Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blog Tour: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Review + Favorite Quotes

Blog Tour: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Review + Favorite Quotes

Blog Tour: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland | Review + Favorite QuotesOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper.
Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love,

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Ignoring the whole John Green/Rainbow Rowell comparison made in the synopsis, I went into Our Chemical Hearts not really knowing what to expect but with an open mind.  I’m the kind of person who doesn’t necessarily like those comparisons because it can give people unrealistic hopes.  That wasn’t the case with this one because I definitely think that fans of the two authors will enjoy this one though Krystal Sutherland brings her own flair to the story.

Pros:

  • Henry: Henry was a very mixed bag for me.  He had his good parts and his bad but I honestly think that is why he is in the pros column.  He was really well developed as a character.  He’s not your typical boy.  He’s very focused on school, worrying about getting into a good college, and becoming the editor of his school paper to help with that whole good college thing.  He gets the editor position but it’s got a co-editor attached and that’s Grace.  Grace isn’t really his idea (or many people’s) of a dream girl but Henry is very intrigued and quickly becomes quite enmeshed in her life.  Grace has a lot of baggage and Henry finds himself wanting to know everything about Grace and wanting to basically help fix her.  He was a little obsessed with Grace (to me) but you could tell his heart was in the right place so it’s easy to get past that.
  • Realism: This is not your romantic, happy ever after, high school love story.  Hell, I’m not even sure I’d call it a true love story because it focuses on so much more than that.  The romantic feelings that Henry has for Grace were an important part of the story but not the focal point here. Grace and Henry both have their issues and maybe putting them together wasn’t the smartest idea but they were both able to help each other.  I feel like Grace taught Henry a lot and not so much Henry teaching Grace.  However, both Henry and Grace’s stories were really true to life and that’s what I loved about them.

Cons:

  • Grace: While I liked Grace, I didn’t feel like I really knew her.  The hardest thing for me was only ever seeing Grace through Henry’s eyes.  He didn’t always think great things about her and when he did, it was sometimes almost idealistic.  I wanted to know more about Grace from Grace’s perspective.  I feel like there was so much more to her character that I never really got to see.  I just couldn’t see her as a fully formed character while only getting Henry’s thoughts on her.

I also kinda want to add the ending to the cons list but I’m not going to because I think it’s just my thoughts influencing it.  I liked the ending, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not what I had hoped for.  I think it’s a great ending and such a realistic one but boy was that not what I wanted.

Overall, Our Chemical Hearts (I keep wanting to say My Chemical Heart. I’ve got My Chemical Romance on the brain.) is one that I think will really shock readers and make them think.  Like I said before, Rainbow Rowell/John Green fans will find this one right up their alley but I just love what Krystal Sutherland brought to the table.  I can’t wait to see what this Aussie author does next.

Overall reaction:

Be prepared for a little of this or maybe a lot!

What others are saying about Our Chemical Hearts:

Mollie The Reader’s review: “Overall, Our Chemical Hearts was a unique, fast paced and quirky read, I would really recommend this to those that love John Green (to be honest its heaps better than his books oOPS DONT HURT ME) and also to those that love quirky characters with a really deep and meaningful plot.”

The Innocent Smiley’s review: “Although I do believe that fans of John Green would love this, it’s the opposite of a John Green novel. It is everything you expect it not to be.”

Favorite Quotes

While I could go on and on, I really don’t want to overwhelm you, so have just a couple favorite quotes from me!  I wanted to include Henry’s humor since Our Chemical Hearts really isn’t quite as heavy as I made it out to be but I couldn’t pass up the quote about love either.  It’s so gorgeous!

(All quotes are from the ARC and could differ slightly in final versions.)

“You could say I looked something like a male Summer Glau crossed with Severus Snape. Subtract the hook nose, add in some dimples, and hey presto: the perfect recipe for one Henry Issac Page.”

“You know I’ve made it through seventeen years of my life without being peer pressured? My parents warned me about it in elementary school, but I never experienced it. I was starting to believe it was a myth. And, like, it’s a really accurate description of what it is. I’m feeling very pressured by my peer right now.”

The greatest love story ever told doesn’t have to be about two people who spent their whole lives together. It might be about a love that lasted two weeks or two months or two years, but burned brighter and hotter and more brilliantly than any other love before or after. Don’t mourn a failed love; there’s no such thing. All love is equal in the brain.”

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!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom.

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

picadillyblueWhen I heard that Stephanie Perkins was editing (and contributing to) another collection of young adult short stories, I was beyond ecstatic.  I was a fan of My True Love Gave to Me and I’ve really come to love collections like this one.

This is a little hard for me to review since if I had the time, I’d review each story separately.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get around to doing that eventually but today I’m just going to touch on the book as a whole!

Pros:

  • Authors: Summer Days and Summer Nights has a wide variety of authors, some I’ve read before and others that were new to me.  It’s also great that it’s not just one genre represented.  It didn’t hurt that a few of my favorite authors were included here (Leigh Bardugo, anyone?)  I feel like readers who already love these authors will enjoy getting even a little bit more from them and if the book includes new authors for you, maybe you’ll find some new books to check out.

Okay, that’s really the only point I can make in a pros and cons review.  The rest is just going to have to be more traditional.  I tried but I just don’t know how to word it to make things fit with all the stories.

Let’s break it down here:

My favorite story would have to be Stephanie Perkins’ (no surprise there) but I also loved Brandy Colbert’s and Tim Federle’s and I’ve never read any of their books.  I also really enjoyed Nina LaCour’s and look forward to reading more of her work.  A few others that were up there on my list were Lev Grossman’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, and Jon Skovron’s.

Stories that were right in the middle for me were Libba Bray’s and Francesca Lia Block’s.  I’m not really a huge fan of either author so I didn’t know what to expect with these two which actually helped me like them more, I think.  I went in with no expectations so they couldn’t really disappoint me.  I know that’s sad but it’s true.  I think if you enjoy either (or both) author you will like these stories from them.

I was let down a bit by both Leigh Bardugo and Cassie Clare’s stories.  I think for Leigh Bardugo’s it had more to do with the subject than the author.  I still love her writing but I wasn’t impressed with the story and just didn’t get into it.  As for Cassie Clare, I think I’ve just read too much of her work and need a break from it all.  I find her stories to be really fun and that’s what I expected from this one but it just didn’t hit the right note with me.

Overall, while Summer Days and Summer Nights had a few stories I didn’t love, I really did enjoy it as a whole.  Overall, take some time to read through this one.  Not only did I get the chance to read some new things from some of my favorite authors, I got to read a couple new authors (Lev Grossman is a new one for me) that I’ll have to check out more from now.  Summer Days and Summer Nights really is the perfect book to take out with you on a summer day!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + GiveawayHolding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
Published by Hyperion on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

John "Smoke" Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn't the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke's new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they're asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn't care that the "threads" that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink's help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he's willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

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Elle Cosimano became one of my favorite authors with her Nearly duology (possibly trilogy?)  When I first heard about Holding Smoke, I was extremely excited and immediately added it to my TBR.  I got my hands on an ARC and I read it immediately.  While it was very different from her first books, I liked the new direction her writing took.

Pros:

  • Characters: Smoke stole my heart from the very start!  He comes across as a bit of a bad boy but he has a heart of gold.  His circumstances were beyond crappy.  He was not a completely innocent man but he was not as guilty as you’d first think.  He had quite a few layers to him and I never knew what side he was going to show next.  I liked that he was able to keep me guessing.  As for Pink, she was a bit of a mystery.  She came across as this badass female but she also had quite a shy, scared side.  She knew when she could handle herself and she knew when she needed help.  She and Smoke weren’t always good for each other but they worked past that.
  • Story: The story was both a pro and a con for me.  It was so unique and so twisted that I was kept guessing until the very end.  Not only could I not figure out who committed the crime Smoke was in jail for, I also couldn’t figure out the exact nature of the crime Smoke actually committed.  He was good at hiding things and Elle Cosimano is good at twisting things so much, you’ll never see it coming.
  • Romance: Smoke and Pink didn’t have a traditional romance.  For one, Smoke wasn’t actually physically there for most of their interactions.  With his ability, he came across as a ghost to Pink most of the time.  Because of that, their relationship developed mentally way before it did physically and I really liked that.  They weren’t exactly a cute couple (they got on each others nerves quite a bit) but they had their own charm.

Cons:

  • Story: Like I said, the story was both a pro and a con for me and it’s actually the only con I had with Holding Smoke.  I felt a little confused at times.  Smoke’s ability was very unique but also very odd.  I didn’t understand it all the time and some of the scenes when he was separated from his body threw me off.  I think it was how they were written and how Smoke looks at things when he’s like that.  It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just took some getting used to.

Overall, Holding Smoke isn’t my favorite from Elle Cosimano but it held up to my expectations pretty well.  Elle Cosimano is a name to know if you are a fan of YA suspense.  If you were a fan of her Nearly books, check out Holding Smoke.  I think you’ll find you enjoy it.

Giveaway

3 winners will receive copies of Holding Smoke.  US only.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn | Review + GiveawayHot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Prepare to be blown away—or rather, carried away on huge muscular wings—by this blissfully outlandish, bracingly-smart, tour de force about a teen who has to come to terms with relinquishing control for the first time as she falls for the hot new…pterodactyl…at school. After all, everybody wants him!

Sheils is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for?

But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him—something primal—that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Sheils, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke immediately starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Sheils has always discounted as a nobody.

Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now?

Hilarious and relatable (despite the dinosaur), Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is about a teen who must come to terms with not being in control of all things at all times, break free of her mundane life, discover who her true self is, and, oh, finding out that going primal isn’t always a bad thing

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Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is probably one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.  I mean, just look at the title and synopsis.  You can’t really expect normal from a book about a hot pterodactyl boyfriend.  I had a feeling that it was going to be weird and entertaining and that feeling was definitely proven right.

Pros:

  • The story:  As bizarre as the story may seem, it’s actually quite relatable.  Shiels is a control freak in every aspect of her life and she’s at the point in her life where she feels like she really needs that control.  She’s applying to colleges and doing everything she can to make herself look good on those applications.  It’s a really common story except for the fact that her school now has a pterodactyl as a student and his entrance in her life throws it into complete upheaval.
  • Shiels:  I really liked Shiels.  Like I said, she wanted complete control and she was used to having it.  That all changed with Pyke.  She had to give up that control and she might have actually gone a little overboard (skipping school, hiding things from her parents) but she grew as a person when she did give up some of that control.  She started to see that maybe things didn’t have to be so orderly and maybe she didn’t always have to be the one to do everything.
  • The family aspect: I loved Shiels’ family, especially her brother.  Her parents were involved in her life but sometimes a little absent and sometimes a little overbearing.  I really just liked that they played a role in her life.  Her brother, Jonathan, was the best part.  They had the classic sibling relationship.  He reminded me a lot of my own brother and their dynamics were very similar to ours.  Maybe that won’t be a big deal to you guys but it was definitely a pro for me.

Cons:

  • Pyke:  I could not relate to Pyke and honestly, he was a little weird.  I mean, of course he’s going to be weird, he’s a freaking pterodactyl but I don’t know.  It was more than that.  He wasn’t very humanlike and so I didn’t feel like I ever got to know him.  I couldn’t understand how he evoked this attraction from everyone he met.  And it wasn’t always romantic attraction though that did happen.  It seemed like everyone wanted to be something to him, whether it was a girlfriend or a mother figure.  It was strange.
  • The writing: This one isn’t a huge con for me but the writing took some getting used to.  It is a little stilted and choppy but once I got used to that I could see how it actually moved the story along a little faster.  Take some time to get used to the style and it will get better.

Overall, Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is one of those books that you should go into expecting something totally out of the norm.  It was hilarious at times while also being really heartfelt.  I can’t say it’s on my list of favorites but it has me eager to check out more form Alan Cumyn.

Giveaway

3 finished copies of Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Blog Tour | What I Look For In Retellings | Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

Blog Tour | What I Look For In Retellings | Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

You guys know I love blog tours but there was something special about this one.  I always look for romance in my novels, I’m a history buff, and retellings are some of my favorite things.  Stone Field is all of those wrapped in one gorgeous package!

Before I get to my favorite things, make sure to check out a little more about Stone Field!

Stone Field

Stone Field by Christy Lenzi
(Website, Goodreads)

In a small town on the brink of the Civil War, Catrina finds a man making strange patterns in her family’s sorghum crop. He’s mad with fever, naked, and strikingly beautiful. He has no memory of who he is or what he’s done before Catrina found him in Stone Field. But that doesn’t bother Catrina because she doesn’t like thinking about the things she’s done before either.

Catrina and Stonefield fall passionately, dangerously, in love. All they want is to live with each other, in harmony with the land and away from Cat’s protective brother, the new fanatical preacher, and the neighbors who are scandalized by their relationship. But Stonefield can’t escape the truth about who he is, and the conflict tearing apart the country demands that everyone take a side before the bloodbath reaches their doorstep.

Inspired by Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

 

What I Look For In A Retelling

  • Originality: This might seem a little odd since the whole point of a retelling is to retell something that’s already been told.  However, that’s not to say that an author shouldn’t put their own spin on whatever tale they’ve chose to retell.  It’s also a good idea to make it unique so that readers who may not have read the original can still enjoy it.  In this case, Christy Lenzi took Wuthering Heights and made it her own.  And since I’ve never (completely) read Wuthering Heights, I appreciated that it didn’t seem like I had to.
  • Hints of the original: This may seem like the complete opposite of what I just said but if you’re writing a retelling, you have to keep something of the original story.  A lot of the time when I’m picking up a retelling, I’ve read and loved the original.  That means I definitely want to at least get a similar feel from the retelling.  Like I said, I haven’t read all of Wuthering Heights but from what I have read, I can see where Christy Lenzi took some inspiration.
  • An updated feel: Even if a retelling is still set in a historical time period, I want it to feel new.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics, but they can sometimes be lengthy reads that plod along.  Retellings need to make the writing a little more modern.  Make things move a little faster.  And maybe contain a little more romance than some of the classics.  Just maybe.

Stone Field is a great representation of the things I look for in a retelling.  If you haven’t checked it out already, add it to your TBR!

Oh and don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

www.bookrookreviews.com 3/19/2016 RETELLING
http://www.swoonyboyspodcast.com 3/20/2016 ROMANCE
www.fictionfare.com 3/21/2016 ROMANCE
http://theirishbanana.blogspot.com/ 3/22/2016 HISTORICAL
http://katiesbookblog.com/ 3/23/2016 RETELLING
http://www.addicted2novels.com 3/25/2016 ROMANCE
Fiercereads.com 3/26/2016 RETELLING
http://aperfectioncalledbooks.blogspot.com/ 3/27/2016 HISTORICAL
http://www.fiktshun.com 3/28/2016 ROMANCE
http://www.intothehallofbooks.com/ 3/29/2016 HISTORICAL
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters | Review + GiveawayThe Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on March 8th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

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The Steep and Thorny Way is my first foray into Cat Winters’ work but it won’t be my last.  While the Hamlet retelling aspect of this one was what first caught my attention, it was Cat Winters’ writing that kept it.  I’ll hold out judgment until I can read at least one more of her books but I think she may earn a place on my favorites shelf.

Pros:

  • The writing: As I said, the writing definitely got me with this one.  The Steep and Thorny Way is historical fiction with a twist and Cat’s writing is perfect for this type of story.  It’s atmospheric and haunting.  The story itself was extremely interesting and I was hooked for that aspect but the writing definitely added to my enjoyment.
  • The history: I’m a huge history buff and I loved that Cat Winters didn’t choose the typical 1920s to portray.  The Steep and Thorny Way shows a darker side of the 1920s and it’s not always easy to read.  And while it is very much fiction, Cat Winters did a great job making her story as accurate as possible.  She doesn’t shy away from the reality that would have been Hanalee’s life as a mixed race teenager in that time period.
  • Hanalee: Hanalee certainly had her flaws but I really liked her overall.  She reminded me a lot of myself in some of the things that she did.  I felt that I could relate to her, even though our situations are nothing alike.  She was strong and capable but she didn’t always think things through before acting.  I couldn’t fault her for that but sometimes I could see how things would happen because of her actions.

Cons:

  • The other characters: I was not a huge fan of any of the other characters.  While I felt like I could relate to Hanalee, she was the only one I felt that way about.  Everyone else needed to be a bit more rounded out and I felt like I never really got to know or like them.
  • The retelling aspect: I love Hamlet.  I took a Shakespeare class in high school and college and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him but especially Hamlet.  I feel like saying this is a retelling was a little bit misleading.  There were definitely things about it that tied back to Hamlet but I would say it was more inspired by Hamlet than a retelling.

Overall, The Steep and Thorny Way really did impress me.  I love that I have found a new author that I feel can do the historical fiction genre justice.  I look forward to checking out the rest of her books and if you haven’t already, this one is definitely a good place to start.

Giveaway

5 US readers have a chance to win their own copy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

Week One:

2/29/2016- Adventures of a Book Junkie Interview
3/1/2016- The Forest of Words and Pages Review
3/2/2016- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post
3/3/2016- A Dream Within A Dream Review
3/4/2016- Stories & Sweeties– Excerpt

Week Two:

3/7/2016- Jessabella Reads Review
3/8/2016- Bookish Lifestyle– Guest Post
3/9/2016- Katie’s Book Blog- Review
3/10/2016- The Fox’s Hideaway– Interview
3/11/2016- MEREADALOT– Review

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Blog Tour: A Tyranny of Petticoats | Guest Post

I don’t know if you guys have noticed but my rating system is shoes.  I have a thing for shoes.  (Some might call it an unhealthy obsession and those people are entitled to their wrong opinion.)  My love for shoes means I’m extremely excited to share with you this awesome guest post from Jessica Spotswood that just happens to be all about shoes!

Everyone welcome to wonderful Jessica Spotswood!

 

Hi! I couldn’t help noticing that Katie uses shoes to rate books, so I thought for this stop on the TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS blog tour, I’d share some crazy historical shoes that our 15 heroines might – or in some cases definitely would NOT – have worn!

In J. Anderson Coats’s “Mother Carey’s Table,” a runaway slave girl poses as a sailor boy – but the truth is exposed, with devastating consequences, when she tries to sink the Spanish warship threatening her crew (1710: British North America)

1

Would these men’s boots, circa 1700-1710, help convince Half-Hanged Henry (the pirate captain) that Joe is a boy?

 

In Marie Lu’s “The Journey,” Yakone, a young Inuit girl, flees across the frozen tundra after the murder of her parents and the destruction of her family’s village by white traders. (1723: The Great Land)

2

These European shoes from 1720 are made of wool, but I don’t think they’d be nearly warm (or practical) enough as Yakone drives her father’s dogs across the frozen tundra!

 

In Jessica Spotswood’s “Madeleine’s Choice,” a free girl of color seeks advice from voodoo queen Marie Laveau to choose between the longtime family friend, a respectable middle class man of color, who has offered her marriage — and the romantic, wealthy white planter who cannot. (1826: New Orleans)

3

These red French satin shoes from the 1820s would definitely turn Maddie’s head, much like wealthy planter Antoine!

 

In Leslye Walton’s “El Destinos,” the Three Fates are reborn as a trio of Mexican American sisters whose responsibility to control the threads of life and death is tested when two of them fall in love with the same man. (1848: Southwest Texas)

4

Would these delicate Italian slippers, made of silk satin, sueded leather, linen, kid leather, brass, and pearls, be something like what Rosa would wear for her wedding?

 

In Andrea Cremer’s “High Stakes,” a supernatural assassin is hired to protect a powerful player in the poker game that will determine which side the supernatural world will take in the Civil War. (1861: Boston, Massachusetts, and Natchez, Mississippi)

5

How gorgeous are these red leather boots from around 1865? I can picture deadly Klio wearing them as she boards the steamship.

 

In Caroline Tung Richmond’s “The Red Raven Ball,” a bluestocking debutante is tasked with finding the Confederate spy at her formidable grandmother’s annual ball – with surprising results. (1862: Washington, DC)

6

These gorgeous embroidered slippers from the 1860s would be perfect for the annual ball!

 

In Beth Revis’s “Pearls,” a privileged young woman flees a forced marriage to become a schoolteacher in the rough Wyoming Territory and learns courage from her ragtag band of students.  (1876: Chicago, Illinois, and Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory)

7

These bright purple “boudoir slippers” from the 1870s were basically loungewear. Would Helen leave behind fancy shoes like this when she flees Chicago?

 

In Marissa Meyer’s “Gold in the Roots of the Grass,” Fei-Yen, a Chinese American medium, helps a young prospector’s spirit find justice for his murder. (1877: Deadwood, Dakota Territory)

8

Would Fei-Yen wear black boots like these from the 1870s as she tries to fend off greedy prospectors hoping for clues about where to find gold?

 

In Y.S. Lee’s “The Legendary Garrett Girls,” two sisters fight back against the unscrupulous con man, Soapy Smith, who tries to take over their prosperous frontier saloon. (1898: Skaguay, Alaska)

9

Okay, I don’t see either Lily or Clara wearing these fabulous gold evening shoes from 1898…but they seem perfect to represent the story, considering how mad people went in the Alaskan Gold Rush!

 

In Elizabeth Wein’s “The Color of the Sky,” Antonia meets her hero, aviatrix Bessie Coleman; bears witness to Bessie’s death in a tragic flying accident; and finds herself in possession of the plane’s flight record. (1926: Jacksonville, FL & Dallas, TX)

10

I can’t quite see sensible middle-class Tony wearing these black and gold heels from 1926, but perhaps Bessie would at some fine dinner, while fundraising for her flight school?

 

In Saundra Mitchell’s “Bonnie and Clyde, ” Marjorie May Johnson doesn’t see any conflict in running from the law as Baby Boy Wabash, the Most Wanted bank robber in Posey County, and later snuggling up to the same lawman, who just happens to be her beau. (1934: Indiana)

11

Great Depression? What Depression, asks these crazy Ferragamo sandals from 1938?

12

…I don’t even know what’s happening with these furry Schiaparelli boots but I couldn’t resist including them.

 

In Katherine Longshore’s “Hard Times,” Rosie “Curls” Weaver hops trains toward the coast in search of a better opportunity – and may find one when she meets a journalist searching for the truth about hobo camps. (1934: Washington State)

13

Would Rosie wear this pair of men’s black and white brogues, circa 1930-1935, as she jumps trains?

 

In Lindsay Smith’s “City of Angels,” an aspiring screenwriter falls in love with a fellow Rosie the Riveter who’s an aspiring actress – but things change when the men return from war. (1945: Los Angeles, CA)

14

How gorgeous are these purple silk heels from 1945? I can totally see aspiring actress Frankie coveting them!

 

In Kekla Magoon’s “Pulse of the Panthers,” Sandy’s worldview is changed when the Black Panthers hold a meeting at her family’s farm and she learns secrets about her own family’s history. (1967: California)

15

These…uh…whimsical sandals from 1968 are in no way practical for Sandy’s work cooking up breakfast and supper for the Black Panthers, but I couldn’t resist including them!

16

Same with these, but I’d totally wear them!

 

In Robin Talley’s “The Whole World Is Watching,” Jill, a Black college student, questions her relationship with her girlfriend as they get caught up in the riots and police brutality of the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  (1968: Chicago, IL)

17

These 1968 boots are fit for a superhero, but I don’t think they’re quiiiite what Jill would be wearing to run from the cops and tear gas in Grant Park!

 

What do you think, readers? Which pair of shoes is your favorite?

Make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for more amazing posts!

March 8 Katie’s Book Blog www.katiesbookblog.com
March 9 The Book Cellar X http://www.thebookcellarx.com/
March 10 Forever Young Adult http://foreveryoungadult.com/
March 11 The Book Smugglers www.thebooksmugglers.com
March 12 Please Feed the Bookworm

http://pleasefeedthebookworm.com/

 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Save Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer | Review + GiveawaySave Me, Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
Published by Delacorte Press on March 8th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain is not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.

Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn't exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and co-conspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom's wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won't let go.

On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.

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Save Me, Kurt Cobain is one of those books that popped up on my radar and I added it to my TBR without even really knowing what to expect from it.  I can’t tell you how many times I read the synopsis and I still didn’t know what I was getting into.  I don’t know if that made any difference on my feelings for the book but either way, I devoured it.

Pros:

  • The writing: Jenny Manzer’s writing style engaged me from the very first page.  While contemporary is my favorite genre, I understand that it can be slower to get into sometimes.  The story itself caught my attention, for sure, but Jenny Manzer’s way of telling the story is what really hooked me.
  • The music: If you didn’t already figure this out, Save Me, Kurt Cobain, has quite a few music references.  Each title is named after a Nirvana song and while I actually am not a huge Nirvana fan (don’t hate me!), I really enjoyed this aspect.  Jenny Manzer also managed to include a lot of actual Nirvana facts and events while keeping a lot of things fictional.  Music is a huge part of my life so the way it was woven into this story really appealed to me and helped keep me interested.
  • The mystery: There are a lot of questions brought up early on in Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  Who is Nico’s dad? Is it Kurt Cobain?  Is Kurt Cobain alive?  Nico manages to weave this crazy tale of what might have happened to her mother all based on the idea that Kurt Cobain is her father.  Jenny Manzer uses this and keeps readers guessing until the very last page.
  • Nico: Nico was my favorite part of Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  My heart went out to her.  She manages to come up with this crazy conspiracy theory to explain away the fact that she doesn’t know who her dad is and her mom abandoned her.  She’s lost and confused and alone and this is what she does to try and cope with all that.  I’ve never gone through an experience like that but I really think that everyone who reads Nico’s story will love her.
  • Everything!: I admit that I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately and haven’t really wanted to read anything.  Save Me, Kurt Cobain fixed that.  This was one of the rare books I’ve read where I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with it.  I loved Jenny Manzer’s writing, Nico’s story, the Nirvana history, every last thing.

Save Me, Kurt Cobain has a little something for everyone.  It’s one of those books that once you start, you’re not going to be able to put it down.  Jenny Manzer’s debut impressed me enough that I will definitely be checking out more from this author in the future.

Giveaway

US & Canada readers have a chance to win one of three copies of Save Me, Kurt Cobain.  Believe me, this is one you want to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour Stops

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