m not going to spoil anything but Rhage does something so incredibly stupid and doesn’t even have a very good reason for it.  He acts reckless and it really made me mad.  Then there was Mary.  Mary was so obsessed with Bitty (a child that Rhage and the brothers rescued in a previous book from her abusive father) that she loses sight of so many other things, including Rhage.  Those two had some things they needed to work out and they did not make me happy while they were working them out.  And also, they were pretty cheesy at times which is not something I ever expected from them and I didn’t care much for it.

Overall, The Beast is a solid addition to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and really sets things up for the next book and the next step in the war with the Lessening Society.  I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in book 15, especially with Xcor and Layla.

What others are saying about The Beast:

  • Smexybooks’ review: “To be honest, I wasn’t that excited for a second Rhage book, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.”
  • Vilma’s Book Blog’s review: “Life and death, marriage and love, sacrifices and surprises—J.R. Ward stirs things up in this intimate, evocative next chapter in the Black Dagger Brotherhood.”
  • Total Book Geek’s review: “Once again The Beast was amazingly written, and I love how well all the story-lines mix together.”