Monday, June 30, 2014

The Stepsister's Tale ~ Tracy Barrett (earc) review [@writingtracy @HarlequinTEEN]

The Stepsister's Tale
Harlequin TEEN
June 24, 2014
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

What really happened after the clock struck midnight?

Jane Montjoy is tired of being a lady. She's tired of pretending to live up to the standards of her mother's noble family-especially now that the family's wealth is gone and their stately mansion has fallen to ruin. It's hard enough that she must tend to the animals and find a way to feed her mother and her little sister each day. Jane's burden only gets worse after her mother returns from a trip to town with a new stepfather and stepsister in tow. Despite the family's struggle to prepare for the long winter ahead, Jane's stepfather remains determined to give his beautiful but spoiled child her every desire.

When her stepfather suddenly dies, leaving nothing but debts and a bereaved daughter behind, it seems to Jane that her family is destined for eternal unhappiness. But a mysterious boy from the woods and an invitation to a royal ball are certain to change her fate...

From the handsome prince to the evil stepsister, nothing is quite as it seems in Tracy Barrett's stunning retelling of the classic Cinderella tale.

There have been plenty of fair, young maidens who, through no fault of their own, had evil stepsisters. We've heard their stories. Only, what if Cinderella wasn't such a fairy tale and Cinderella was not quite who she was made out to be.

And maybe, just maybe, that evil stepsister was not quite so evil.

Tracy Barrett's The Stepsister's Tale is that story.

It is a fantastic, wonderfully imagined and incredibly enjoyable twist on the classic Cinderella tale.  The novel follows a similar story line with the same recognizable key points - the two sisters living with their mother, the marriage that brings a stepfather and stepsister, then the stepfathers death. It is in how things are viewed that this tale differes.

Jane, the stepsister whose tale this is, is a superb character. Already with a mother seemingly unable to face the reality of their current circumstances, a younger sister to protect and very little resources, new family members are not what she needs. Especially a spoiled little girl and a man happy to cater to her.

Part of the strength of her character is that she is her depth and complexity. In The Stepsister's Tale, the roles aren't reversed leaving Jane as the virtuous one, who can do no wrong. Instead, Jane struggles with her feelings towards Isabella - her new stepsister- her mother, and her responsibility. You feel for her while she is trying so hard to make everything work; you understand her frustrations, too. Yet, she does make mistakes.

From the wonderful characters to the very well imagined story, The Stepsister's Tale is an incredibly enjoyable read. The new, additional characters, effects of the time period and everyone's relationships add a new level to the story. You'll find yourself drawn to Jane and her story, eager to see not only how the 'Cinderella' elements of the tale unfold, but what happens to Jane. Will she suffer the usual 'evil stepsister's' fate or be granted a better future?

Whether you enjoy fairy tale retellings or not, The Stepsister's Tale is one not to miss. With more than enough creativity and unique story, it brings a brilliant twist to the known tale, but stands on its own, as well.


Rating: 9/10





received from publisher through NetGalley for review - thank you

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Half Life of Molly Pierce ~ Katrina Leno (earc) Tour Review [@KatrinaLeno @HarperTeen]




The Half Life of Molly Pierce
HarperTeen
July 8th 2014
234 pages
(purchase links after review)


Synopsis:

You take it for granted. Waking up. Going to school, talking to your friends. Watching a show on television or reading a book or going out to lunch.

You take for granted going to sleep at night, getting up the next day, and remembering everything that happened to you before you closed your eyes.

You live and you remember.

Me, I live and I forget.

But now—now I am remembering. 

For all of her seventeen years, Molly feels like she’s missed bits and pieces of her life. Now, she’s figuring out why. Now, she’s remembering her own secrets. And in doing so, Molly uncovers the separate life she seems to have led…and the love that she can’t let go.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a suspenseful, evocative psychological mystery about uncovering the secrets of our pasts, facing the unknowns of our futures, and accepting our whole selves.



I wasn't sure what genre The Half Life of Molly Pierce was when I started reading it. Or even for quite a while after starting to read it. (So if you haven't read the synopsis yet, maybe don't? I liked reading this and not knowing what to expect.) Readers know from the beginning that Molly has been forgetting periods of time. She 'wakes up' somewhere with no recollection of how she got there from the last place she remembers or what happened in the intervening time.

While her reasons for not wanting to tell anyone about these episodes is understandable, it was also very worrisome. She doesn't just end up in a different room or on a walk in the park, Molly 'wakes up' driving, as well. Despite her understandable reluctance to tell anyone, this felt very dangerous.

The more we learn of Molly's story, the harder it is, at first, to be sure of why she's forgetting, of what's happening to her. As the pieces come together it makes quite a lot of sense. Though, I was still left with more than a few questions - about the 'danger' I mentioned above and the others in her life.

The Half Life of Molly Pierce is a mystery where the main character's life is a mystery even to her. While we work towards Molly figuring out what is happening, author Katrina Leno builds a great character. Molly's emotions are described so well by Molly herself and we're given such a good look at who she is, what she's like. She is a character you really want to have hope, for things to be 'okay' for when it all comes together.

The characters (Molly's younger sister, especially), their relationships, Molly's forgetting and even how she later starts to remember, all combine for an intriguing tale that leaves you guessing and an ending that leaves you thinking.


Rating: 7/10


digital copy received through Edelweiss from publisher for honest review - as part of tour. thank you




“A smart, seductive page turner, deeply felt and full of surprises.” (Madeleine George, author of The Difference Between You and Me)

“Unfolds its careful origami slowly and hypnotically, taking on one shape after another before finally revealing itself as something stranger and more beautiful than I’d anticipated. A moving, expertly wrought story that will keep surprising you past the last page.” (Bennet Madison, author of September Girls)

“A Tilt-A-Whirl of a first novel, a breathtaking thrill ride that takes you in one direction and then spins you off in another, over and over, keeping you guessing with every turn of the page.” (Michael Thomas Ford, author of Suicide Notes)


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg


Follow the FFBC The Half Life of Molly Pierce blog tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.



I am a writer from the East Coast, currently living in Los Angeles.

My first book for young adults- The Half Life of Molly Pierce- will be published on July 8, 2014 by Harper Collins.



Giveaway is open to US Only | Must be 13 or older to enter


Win A Half Life of Molly Pierce T-shirt (Us Only)








Thursday, June 26, 2014

Broken Branch Falls ~ Tara Tyler Tour Review [@taratylertalks @CuriosityQuills]

Broken Branch Falls
Curiosity Quills Press
June 24, 2014
add to Goodreads/buy NOOK book/or Kindle

Doing homework for bully ogres and getting laughed at as the butt of pixie pranks, Gabe is tired of his goblin life. When he and his friends step out of their nerdy stereotype and pull a prank of their own on the dragons at the first football game, it literally backfires, bringing a High Council vote to dismantle not only Gingko High, but the whole town, too!

The Book of Ages–hidden handbook of the High Council, filled with knowledge and power–may be Gabe’s only hope. With the help of friends old and new, can Gabe complete his quest to find the Book in time to save Broken Branch Falls? Or will he remain an outcast forever?

Broken Branch Falls is a middle-grade fantasy novel with a creative and fun concept. Gabe is a teenager facing the usual trials and tribulations that come with the age - and he's a goblin. At Gabe's school, Ginko High the different species - goblins, ogres, pixies and elves - are taught to stay separate. It's the First Law of Beasts, after all.

Yet, Gabe does not want to be restricted to only what is expected of goblins. To only interact socially with the other goblins. Is that Law really so necessary?

After an attempt at branching out goes wrong, Gabe faces a punishment he never expected.

It won't be easy for Gabe to change things, or even to keep his town from being destroyed; but with the help of his friends, it may be possible.

In the beginning I had trouble with how much of the world of Broken Branch Falls was unknown until something described that particular aspect. As I got further into the story, though, I actually appreciated that we were not given everything right away. Some things weren't divulged as the characters were still looking for the truth and reasoning. The omission (at least at first) of other facts, helps readers focus more on the individual characters and their desires.

Things are revealed about the beasts' world, their history at the right time. As the characters learn more about things they thought they've always known, so do readers.

Broken Branch Falls is about fantastical creatures, but also contains great commentary on the human world. Some uses the characters as analogies while other parts mention humans and their choices directly. Without ever feeling like it has a 'message'. With strong characters, interesting relationships and a very imaginative, fun fantasy world, it's an enjoyable read.

A Middle Grade novel, Broken Branch Falls is appropriate for younger readers but the humor, characters and world created should appeal to older readers, as well.

Rating: 8/10





About Author Tara Tyler:

After having a hand in everything from waitressing to teaching math to rocket engineering, Tara Tyler now writes and teaches in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband.

This Lazy Housewife loves to share advice on organizing, time-saving, and multi-tasking, in addition to popping out her multi-genre adventure novels in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, and Chick Lit, all laced with Humor.

So many exciting stories to tell!

website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Google+










book received from publisher, as part of tour, for honest review - thank you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday [@lbkids @hollyblack]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

The Darkest Part of the Forest
Holly Black
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
January 13, 2015
add to Goodreads/pre-order from Book Depo/see* on Amazon

Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?


This has been high up on my TBR list since November (and Miami Book Fair), now with that great cover I'm even more excited for it.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?




*LBYR is a Hatchette imprint so . . . 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Little Mercies ~ Heather Gudenkauf (earc) review [@hgudenkauf @HarlequinBooks @MiraEditors #HarlequinMIRA]

Little Mercies
Harlequin MIRA
June 24, 2014
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

In her latest ripped-from-the-headlines tour de force, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf shows how one small mistake can have life-altering consequences...

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity;the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

Little Mercies is a compelling and emotional read due to both the subject matter and the characters. Chapters alternate between Ellen, her life and Jenny's story. Ellen is the one most can identify with: a mother who loves her children and husband, maybe needs to call her mother more and finds great satisfaction (as well as heartache) in doing her job. Her being so easy to relate to, adds something to the emotional impact on readers when Ellen makes a tragic mistake.

As Ellen lives through the new reality that is her life, experiencing things and facing consequences she never imagined, she cannot help but questions things that seemed so certain to her just hours or days before. This is not only a thought provoking time for the character but for readers as well. As Ellen calls her beliefs into question, readers will think of assumptions they may have made.

It is something you never want to experience, something unimaginable, yet through Ellen we get an idea of what similar circumstances might, in fact, be like.

Ellen's entry into ten-year-old Jenny's life will bring about events neither of them could predict. Living an unpredictable life with her father for several years, Jenny has now found herself alone. If only she could figure out how to get things back to normal - at least her normal.

Jenny is a really fantastic character. She seems like a ten-year-old but one with experiences and knowledge a child her age shouldn't have. The more of her story that unfolds, the more we can see her past, understand her fears and hope for a better future.

Each of the characters and her story is given full attention but how they impact each other is great. Jenny provides a lot of insight, though how she sees things or even what she sees, into Ellen, her family and what's happening to them. Her character provides a unique viewpoint. Readers and the characters alike see things differently, see things that would have gone unnoticed without Jenny.

With her life taking most of her focus, Ellen doesn't provide as much about Jenny but her role in the girl's tale is undeniable - and relies on and draws from who her character is very well.

The characters, their stories and their relationships all come together in Little Mercies for one very readable tale.


Meet Ellen, her family and coworkers and see how committed she is to her job in Little Mercies ebook prequel novella Little Lies (my review with purchase links)


Rating: 8/10

Another book you may also enjoy:  How High the Moon by Sandra Kring


Monday, June 23, 2014

Cop Town ~ Karin Slaughter (earc) review [@randomhouse @SlaughterAuthor]

Cop Town
Delacorte Press
June 24, 2014
416 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Karin Slaughter, author of the New York Times bestselling Will Trent novels, is widely acclaimed as “one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post). Now she delivers her first stand-alone novel: an epic story of a city in the midst of seismic upheaval, a serial killer targeting cops, and a divided police force tasked with bringing a madman to justice.

Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.

I have wanted to read a Karin Slaughter novel for quite a while now, after hearing great things about them both in reviews and from those I know. I really don't need to start yet another series, though. So Cop Town was perfect. Not only was it a standalone novel, it was one with a great sounding plot.

Set in 1974 Atlanta, Cop Town takes full advantage of its setting, both geographical and temporal. In a city dealing with both racial and gender integration, the police department no longer gets to stand alone as a (white) boys' club.

Though they are both experiencing what it's like to be female officers in 1974's Atlanta PD, Kate and Maggie are two very different characters. Each has her own motivations for doing the job, her own inner struggles and something they hope to accomplish or prove to themselves. When they are partnered together, we see more each of them - as they slowly reveal more of themselves to readers and each other. Their differences become quite complimentary and their similarities are easier to spot.

Each has a story that makes for a compelling character and contributes to the unfolding of the story.

Cop Town has a great mystery. As we're finding out about the characters' personal lives and seeing how it affects their jobs, the mystery is slowly piecing itself together. While most of the story is told by Kate or Maggie, we're given some chapters from the view of the killer - without knowing who it is. Being able to see things from both sides, knowing how the killer is thinking, their past, even as the characters wonder those same things, adds to the suspense and the intrigue of the mystery.

The other characters of Cop Town, Maggie's alcoholic uncle and those of his ilk, particularly a core group of officers, are what really make the novel so good. They are probably some of the most un-PC characters but they wouldn't work any other way. They are products both of the era, their past and, really, just who they are. The same things making them terrible people, make them brilliant characters. It's through these characters, as well as how Maggie and Kate are treated by them and then react, that we get such a great idea of what the time was like and feel a part of it.

The mystery progresses and deepens as the novel progresses. Each of the characters play their part in it - some seen right away, some believed and some either hidden or questioned. A fantastic tale that develops the characters and their relationships as events move towards the ultimate conclusion, Copt Town is a great read.



Rating: 9/10







thank you to Random House for my egalley through NetGalley

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Body in the Woods ~ April Henry (earc) review [@MacKidsBooks]

The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen #1)
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
June 17, 2014
263 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
buy now at Powell's to help support SAR

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

April Henry's The Body in the Woods is the first in the Point Last Seen mystery series. In this first book, we meet Nick, Ruby and Alexis, three Portland high school students just beginning their volunteering with the Portland County Sheriff's Search and Rescue. They each have different reasons for joining but each is also very excited to be on their first search.

What was supposed to be looking for a missing man soon becomes something quite else when they find a dead body.

The Body in the Woods does a fantastic job of introducing readers not only to the three main characters, but also to the world of SAR and their duties. At the same time, I'm hoping that the characters will feel more real and full in the second book. Each of them, Nick, Alexis and Ruby had a main something that made them unique. For Nick it was his almost fixation with his father who died in Iraq and wanting to be a hero himself; Ruby seems to have Asperger's, though it's never called such; Alexis is dealing with both her mother's mental illness and economic issues.

They have interesting back stories but it's the execution that makes it too much. Nick felt much younger than sixteen almost all of the time. At times it felt he was just ignored by his mother and brother and that was what led to his need to be the big hero guy. But it was so much his focus (with exaggerating, making his part bigger and more than reality) that it felt like something more - something someone should have noticed.

Ruby is the different one, the odd one. Her parents seem aware of her being different as does Ruby. We're given multiple examples of how Ruby is not quite like everyone else (her inability to interact well socially, her odd interests) and make others think she's strange. Problem is, we only get glimpses beyond the 'this is why Ruby's different' so readers are left thinking she's kind of annoying, as characters do. There is something there, though, and I hope we can see more of who she is. Interestingly, we know Ruby's aware of the autism spectrum (which Asperger's is on).

Alexis was probably the character I liked most. Her story (she is more parent than child to her mother who's mentally ill but refuses to take medication) was not something new. Yet, we seemed to get more personality and individuality from her. Things seem to wrap up rather neatly for her, but I am curious to see where the next book(s) will take hr character.

The premise of The Body in the Woods is a great one - teens working with SAR; solving a murder - but it was not all I had hoped for in its execution. The way we are presented with multiple, possible suspects early on, then given reasons to suspect nearly all of them as the story progresses was good. I liked not only not knowing who the responsible party was, while also knowing who the (seeming) possibilities were.

This is a book that may be enjoyed by middle school age readers than by those older. There is murder and some older (YA) content but the novel feels younger. It is a fast read with a good mystery.

I will read the second book in the series because the series' premise has my interest piqued and I would like to see if the characters can feel more like people and less like they're fitting into a role.


Rating: 6/10


Another book you may also enjoy: The Cellar by Natasha Preston







thank you to the publisher for my copy, via NetGalley, to review

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hungry ~ H.A. Swain (earc) review [@FeiwelFriends @MacKidsBooks]

Hungry
Feiwel & Friends
June 3, 2014
384 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

In the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that's what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quelleir hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.

Hungry started a little bit slow for me. The concept was immediately intriguing but the story did not grab me right away. Once I got farther in it became a very gripping story. I was, also, glad that all of the bits that had seemed a little slower had been included. They give a great introduction to the characters and their world and a necessary basis for the happenings of the rest of the novel.

H.A. Swain has created a well thought and thought provoking dystopian world. In Hungry food is on more - it is neither present nor needed. There is a reason for the lack of actual food and it is something that also plays very well into other parts of the book. The if-then-statements of Hungry are incredibly well done.

Thalia has access to gadgets, innovations, science that seem like the techno-filled future of some people's dreams. While this part of the story is definitely a lot of fun to read - as well as imagine - things aren't that simple. It's how all of that technology and science plays into the human side of those future humans where the tale gets really good. It's a world where they think they have everything figured out, but when something - Thalia's hunger - doesn't fit, things start to look not quite so perfect. Little does Thalia know just how imperfect everything will soon seem.

Hungry is a vision of a thought provoking future that asks more questions than just those you notice at first; from the simpler ones of science to deeper ones on emotion and humanity. It's not a story - or characters - that you will soon forget.


Rating: 8/10


Other books you may also enjoy: When We Wake books by Karen Healey, Delirium by Lauren Oliver and Plus One by Elizabeth Fama






book received through NetGalley, thanks to publisher for review


Monday, June 16, 2014

Divided ~ Elsie Chapman (earc) tour review [@elsiechapman @randomhousekids]

Divided (Dualed #2)
Random House Books for Young Readers
May 27, 2014
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

The hunter becomes the hunted. . . .

West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life.

The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.

How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves? With nonstop action and surprising twists, Elsie Chapman’s intoxicating sequel to Dualed reveals everything.


Divided is a more than worthy follow-up to Divded. Once again we see West Grayer, a teenage girl who lives in the society where everyone must kill their Alternate if they wish to stay alive, forced with tough decisions.. The last member of her family alive, West is now a complete after killing her Alt -but it seems she's not done yet.

It is a true testament to how well West and the Dualed world are written that this main character - who killed people, may be going to again - is as sympathetic as she is. West is a character you can't help but feel for. From her pain at losing her family to her feelings for Chord, to how divided she feels at the Board's proposition, she is a very likable and relatable character. Even as she undertakes things we could never dream of.

I like her even more after Divided.

I loved how well imagined Kersh was in Dualed and had hoped we might see more of the society's workings in this second book. We do and it's fantastic. A world that was so well dreamed up and portrayed in Dualed got even better in this sequel. West's interactions with the Board give us more insight into how the Alternate system works and answers questions you didn't even know you had.

Everything that happened to West in Dualed (and before) is a part of her character, her actions and reactions in Divided. It's great to see the character growth from the beginning of the first book through the end of the second. There are not empty actions in the Dualed world and it makes everything that happens - big or small - that much more of interest. You know it's going to affect things, the only question is how.

A sequel that gives us a better glimpse into the characters, their lives and their pasts and a fuller view of the their world, Divided is a definite must read. I hope we aren't quite done with West and Chord just yet.

Either way, I cannot wait to read what's next from Elsie Chapman.


Rating: 9/10









thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my copy to review for this blog tour

Thursday, June 12, 2014

#scandal ~ Sarah Ockler Tour Review, Guest Post, Teaser & Giveaway [@sarahockler @simonteen @TUABFC #FFBC]





#scandal
Simon Pulse
June 17th 2014
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
(more links/sites below after 'Teaser')



Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And the one where she hates playing dress-up. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time.

When Cole surprises her at the after party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of… and the biggest BFF deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral.

By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc, mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal just weeks before graduation. 

Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love...




Lucy is not the girl you might expect to be the center of a scandal (or #scandal). She wears thigh high boots to prom, loves zombie killing games, knows The Walking Dead (truefax) . . . oh, and she's secretly in love with her best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah Ockler's #scandal is done in a very smart way. Lucy, a girl who not only harbors feelings for her best friend's boyfriend but then kisses him, is someone who could be very unlikable. Instead, from the very start, she is a relateable, likable girl. We're introduced to her while she's at prom (as Ellie's stand-in), feeling very awkward and trying to disguise her feelings for Cole. 

She knows Cole being Ellie's boyfriend makes anything with him a definite no-go. When something happens anyway, it would be enough for anyone to deal with - not only how she feels about what happened but explaining things to her friend. Soon enough, though a situation that would be hard enough privately soon involves the whole school.

The worse everyone treats Lucy, the more she endures, the realer it actually feels. From a very believable 'what' that happens to the almost mob mentality of everyone turning on her, it's something that could happen in a high school. Ockler does a great job of removing certain adults from the goings-on and keeping those involved from affecting too much change. They feel clueless but in a way that, as bad as it is, works.

It's in the small things that we really feel for Lucy. The author picks great moments to succinctly, but wisely show Lucy's pain and isolation. They aren't big, dramatic scenes but work much better than if they had been. Though Lucy has focus and a plan - of sorts - the demonstrations of how the situation is affecting her are great and really add to #scandal.

Not everyone has abandoned Lucy and those that do support her make up some of the most fun characters I've read. They are a really nice counter to the online reputation attack and Lavender Oaks very own Gossip Girl. They might not all have worked in a book about anything else, but they're great here.

A little part of the novel that i really loved was the dogs (and the horse, too). They were adorable in their friendship and actions. It was really nice to see a character have a dog and for that to actually play a part in the book. (As opposed to books where someone has a dog, it's not mentioned for 200 pages, it barks once, is never mentioned again.)

#scandal has characters you will love and relate to, some sweet - if a bit angsty - romance and a well thought out and executed plot. It maintains a lighter air while deftly dealing with a serious topic and leaving readers with something to think about.


Rating: 9/10










Guest Post, Teaser, buy links, About the Author + Giveaway below . . .

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Undone ~ Cat Clarke (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire]

*Apologies if anyone gets this in email twice - it reverted to draft sometime between publishing and now (next week)*

Undone
Sourecebooks Fire
May 8, 2014
378 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it.

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down.

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author.

Undone is a tale of both the bitter and the bittersweet. Jem Halliday has had her best friend, Kai, by her side, always there, since the day his family moved in. She would like a relationship more than just friendship with the Kai, who's gay, but knows it's not to be. That's okay.

Until Jem loses Kai and is not sure she can go on without him.

It's once she has finally decided to continue, with a bit of posthumous help from Kai, that she knows what needs to be done: Jem wants revenge.

Revenge and/or bullying can be a good start for a book (see Some Girls Are and Burn for Burn). I even think, wrong or right, that Jem's motivation here makes a lot of sense. When her best friend, her only friend, kills himself after something was done to him, it makes absolute sense that she wants someone to blame. Someone to get back at, to ruin.

I'm still unsure of whether or not Undone worked for me in the way the author intended. Jem decides who is responsible with, what seems like, very flimsy evidence. As she commits wholeheartedly to the Plan, readers are left wondering if she's chosen correctly. As she takes action, Jem just feels mean and (while wondering if they are in fact guilty, like she thinks) you end up feeling bad for for the 'bad' guys.

It is obvious Jem is in a great deal of pain, a great deal. She is coming undone, becoming this other person, so unlike her previous self,  I didn't like her and wanted either someone else or some burst of realization to help her see herself. The story is written in such a way, with Jem conducting herself in a way, that it makes sense she's not being questioned. When she makes an observation about another character's therapy, though, it's impossible to see that Jem shouldn't be going this alone.

Despite Jem's grief, pain, and her losing her way, two of the things that happen with her Plan seemed not to fit to me. They were too similar to what it was she was getting revenge for. As hurt and confused as she was, I couldn't believe how quickly she could justify those actions to herself.

I did not like Jem in Undone. I wanted something - or someone - to give her a sort of reality check. Yet, Cat Clarke's novel is incredibly readable and plays out the tension very well. You'll turn the pages quickly, wondering what Jem will do in the end; wondering how her plan for revenge will conclude - and how she'll fare. Undone did not work for me, but I will be moving Clarke's other novels up my TBR list and giving them a try.

(While it may be present in the finished version, in the arc there was no author's note, afterword, etc which I found a bit odd given the subject matter of the novel. The National Suicide Prevention hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and The Trevor Project for LGBTQ teens and young adults considering suicide can be reached at 1-866-488-7386.)


Rating: 6/10






thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my egalley to review
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