Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cold Burn of Magic ~ Jennifer Estep (earc) review[@K_Teen @Jennifer_Estep]

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)
K-Teen
April 28, 2015
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon


There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

One of my favorite things about Cold Burn of Magic was likely also the reason I had trouble getting into the story. The book had some excellent female characters, when they weren't tripping themselves up. They were strong, smart and often powerful. Lila, though, seemed to lose a lot of what made her so much fun as soon as Devon entered the story.

She hated him, but she didn't. She was attracted to him, but she couldn't be. She didn't care about him or keeping him safe, but she absolutely did.

Devon and Lila didn't really work for me. I did, later, see them as friends. I knew she was attracted to him - how gorgeous he was, what a truly great person he was but I kind of didn't care. Devon was attractive because Lila said so. She kept reminding me he was hot and nice, but I did't get it as much from the story. I did not dislike him, but he wasn't as well developed as I would have liked.

Felix and Mo were two fun characters and I enjoyed their interactions with Lila. They seemed to fit together well and their friendships seemed good for her character and the story.

The few other female characters in the story held a lot of promise. Especially after how the story concluded and what we now know, I am looking forward to, hopefully, seeing more of them - and more between them - in the next book(s).

The mystery that Lila is trying to unravel didn't feel that mysterious. Maybe the hints were just too heavy handed for me, but I had it basically figured out much sooner than she did.

I also hope we get to see more of the monsters (at least the nonhuman kind) in the next book. I love the idea of real monsters living nearly side by side with the humans, causing trouble, inciting fear but also fascination.

I had some trouble getting into Cold Burn of Magic and I didn't feel enough between Devon and Lila but I love the premise ('mob' families, monsters, literally, in the shadows, tourists coming to see it all) . Some of the characters, the magic and Talents along with relationships begun in this first book have me looking forward to the second.



digital galley received for review, via NetGalley, from publisher



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One Night ~ AJ Pine (earc) review [@AJ_Pine @BerkleyNAL @PenguinUSA]



One Night (Only You #1)
InterMix
April 21, 2015
~248 pages (per Amazon)
add to Goodreads 
buy from  Amazon | B&N | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

See my Promo Post from last week for Excerpt & Author Info

One Night coverWhen she lost it all, Jess decided to cope by living a lie.
But you can’t keep on pretending forever…

Twenty-one-year-old Jess used to have everything—a loyal best friend, a boyfriend she loved, and a future that was right on track. But in a single night, her whole world changed.

Now, Jess lives for the impersonal connection of drunken hook-ups and to-go coffee cups in the morning. All she needs is one night to pretend everything is fine…until she meets Adam.

Thanks to a sports injury, gorgeous, charming basketball star Adam Carson is stuck in physical therapy at the hospital where Jess interns—giving her the perfect opportunity to see his sweet, considerate nature and making her realize that maybe she does want something more.

But while Adam might be the best thing that’s happened to Jess in a long time, letting him past her carefully constructed walls means letting him know what happened...and why he'd never want her for more than one night.

One Night is another title that I have to admit I may have missed if not for the review opportunity. That would have been bad. Very bad. It was a sweet and cute yet complex story with terrific characters.

Something happened, recently, to twenty-one-year old Jess that has changed who she is and how she behaves. She had a great life - the perfect boyfriend she could picture her forever with, a best friend. Then it all disappeared.

Just what happened to Jess is not known. We know she spends her nights in bars, getting drunk and bringing guys home for the night. For one night. We also know she's haunted by memories of her ex, that she was betrayed by her best friend. All of this happened because of something . . .something she's keeping secret.

Then Adam Carson, star basketball player now injured and in physical therapy enters her life.


Jess's 'secret' was fairly easy to guess/figure out. It did not seem to fit with her altered self image and her new life . . But, especially towards the end when it is explained, I could still see how it did impact her that much.

Jess struggle with what she does, what she needs, what she wants, and what she deserves helped make her a really interesting character. You want her to just be nice to herself, to open up and tell someone what's going on. At the same time, it's understandable that she doesn't.

I liked Adam's character and I liked Jess's character, but I really loved both of their characters when they were together. Even when they were in physical therapy or watching 'sexy vampires.' They were great together. It infused the difficulties they faced in their relationship with that much more tension and anxiety.

They're two characters you absolutely want to get together, to figure things out and be okay . . . but because they're both well done characters with their own pasts, feelings and emotions, it's hard to be sure if they really can or will be.

I really loved being introduced to Jess and Adam (and Zoe!), seeing the development of their relationship and Jess' growth as a character. With Spock ears to shitty coffee and sexy vampires, One Night is fun (and funny), sweet, cute and pretty unforgettable. It does tackle some pretty serious issues and the characters have more than a little bit complicating their lives, but it all balances out very well. I'm looking forward to One Life the next book - and hope Jess, Adam, Regan and more are back, too!




Part of Rock Star Lit tour
thank you to the publisher for egalley via NetGalley


Waiting On Wednesday [@RachelStuhler @TouchstoneBooks]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:
ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES by Rachel Stuhler

A fledgling entertainment writer stumbles into the gig of a lifetime writing a teenage pop star's memoir and soon realizes that the young celebrity's squeaky-clean image is purely a work of fiction.

Struggling writer Holly Gracin is on the verge of moving back home to upstate New York when she gets hired to write the memoirs of eighteen-year-old Daisy Mae Dixson, a former Nickelodeon child star who has moved seamlessly into both blockbuster movies and pop music.

Holly quickly realizes that Daisy's wholesome public image is purely a work of fiction, as Holly finds herself trailing the star as she travels around the world on yachts, gets stalked by paparazzi, and sneaks out of five-star hotels in the dead of night.

As Holly struggles to write a flattering portrait of a teenage millionaire who only eats "nightshades" and treats her employees like slaves, Daisy has a public meltdown - and suddenly, her book is the cornerstone of resurrecting her image. But working at all hours trailing a pop star has taken its toll, and Holly must decide if becoming the ultimate insider is worth losing a starring role in her own life.

Fun, juicy, and inspired by Rachel Stuhler's own stranger-than-fiction experiences as a celebrity ghost writer, Absolutely True Lies is an entertaining look at how the lifestyles of the rich and famous aren't always what they seem.

published May 26, 2015 by Touchstone

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon


Why?

There's so much about this that I love (and want to read!). I like novels that give us an 'inside' look at celebrities and how they really are, like Between Me and You.

I am really looking forward to Absolutely True Lies, Daisy Mae Dixson's antics and Holly's decision(s).



That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday


This week's Ten: Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Whose Lives Are Impacted by Mental Illness (their own/a family member/or friend's) (are musically inclined, have lost someone, have depression, who grow up poor, etc.)

Hold Still by Nina LaCour ~ Goodreads || Review
A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler ~ Goodreads || Review
All the Bright Places by  Jennifer Niven ~ Goodreads
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand ~ Goodreads
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman ~ Goodreads || Review
Made You Up by  Francesca Zappia  ~ Goodreads
I Was Here by Gayle Forman ~ Goodreads
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios ~ Goodreads || Review
By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters ~ Goodreads
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeline Kuderick  ~ Goodreads || Review

I have read eight of these ten and have plans to read the other two soon. They're not particularly easy books to read but they're still so good. They are honest and emotional and unforgettable.


[You can reach the National Alliance on Mental Ilness (NAMI) Information HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI. The Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1) or texting to 828355.]

Please leave a comment, let me know if you've read any of these or if you have any other recommendations, I would love to hear about either/both!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Secrets We Keep ~ Trisha Leaver (earc) review [@tleaver @fsgbooks]

The Secrets We Keep
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
April 28, 2015
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon


A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.


Ella and Maddy are identical twins but Maddy is the popular, beautiful one with the long term, loving boyfriend. It's Maddy who has all of the friends. It even seems their parents prefer Maddy - or, at least, are more proud of her.

Then an argument between the girls is followed by a tragic accident leaving one of them dead. When Ella wakes up in the hostpial everyone thinks she's Maddy. Even if it doesn't feel correct, feeling guilty, she goes with it. After all, Maddy was the better sister, wasn't she?

It doesn't take Ella long to realize, though, that Maddy's seemingly perfect life may not have been quite so perfect. She soon finds out that Maddy was keeping more secrets from her than Ella knew.

As she discovers more about her sister, her life, Ella has to decide if she can - or should - continue Maddy's life.


The longer she pretends to be Maddy the more she discover not just about her sister and the secrets she was keeping, but about her own life, as well.

Was she really correct that Maddy was the more loved sister? Is everyone really happier Maddy survived? Can Ella take back her decision? Should she?

The Secrets We Keep dealt with some weighty issues without feeling too heavy or dark but also not being superficial, either. Ella's adjustment to Maddy's life, to her sister's death, is handled very well. It is a good mystery, both in whether Ella can be Maddy but also what all it was Maddy was hiding. Yet, it's Ella's character and her decisions and emotion that really made for a terrific read.

I liked that we got a small introduction to Ella and Maddy before the accident, that we saw who and how Ella was, as herself. At first I wished we had more of a chance to 'meet' Maddy but I changed my mind as the novel progressed. We only have Ella's (and later her boyfriend and classmates') view of Maddy. Maddy remains a bit of an unknown, a mystery to readers as well.

We discover who she was along with Ella.

For a very well done contemporary YA read, with a bit of mystery making it better, pick up Trisha Leaver's The Secrets We Keep.





Other books you may also enjoy: All We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard, Six Months Later by Natalie D Richards and The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne





digital copy received for review, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book Blitz: Shadow of a Doubt [@PADePaul @RockStarPRLLC]


Shadow of a Doubt (SBG #2)
InterMix
April 21, 2015
Adult Romantic Suspense
add to Goodreads
buy from B&N/iBooks/Google Play/Kobo/Amazon

When her secretly filmed tryst shows up on the internet, Michelle Alger goes on the run. She has no choice. Not only was her one-night stand the son of a US senator, but he’s been murdered—and she’s the number one suspect. With both the senator and an avenging drug lord on her trail, her life is in danger. There’s only man she can trust. He saved her once, but will he still be her hero six years later?

Captain Jeremy Malone and the rest of Delta Squad have the senator’s order: find the mystery woman who killed my son. But to Jeremy, she’s no mystery. Six years ago his team of Green Berets rescued her from the torturous clutches of a Colombian cartel, and he’s never forgotten her. His personal and covert mission: find Michelle before anyone else. When he and Michelle do meet again, the sparks are explosive and consuming. They’re also dangerous as hell.

Because with each new bit of evidence, Jeremy suspects that Michelle’s innocence may be a ruse—a beautiful trap set by a woman who has even more secrets yet to bare.



About the Author:


“I'm a multi-genre romance author including paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense.

“I originally hail from Carroll and Baltimore County, Maryland, but also lived in Macon and Warner Robins, Georgia. I currently reside in a beautiful community just outside Philadelphia.

“When my head is not completely absorbed with listening to very demanding characters, I can be found with my nose in a book—not only enjoying the story but studying what makes the novel work. I love action-adventure movies (if it blows up spectacularly, I'm there) and watching way too much TV. (Can everybody say “Procrastination?” To which I usually reply, “But it’s research!” Yeah, they don’t believe me either.). More times than not, my husband and Shi Tzu stand outside my closed office door wondering, “Is she still alive? Do we dare bother her? What if she’s on a roll?” Monty usually answers by scratching on the wood anyway. Gotta love a dog who doesn’t care about boundaries! Good thing he’s so cute!” (website)



Excerpt:






Cappy could only murmur, “It’s okay,” over and over into the crown of her head. He shifted to relieve his crushed balls and sent up a small prayer for guidance.
He hated feeling so helpless.

He had seen good men, good soldiers, struggle with the horrors they faced in war. Whether the violence was by their own hands or what they watched their buddy go through didn’t seem to matter. They were crippled just the same. To witness this exquisite creature’s terror as she fought to stay out of Raul’s phantom hands left him feeling inadequate and guilty. He should have known about her capture sooner. Should have been able to save her from that hell.

Images of her tortured body rose in his mind. Christ, what those men had done to her. Rage curled in his gut as he gently stroked her arm. He wished he could kill them all over again and not just for what they subjected her to, but for the men he had lost that day. Friends who didn’t deserve to have their lives cut short because he had lost focus and allowed his emotions to lead.

Fewer tears soaked into his shirt and a soft snore filled his ears. He gently transferred her to the couch, replacing his arm with an ugly beige pillow.

After crossing the room, he motioned for Talon to lift the paper towels. His teammate tipped his head back and removed the wad. Bruising across the bridge of his nose had already started blossoming spectacularly. “You’re going to have a hell of a shiner just in time to replace the one that just healed.” Cappy peered closer. “You need to get that looked at.”

“I’ve had a broken nose before.” Talon pivoted and entered the kitchen. “This doesn’t feel like that. Any ice ready in the freezer?”

Cappy opened the appliance’s door but it was empty. A stack of plastic trays sat neatly on top of the refrigerator, waiting to be filled. “Nope. Go see a doctor anyway just to be safe. Call me when you’re released. I’ll give you the list of supplies we need from the store.” Cappy stepped out of the kitchen and glanced toward the couch. Michelle still slept in the same position he’d placed her in. Good. He motioned for Talon to follow him through the dining room and out the sliding glass door.

Once Talon crossed over the threshold, Cappy closed the door and angled his body so he could watch over Michelle.

Talon flicked a glance down Cappy’s sight line and snorted, then winced at the action. “You better get your head out of your dick and wake up.”

Cappy jerked at the attack and straightened to his full height. “Excuse me?”

“That girl murdered Colin Harris and you’re in there stroking her like a damn puppy.”

“We don’t know that for sure.” Even to his ears he sounded defensive. Shit.

“Spoken like a guy wanting to get laid.”

“Hey,” Cappy snapped. “I’m still your CO”

“Then act like a commanding officer,” Talon retorted, not getting the message to back down. “Find out what happened.”

Cappy gripped his hips to keep from encircling Talon’s throat. “What do you think I’m doing?”

Talon tried to snort again. “I don’t know, clearing the house so you can screw her.”

“Get real,” Cappy retorted. “She doesn’t really want me, just what I represent.”

“She’s suffering from hero worship and you have a rescue complex when it comes to her. You’re both screwed up but that still doesn’t mean you can’t fuck her.”

Cappy moved into Talon’s space and forced his clenched fists to stay at his sides. “Get out of my face and to the hospital before I break something for real. Capisce? Call me when you’re done. I’ll have a list for you by then.”

“Check, sir.”

Talon strode around Cappy, grazing his shoulder as he passed. It wasn’t a full-out challenge but a message. Cappy watched him disappear around the corner. If that man didn’t straighten up soon, he might just have to send a message of his own—one with no hint of subtlety.

He gazed up at the blazing pink and orange clouds as the sun disappeared from the sky. The taste of what her therapy sessions must have been like as she battled the PTSD soured in his mouth. Shit.
How could he have been so callous all these years and not even tried to find her, to check up on her even if it was from a distance? You know why, his mind answered, zeroing in on the instant connection he had felt the second he broke into that room. He wouldn’t’ve been able to keep himself on the perimeter. The temptation to touch her, talk to her, be with her would’ve been too much.
SBG operatives were not allowed to have personal lives.





About SBG Book 1 Exchange of Fire:

Faking her death was easy, living with her past is harder, but nothing is more dangerous than falling in love…

Sandra Walsh was a deadly sniper for the Sweet Briar Group, a covert agency with assassins for hire, until her last mission went horribly wrong, accidentally killing an innocent girl. Knowing she’s a danger to her team, Sandra goes off the grid, becoming a Shade—an agent declared dead but secretly hiding among the living. She intends to honor her vow never to pull another trigger or have contact with the spy world again. Until she meets Casper Grady…

Grady is a former Marine with a troubled past and a debt to pay. His life mission has gone from protecting the nation to helping local children and their families. The moment he meets Sandra, he knows there’s more to her than meets the eye, but he can’t help but be drawn to the mysterious femme fatale. And when Sandra’s past suddenly catches up to her, Grady is determined to protect her at all costs, no matter how dark and dangerous her secrets are.

As the danger increases, so does their intense attraction. But when they’re forced to choose between each other and the people they’ve sworn to protect, their growing love might not be enough to keep them together—or alive…
add to Goodreads/buy Kindle/Nook/iBooks/Kobo/Google Play

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday [@lbkids @kamigarcia @mstohl]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:


DANGEROUS DECEPTION (Dangerous Creatures #2) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

From the world of Beautiful Creatures--a dangerous new tale of love and magic continues in the sequel to Dangerous Creatures.

Love is ten kinds a crazy, right?
Let me put it to you this way: If you can get away, run. Don't walk.
Because once you're exposed, you'll never get a Siren outta your head.

Some loves are cursed. Others are...dangerous. Especially the love between wannabe rocker and quarter Incubus, Wesley "Link" Lincoln, and Dark Caster, Siren, and bonafide bad girl, Ridley Duchannes.

But now Ridley is missing, and Link was with her-right up until she vanished. Determined to find her, Link reunites with his New York bandmates and the mysterious Lennox Gates, who wants Rid for himself. Together they travel to the deep south, find the crossroads where blues guitarist Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil, discover a menagerie of Casters locked in cages, and uncover an evil in New Orleans that threatens to destroy them all.

This time, love might not be enough.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthors of the Beautiful Creatures series, deliver their signature blend of mystery, suspense, and romance, with a healthy dose of wit and danger in this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Dangerous Creatures.

published May 19th by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

add to your Goodreads shelf // pre-order from Book Depo // or Amazon



Why?

So, so many reasons . . . To keep it simple: I loved the Beautiful Creatures books and then, last year, I read and also loved Dangerous Creatures. (My reviews of Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia titles.) This start to this spin-off series was fantastic and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Fingers crossed that I get to read this one soon.



That's my pick for this week, what's yours? Tell me in the comments and/or link me to your own post!

Book Promo: One Night ~ A.J. Pine [@AJ_Pine @RockStarPRLLC]

OneNight_banner
One Night
InterMix
April 21, 2015
Buy:  Amazon | B&N | iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play
add-to-goodreads-button31
One Night cover


When she lost it all, Jess decided to cope by living a lie.


But you can’t keep on pretending forever…

Twenty-one-year-old Jess used to have everything—a loyal best friend, a boyfriend she loved, and a future that was right on track. But in a single night, her whole world changed.

Now, Jess lives for the impersonal connection of drunken hook-ups and to-go coffee cups in the morning. All she needs is one night to pretend everything is fine…until she meets Adam.

Thanks to a sports injury, gorgeous, charming basketball star Adam Carson is stuck in physical therapy at the hospital where Jess interns—giving her the perfect opportunity to see his sweet, considerate nature and making her realize that maybe she does want something more.

But while Adam might be the best thing that’s happened to Jess in a long time, letting him past her carefully constructed walls means letting him know what happened...and why he'd never want her for more than one night.





OneNight_graphic




Excerpt:




“Well, Ms. Elliott, I believe I’m ready to sleep with you.”

My gaze searches the length of his body. Where his jeans once hugged his hips just right—and yes, I noticed—he now wears his green basketball shorts.

“Do you always travel prepared to spend the night out?”

“No . . .”

He rounds the bed slowly and sits on the side opposite me.

“I’m not that kind of guy. I’m more the superstitious type.”

My heart hammers at his nearness. He may be across the bed, but he’s here, in my room, asking nothing of me other than a bed to sleep in.

“Enlighten me,” I say.

“I wear the shorts, under my jeans, the night before a game,” he starts. “And if it’s an away game, the night before travel too.”

“Because winning has nothing to do with skill and strategy, only whether or not you’re wearing the shorts?”

He chucks a pillow at me. Then I reach over to my nightstand where the product of my kitchen visit lies, tossing it across the bed to him. He picks it up and eyes the package of frozen peas.

“For your knee,” I say, and there’s a small silence as he positions the bag over the visible swelling.

“Thank you.” He says nothing more to give away what we both know, that Jake’s cheap shot did more than draw blood. Adam absorbed the shock of the blow with his whole body.

I turn off my lamp and slide down until my head rests on my pillow. He slides down too, so he’s on his back, the bag of peas molded over his knee, his head turned to face me.

“You’re miles away,” I say. But that’s not true. He’s closer than I’ve let anyone get since sophomore year.

He reaches his arm across the space between us, his hand finding mine where it lies on my pillow. He doesn’t grab it but instead snakes his pinky around mine.

I stifle a sharp breath, shocked not so much at the gesture itself but at the jolt of the touch of his skin.

“I’m right here,” he says. “Just being a gentleman. Friends or not, I don’t have much control over what can happen…” His eyes dip to his shorts, and I giggle. “… if I get too close to a gorgeous girl in bed.”

Heat floods my neck, my cheeks, and I cross my fingers the room is dark enough that he doesn’t notice. The thought of Adam’s body pressed against mine—of him being aroused by me—threatens my last shred of resolve. Because I want him in so many ways, this gentleman who keeps his distance. But I want even more not to lose him as my friend.

“You need to stop saying stuff like that.”

“Like what?”

I chuck the pillow back at him.

“I’m just asking for some clarification,” he says. “I mean, I say a lot of things.”

I purse my lips and glare.

“Fine. Okay. I won’t call you gorgeous anymore. I don’t need to. You already know I think it.”

How does he do that? Unabashedly say things threatening to unravel me. With the few others who have shared this bed with me, all I ever wanted was to get to the sleeping part so I could close my eyes and forget, fool myself into a night free from dreams pretending the arms around me belonged to Bryan. When the dreams stayed hidden, sleep was the one thing that could transport me back to where I used to be.

But tonight I fight the fatigue. I don’t want the evening to end, don’t want to pretend I’m with anyone else. Still, my eyes grow heavy, blink, blink, blinking me off to sleep. With each flutter of my lids, I watch my pinky, still laced with his. Our hands are the last thing I see before I lose the battle and sleep takes me.

In the early morning, I don’t have to search for a warm body that finds more comfort in the art of spooning a pillow. Because Adam is still here, his finger still tangled with mine. But we failed at maintaining the bed-border relationship.

His arm no longer has to reach to find me. It’s bent at the elbow, pulled tight to his chest and along with it, my hand. And his head, tilted slightly in my direction, rests dreamily on my pillow. I watch him, this beautiful boy with an equally beautiful, forgiving, nonjudgmental heart. And for a minute, I imagine giving my heart to him and his accepting it without question. I imagine a future with him in it, but only for a moment, before I let his soft exhales lull me back to sleep. Reality can wait a few more hours.




AJ PineAbout A.J. Pine:

AJ Pine writes stories to break readers’ hearts, but don’t worry—she’ll mend them with a happily ever after. As an English teacher and a librarian, AJ has always surrounded herself with books. All her favorites have one big commonality–romance. Naturally, her books have the same. When she’s not writing, she’s of course reading. Then there’s online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes) and, of course, a tiny bit of TV where she nourishes her undying love of vampires, from Eric Northman to the Salvatore brothers. And in the midst of all of this, you’ll also find her hanging with her family in the Chicago burbs.
Find P.A. Online:

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday


This week's Ten: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors

Alyxandra Harvey ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
Jennifer Lynn Barnes ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
Cat Patrick ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
Neal Shusterman ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
J.T. Ellison ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
Marie Lu ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
A.A. Milne ~ on Goodreads
Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire  ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
Kady Cross/Kate Locke ~ on Goodreads || my reviews
Roald Dahl ~ on Goodreads

I have edited/changed/switched up this list more times than I can count! I do absolutely love these ten authors, the trouble came from limiting to just ten authors.

If you haven't read these authors, yet, you so, so, so very much need to ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Please leave a comment and link me to your Top Ten Tuesday post and/or tell me your favorite authors!!

Challenger Deep ~ Neal Shusterman (earc) review [@NealShusterman @HarperTeen]

Challenger Deep
HarperCollins
April 21, 2015
320 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

A captivating and powerful novel that lingers long beyond the last page, Challenger Deep is a heartfelt tour de force by one of today's most admired writers for teens.

Challenger Deep is one of those books where it feels a bit odd to say I loved it. Not because of the quality of the novel, it is superb, but because of the, perhaps, happier connotation the word usually has. Neal Shusterman's latest is honest, it's heartfelt and it's heartbreaking.

The book is told using dual story lines, Caden Bosch at sea on the Challenger Deep and high school student, at home wit his parents Caden Bosch. The worlds seemed so disparate that it could be hard to really get involved in them both at the same time. This isn't a book to read if you only have a few minutes; the stories flow best if you can devote some time to reading, really get into both worlds of Caden Bosch.

Caden's life on the Challenger Deep - really, the entire ship itself, too - is strange. The characters, their decisions, the flow of action, the layout of the ship, the crew's plans, it's not 'normal' and predictable. (The layout/design made me think of the Buffy episode, 'Restless' where Buffy's room opened into he Bronze which opened into Giles' living room [or whatever]. )

Caden's life wit his parents, at school is more 'normal' and understandable. He has friends, he has hobbies, he has talents and ideas.

When everything begins to come together - or, perhaps, come apart - and we see the changes in Caden, when other characters notice things, you feel for him. It's when Caden, himself, begins to question his own behavior, to know things aren't quite right even if he can explain them and can't seem to change them, that readers will really connect with his character. When the story is really heartbreaking.

I am really thrilled, pleased, thankful that Neal Shusterman wrote Challenger Deep and shared Caden and his story with us. It is an incredibly well done story around a very important topic but, more than that, it is Caden's story and he's someone you won't forget.







thank you to the publisher for my digital review copy, via Edelweiss

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Remedy ~ Suzanne Young (earc) review [@suzanne_young @simonteen #TheRemedy]

The Remedy (The Program #0.5)
Simon Pulse
April 21, 2015
416 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon


In a world before The Program…

Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill—she can “become” anyone.

Recommended by grief counselors, Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She’s not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, studies them through pictures and videos, and soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them, and be them for all intents and purposes. But to do her job successfully, she can’t get attached.

Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometimes confusing her own past with those of the people she’s portrayed. When she’s given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl’s boyfriend. But that’s only the beginning of the complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina’s death. And the epidemic it could start.

I absolutely loved The Program (review)  and The Treatment so, of course, I was completely thrilled when I heard about The Remedy. Set in the same universe as The Program and The Treatment, The Remedy takes place before either of them.  The Program, something so much a part of the characters' lives in the other novels doesn't exist, yet.

The Remedy also introduces to a whole new cast of characters. If I had any anxiousness around this new installment it was focused there. I adore Sloane and James and they're not here. But, I also am fascinated and intrigued by the world Suzanne Young created in those first two books. To see (even some of) how that came about was something I couldn't pass up.

Whether it's the characters or the world of The Program books you love most, The Remedy won't let you down. It's a whole different set up with all new characters, but it's just as special.

I loved The Remedy. It is a fantastic balance of being its own original story, with an incredibly creative and well developed world - and giving readers a glimpse into the world before The Program.

Quinn is a fantastic character to be at the center of the story. She's been a closer for, perhaps, longer than anyone. Doing it since the age of seven, she knows she's good at it. She knows how to get back into her own life as Quinn and how to stay in character as whomever she's portraying. Sure, some of her brightest memories didn't actually happen to her, belonging to other people.  But she's helping people.

The idea of closers, of the grief department is an idea that, frankly, creeps me out. Yet, the way it's done - how well Quinn can portray the girls, how much goes into it, the rules, the regulations - and how most people outside of the families view closers, makes it really work. Plenty of people (likely even the majority) are disgusted, horrified, scared, or somehow, generally, unsure of closers and what they do.

The longer Quinn is Catalina, the more we learn about Catalina and the mystery of her death, but also about Quinn.  She's not supposed to get attached to her clients and it's been an ability she was sure of. Now, the more time and energy she puts into Catalina the more she has to question.

I hope this wasn't all we get of Quinn and her story, of the lead-up to The Program and that world. Having already read The Program and The Treatment, I liked seeing what the world was like before The Program. You don't have to have read either book, though, to read The Remedy. While it's a prequel of sorts, it is its own world with its own characters.





thank you to the publisher for my copy to review via Edelweiss


Cover Characteristic [@sugar_and_snark]

This is a new meme hosted by Sugar & Snark. It came about when Sugar was wondering which cover to use for her #70 Cover of the Week post. Sugar kept on thinking of more than one, and they all seemed to have a theme/characteristic. So she decided to switch things up a bit!

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).

You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

All I was finding for this week were baby books and Harlequin titles, so I decided to go with it:

This week's Cover Characteristic: Babies






my favorite:


While there is a whole collection of titles with covers like this one (guys oddly holding a baby/babies) this one's my favorite because of how awkward it is. This guy does not look like he wants to be holding a baby - or like it's actually a baby he's holding. 


Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the covers - or your favorite covers with a baby/babies on it. If you did a Cover Characteristic post, link me to it, please.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Blitz: The Ark ~ Excerpt & Giveaway [@LauraLLNolen @XpressoReads]


The Ark by Laura Liddell Nolen
HarperVoyager
March 26, 2015
Science Fiction, Young Adult
add to Goodreads/buy from Amazon/B&N

There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

With her criminal record, sixteen-year-old Char is never going to get a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect Earth’s survivors. The Arks are reserved for the real goody-goodies, like Char’s mom, dad, and brother, all of whom have long since turned their backs on her.

With Earth on the brink of destruction, Char must use all her tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they want to see her or not.

Once she arrives on the North American Ark, Char discovers that the remnants of humanity haven’t achieved the egalitarian utopia they’d planned for. For starters, the “Officers of the Peace” are anything but peaceful, especially since stealing a spot on an Ark is a crime punishable by death…


About the Author:

Laura (website) grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent an excellent childhood playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. The Ark is the direct result of those stories and a lifelong devotion to space-themed television. It received a Work in Progress Grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Laura has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Texas with her family.




Excerpt:




On the last day of Earth, I couldn’t find my hairbrush. That probably seems like a silly thing to worry about, what with the imminent destruction of, well, everything, but my mom was always after me about my usual ratty ponytail. Normally, I’d ignore her. Or, if I were having a really bad day, I’d tell her what she could do with her hairbrush. But like I said, it was the last day of Earth. And I figured, since it was the last time she’d ever see me, I wanted it to go smoothly. I wanted her to remember me, if not fondly, then at least without anger.
A girl can dream.
I slipped out of my cell as soon as the door swung open. I’d done the same every day for the past month, and my family had yet to show up. Their OPT—Off-Planet Transport—took off in eighteen hours, so they still had time. Barely. I couldn’t blame them if they didn’t come. It wasn’t hard to imagine that they’d rather escape to the stars without so much as a backward glance at me, their big disappointment. Even my father’s influence couldn’t persuade the government to give me a spot on an OPT.
Turns out, when humankind is deciding which of its children to save, the last place it looks is in prison.
But I was pretty sure they’d come. West had said as much in his last transmission. The thought of my younger brother actually halted me mid-step, like one of those punches in the gut where you can’t breathe for a few seconds.
“Looking for something?” The lazy drawl floated out of the nearest cell.
Against my better instincts, I turned to see Cassa lying on her bunk, her arm draped across Kip. My Kip. Or at least, my ex-Kip. Whatever. In twenty-two hours, I wouldn’t have to think about him anymore.
See? Silver lining. And they called me a perpetual pessimist at my last psych workup.
They barely fit next to each other on the flimsy mattress, but that wasn’t the weird part. The guys’ ward was separated by a substantial metal wall. We were kept apart during evening hours, for obvious reasons. Not that anyone cared anymore. The med staff had been the first to go, followed by the cleaning crew, followed by the kitchen crew. To show you where girls like me fell on the government’s list of priorities, there was still a skeleton crew of guards lurking around, despite the fact that I hadn’t had a real meal for going on a week. The guards would be gone soon, too, and then there’d be no one in here but us chickens.
I figured either Kip had a key, or the guards had left already. A key could be useful. My curiosity got the best of me. “How’d he get in here before the first bell?”
He cocked an eyebrow. “I got some tricks you ain’t seen, babe. Why don’t you join us? End of the world and all.”
The guards were gone, then. I felt a small trill of anxiety deep in my chest. If the guards were gone, my family was even less likely to show. But it was never smart to show fear. “The Pinball could be headed straight for this building, and I still wouldn’t be desperate enough to touch you. Oh, wait. Guess you don’t have to take my word for it.”
I turned to leave, but he continued. “Now is that any way to treat your dear ole partners? Be nice or I won’t give you back your stuff.”
“Ugh, you were in my room?” I flexed my shoulder blades, making sure my gun was still tightly secured between them.
“Don’t worry, Char. I didn’t handle the merchandise. Didn’t want to wake you up. Just lifted me a few keepsakes.” He pronounced my name the way I like: Char, as in charred. Something that got burned.
I wasn’t sure what Kip and Cassa were planning, but I knew I wouldn’t like it. They were thieves and liars. I would know. I used to be one of them. That was before the last job, when Cassa had attacked an elderly man in the home we were robbing. She’d kicked him until he stopped fighting back. Kip had called her off after a few licks, but I just stood there, staring. The old man looked at me, like right at me, while we made our getaway, and my stomach twisted into a knot so tight that I tasted bile. That was the moment I knew I wanted out.
But by then, no one believed me. Or, if they did, no one cared. Except for Kip and Cassa, of course. They’d taken the news pretty hard, to put it lightly.
If I lunged for the box, I could probably grab my hairbrush and get out of there. I wouldn’t have time for more than that. Then again, I’d be doing exactly what they expected, and I didn’t have time for delays. My family could be in the commissary any second now.
“Ahem. Seeing as it’s your last day of life, I might let you have one thing back,” said Kip.
“In exchange for what?”
“I’m hurt. All our time together, and you still don’t believe in my inherent generosity. But now that you mention it, I’ve got a hankering for some peanut butter crackers.”
“Sorry, Kip. I’m fresh out of food. Kinda like everyone else.”
“Nice try, Charrr.” He drew my name out, as though tasting it. “I saw them yesterday. Figured you were hiding them under your pillow when I couldn’t find them last night.”
“You figured wrong.”
All I could think about was my brother’s face. And how I had this one last chance to apologize to my parents, for everything. I shrugged and turned to leave.

That was probably a mistake.


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