Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blog Tour: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios | Review + Interview + GiveawayExquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Series: Dark Caravan Cycle #1
Published by Harper Teen on October 7, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

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Heather Demetrios’ sophomore novel has been receiving mixed reviews all across the board. It was hard for me to set expectations going in because the bloggers I usually agree with, were all over the place. That being the case, I went into Exquisite Captive with the expectations that I would enjoy the novel strictly because I enjoyed Heather Demetrios’ debut novel, Something Real, and because I’ve been enjoying fantasy novels lately. My expectations were definitely met.

The uniqueness of Exquisite Captive greatly appealed to me. I’ve only read one book about jinni’s in the past and it was nothing like Exquisite Captive. I truly have nothing I could compare this to that might tell you guys what to expect. That’s far from being a bad thing though. Just know, you are not getting your standard fantasy novel when you go into this one. I loved the Jinni history and caste system and look forward to an expansion of that in the following books in the series.

While I didn’t love the love interests, the relationships definitely intrigued me. Nalia’s relationship with Malek definitely reminded me a bit of the Juliette-Warner thing going on. He’s not a good guy and I don’t see him ever being redeemed but I think he will appeal to some readers for that whole Warner-like aspect. Raif, on the other hand, was more my kind of guy. I didn’t trust him at first but he grew on me.

The aspect of this book that’s probably going to be hardest for some people to get by is how slow the first half is. It’s the first in a new fantasy series so you have to expect world-building and you can’t expect that to be rushed. Just know that it is worth it if you make it past that first part.

Overall, Heather Demetrios has impressed me once again. I highly suggest you do what I did and go into this one kind of blind and just judge for yourself.

What others are saying about Exquisite Captive:

Novel Novice’s review: “Dark and seductive, Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios will have you rethinking wishes — and every genie story you’ve ever heard, whether it’s that lovable blue guy in Aladdin or Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “I was fascinated by the beautiful world that Demetrios’ created!”

Escapism’s review: “There was so much potential but it never rose to it.”

New 2 Author Photo Macmillan 2015About the author:

When she’s not traipsing around the world or spending time in imaginary places, Heather Demetrios lives with her husband in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she now calls the East Coast home. Heather is a recipient of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award for her debut novel, Something Real, which Publisher’s Weekly calls “[An] addictive yet thoughtful debut” about reality TV stardom. She is the author of the upcoming EXQUISITE CAPTIVE, a smoldering fantasy about jinn in Los Angeles and what Kirkus called in its starred review “an intoxicating, richly realized realm of magic, politics, spirituality and history” (#1 in the DARK CARAVAN CYCLE). She is also the author of the upcoming I’ll Meet You There (Winter 2015). I’ll Meet You There is a love story about a young combat veteran and a girl trapped in their small town, both struggling to escape the war at home. Heather is the founder of Live Your What, an organization dedicated to fostering passion in people of all ages and creating writing opportunities for youth of limited economic means. She is proud to have an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. You can always find her on Twitter (@HDemetrios), ogling the military dogs she wants to adopt (but can’t because her NYC apartment is way too small). Find out more about Heather and her other books at www.heatherdemetrios.com and www.darkcaravancycle.com

Interview!

First off, thanks so much for doing this interview. I adored Something Real and I can’t wait to read Exquisite Captive!

Yay! It makes me so happy that readers who liked my contemporary YA are also excited about checking out a story about a jinni enslaved in Hollywood.

Describe Exquisite Captive in 140 characters or less!

Enslaved jinni / empress-in-hiding seeks infuriatingly attractive enemy to free her from dangerous master. Must know how to steal bottles.

How was it different for you, going from a contemporary novel to a fantasy novel? Was the writing process any different?

I work on them at the same time, so although the novels themselves are very different for readers, it’s all part of the daily landscape to me. The essentials are the same: creating a world the reader will want to spend time in and characters that will find a place in their heart. The writing process is pretty much the same, although with my fantasy there are a lot more outside elements I use: physical storyboarding, writing to music, using scent in my office to bring the world to life…things like that.

What made you decide to write about jinni? It’s definitely not something that’s done a lot!

The idea came from a prompt in a writing class, but I stuck with it because nobody else was exploring these fascinating mythological creatures. The more research I did, the more I began to see the enormous potential for giving the jinn the treatment they deserve in the West. This isn’t Disney’s Aladdin or I Dream of Jeannie. I really tried to delve into the dark side of Arabic lore here.

Do you have any must-haves while writing?

Something to drink—coffee or sparkling water, usually. A heating pad—sitting all day really wrecks you. My Macbook Air and an aesthetically inspiring environment, which is usually my office or one of the coffeehouses in Brooklyn.

Do you have any plans for your release day?

My release day is going to be totally baller because it’s the first day of the Epic Reads tour! I’ll be in Princeton, NJ on my pub day day—I can’t wait! My launch party is the day before at Books of Wonder in Manhattan and we’re going to have a sitar player and henna artist there. I want readers to have a little taste of my jinn world.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now? I know there are more books in the Dark Caravan Cycle but anything else?

My next contemporary YA comes out in Feb. 2015. It’s called I’ll Meet You There and it’s a love story about a young Marine who just lost his leg in Afghanistan and a girl he works with at a quirky roadside motel. It’s my heart in paper and ink. I can’t wait for it to come out!

Short answer:
Bad Boys or Good Boys? I prefer bad boys next door. ☺

Happily ever after or happily never after? I’m a hopeless romantic of the Stephanie Perkins school.

Series or standalone? Series for fantasy, standalone for everything else. With fantasy, you need more time to really see this whole world the author is creating and you want to have enough time to spend with the large cast of characters. But I can’t reiterate enough that every book in a series needs to stand alone in terms of being a satisfying read with its own plot and character arcs. No filler!

Love triangles or soulmates? Some people might be worried that Exquisite Captive has a love triangle – it doesn’t. Three people does no always a love triangle make. I get pretty tired of the love triangle, but when it’s done well, I can’t resist its pull. Triangle or no, I prefer seeing soulmates who figure out they’re meant to be by novel’s end, but don’t know they’re meant to be at novel’s beginning.

Write at night or write during the day? I feel very lucky that I get to write full time. Because of that, I try to get most of my work done before my PIC (partner in crime) gets home from work. But it’s art – you can’t really confine it to one part of the day.

Write in silence or write with music? It depends on the book. I write the Dark Caravan Cycle to sitar and Middle Eastern music because that’s just what feels right and keeps me in the world. I usually write in silence, but have a playlist that inspires me for when I’m taking breaks.

Print, audio or eBooks? Print. Ain’t nothin’ like the real deal.

Giveaway!

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October 2nd:
Ex Libris REVIEW
Bookish REVIEW + DREAM CAST

October 3rd:
Fiktshun REVIEW + THIS OR THAT
Imagine a World REVIEW

October 4th:
Two Chicks On Books GUEST POST
Books a la Mode REVIEW

October 5th:
Fire and Ice REVIEW + MUSIC PLAYLIST
Me, My Shelf and I SPOTLIGHT

October 6th:
Novel Novice REVIEW
Addicted Readers REVIEW

October 7th:
Such A Novel Idea REVIEW + 10 RANDOM THINGS
Katie’s Book Blog REVIEW + AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Forever Young Adult – CHRACTHER INTERVIEW

October 8th:
I Heart YA Fiction REVIEW
Wholly Books REVIEW + WHAT’S ON HEATHER’S DESK

October 9th:
Once Upon A Twilight REVIEW
Crossroad Reviews REVIEW

October 10th:
Mundie Moms REVIEW + EXCERPT
Curling Up With A Good Book REVIEW

October 11th:
Swoony Boys Podcast REVIEW + A DAY IN THE LIFE OF HEATHER
Book Lovers Life REVIEW

October 12th:
A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW + TENS LIST
CBY Book Club – EXCERPT

Monday, September 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver | Review

Blog Tour: Rooms by Lauren Oliver | ReviewRooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by Ecco on September 23, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Deliriumtrilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

picadillyblueIt really should come as no surprise that Lauren Oliver’s adult debut is spectacular.  Rooms is everything I didn’t know I was looking for in a book.  The writing is gorgeous, the characters are extremely flawed, and the mystery is captivating.

Rooms is not a book you want to rush through.  It’s definitely compelling enough that you will want to sit and read it straight through but it’s a book full of stories that take time to completely understand.  Every character has a story all their own.  Sandra and Alice, the two resident ghosts, spend a lot of time telling theirs and I have to say that theirs were the most interesting stories of the group.  They both lived and died in time periods relatively far in the past and they both have secrets and mysteries surrounding their lives and deaths.  That’s not to say that the other characters don’t have interesting stories though because they do.  Caroline, Minna, and Trenton all have things they are hiding and each story is very compelling.  Even though I may not have liked the characters, their stories had me hooked.

While I say that I didn’t like the characters, I don’t think readers are really meant to like them.  I sympathized with parts of each character but other than that, they are greatly flawed and hard to like.  Trenton is a little bit of an asshole but he’s by far the most likable.  He is seriously depressed and contemplating suicide.  He doesn’t see that there is anything left for him to live for but going back home for his father’s funeral forces him to look at things a little differently, especially when he starts hearing and seeing ghosts.  Minna is closed off to the world and she is a giant bitch.  There is no nice way to put it.  She thinks of no one but herself.  She has a daughter that she’s forced to think of at times but Amy plays a really small part in the story and, it seems, Minna’s life.  Caroline is a lot like Minna but an older version.  She’s very self-centered.  Even when she says she’s doing something for her kids, she’s really thinking of herself.  The one thing that really makes these people tolerable is that they have all have secrets that readers don’t find out about at first.  Once you start to see the dark pasts of the characters, it’s a lot easier to see how they come to be who they are.

Lauren Oliver’s writing style translates to the adult age range brilliantly.  I truly have yet to find something she has written that I don’t like.  She is one author who could write a phone book and have people rush to grab it off the shelves.  The writing style in Rooms is a little spare but never lacking in details that matter.

Overall, Rooms is a novel that can appeal to many people of many age ranges.  The subject and content are definitely better suited for adults but the appeal of this one is widespread.  And what do you know, another Lauren Oliver novel gets added to my shelf of favorites?

What others are saying about Rooms:

Fantasy Book Critic’s Review: “There is real content in the very believable characters’ attempts to make sense of their lives.”

Fic Fare’s review: “This story has a bit of everything… drama, angst, humor and sadness.”

Fiktshun’s review: “The author’s first attempt at a novel aimed at an adult audience was hugely successful.”

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About the author:

Lauren Oliver is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA novels Before I Fall, Panic, and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Her books have been translated into thirty languages. She is also the author of two novels for middle-grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was a 2012 E. B. White Read-Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s first adult novel, Rooms, will be published in September 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the co-founder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit. You can visit her online at www.laurenoliverbooks.com

Purchase ROOMS here!

Add ROOMS on Goodreads!

Follow Lauren on Twitter!

Visit Lauren’s Website!

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

15-Sep Reading Lark
16-Sep Midnight Garden
17-Sep Icey Books
18-Sep I Swim For Oceans
19-Sep Fiktshun
22-Sep Fiction Fare
23-Sep Read My Breath Away
24-Sep Queen Ella Bee Reads
25-Sep A Dream Within a Dream
26-Sep Anna Reads
29-Sep Katie’s Book Blog (ME!)
30-Sep Sweeps 4 Bloggers
Sep-31 Mod Podge Bookshelf

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | Review

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick | ReviewForgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Published by Little Brown on August 13, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 273
Format: ARC
Source: ALA, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who's moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour.
A teenage violin virtuoso.
A pastor's daughter.
A teacher.

Most of the time, Leonard believes he's weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he's not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a really hard book for me to review.  It’s one of those books that you think you should like because the subject matter is tough and it’s honest and well done but I found myself disliking a lot of things about it.

I’ve Had Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock on my shelf for over a year now and the only thing that made me finally pick it up was my YA Lit class.  It was one of the optional books and I figured I’d give it a try since I already had a copy.  I’m definitely glad I read it but it’s not a book I’d ever take the time to read again, if you know what I mean.

Leonard Peacock is turning 18 and as a gift to himself he decides he will kill his former best friend and then end his own miserable life.  But before all that can happen, he has 4 gifts to deliver to the only people he really considers friends.  It’s definitely a plot that will grab readers’ attention but it’s not a very realistic one.  Why would no one think it odd that Leonard is giving out these random, extravagant gifts?  It’s out of Leonard’s nature and while everyone does question this, no one takes the time to dig deeper or figure out that it’s Leonard’s birthday.  I found this part highly unlikely.  There’s even a scene where someone asks if Leonard is going to kill himself but does nothing really to prevent Leonard from leaving.  I truly feel that in this day and age, if someone is suspected of having suicidal thoughts or tendencies, someone will do something to try and help.  That was not the case in Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.

Leonard is very much alone.  His dad ran out, his mom lives in another city (leaving him a whole house to himself), and his “friends” don’t actually care much for him.  Walt was the only person Leonard really seemed to have a relationship with and that relationship was totally strange.  The other three friends Leonard has gifts for are almost more like close acquaintances.  Also, I don’t really blame them for not liking Leonard all that much.  He was a really rude kid.  He even calls himself an asshole multiple times throughout the book and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.  There was one point where he was so mean he almost made someone cry.  Hard to have sympathy for someone like that.  (Not that I was rooting for him to kill himself, or anything.)

The story is fast-paced but also a little hard to get into.  Most of the story is told regularly but there are footnotes interspersed throughout, as well.  The footnotes were really distracting to me.  It was almost like Leonard’s thoughts didn’t quite fit in with the pace of the story so he threw them in as footnotes so readers wouldn’t miss out on them completely.  It’s something I’ve never seen done before in books like this and I had trouble getting used to it.

I think the best thing about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is how honest it is.  It portrays a very real teenage boy who thinks he has the biggest problems in the world.  Sure, he has some pretty big issues but he never manages to look outside himself and see that there are bigger problems than his.  He may not be an easy guy to like but how many high school guys are wonderful people?  For that matter, how many high school girls?  Matthew Quick shows the darker side of the teenage mind and it was spot on.  However, he still managed to leave readers hopeful.  I didn’t think that was going to be possible but I love how he did it.

Overall, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is not going to be a book for everybody but I think it has many merits that will make it appeal to some readers.  Fair warning though, it’s not for younger readers.  There is a lot of profanity and many tough subjects are brought up throughout the course of the book.

What others are saying about Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock:

Cuddlebuggery’s review: “All in all, I’m really glad I decided to check Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock out.”

Once Upon a Bookcase’s review: “I implore you to read this novel, let Leonard tell you his story.”

Steph Su Reads’ review: “FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK is arguably one of the most explosive and important books of this year, but if you knew nothing about Matthew Quick, most famously the author ofSilver Linings Playbook, you probably wouldn’t expect it.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton | Review + Giveaway

Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton | Review + GiveawayAdrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on September 23, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 192
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.

picadillyblueBefore reading Adrenaline Crush, I hadn’t heard much about it but what I had heard wasn’t the greatest.  I went in with low expectations and the book definitely surpassed them.  I found myself really enjoying Adrenaline Crush and I powered through this book!

Dyna isn’t an easy character to like for a while.  She’s fearless, at first, and totally willing to go after whatever she wants.  However, after her accident, she’s scared of all the things she used to love and she thinks safe is the best way to go.  Her new boyfriend, Jay, totally embodies her new philosophy of taking things safe.  He’s sweet and kind and pretty corny.  He had no flaws and that in itself was totally a flaw for me.  As for being fearless, Dyna doesn’t see her ever being that way again.  That changes when she joins the Ulyssess center for physical therapy and meets Pierce.  Pierce and the rest of the group force Dyna to realize that maybe being safe isn’t the best way to live the rest of her life.  Pierce definitely had some flaws and I loved that about him.  He was strong but could be volatile.  He brought out the best and the worst in Dyna.

Dyna’s family was one of my favorite things about Adrenaline Crush.  Her parents are originally introduced as two people who don’t pay much attention to their kids but I did not see them that way at all.  When Dyna was in her accident, they would not leave her alone.  They were super overprotective but they were awesome.  Her dad’s protective attitude towards Jay was so funny.  As for Dyna’s older brother, Harley, he cracked me up.  He was a total stoner, going nowhere, but I thought he was adorable.  They had a very strong family and I loved seeing that.

The story is super fast-paced.  The book itself is only around 190 pages and it flies by.  I seriously sat down, started this one, and couldn’t put it down until I was done.  I wanted to know what Dyna would choose and how the other Ulysses center patients would overcome their issues.

Overall, Adrenaline Crush is a really cute story with a little bit of a deeper story.  I will definitely be checking out more from this author.

What others are saying about Adrenaline Crush:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “If you enjoy characters with haunted pasts, a love triangle done right, incredibly strong heroines, and a family dynamic that is absolutely to die for, I highly recommend this book.”

Rather Be Reading’s review: “All in all, the book kept me interested and was definitely enjoyable, even if it won’t be a forever favorite.”

Books Are Vital’s review: “Adrenaline Crush definitely lives up to its name.”

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Macmillan, I have a copy of Adrenaline Crush to giveaway to one US resident.  Just fill out the Rafflecopter!

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + Interview

Blog Tour: Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane | Review + InterviewEvidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. Tommy was adopted, so maybe he ran away to find his birth parents. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in his own thoughts about particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pull-out off the highway, so maybe someone drove up and snatched him. Or maybe he slipped into a parallel universe. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it is possibly true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew Tommy and third-person chapters about people who find the things Tommy left behind—his red motorbike, his driving goggles, pages from his notebook—Particles explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

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Evidence of Things Not Seen might be one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.  It’s unlike anything else in the YA market and while it wasn’t my favorite, I truly enjoyed reading it.

The story focuses on the disappearance of Tommy Smythe.  Tommy is a strange boy with a fascination for particle physics and alternate universes.  One of the quirky things about the book is that you never actually meet Tommy.  You get to read his journal entries but that is all you have of Tommy other than what other people have to say about him.  Each chapter is told from a different point of view, some people who knew Tommy and some people who stumble upon items of his after his disappearance.  While it took some getting used to, this style was awesome and probably my favorite aspect of the book.

Each chapter is almost like a short story.  Each person has something to do with Tommy, whether they know it or not.  It’s also a way to see how everyone is connected by just one person.  All of the people were very different but they all tied together somehow.  There were times when I wondered why I was reading about a certain person but later on in the book I’d see the bigger role they played.  It was really fascinating and such a unique way to tell this story.

The mature content in Evidence of Things Not Seen really got to me.  I don’t usually have a problem with this kind of stuff but in this case, there was a lot of it and some of it seemed unnecessary.  There was rape, incest, child prostitution, abuse, and all kinds of other stuff.  I just felt like there was an over abundance of mature content and at times it made me really uncomfortable.

The ending is not perfect, it’s not tied up with a bow, but it’s perfect for the story.  It’s very open ended and it has definitely got me thinking.  Also, I won’t tell you what it is but I adore the last line.

Overall, Evidence of Things Not Seen is a promising young adult debut from Lindsey Lane.  I look forward to more unique stories from this author.

What others are saying about Evidence of Things Not Seen:

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “I will say that it is definitely unlike most books I read.”

Bewitched Bookworms’ review: “The writing was crisp, sometimes stark, but beautiful at the same time.”

Read.Sleep.Repeat’s review: “Overall, I recommend this book to people looking to read fresh and interesting contemporaries, and books with a large feeling of community and family.”

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About the author:

Award-winning author Lindsey Lane is proud to announce her debut YA novel EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers on September 16, 2014. Her picture book SNUGGLE MOUNTAIN (Clarion, 2003) is now available as an iTunes app, which Digital Storytime describes as “heartwarming and adorable with rich illustrations and lyrical text.” In 2010, Lindsey received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Lindsey is a featured presenter at many schools where she gets kids (of all ages) excited about writing. When she is not writing, reading or being a mom, Lindsey loves sweating at Bikkram yoga, seeing movies and plays, and enjoying some of the outrageously good food at Austin restaurants with friends.

 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

Interview with Lindsey Lane!

First off, thanks for stopping by the blog.  =)

Thank you so much for hosting me. It’s an honor.

Describe Evidence of Things Not Seen in 140 characters or less!

Without hashtags? Okay, here goes:

Tommy is missing. As the community searches, their lives are affected by the loss & the only clues they find are pages from Tommy’s notebook

What made you decide to write YA?

I’m not sure I decided to write YA. I think stories come to us and we have to figure out the best way to tell them. That said, one of the things that I am most proud of about EVIDENCE is that it is tough, gritty and honest and I think that young adults sometimes want a story that doesn’t have easy answers and big bows. Sometimes they want to look behind the wizard’s curtain and see the machinations of what makes life messy and magical.

Your character, Tommy, is a genius when it comes to physics.  Do you have a physics background?  If not, how did the idea come to you?

I do not have a background in physics but I have a fascination with the ideas in physics.  So do a lot of other writers. Steven Moffatt (Dr. Who) Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass), to name two of many.

The first story I wrote about Tommy was called Particles and, in it, I hinted that Tommy might have disappeared by going into another dimension. When I expanded the story and wove it through the entire book, I had to entertain all the possibilities of how Tommy might have disappeared.  As Tommy writes in his journal:  All Possibilities exist. When I make an observation, all possibilities collapse into one. So is it our observation that limits possibility? What if there is absolutely no observer? Then anything is possible. Anything. I could be anywhere. I could be dead. I could be sleeping. I could be on Ruby going to class. I could even be in class because that’s one of the possibilities that exists as long as no one is observing me.

Do you have any must haves while writing?

A cup of strong black tea (Yorkshire Gold or Scottish Breakfast) with milk and a comfortable chair. Other than that, I love hearing my animals breathing nearby and, if the weather’s good, the windows open so I can hear the birds.

What has been your best experience being part of the YA community?

I have to say that the Kidlit/YA community has the most enthusiastic and generous people on the planet. As far as best experience, well, being on this blog tour is pretty great and when I reached out to blurbers, I was welcomed heartily into the fold. Because this is my debut, I am looking forward to many more great experiences.

What are you working on now?  Anything else YA?

I am working on the next YA novel. The working title is Inside The Notes.  The protagonist is a musician who is set on a path to meet the man who killed her mother fourteen years ago: her father.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blog Tour: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper | Review + GiveawaySalt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Published by Little Brown on September 23, 2014
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: BEA, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

picadillyblueSalt & Storm, Kendall Kulper’s debut novel, is truly unlike anything I’ve read.  It’s historical fantasy brimming with witches, magic, curses, romance, and mystery.  I couldn’t put it down!

Salt & Storm starts off very slowly.  Don’t let that stop you from continuing with the story though.  The writing is heavy, very reminiscent of other historical fantasy novels.  That’s not to say that it’s not gorgeous though because it definitely is.  I remember the style of writing being pitched as similar to Laini Taylor’s and I definitely saw that comparison from the start.  Kendall Kulper does have a style all her own though that readers will get used to quickly and come to love over the course of the book.

The story itself is fascinating.  I’ve always been a fan of stories about witches and Salt & Storm is going to be added to my list of recommendations when it comes to those types of books.  These aren’t your typical witches though.  The Roe witches each have very distinct abilities.  Avery’s grandma’s magic focuses on emotions, Avery’s mom’s magic also focused on emotions but specifically those of love and affection, and Avery’s own gift was to be able to interpret dreams, although sometimes it seemed more like a curse.  Also, the witches were held in very high esteem on the island.  Sure, people were intimidated by them but they also sought them out for protection and aid.

The romance was very much a slow burn type of romance, my absolute favorite.  There were times at first when I feared it would veer into instalove territory but that was not the case.  It was more that Avery and Tane had an instant attraction as well as a kind of magical pull.  Tane was good for Avery.  He opened her eyes to how sheltered she was and gave her a new way of looking at life.  She really changed as a person as she got closer to Tane and he made her a lot more likable in my eyes.

Overall, Salt & Storm won’t be for everyone, that’s for sure, but I highly recommend it.  It’s a captivating story that may take longer to read than other books but it’s worth it!

What others are saying about Salt & Storm:

Love Is Not A Triangle’s review: “I enjoyed the history in Salt & Storm and the book overall.”

Good Books & Good Wine’s review: “Salt & Storm made me feel heavy and weighted down and I am totally okay with that.”

Maji Bookshelf’s review: “Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book and I was overall disappointed in everything about it, from the plot, character development, to the romance.”

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About the author:

Kendall Kulper writes historical fiction with a fantasy twist for teen readers and knows more about nineteenth century whaling than she ever imagined. Her debut YA novel, SALT & STORM will be published by Little, Brown September 23, 2014. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in history and literature in 2008 and spent several years as a journalist before deciding to write full-time. She grew up in the wilds of New Jersey and now lives in Boston with her husband and chronically-anxious Australian Shepherd mix, Abby.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/Tumblr

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway

2 winners will receive hardcover copies of Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper.  US only!

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

Week One:

9/15/2014- Novel Novice– Interview

9/15/2014- The Infinite To-Read Shelf– Review

9/16/2014– All Things Urban Fantasy– Guest Post

9/16/2014– No BS Book Reviews– Review

9/17/2014– Such a Novel Idea– Interview

9/17/2014– Katie’s Book Blog– Review

9/18/2014– IceyBooks– Interview

9/18/2014– Reading YA Rocks– Excerpt

9/19/2014– Wishful Endings– Guest Post

9/19/2014– Casual Readers– Review

 

Week Two:

9/22/2014– Supernatural Snark Interview

9/22/2014– About to Read– Review

9/23/2014– The Cover Contessa– Guest Post

9/23/2014– Imaginary Reads Review

9/24/2014– Fire and Ice– Guest Post

9/24/2014– Once Upon a Twilight– Review

9/25/2014– Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Interview

9/25/2014– The Best Books Ever– Review

9/26/2014– Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post

9/26/2014– Tynga’s Reviews– Review

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Blog Tour: Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Louder Than Words by Iris St. Clair | Review + GiveawayLouder Than Words by Iris St. Clair
Published by Swoon Romance on September 16, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 310
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson's life lately. Her dad died, her mom numbs the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends have slowly abandoned her.

Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe and should NOT have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt that made her desperate to escape the final moments of Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details to herself and trust no one.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky boy, recently transplanted from New York City and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she can't let him get too close. And summer is just long enough and hot enough to keep a boy like that at arm's length.

But by the time Rex's charm wears down her resistance, it's too late. He's put Ellen on the "just friends" shelf and has shifted his romantic attentions to the impossibly annoying and perky anti-Ellen. Even worse, the teacher who tried to get her to sleep with him is still at it, preying on other girls while Ellen struggles to come to terms with what happened.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about the well-liked teacher and risk retribution, tell Rex how she really feels about him and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside. After all, it's the only safe place she knows when the only thing louder than words is the fear of being rejected.

picadillyblueStraight contemporary romances haven’t really been wowing me lately and I was hoping Louder Than Words would change that.  While I enjoyed the book and I devoured the story, it just didn’t stand out to me as anything all that special.  It’s a fun read but there could have been a lot more to it.

Louder Than Words does not have a promising beginning.  It’s cheesy and not the best writing and it doesn’t do a good job showcasing what the book contains.  If I had picked this one up at the store and read nothing but the first chapter, I would not have bought it.  However, once I got past that, things got better.  The writing is really rather juvenile but that does help to speed the story along.  However, it doesn’t do justice to the characters or the story.  I honestly felt like I could have been reading something written by a student rather than a published work.  I was not impressed by that aspect of Louder Than Words.

The characters have a lot of growing up to do when readers first meet them.  Ellen and Rex meet during the summer before their senior year of high school but when I was first introduced to them I thought they were much younger.  They were both really immature and Ellen was extremely naive.  That was something I was able to look past though since I expected them to do some growing throughout the course of the story.  Luckily, they did.  Ellen has had a rough couple of years and she is rather cynical.  She’s unwilling to trust most people and Rex is no exception.  In fact, she probably trusts him least of all.  He’s new in town and she has no clue what he could possibly see in her.  Ellen’s lack of confidence in herself was heartbreaking.  She thought very little of herself.  The only thing she ever really liked about herself was her intelligence.  It’s a strong quality of hers but it’s definitely not all Ellen had going for her.  She was also strong, funny, and a tad awkward (which I totally related to.)  Rex was a total sweetheart but he was definitely a bit of a player.  He knew what he looked like and he was willing to use that to his advantage.  Once he saw that his charm and looks weren’t going to work with Ellen though he became a much more honest version of himself.  He was quirky, funny, smart, and kind.  He appealed to me a lot even with his horrible decision making skills.

The secondary characters didn’t stand out a ton to me but they were not bad.  Gracie was annoying and bitchy but I’m pretty sure that was done on purpose.  Lizzy was supposedly Ellen’s best friend but she played a very minor role in the story until the very end.  She wasn’t present for most of the book and I didn’t care much for her when she was introduced to the story.  Robbie, Ellen’s brother and guardian, was a great guy who very obviously cared a ton for his little sister.  However, he tended to underestimate her knowledge at times and it got on my nerves a little.  Mr. Hamer, the creepy science teacher, came across totally like he was supposed to.  He gave me the creeps from the start.  I wasn’t sure how to feel about Leanne for most of the book but she ended up being a good person and a good friend to Ellen which I really liked since Ellen did not have enough of those.

There were parts of the story that seemed almost as if they were thrown in as afterthoughts.  For the first half of the book the story surrounding Ellen and Mr. Hamer went absolutely nowhere and that bothered me a lot.  Then there was a side story about a little boy who was maybe being abused at home.  That story didn’t really go anywhere or play any role in the bigger story.  There was also the story about Rex and his father that took up maybe a chapter but never really came up again after that.  Same with Ellen’s mom and her drug habits.  That story was introduced at the beginning, disappeared for most of the book, and then came back again at the end.  For someone so affected by her mom, you’d think Ellen would mention it more than she did or even think about it more than she did.

Overall, Louder Than Words is an all-around mediocre read that I found entertaining but none too meaningful.  If you’re not looking for a story with any hidden agendas or extensive development, check this one out.

iris st claire About the author:

Iris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that’s another bio.)

No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.

In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year “fish or cut bait” dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

Author Links:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

GIVEAWAY:
$10 Amazon gift card + ebook of Louder Than Words (INT)

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley | Review

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley | ReviewRites of Passage by Joy Hensley
Published by Harper Teen on September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty...no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust...and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

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Rites of Passage is a strong debut novel from Joy Hensley.  I was seriously impressed by this contemporary novel and I’m already looking forward to whatever she writes next.

Rites of Passage combines a few of my favorite things: strong females, forbidden romance, and a school setting.  And it just so happens that all three of these things are done well.  Sam is one seriously kick -ass female.  She knows it’s going to be tough being one of the first female students at Denmark Military Academy but she doesn’t let that stop her.  She’s never backed down from a dare and this is not going to be the first time she does.  She is determined to honor her brother’s memory by making it through the first year and paving the way for future generations of young women.  She is severely hazed, to the point of injury.  She’s looked down upon by almost everyone, including her older brother.  To top it all off, she has no clue who to trust seeing as there is a secret society determined to get her and all the other girls to leave.   None of that stops her though.  She is smart, funny, kind, and one tough cookie.  She’s the kind of heroine girls can definitely look up to.

The forbidden romance aspect was pretty steamy.  Sam and her cadet drill sergeant have a lot in common and he’s one of the few people at the school who treats her just like anyone else.  He doesn’t look down on her because she’s a female and he doesn’t make any special concessions because she’s a female.  To him, she’s just another person, one that he is attracted to though.  The attraction between them is definitely made clear at the beginning of the book but it takes time to build and nothing happens for quite some time.  Even after things are more out in the open, Rites of Passage really isn’t a romance centered novel.  Sure there are some steamy and some super sweet scenes between Sam and Drill but it’s not a focal point.  It was well done.

The school setting was awesome.  Rites of Passage is a lot like any other boarding school novel except that it’s set at a military academy where things are crazy strict.  To be honest, while I was reading I kept picturing the set of the Disney Channel Original Movie Cadet Kelly.  I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about, with Hilary Duff.  Scenes from that movie kept popping into my head while reading Rites of Passage and that was not a bad thing.  Denmark Military Academy was a really well-developed school setting that I could easily picture in my head.

The story is completely pulse-pounding.  I read Rites of Passage in one sitting because I was dying to know what was going to happen.  You won’t want to put this one down once you start it.  The ending was a little abrupt though and I was left with a few questions that I would love to have answered, maybe even in a second book.  While I don’t think Rites of Passage necessarily needs a sequel, I’d greatly enjoy one.

Overall, Rites of Passage is a fabulous debut and a wonderful contemporary novel.  I can’t wait to see what Joy Hensley has planned next!

What others are saying about Rites of Passage:

Jenuine Cupcakes’ review: “Sam McKenna is the perfect blend of fierce determination, vulnerability and feminine strength.”

The Bookish Owl’s review: “Rites of Passage, without a doubt, is a phenomenal debut.”

Love is not a Triangle’s review: “I stayed up until 1:30 am finishing Rites of Passage because I couldn’t go to bed until I got to the end.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Right Kind of Wrong (Finding Fate #3) by Chelsea Fine | Guest Post + Review + GiveawayRight Kind Of Wrong by Chelsea Fine
Series: Finding Fate #3
Published by Forever on September 2, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Sometimes wrong can feel oh so right . . .

Jenna Lacombe needs complete control, whether it’s in the streets . . . or between the sheets. So when she sets out on a solo road trip to visit her family in New Orleans, she’s beyond annoyed that the infuriatingly sexy Jack Oliver wants to hitch a ride with her. Ever since they shared a wild night together last year, he’s been trying to strip away her defenses one by one. He claims he’s just coming along to keep her safe-but what’s not safe for her is prolonged exposure to the tattooed hottie.

Jack can’t get Jenna out from under his skin. She makes him feel alive again after his old life nearly destroyed him-and losing her is not an option. Now Jack’s troubles are catching up to him, and he’s forced to return to his hometown in Louisiana. But when his secrets put them both in harm’s way, Jenna will have to figure out how far she’s willing to let love in . . . and how much she already has.

picadillyblueRight Kind of Wrong, the third and final book in the Finding Fate trilogy, lived up to my expectations.  After reading two of Chelsea Fine’s previous novels, I’ve come to expect steamy romance, well-developed characters, and fun, fast-paced stories.  Right Kind of Wrong is not lacking in any of these.

Jenna and Jack take center stage in Right Kind of Wrong.  Their story is a bit different from Pixie and Levi’s and Kayla and Daren’s seeing as they already have a sexual relationship.  They’ve known each other ever since they started working together and they were both immediately attracted to each other.  One drunken night led to them hooking up but their relationship remained just friendly, at least on Jenna’s part.  Jack wants more and he’s willing to push Jenna until she gives in and admits she does too.  Jack really does everything in his power to push Jenna to her limits and admit she’s not as independent as she’d like to think.  He’s fine with her following her dreams but he wants to be there with her along the way.  He’s beyond sweet but he’s by no means perfect.  Jack has a very messed up past that takes a main role in Right Kind of Wrong.  It was refreshing to see someone with such a bad past take the role of the good guy.  It was also refreshing to see how the darkness in Jack’s past didn’t push Jenna away, that she was strong enough to handle anything he threw at her.

Jenna was my only issue with Right Kind of Wrong.  She was such a hypocrite!  She preached to Kayla and Pixie about letting love into their life and letting themselves be happy but she wouldn’t do the same for herself.  She did everything she could to push Jack away, all because he didn’t fit into her life plan.  She was actually downright rude about it to Jack and I hated that about her.  Also, it became a little repetitive with all the talk of her life plan and how Jack would just ruin things.  I wanted to reach into the book and slap Jenna right across the face.

The story was fast-paced and had me laughing a lot.  Jenna and Jack brought out the best and worst in each other and it was quite hilarious.  Jenna’s inner monologue was pure comedic genius.  There was a darker side to the story as well.  Jack’s little brother got messed up in some bad business and it was up to Jack to find out what happened to him and try to save his life.  It was a very different story from the first two books and actually appealed to me more than the other two.  If you’ve read Jay Crownover’s book, Better When He’s Bad, it’s a little similar to that.  And since I loved that one, I loved that aspect of Right Kind of Wrong.

Overall, Right Kind of Wrong has made me a Chelsea Fine fan for life.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I’m hoping for more steamy new adult novels from this author!

What others are saying about Right Kind of Wrong:

One Click Bliss’ review: “You’ll have to read it to find out what happens, but Chelsea Fine’s writing grips you from page one and has you fully ensconced in their lives and pulling for their happily ever after.”

Love Between The Sheets’ review: “While I didn’t love Right Kind of Wong, I did like Jenna and Jack’s story enough that I think I’ll go back and read the previous books in the series.”

LovLivLife Reviews’ review: “Really cute story – I enjoyed this one a lot – it was different than the other two books since Jenna and Jack already had the connection.”

Guest Post from Chelsea Fine!

Atrocious, awkward, and amazing: Road Trip Tales

by Chelsea Fine

 

Ah, road trips. An American pastime and a part of most everyone’s vacation memories. They’re romanticized, televised, and idealized, but they almost never go according to plan.

 

When you lock people up in a vehicle for an extended period of time, you’re bound to end up with a good story. And the term “good” is used loosely here because, in my opinion, road trips fall into one of three categories: Atrocious, Awkward, and Amazing.

 

Here’s a brief glimpse into three road trips I’ve taken that fall into each of those categories:

 

ATROCIOUS: Let me set it up for you. My husband and me, traveling late at night, with three children, two of which were 3 years old and both vomiting, while the other child (who was 1 year old and still in diapers) was screaming. We were driving an old SUV, lost on a pitch-black road somewhere between California and Arizona, without any food or diapers, running low on gas, with the car heater broken and one headlight out, during the middle of winter, in the RAIN.

 

It was three hours of pure atrocity.

 

AWKWARD: In high school, a group of friends and I decided to go camping one weekend at a spot three hours away. The camping trip itself was fun, but on the day we packed up to leave, there was some confusion and two people got left behind: me and my ex-boyfriend. Now, you all know how dramatic high school breakups can be and this particular boyfriend and I hadn’t spoken since we called it quits. We made the three-hour road trip journey back home in my little car, driving the entire way in tense silence.

 

Awk-ward.

 

AMAZING: The best road trip I’ve ever been on was, by far, with my husband. A few years ago we attended a wedding in Northern California and rented a car for our stay. We set out to find lunch one day, but took a wrong turn and ended up lost. At the time, neither of us had GPS on our phones so we had no way of knowing where we were. We tried to find our way back to the main roads, but all our turning-around only led us farther away from civilization and, soon, we were headed down a skinny dirt road in the middle of nowhere, tired and hungry. A few hours passed and  suddenly, the scenery changed from dirt roads and scattered shrubbery to winding hills of colorful trees, and rows of manicured vines stretched before us. In all our lost confusion, we’d accidentally driven right into wine country! Just off the dirt path to our left was a lone building that looked like it belonged in Tuscany. It resembled a cottage, with shutters and an oak door with iron hinges, and on a sign above the door was the word: RISTORANTE. Parking, we wandered inside the quaint building and were greeted by a pleasant old man and his wife, the owners of the small restaurant. They sat us on the patio, overlooking rolling hills of vineyards, and served us the most delicious lasagna and wine. We ate and drank to the beautiful rays of the setting sun and marveled at how we’d set out to find lunch and ended up on the best road trip ever.

 

Simply amazing.

 

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have any of you ever had an atrocious, awkward, or amazing road trip? Or perhaps all three? 😉

Chelsea Fine Headshot

About The Author:
Chelsea lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she spends most of her time writing stories, painting murals, and avoiding housework at all costs. She’s ridiculously bad at doing dishes and claims to be allergic to laundry. Her obsessions include: superheroes, coffee, sleeping-in, and crazy socks. She lives with her husband and two children, who graciously tolerate her inability to resist teenage drama on TV and her complete lack of skill in the kitchen.

 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack | Review + GiveawayThe Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack
Published by Entangled TEEN on September 2, 2014
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Feisty teenage thief Maeko and her maybe-more-than-friend Chaff have scraped out an existence in Victorian London’s gritty streets, but after a near-disastrous heist leads her to a mysterious clockwork cat and two dead bodies, she’s thrust into a murder mystery that may cost her everything she holds dear.

Her only allies are Chaff, the cat, and Ash, the son of the only murder suspect, who offers her enough money to finally get off the streets if she’ll help him find the real killer.

What starts as a simple search ultimately reveals a conspiracy stretching across the entire city. And as Maeko and Chaff discover feelings for each other neither was prepared to admit, she’s forced to choose whether she’ll stay with him or finally escape the life of a street rat. But with danger closing in around them, the only way any of them will get out of this alive is if all of them work together.

picadillyblueThe Girl and the Clockwork Cat stands out as amazingly unique in the YA market.  A steampunk adventure story featuring a half-Japanese heroine and her cat with a clockwork leg?  What’s not to love?

Nikki McCormack has a lot of strengths as an author.  Her writing is gorgeous, her characters are well developed, her setting is vivid, and her story is captivating.  From the very first sentence I had a feeling I would love The Girl and the Clockwork Cat and my prediction was right on target.

From the very first page, readers will have a hard time not falling in love with Maeko.  She’s a strong heroine who really stands out among all the characters in the book.  She’s feisty and I adored her attitude.  She refused to take crap from anyone!  However, she was not afraid to admit when she was in over her head or scared.  She was willing to seek out help when she needed it which really showed her true strength.  Also, while there were boys in her life (two, to be specific) she didn’t rely on them too much.  In fact, sometimes she was the one saving their butts.  It was a refreshing change of pace.  Chaff and Ash (yes there is a bit of a love triangle) aren’t too shabby either.  Chaff appealed to me a bit more since he was always there for Maeko but Ash had his strengths.  He cared a lot for his family and he was an all-around stand up guy (if a bit rude at first.)

The murder mystery aspect didn’t take long to be introduced.  Really everything about The Girl in the Clockwork Cat came about relatively quickly.  Nikki McCormack wasted no time in setting up the story and getting readers truly invested Maeko, Chaff, and Ash’s story.  The mystery will have readers hooked on this story if they weren’t already.  This truly is a conspiracy story and no one is safe from being a suspect.

As for the clockwork cat, Macak really was a character all his own.  When Maeko first finds him, it’s easy to tell that he’s not your ordinary cat.  He’s got a clockwork leg, for one.  Other than that, he’s a cat with personality and some little quirks.  I’m a total cat person so everything about Macak appealed to me.  I also really loved how Maeko didn’t see him as a cat, she saw him as a companion.  For someone who’d been on her own for so long, Macak was just what she needed.

Overall, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat is a wonderful debut from Nikki McCormack.  I don’t know what I expected when I first started reading it but it’s not what I got (and I mean that in the best possible way.)  I’ve never been big on steampunk but Nikki McCormack may have just changed that.

What others are saying about The Girl and the Clockwork Cat:

Buried Under Books’ review: “The author’s other main strength is in her characters who are vivid and engaging, even those who can’t be considered likeable.”

Nicky Peacock – Author’s review: “The Girl and the  Clockwork Cat was a well written, and thought out book, with an interesting storyline and some lovely prose.”

Forever Obsession’s review: “The Girl and the Clockwork Cat has action, mystery, intrigue, and really lovable characters.”

nikki mccormack
About the Author
Nikki started writing her first novel at the age of 12, which she still has tucked in a briefcase in her home office, waiting for the right moment. Despite a successful short story publication with Cricket Magazine in 2007, she continued to treat her writing addiction as a hobby until a drop in the economy presented her with an abundance of free time that she used to focus on making it her career.

Nikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest tending to her husband and three cats suffering varying stages of neurosis. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water. She finds peace through practicing iaido or shooting her longbow.

 

Where to find Nikki online:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

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