Monday, February 23, 2015

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | Review

Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas | ReviewTop Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Published by Harper Teen on December 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 289
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

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Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is Liz Czukas’ sophomore novel for young adults and while I definitely enjoyed it, I found it nowhere near as quirky and fun as her debut novel, Ask Again Later. It’s a quick read that I found myself flying through but it wasn’t as laugh out loud funny as I expected.

Chloe is a bit nerdy, kind of shy, and easy for readers to relate to, at least if you’re anything like me. I found her to be so adorable with her easy blushing and tendency to babble. She had a great sense of humor and she was very easy to like. She sometimes said things that were a little rude but she was always open to getting to know new things. The rest of the “Younglings” who worked with her at GoodFoods Market were a pretty mixed bag of characters. Tyson was a sweetheart who maybe could have had some more flaws. He seemed a bit too perfect to me. It always seems a little unreal when there is a love interest who has nothing bad about him. Sammi and Gabe were trouble makers but they definitely made things fun. Zaina was shy and kind of mysterious but I came to like her. Micah was probably my favorite though. He was so quirky and funny and he didn’t even realize it.

The story itself was really fun but a little predictable. It’s a mystery surrounding who stole the charity money from Chloe’s place of work. The six young cashiers are immediately blamed and held in the store after hours until the police can come check things out. The idea of hanging out in a grocery store after hours has always appealed to me so I loved that part of the book. The kids did some crazy things to entertain themselves and they definitely had me laughing. I also really liked the lists that Chloe made throughout the course of the story. They helped bring in some background information in a fun way.

Overall, Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is nothing spectacular but I’d definitely recommend it for a rainy day read. I will continue to check out Liz Czukas’ young adult offerings.

What others are saying about Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless: 

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “It was written with a similar tone to Ask Again Later, which was just completely adorable and fluffy, and Top Ten Clues was no different.”

Tabitha’s Book Blog’s review: “If you’re looking for a wicked cute contemporary fluff book then this is the book for you.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “As long as you like The Breakfast Club and slow books, you’re good to go with this one.”

Monday, December 29, 2014

Blog Tour: Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass | Review + Interview + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass | Review + Interview + GiveawayLove & Other Theories by Alexis Bass
Published by Harper Teen on December 31, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

Love and Other Theories is a fast-paced twist on the coming-of-age novel . . . and the romantic comedy.

Aubrey and her best friends made a pact to play by the guys' rules when it comes to dating. They're hoping the rules will keep them from experiencing high school heartbreak--they don't realize that these rules could just as easily keep them from opening their hearts and minds. And when new boy Nathan Diggs moves to town, Aubrey starts to think that some rules are meant to be broken.

With equal parts bite and romance, topped off with an irresistibly engaging voice, Alexis Bass's debut novel is one you won't want to miss.

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Love & Other Theories is not your typical fluffy contemporary romance.  In fact, there is nothing typical about Love & Other Theories.  While it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping it would be, I did find myself hooked from the start and smiling when I finished it.

Aubrey and her best friends are the mean girls of the school.  They hook up with all the hottest guys, they shun girls that go against them, and they tend to get up to no good behind each others backs.  They are not girls that are easy to like and that was by far my biggest issue with Love & Other Theories.  Aubrey was a smart girl but she was really stupid when it came to her friends and boys.  As for her friends, they weren’t all the worst but Shelby was a bitch.  I didn’t understand why everyone was so under her spell.  She was so full of herself and what she did to Aubrey was so hurtful.  I was also not so impressed with Nathan.  At first I was completely in love with him, especially with Aubrey.  They were so cute together.  Then I met Trip.  Trip was a guy who got what he wanted and expected that to always be true.  However, he was also a really sweet guy who clearly cared a lot for Aubrey and would do anything for her.  By the end of the book, my heart was his and I couldn’t remember who Nathan was.  Oops.

There was a lot of terrible communication between Aubrey, her friends, and all the boys in their lives.  So much stuff could have been cleared up if they had just talked about things.  Aubrey was pretty afraid to speak out but she wasn’t the only one.  There were so many secrets surrounding all of her friendships and other relationships, including with her family.  When Aubrey finally started speaking her mind I wanted to jump for joy.  However, it took a lot of heartache for her to reach that point and I felt terrible for all of it, especially since it could have so easily been avoided.

The story itself was not all that action packed but it was entertaining.  I love books that are set right around college time.  There was a lot of focusing on getting into college, what life was going to be like in college, and learning to say goodbye to friends from high school.  While Aubrey and her friends had a weird relationship, they really did see each other as life long friends.  Leaving them behind was a hard thing for Aubrey to even contemplate.  Also, while the whole partying thing was a little overdone, it made things interesting.  Aubrey and her friends had this crazy high school experience that was similar to that of my high school.  Not necessarily me (I was a nerd) but I totally understood it because my friends partied it up like them.  The drugs and alcohol might get to some people but I found it pretty realistic.

Overall, Love & Other Theories definitely won’t be topping my favorites list but I’m glad I gave it a chance.  I found myself flipping pages as fast as I could and by the end of the book I was really attached to the characters.  That’s the mark of a good book, to me.

What others are saying about Love & Other Theories:

Once Upon a Twilight’s review: “You will go from absolutely loving it to worrying about where it’s going to take you next; to making you completely fall in love with it.”

Fic Fare’s review: “With that said, I do think the story told here was interesting and if you are looking for a book that isn’t a soft, fluffy romance, you might enjoy this one.”

The Quirky Reader’s review:  “I think fans of Katie Cotugno will immensely appreciate this gem, but if you’re  just into contemporary YA in general, then you are required to check this one out.”

Interview

Describe Love & Other Theories in 140 characters or less.

A system developed by four best friends designed to avoid heartbreak falls apart the last few months of the high school.

Do you have a favorite character from Love & Other Theories? If so, why? (I know this is like asking a mom to pick a favorite child but I had to do it!)

It is hard! Of course, I love them all—even when I don’t like them, I love them. I…um…I guess the main character, Aubrey, because I wrote a whole book around her last few months in high school. 🙂

I created a minor character just to make my cousin laugh when she read the book; so in that regard, Leila Court is another favorite.

Did you consciously decide to write for a YA audience?  If so, what made you decide to write YA?

I decided to write YA because I love that time in life, when nothing is permanent, there’s so much possibility, so much changes so quickly, and there are no notes to pull from because you’re experiencing everything for the first time.

Do you have any must haves while you are writing?

I actually don’t have must-haves for writing (though having coffee on hand is great!). I’ve trained myself to write anywhere, with anything (or nothing). I make a huge dent in my word count goals typing on my phone while waiting in line (usually for coffee, haha).

Do you have any big plans for your release day?

My release day is New Year’s Eve and I’ll be back in my hometown for the holidays, so I’ll be celebrating both the book’s release and the New Year with some of my oldest friends.

What is next for you?  More YA books?

Yup, more YA books! My next standalone contemporary YA novel, WHAT’S BROKEN BETWEEN US (HarperTeen) will be out next year.

Short answer:

Bad Boys or Good Boys?

Good Boys

Happily ever after or happily never after? 

Happily never after

Series or standalone?

Standalone

Love triangles or soulmates? 

Neither

Write at night or write during the day? 

At night

Write in silence or write with music?

With music

Print, audio or eBooks?

All of the above

Giveaways

Win a book written by one of the awesome authors who blurbed Love & Other Theories.

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

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.”

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.

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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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin | Review

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin | ReviewBlind by Rachel DeWoskin
Published by Penguin Teen on August 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

When your life as you know it is taken from you, how do you go on?

Imagine this: You are fourteen, watching the fireworks at a 4th of July party, when a rocket backfires into the crowd and strikes your eyes, leaving you blind. In that instant, your life is changed forever. How do you face a future in which all your expectations must be different? You will never see the face of your newborn sister, never learn to drive. Will you ever have a job or fall in love? This is Emma’s story. The drama is in her manysmall victories as she returns to high school in her home town and struggles to define herself and make sense of her life, determined not to be dismissed as a PBK – Poor Blind Kid. This heartfelt and heart wrenching story takes you on Emma’s journey and leaves you with a new understanding of the challenges to be faced when life deals a devastating blow.

picadillyblueBlind is an interesting take on how your life can change in an instant.  Rachel DeWoskin’s young adult debut is a wonderful story about a girl learning to go through life blind.

I think the hardest thing for readers to enjoy about Blind is the style of writing.  The writing is not bad at all but it is very wordy.  Reading from the perspective of a blind girl makes things very interesting but also very different.  The way Emma sees things now is through touch, smell, taste, and sound.   Because of that, the style of writing must encompass all of these things.  Every page of Blind is wordy and it took me a while to look past that and just enjoy the story.  I think some readers will have difficulty overlooking the weighty style of writing but it is worth it to get past.

The characters are a wonderful mix of people.  Emma, the main character, is a very hard person to like.  She is rather whiny at first and ever since her accident she’s had trouble looking past her own problems to see that other people care about her and that she is not the only one with issues.  Emma automatically assumes the worst about people but what’s even worse is that she assumes the worst about herself.  She assumes that nobody will ever love her because of her blindness, that she’s worthless without her sight, and that her life will never get better.  The only thing that kept me from getting really annoyed with her attitude was to try and see things from her point of view.  Emma’s best friend, Logan, was always there to help Emma see the bright side of things.  She was a good friend who stuck by Emma’s side after the accident and didn’t let Emma’s blindness change things in their relationship.  Sure they had their ups and downs but I considered their friendship one of the stronger ones I’ve read about.  Another friendship I liked was that of Emma and Sebastian.  Sebastian didn’t have a huge role in the story but he made an impression in the small amount of time he was there.  He was blind, like Emma, but didn’t let it stop him from trying to live a normal life.

The family relationships were by far the best part of the book.  Emma was part of a very big family consisting of 7 kids: 5 sisters and a brother.  Her brother, Benj, was my favorite of them all.  He was so adorable!  He brought some lightness to the story.  Emma’s sisters also played quite a big role.  Leah, Naomi, Jenna, Sarah, and Lily were very important to Emma no matter how often she got mad at them or how she pretended to feel about them.  Seeing how their relationships changed with Emma’s blindness only helped show how important family was to all of them.  Emma was the only one injured in the accident but not a single person in her family wasn’t affected by it.

The story was quite slow and with the addition of the wordy writing, it dragged quite a bit.  For the most part there wasn’t a great plot to the story.  Everything was all about Emma learning to live with her blindness.  Sure that was interesting but the story would have moved along a lot quicker if there was something else going on.  There was a little bit of mystery early on regarding the death of a classmate but that was cleared up pretty quickly.  This truly is a story about Emma coping with her new disability as well as learning to move on and realize that life isn’t over for her, in fact it’s only really just beginning.

Overall, Blind was a very unique story that shows things through a very different perspective.  Readers who don’t mind a slower paced story with a lot of character development will enjoy this one.

What others are saying about Blind:

A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall’s review: “The premise and story and character development are strengths of this book.”

Bunnies and Books’ review: “Rachel DeWoskin has a real gift for writing.”

June Cleaver Reads YA’s review: “Blind tries to cover too much ground for one novel.”

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal | Review

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal | ReviewMy Last Kiss by Bethany Neal
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux on June 10, 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 358
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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3 Stars

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. 

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.

picadillyblueBethany Neal’s debut novel, My Last Kiss, was not at all what I expected.  It had a lot of potential to be an awesome story but it fell flat in a lot of areas.  I enjoyed it enough to read it through but this one may not be for everyone.

My Last Kiss has a promising start.  Cassidy wakes up and quickly realizes that she is dead but she has no clue how that came to be.  Readers follow Cassidy through her journey of discovering what exactly happened in the weeks leading up to her death as well what she has to do to pass on.  The chapters alternate between Cassidy’s current situation and the weeks leading up to her death. Cassidy is in for a lot of surprises as she comes to realize that she did some things she wasn’t proud of before her death and she not only has to find out who caused  her death but also make up for those things she did.

Like I said, My Last Kiss, starts off great.  It’s where it goes from there that I had problems with.  Cassidy was my biggest problem.  She was selfish and really kind of a bitch.  Readers quickly come to realize that she was up to some really bad things before her death and she hurt a lot of people who didn’t deserve it.  Her boyfriend, Ethan, was hurt the worst.  Ethan was completely wonderful although I think he may have been a little too perfect.  I would have liked to see some flaws from Ethan but that still didn’t make up for what Cassidy did to him.  And her reasoning behind everything she did was so dumb and self-centered.  She was only ever looking out for herself.  Also, Caleb, her childhood friend turned maybe something more, didn’t deserve how she treated him either.  Just because he was a slacker and a stoner didn’t mean he deserved to be judged as worthless.  I truly liked him way more than Cassidy.  As for Cassidy’s friends, it was pretty easy to see why they were friends.  They shared a lot of the same characteristics and they weren’t exactly good ones.

The mystery is what kept me reading.  I actually couldn’t guess the killer or the motive in My Last Kiss.  It was a very twisted story that didn’t become clear until the very end of the book.  It was pretty much the only thing that kept me interested in the book.  Cassidy’s killer wasn’t necessarily a bad guy and they didn’t set out to kill her but how everything worked out in the end was pretty terrifying.

Overall, My Last Kiss is not for people looking for a character they will root for or a fast-paced story.  If you think you can overlook Cassidy’s flaws though and enjoy it for the mystery aspect, it might be for you.

What others are saying about My Last Kiss:

Not Yet Read’s review: “There is plenty of WHINE to go with this CHEESE.”

Books and Swoons’ review: “I really enjoyed reading My Last Kiss.”

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “While the writing wasn’t horrible, the story wasn’t particularly memorable and thus, this novel was just okay.”

Monday, July 28, 2014

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover | Review

Point of Retreat (Slammed #2) by Colleen Hoover | ReviewPoint of Retreat by Colleen Hoover
Series: Slammed #2
Published by Atria on February 25, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 215
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
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3 Stars

Layken and Will have managed to overcome the obstacles that threatened to destroy their love, proving that they are destined for one another. What they are about to learn, however, is that the things that have brought them together may be the very things that ruin their connection forever...

Layken is left second-guessing the relationship whilst Will is jumping over hurdles to prove his love for her. What the young lovers discover about themselves along this journey may change their entire world, and the lives of those who depend upon them the most...

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I recently caved and read Colleen Hoover’s book, Slammed.  I was hugely impressed with it and I was really looking forward to checking out the sequel, Point of Retreat.  While I did enjoy the book, I was actually quite disappointed with it.

Will and Layken’s story was actually pretty wrapped up in Slammed but I was still interested in reading more about them so I decided to give Point of Retreat a shot.  After loving Slammed, I had really high expectations for the sequel.  Sadly, the book just couldn’t live up to them.  Everything went downhill right from the start.  The story was dull, the characters didn’t have any development, and everything was way too predictable.  I think the only thing I liked about Point of Retreat was the addition of Kiersten, a very quirky young girl who becomes friends with Calder and Kel.  She was hilarious!  She fit in great with their group and I really did love her.  However, from there on out, things weren’t so great with Point of Retreat.

First off, I wanted to slap both Will and Layken.  Will starts taking some college classes and his ex-girlfriend, Vaughn, is in the class with him.  Does he tell this to Layken?  Of course not.  So when she finds out, (like she inevitably will) she flips out.  Rather than give Will time to explain, she completely blocks him out and sets into motion the whole rest of the book.  Will and Layken handled things like teenagers.  If they expect to be parents to their younger brothers, they need to grow up and handle things like adults!  I mean, really, how hard is it to take a little time and just talk things out?  And I will admit, Will handled things a lot better than Layken.  Layken acted like a whiny little brat.  It really got on my nerves and I lost a lot of respect for her after her temper tantrums.

Then there were Eddie and Gavin.  While I actually didn’t have a problem with them throughout the book, it was their storyline that got to me.  I won’t give anything away but let’s just say that it’s rather predictable and overdone.  I did still love Eddie and Gavin’s relationship and their relationships with Will and Layken though. Eddie is just as hilarious as ever and when you put her and Kiersten together, it’s a total riot.

Like I said earlier, the story was rather predictable.  I won’t give anything away but I will say this: I wasn’t even sure I wanted to read the second half of the book!  It was really cheesy and rather than finding things romantic, I just wanted to roll my eyes and laugh.

Overall, Point of Retreat just wasn’t for me.  I should have stopped with Slammed and just enjoyed how much I loved that book.  However, tons of people have enjoyed this one so if you think you’ll like it, definitely check it out.

What others are saying about Point of Retreat:

Bookish Sarah’s Literary Meanderings’ review: “All in all, this is a truly stellar follow-up novel.”

Obsession With Books’ review: “Colleen Hoover writes memorable, believable characters, her writing is perfection and holds my interest throughout and the slam poetry is fabulous!”

Clear Eyes Full Shelves’ review: “If you, like me, enjoyed Slammed (perhaps, also like me, despite yourself), I’d recommend simply letting Layken and Will’s story end for you at that book.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Deceiving Lies (Forgiving Lies #2) by Molly McAdams | Review

Deceiving Lies (Forgiving Lies #2) by Molly McAdams | ReviewDeceiving Lies by Molly McAdams
Series: Forgiving Lies #2
Published by William Morrow on March 4, 2014
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
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3 Stars

Rachel is supposed to be planning her wedding to Kash, the love of her life. After the crazy year they've had, she's ready to settle down and live a completely normal life. Well, as normal as it can be. But there's something else waiting—something threatening to tear them apart.

Kash is ready for it all with Rach. Especially if all includes having a football team of babies with his future wife. With his line of work, he knows how short life can be, and doesn't want to waste another minute of theirs. But now his past as an undercover narcotics agent has come back to haunt him ... and it's the girl he loves who's caught in the middle.

Trent Cruz's orders are clear: take the girl. But there's something about this girl that has him changing the rules and playing a dangerous game to keep her safe. When his time as Rachel's protector runs out, he will turn his back on the only life he's known, and risk everything, if it means getting her out alive.

picadillyblueDeceiving Lies, the much anticipated sequel to Forgiving Lies, was a let down after the total awesomeness that was Forgiving Lies.  Every part of this book was lackluster compared to the first book and I ended up wishing that Rachel and Kash’s story just ended with the first book.

Rachel and Kash are back but their relationship is far from perfect.  The strong relationship they had at the end of Forgiving Lies is completely torn apart shortly into Deceiving Lies.  Their relationship is severely tested in Deceiving Lies and I spent a lot of the book wondering if they were going to make it through or call it quits.  As if the events of the first book weren’t bad enough for Rachel, shortly into this book she is kidnapped by a gang that Kash formerly infiltrated while undercover.  She’s held hostage and she spends most of her time wondering if Kash will make it to her in time.  When she’s not worrying about getting out alive though, she’s spending all her time getting closer to her captor, a guy who just happens to be sexy and smart with a dark past that he’s completely ashamed of.  Ugh.

The first part of the book is spent showing how strong Rachel and Kash’s relationship is and the next part of the book completely contradicts the first part.  Rachel is help captive and she slowly starts to maybe develop feelings for her captor, Trent.  Really?  I get that he is trying to help protect you and all that but he put you in that position to begin with!  How could you possibly fall for a guy like that?  Of course, there is more to Trent than meets the eye.  He’s not really a bad guy, he’s just in a bad situation.  Sure.  I’m not buying it.  I felt no sympathy for Trent or Rachel because while they were busy making eyes at each other, Kash is being torn apart by guilt and doing all he can to get Rachel back.  It’s made very clear that Kash loves Rachel and is willing to sacrifice his own life for her.  And he’s repaid with her thinking about cheating on him.  What a great relationship.

Lucky for me I had Kash and Mason to help make the book better.  Their relationship was as great as ever.  I truly love reading about friendships between guys because they are so different than friendships between girls.  Kash and Mason clearly loved each other like brothers and they were always there for each other.  Sure they fought but they always got past that.  Their friendship made me like this book a lot more than I would have otherwise.

There were some other things that bothered me about Deceiving Lies but I really can’t get into them without spoiling part of the story so I’ll leave them out.  Just know that the part of the book leading up to the ending really doesn’t help make it better.  There were a lot of little things with Kash and Rachel that got on my nerves.

Overall, Deceiving Lies was nowhere near as good as I’d hoped.  I felt like there was no need for the love triangle and honestly there wasn’t a lot of need for this sequel at all.  I was happy to read more about Kash but that’s all this one really had going for it.

What others are saying about Deceiving Lies:

The Bookpushers’ review: “All in all, this was a very good but difficult read.”

It’s Andrea’s Book Blog’s review: “I give this book a solid 4 stars for its suspense and action and a well-rounded story that has you swooning at the end.”

Anna’s Book Blog’s review: “I really enjoyed Deceiving Lies and I look forward to reading more from this author!”

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Make It Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson | Review

Make It Count (Bowler University #1) by Megan Erickson | ReviewMake It Count by Megan Erickson
Series: Bowler University #1
Published by William Morrow on June 3, 2014
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
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3 Stars

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

picadillyblueThe first book in the Bowler University new adult series was adorable. While it didn’t rank among my favorite new adult novels, it hooked me with the characters and has me excited for the follow up books in the series.

Kat is not your typical character.  She acts like an airhead but deep down she’s really smart.  However, she’s an undiagnosed dyslexic who might have ADD.  Not a good combination in college.  Kat hates it but she does require tutoring for some of her classes.  It gets worse when her newest tutor is also her boyfriend’s roommate and best friend.  Kat doesn’t let many people know about her struggles and she doesn’t want her boyfriend to find out.  That’s the main reason she hates that Alec is her tutor, at least at first.  It gets worse when Kat starts to be attracted to Alec.  I won’t get into the specifics of their relationship but I will say this: there is no physical cheating in Make It Count.  Woo hoo for that.  I know emotional cheating is kind of worse but you’ll just have to read the book to judge it for yourself.

While Kat came across as a ditz at first, Alec is very clearly a smarty pants from the very start.  He’s a major nerd and he’s not afraid to show it.  Yay for nerdy boys!  Alec is also a very loyal friend and he’s not willing to do anything that would compromise his friendship with Max, Kat’s boyfriend.  However, it’s pretty obvious that Kat and Alec have some crazy chemistry and they really get each other.  It was wonderful seeing Kat and Alec’s friendship progress since they were kind of stuck as friends.  They took the time to get to know each other and look past the physical attraction.

The secondary characters were some of the more awesome characters in the book.  Sure I loved Kat and Alec but they weren’t the only ones.  Alec’s female friend, Danica, provided a lot of the laughs throughout Make It Count.  I know she doesn’t get her own book but I really hope she plays a prominent role in the next two books as well.  The introduction of Lea, the main female character in the second book, was also great.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about her at first since she does come across as rather quiet and kind of standoffish but I think she’s the perfect balance for Max.  I look forward to reading their story in Make It Right.

Overall, Make It Count is a fun, fast-paced read that will leave readers with a smile on their faces.  If you’re a fan of new adult novels I definitely recommend checking this one out.

What others are saying about Make It Count:

Ramblings From This Chick’s review: This one was hard for me to rate, because there were things that I liked and didn’t like and my opinion of the book was constantly changing as I read it.”

Emilie’s Book World’s review: “This was a fun story that kept me turning the pages almost faster than I could read them.”

Lilybloombooks’ review: “Megan has created such a fun, fresh and unique romance.”