Friday, July 31, 2015

Fuzzy Mud ~ Louis Sachar (earc) review [@randomhousekids]

Fuzzy Mud
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
August 4, 2015
192 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

From the author of the acclaimed bestseller "Holes, " winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a new middle-grade novel with universal appeal. Combining horror-movie suspense with the issues of friendship, bullying, and the possibility of ecological disaster, this novel will intrigue, surprise, and inspire readers and compel them to think twice about how they treat others as well as their environment.

"Be careful. Your next step may be your last."

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.

In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.
Fuzzy Mud is such a fun read. It really does a great job dealing with the friendship and social issues unique to middle school. Tamaya is sweet and you like her quickly, but can also understand Marshall's (two years older, in seventh grade) conflict over walking with her.

I liked Marshall's character, too. He doesn't want to be ignored, but he also doesn't want attention like that which bully Chad is paying him. Even as he doesn't want the responsibility of walking Tamaya home, he isn't able to forget it, either.

This sin't only a novel of friendship, middle school social conflicts and bullies, though. Interspersed with their walk home through the woods are more science-y bits. As we discover more of that story line, we realize how much danger the kids may be in. Sachar does a great job with this information. Some parts take place months after Marshall and Tamaya venture into the woods and give just he right amount of foreshadowing, teasing at the danger they are in, but without revealing too much.

The way the story is told is great. It connects readers with the characters and lets them know (sooner than the characters) what they're up against, really building the suspense. In some ways, Fuzzy Mud made me think of Parasite, though for a younger audience.

It is an enjoyable tale with well done characters that will leave you with something to think about (and perhaps, even, worry/fear).






digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley

Book Blitz: Sun-Kissed Summer ~ Marta Brown [@martabrownbooks @XpressoTours]


Sun-Kissed Summer
by Marta Brown
July 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
add to Goodreads/buy from B&N/or Amazon

Summer can change everything.

For shy, bookish Katie Quinn, it just might after an accidental mix-up at the airport on the way to visit her grandparents for the summer leaves her stuck with the wrong suitcase. One full of short shorts, high heels, and absolutely nothing she would normally dare to wear. Until she realizes her newfound look has garnered the attention of Key West’s biggest hottie, Brad-freaking-Garrison, and might just give her the one thing she’s always dreamed of—an epic summer romance.

A romance her summertime best friend only wishes he could give her. But for Oliver, getting Katie to see him as more than just some dumb jock isn’t going to be easy after he agrees to compete against Brad in a kite-surfing competition. And if Brad has any say in it, the prize is Katie herself.

With more than just a contest on the line and a friendship at stake, will this be the summer Katie finds her footing, even if it is in someone else’s shoes? Will Oliver finally get the courage to tell Katie how he really feels and get out of the friend-zone for good? Or, like a kite in a hurricane, will everything they’ve ever hoped for be lost in the storm?

About the Author:
Marta Brown grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was a teenager when Doc Martens, Pearl Jam and flannel were the norm and Dylan loved Kelly forever. (Beverly Hills, 90210 shout out!)

She still lives just outside Seattle, now with her husband and cat, and loves the rain.

When she's not writing about cute boys, first kisses and the magic and wonder of being seventeen, she's watching The CW. And she sleeps in. Late.




Book Trailer:




Excerpt:




With a quick look at the clock on my nightstand, I let out a groan at the ridiculous hour, toss off the covers, and slip out of bed. Thankful for the pair of sleep shorts I found last night that actually manage to cover both cheeks, I stomp down the hall to the top of the stairs.

“So, when you said last night you’d pick me up at six…” I trail off with crossed arms, despite Oliver’s cheery morning smile and what looks to be two cups of coffee.

“DP, baby.” He lifts the steaming cup in my direction, giving it a small shake back and forth, like a taunt.

“DP? As in, date practice?” I ask, arching a brow as I trudge down the stairs and snatch the hot coffee from his grip. “You know, six pm would probably be a more fitting time to practice for say, a date. Don’t you think?”

Oliver takes a long sip of his drink while holding back a laugh. “Under normal circumstances, I would say yes, but we have nearly seventeen years to make up for in just one day.”

My cheeks catch fire at the reminder of how inexperienced I am, leaving me to wonder how in the world some silly, fake date is going to help when I’m so
obviously beyond help at this point anyway.

“You know what? I change my mind. I’m going back to bed.” Turning, I manage to take a single step before Oliver’s large, muscular arms wrap around my waist and pull me back against his chest.

“Oh no, you don’t,” he says, humor lacing every word as he loosens his hold just enough so

I’m able to twist around and face him—the small cups of coffee providing the only space between our two bodies. “I have big plans for us today. But, first things first. We have dawn patrol.”

Oh. DP stands for dawn patrol. Wait. What the heck is that?

The look on my face must tip him off to the fact I have no idea what he’s talking about because before I can ask, he shakes his head and laughs. “Dawn patrol is what we call an early morning kite-surfing session. And if we want a chance at winning the contest next week, we need practice. And you know what they say, don’t you?” Oliver grins as he lets the arm that is wrapped around my waist fall to his side before taking a small step back.

“Uh…no. What do they say?” I ask, slightly out of breath and strangely disappointed by the sudden amount of space between us.

“Easy.” He winks. “Practice makes perfect.”

Biting my lip, I don’t know if he’s talking about dating, kite surfing, or both. But by the way my heart is beating double time, I’m starting to think Oliver might just be the perfect guy to practice with either way.





organized by Xpresso Book Tours

Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to Say I Love You Out Loud ~ Karole Cozzo (earc) review [@SwoonReads @KACozzo]

How to Say I Love You Out Loud
Swwon Reads
August 4, 2015
240 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Words are strong. Love is stronger.

When Jordyn Michaelson’s autistic brother joins her at her elite school, she’s determined not to let anyone know they're related. Even if that means closing herself off to all her closest friends, including charming football stud Alex Colby. But despite her best intentions, she just can't shake the memory of kissing Alex last summer, and the desire to do it again.

Can Jordyn find the courage to tell Alex how she really feels—and the truth about her family—before he slips away forever?

I loved that Jordyn wasn't perfect. She understands that her autistic brother, Phillip, gets more of their parents time and energy and she understands why - he needs more of it than she does. That doesn't mean she likes it, though.

She is just beginning her second year at a new school, where no one knows about her brother and that's just how Jordyn wants it. Sure, it means not having anyone over, keeping much - if not most - of her life a secret even from her best friends, but it's what she wants.

When word comes that Phillip will be attending Jordyn's high school, it's the last thing she wants. Even as she does everything to keep anyone from making the connection that they're siblings, she knows it will happen, eventually.

I really liked Jordyn. No, how she feels about her brother - at least where others are concerned - isn't noble, but it's also not without some basis. Whether she's right or wrong to feel how she does, you can understand her reasoning. The more we see her at school, with Alex, at field hockey practice and with her friends, the better we're able to see who Jordyn is. She is caring and smart and trying to be a good friend.

The same thing that's keeping her from being a truly good friend is also what's causing her stress and difficulties: keeping her home life such a secret.

Phillip's character was nicely done and he felt very realistic. There is enough of his behavior, how he acts at home and how he is at school, for us to get a sense of both who he is and what Jordyn's relationship with him is like.

Jordyn's wish to keep her brother - and his autism - a secret isn't noble or great, but we can see how she came to that decision. In How to Say I Love You Out Loud, we get a great example of how much impact just one person can have. Especially considering the characters' ages, I thought it was very believeable.

I loved Alex and his role. We know he and Jordyn are friends - even if that doesn't seem to be all there is to how they see each other. As the novel progresses, we learn more of what transpired between them and wonder if they will be able to be more than friends. Or if they may even lose that friendship thanks to Jordyn's secrets and lies.

How to Say I Love You Out Loud is a book with something to say (though, shouldn't they all be?) and you'll thoroughly enjoy Jordyn, her relationships and her journey to, hopefully, accepting (and acknowledging) her brother . . . and maybe even finding love. Jordyn may not be perfect, but she's real and I loved her story.







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

Book Blitz: Race for Love ~ Nana Malone [@nanamalone]


Race for Love (The Donovans #3)
by Nana Malone
July 27, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
add to Goodreads/buy from B&N/or Amazon


Up and coming racecar driver, Kisima Jennings, is all alone in the world and that’s just how she likes it. After all, she has her career, who needs family? But when a near-fatal crash jeopardizes her future, she’s forced to lean on someone for the first time in her life.

As an athletic trainer, Derek Donovan is driven and has always kept his eyes on the prize, never letting personal entanglements come between him and his dream of becoming a head trainer for the New Orleans Jaguars. That is, until one misstep costs him everything. Now he’s starting over, but with a client as tempting as Kisima, is he destined to repeat the mistakes of his past? Or will letting someone close bring him everything he’s ever wanted?



USA Today Best Seller, Nana Malone's love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she "borrowed" from her cousin.

It was a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana, and Nana was a precocious thirteen. She's been in love with kick butt heroines ever since. With her overactive imagination, and channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters.

While she waits for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, in the meantime Nana works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is.

Want to know when the next book is coming? Hit up her Newsletter here. You'll only get updated when there is a new release or a special promotion for her Sexy, Sassy Readers. http://eepurl.com/2PeXb

*USA Today Bestselling In Stilettos Series *


Excerpt:





She stopped her chair when she saw the man in the living room. From this vantage point, she had an excellent view of a spectacular jeans-clad ass. It was so good the jeans should be thanking him for making them look so good. Butterflies fluttered low in her belly and she silently admonished herself. What was she doing ogling this guy?

She was here to work. Never mind that it had been so long she barely remembered what sex was like.

She dragged her focus back to the tall stranger taking up space in TJ's living room.

Dark, inky hair dusted his collar, lightly curling at the collar. His shoulders, holy hell, they were broad. Clearly, he worked out, but not so much that he looked like some muscle bound meathead. He still had a neck. Judging his height, he was probably around six feet two, maybe taller. He was just a little shorter than TJ. His back equally fascinated her as he studied the trophy wall and her stats. But she mostly focused on how his jeans hung low on his hips, showcasing his tight ass.

A deep voice startled her out of her reverie. "You should take a picture, it'll last longer. Or you like seeing it all in the flesh?" His voice was low and sexy, but held a note of teasing.

 A flush of heat crept up her neck, making her face flame. The last thing she needed. When he turned slowly, Kiss involuntarily held her breath, almost like her body knew to brace itself for something magic.

Oh, wow. With a jaw carved out of stone, his beautiful cheekbones were more geared for a runway model than a physical therapist. And his thick, sooty lashes rivaled her own. Jesus Christ, She was supposed to work with this guy? How was she supposed to work with him day in and day out for the next few months? She had twelve weeks until the Abu Dhabi race.

No way no how. Physical therapy required touching. Lots of...touching. She'd had her fill of too handsome too cocky assholes. Antonio had been one. She knew the type "I won't be needing a picture thanks, I've had enough."

The corner of his lips tipped into a wry smile and those piercing baby blues of his made it nearly impossible to think. Nearly.

He studied her in her chair for a moment.  "So you're KM Jennings.  I'm not sure why, but before I got here, I expected a guy."

She shrugged. "Kisima, actually. And it was done by design. When I first started, it was to slip me past organizers without too much discrimination. Added bonus was I looked like a boy for ages."

His gaze slid over her and her skin prickled with heat in response. "Somehow I doubt that. I can see you doing it to keep the announcers from butchering your name.”

His voice was softer and flowed over her like melted chocolate.

“That too. It means spring in Swahili. Mom was Tanzanian.” Stop talking, Kiss.

Why had she offered that? He wasn't here to date her. He was here to train her.

His gaze narrowed for a moment, then he angled his head toward the trophy wall.

"That you in Sports Illustrated?"

Like an idiot, she blushed...again. What the hell was wrong with her? This guy was her supposed new trainer not some cute boy who wanted to buy her a drink at the club. "Yeah. The story on women in racing."

He nodded. "So the racing bikini is totally called for."

She'd regretted that spread from the moment she'd agreed to do it. It certainly didn't help her gain respect. Magazines liked to feature her as their token minority and woman. There were other women. And other black racers. But a black woman, she was a chupacabra.

Kiss shifted in the chair trying to take some pressure off her hip. "So they call you

the miracle worker. Is it true? I mean, why do you patch up broken athletes? You going to have me all patched up and ready to drive in three months?" Her lower back throbbed and all she wanted to do was lie down and stretch properly.

His eyes widened as he watched her shift in the chair and he crossed his arms. "I don't know about that. I don't really believe in miracles." His frown deepened. "But I guess I like to help people. And athletes are a special breed. Able to do what so few can

"My own personal superhero. I suppose you'll have me call you Clark Kent."

"If you need to see me as a superhero, feel free. But there won’t be any magic involved. Just plain old hard work. One question though, do you want to tell me what you're still doing in the chair?" His glare was derisive as if she'd done something wrong.

She tilted her chin up. "Some trainer you are. I assume you've seen my file, so you know I can't really walk right now. This is my ride."





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organized by Xpresso Book Tours

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Awake ~ Natasha Preston (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire @natashavpreston]

Awake
Sourcebooks Fire
August 4, 2015
352 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.

When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it...because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.

And they want her back.
I'm not really sure how to describe how I felt about Awake. The first half, where we meet Scarlett and she meets Noah, really did not work for me. They go through the expected actions of beginning a relationship but it all felt too instant and flat. It seems like they've just met and then they're in love and ready for forever.

I didn't really feel that connection, that attraction that was so special between them. Their relationship and the writing did not seem to be of the same caliber as either the second half of the book or of The Cellar.

Scarlett's memory issue was also introduced weirdly. She says she doesn't remember anything before the age of four - and is used to people thinking it's weird and should bother her. Humans, in general don't have a lot of memories before that age. It  doesn't seem like something that special. How she says it later, that she lost her memory at four and never got it back, seemed like the better way to state it (and makes it more unique, out of the ordinary).

Now, if Awake had started around Chapter 23 (51%), I would know how I felt about it. I really enjoyed the second half of the book. There's more suspense and the story doesn't rely or focus so heavily on Scarlett and Noah's relationship. Natasha Preston can really write peril filled, suspenseful mysteries. The danger and the situation are well done.

I was still a bit unsure of Scarlett's character and her reliance on/connection with Noah, but I enjoyed what happened, the tension, the drama, the fear. After reading The Cellar and now Awake, I thin the author does thriller type mysteries well, but the romance doesn't really work.




(though that's really a 1 or 1.5 for the beginning half and 4 for the rest . . .)

Waiting On Wednesday [@randomhousekids @MelissaGorzela]

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

My pick for this week:

ARROWS by Melissa Gorzelanczyk

A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.
Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.


published January 5th by Delacorte Press

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


Why?

The 'modern Cupid story,' is definitely what caught my attention with this one (at least, at first). I enjoy reading novels inspired or influenced by classic mythology stories and/or characters. I love seeing those ancient characters, the mythological beings and their stories, brought into the modern day, with some original characters.

I am extra interested in this one, though, because even with the mythological elements removed from the description, I want to read about Karma and her ill-fated love life.

Can't wait to see how it all comes together!

(Plus, the cover's cute.)



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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Nerds


This week's Ten:
10 Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

Georgina Kincaid 
from Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead
She works at a bookstore and only lets herself read a certain amount of her favorite book at night - who doesn't want to draw out finishing a great book sometimes (while simultaneously wanting to read it all, right now!)?


Echo
from The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Echo lives in a library and I love her love of words!

Gretchen
from The Lovegrove Legacy series by Alyxandra Harvey
There may be a ball going on, but more likely than not, Gretchen's hiding out in the library.


Doug
from The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
He works for the North American Dictionary of the English Language, he knows his literary characters, and doesn't want to forego books for all of the new technology.


Marian (and Liv)
from Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
How could Marian, the librarian of both the mortal and Caster libraries, not be on this list? (And Liv, too, but she's not around till later, so . . .)


Verity
from Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson
Verity loves her pulp novels and completely understands how the library could be one's favorite room in the house.


Matilda
from Matilda by Roald Dahl
What would this list be without Matilda?


Hermione
from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling


Liesel
from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak


Lila Merriweather
from Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep
She secretly lives in a library, which I kind of love (a lot).


And they can't be on the list because they're TV not books, but this list needs some Rory and Jess:


Please leave a comment and let me know your favorite 'book nerd' characters - and/or what you think of my picks!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cover Characteristic: Cupcakes [@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!

This week's Cover Characteristic: Cupcakes
(covers link to Goodreads' pages)




my favorite:



Yes, that's two covers, not one but I really cannot pick which of them I like better! One is a cupcake with sprinkles galore and a sparkler, the other has the other sprinkles and a pony! Really, who can choose? Not me. (I also very much want both of those cupcakes.)


Have you heard of these or read them? Which cover's your favorite? (Or if you have another pick, let me know!) And, please, link me to your own post if you made one.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Blitz: Unexpected ~ Lilly Avalon [@lilly_avalon]


Unexpected
July 21, 2015
New Adult/Standalone
add to your Goodreads
buy from  Amazon US // Amazon CA //Amazon UK //B&N // iBooks: // Smashwords

Ever had one of those days? Alina Lyons is having one. Everything keeps falling apart and going wrong. Just when she thinks it couldn't get worse, it does. After a case of mistaken identity and a broken heart, she finds herself questioning the things she thought she knew. She wonders who she can turn to or trust anymore.

An unlikely bond with her former best friend's ex, Ryan Wilcox, sends her life in a new direction. He offers her a place to stay while she gets her life back on track. His friendship is exactly what she's been missing—what she's been needing. Alina's never felt this alive. As time goes by, the dynamic of their relationship becomes more than either of them expected. A few innocent kisses could lead them in a new direction, but are they prepared for what's on the other side?

Only one way to find out.

*Unexpected is a standalone new adult novel* 




About the Author:
Lilly Avalon is the author of the RESIST series as well as other erotic romances.
She's somewhere in the midst of her twenties and lives mostly in the stories in
her head. When she's not enveloped in the worlds she creates, she's out in the
real world making stories happen. That or reading other romances. It's a
toss-up.

Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png



Excerpt:





As we sit here quietly, the only sound we hear is the squeak of the swing as it rocks back and forth. I'm about to tell him we should go back inside when he asks, “Why don't you cry?”


His question shouldn’t surprise me, because it’s one thing people often wonder. I shrug. “No point in bothering. My life always spins back around where it was. A guy comes in, somehow sweeps me off my feet to the point where I have zero rational thought, he crushes me, I dust myself off, and move on to the next one.”

He stops the swing, turning to me. “Wait, you think that's normal?”

“It is for me. Circle of life.”

His forehead wrinkles. “What the hell, Alina? Don't you have any self worth?”

“Why do you think I stopped caring? Because if I did I would hurt. I'm protecting myself.”

“You're cutting yourself off, that's what you're doing.”

My head flinches back. “Huh?”

“Don't you get it?” He reaches for my hand, holding it between both of his. “You're distancing yourself from opening up to love because you have grown to expect something bad to happen.”

“That's what always happens, though!”

“Not every story ends the same. Some of them have a twist. Some things in life are unexpected. 

Some things like love.”

I close my eyes for a couple seconds, then whisper, “But what if I fall in love and he's not there to catch me?”

“You try again. And again. And again. Until he does.”

“What if he doesn't?”

“Trust me Alina, he will.”

“How do you know?”

“Because he's a fool if he doesn't.”


Giveaway:
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