Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Character Interview + Contest: Parker from Insomnia

I am super excited to have Parker from J.R. Johansson's Insomnia here today! He is definitely different than a lot of the guys in YA, and a character I have a total soft spot for. So meet Parker, then enter to win an ARC of Insomnia!

What's the most embarrassing and/or awkward dream you've watched?

Oh easy -- you think it's awkward to walk in on your parents going at it? Picture that...(no, wait, don't...I won't do that to you) - but you have that scenario, up close and personal, plus you can't leave, and they don't notice you're there, so it goes on for hours. If anything can make a guy need therapy, I think that's it. One of many reasons I started avoiding Mom's dreams *shudders*

So... ever catch anyone dreaming of you... in that way?

Actually, no. A couple of kissing & marriage dreams featuring myself in Junior High cured me of any curiosity to watch girl dreams. It's freaky to watch yourself in someone else's dreams, and not in a good way. If I'm getting action, I prefer to participate.

How different of a person do you think you'd be, if you didn't have this ability, or curse, holding you back in ways?

I'm very careful about who I hang out with. I have to be willing to spend nights in their dreams on a regular basis, or we really can't hang out. Because of this, I have few close friends. I don't date unless I have to get Mom off my back. And I've become a master of keeping most people at arms length. I'm friendly, but not too friendly. Just interesting enough that people neither mock me nor go out of their way to spend time with me. Huh...I've never thought about it, but in these ways, I'm not even sure I'd recognize myself without my curse.

Describe your perfect first kiss.

Soft, passionate and honest. The girl matters a lot, there is really only one girl I've ever met that could make it qualify as "perfect". Besides that, the honest part is probably the most important to me.

Boxers or briefs?

Definitely boxers

What would be your Hunger Games totem?

Oh man...I have enough complications going on without being thrown into a battle to the death. Um, but if I had to pick a totem it would be my sunglasses. They are pretty key for me to help control who I'm making eye contact with and whose dreams I get stuck in.

What kind of sea creature would you describe yourself as?

Hmm, that's a hard question and I'm tired, but I'm thinking...jellyfish. I'm a good guy and try not to cause much trouble. But if you get on my bad side, I may sting you, whether I want to or not.

Thank you, Parker, for stopping by!

Insomnia is out June 8 from Flux, but you can win an ARC now!

To enter, just fill out THIS form!

This contest is US only. No entries will be accepted through comments but admit it. You want to leave one anyhow.

Contest ends Thursday, February 28.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Hysteria by Megan Miranda

SUMMARY: Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past.But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again.

OPINION: Intense, gripping, and smart, Hysteria is a great thriller by a talented author. With enough hints to let some of the picture come together, but plenty of twists to also keep you guessing, this is a hard to predict, satisfying read. Very mentally focused in a lot of ways, and navigating that line between reality and paranoia in the most stunning of ways, Hysteria is a seat of the chair, read in one sitting kind of book.

Mallory is an awesome character, a girl who has her stuff together at least until the night her boyfriend dies. She isn’t carrying around tons of baggage previous to that, and she tries to keep it together even after. She has an awesome best friend, someone who brings out the good in her even while still letting her be her normal, sort of reserved self. But then Brian dies, and everything hits the fan, and her story arc is so fabulously done. She falls apart, she makes mistakes, she isn’t always totally likeable and yet, she gets stronger as things progress too. She has a totally well rounded development, and Miranda has nailed her story arc.

Then there’s Reid, a totally fresh type of love interest in a sea of cocky jerks. He is so real, so normal, and such a total sweetheart. He is intensely caring, and though there are certainly moments where you want to just hug him and protect him, he has such a big role in the book in a lot of ways, and is a boy who has stolen my heart. I loved watching him give Mallory strength, but I loved, more, the ways she was able to figure things out on her own without relying on him either. Their interactions and play offs are beautifully handled, with a rawness to them that shines.

While this is a relatively short book, it holds nothing back and is a potent tale in such a short span of pages. Miranda has a knack for that, and she once again creates a strong and palpable emotional air that will suck readers right in. With a hard to predict who done it kind of thing, blended into a reality versus hallucination kind of element, Hysteria is a book that stuck with me long after being finished. I couldn’t get enough of these characters, and was once again left feeling so much, from anger at some characters to heartbreak at others, and wanting more just to have more.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: February 5, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Gathering Dark: The Science Behind the Fiction

Hitting shelves next Tuesday is Christine Johnson's next book The Gathering Dark, and to celebrate, Christine is here today to talk all about the science behind the fiction in this one! So let's get to it.

THE GATHERING DARK is science fiction. It gets labeled “paranormal” a lot, I think partly because my previous novels were paranormal, and partly because there’s a serious romance in THE GATHERING DARK and a girl in a fluffy dress on the cover.

But the thing is, it’s science fiction. Without science, and the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, THE GATHERING DARK would never have come to be. On March 30th 2010, the first collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV beams, setting a new world record for the highest-energy man-made particle collisions, and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) began its planned research program. NPR aired a story about it. I happened to hear the story while I was driving home. I’d had an idea about a girl from an alternate universe bouncing around in my head for some time, but I’d never been able to get it to coalesce.

And then I heard that NPR story. While explaining the LHC, the reporter also mentioned dark matter - something that exists in the universe in quantities much higher than the sort of particles that make up you and me and the air and everything else we can touch. The reporter explained that this stuff was all around us, all the time, moving through our living rooms and our cars and our BODIES.

I sat in the car, listening to the end of the story, and thought about something I could never touch or see, moving through me right then. I shivered. It was so perfect.

In that moment, the idea for THE GATHERING DARK came to be. I spent the next year or so reading physics books and journal articles. I bothered scientists I knew, asking them for help, which they kindly gave me. I learned everything I could about dark matter, and then I created a fictional universe out of it.

Writing THE GATHERING DARK was the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything. EVER. The science and the romance dovetailed together in a way that made it a joy to sit down and write every day. I hope it’s half that much fun to read, at least!

If you’re interested in learning more about dark matter and dark energy (which you should be, because it’s amazingly cool,) you can start small, with these articles:

1) Dark Energy/Dark Matter, by NASA

2) How Dark Matter Works

Or read one of these books:

1) Einstein’s Telescope; The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe by Evalyn Gates

2) The 4% Universe; Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality by Richard Panek

Also important to note: You don’t have to be a scientist or mathematician to be interested in this. It’s okay to skip the equations or the really technical bits of this stuff if you just want to know what it’s generally about. Don’t get intimidated!

So there you guys have it! If you want more about Christine and The Gathering Dark, be sure you check out all the tour stops!

And now, for your chance win a copy of the book or a swag pack, just enter here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Some Awesome Preorder Giveaways!

Though I don't usually do giveaway notification type posts, there's two preorder contests going on right now that I think you guys should totally know about!

First is for Shannon Messenger's Let the Sky Fall, which I gushed about yesterday. To celebrate the awesomeness that is this book's release (seriously, this book is amazing and a breath of fresh air and charming and hilarious and has one of the best awkward romances EVER, and you therefore MUST get it!), Shannon is having a contest in which everyone gets something. Yep. That's right. Everyone. She has limited edition swag JUST for this, so head over to her blog to check it out. And enter. And be antsy for the book's release so Vane can be unleashed on the world in all his adorkable, awkward glory.

Next up, is for Victoria Scott's The Collector, which I am currently reading, and trust me when I say Dante is sexy as hell, and freaking hilarious. In that cocky, jerky bad boy way. Admit it. You are all drooling for that too. And to celebrate this book's upcoming release, the first 100 people to pre-order will get a free copy of Tori's short story Four Houses. Uhm. Yeah. Talk about limited edition awesomeness. So head over to her blog, find out the info, and then make sure Dante is in your hands come release on April 2. AND, if you're in the DFW area, or even in Texas... or a surrounding state... or the ability to get to Dallas.... then make sure you add Tori's launch party, happening April 6 to your calendar, and find the full details on it here.

So get to ordering, because both of these books come Kari Recommended!

Book Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

SUMMARY: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.


Brilliant and stunning in execution, Pivot Point blends two separate story lines in a way that ties together in a completely breathtaking manner. With a witty, sarcastic protagonist, and a well developed and lively cast of characters, this book is as captivating as it is entertaining. West does an amazing job of layering the paranormal elements over the realistic and contemporary ones, and smoothing everything out in the most seamless of ways.

Addie is an incredibly relatable character, a girl with a good head on her shoulders, yet who still makes mistakes. Though certainly having an advantage with her ability to see different outcomes, this doesn’t solve everything for her or make her life totally easy. The ways she’s come to rely on her ability are clear, but more clear is how she doesn’t want to become reliant on it. West navigates this back and forth in a great way, using to build both Addie’s character and the story. Addie is an awesome character, a girl who is quick on the draw, perceptive, and brave in those quiet ways that speak so much. With some hugely difficult decisions to make along the way, and two distinct character arcs for each “what if” story line that also are blended together in some ways, Addie is a stunningly done character I fully rooted for.

While there are two different boys pitched in this book, one specific to each story line, Trevor totally stole my heart. He is kind and gentle, yet it’s clear, from things that come up throughout the book, that he hasn’t always been this way. He’s that broken hero kind of guy who sees Addie for who she really is. Though he obviously doesn’t know she has an paranormal ability, he also doesn’t expect more from her than she can offer. There is an easy rapport between these two overall, though they are certainly not without their hurdles along the way.

I utterly loved the plot of this one, unable to put it down. This is one of those books I snuck pages where I could, and didn’t stop thinking about it for weeks after I’d finished. There is a mystery element built into this book which drives the plot, but also doesn’t take away the focus from the characters, and Addie’s journey especially. What stunned me the most, though, with this book is how well West carries this mystery through each "what if" story line, and also weaves it together between the two. With the decision hinted at in the premise always lingering, and often times no easy decision seemingly available, West doesn't hold back on any front.

The writing adds to all the ways this book is amazing, so rich in voice and solid in execution. This is one of those books that is beautifully written, yet the writing doesn’t take the focus from thee story itself. Emotionally engaging, relatable, and intense, this one has a softness mixed with a gentle romance and humor. Pivot Point is a knockout debut from a truly talented and promising author.

Source: ARC receued from author for giveaway + honest review 
Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 352 pages 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 12, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.


Captivating, beautiful, and witty, Let the Sky Fall is the perfect mix of so many elements into one whirlwind book. There is so much humor and fun, even with the rougher aspects. From a sweet and totally awkward romance to an intense and even painful story, there is an honesty which completely enamored me from the start.

Vane is hilarious, ridiculous in his own way, and the kind of guy who doesn’t take things too seriously yet isn't totally useless either. He’s a bit lazy, but with the right thing to focus on, he’s intense and determined. One of my favorite things about him, though, despite his ever-present wit, is how different he is compared to many other guy characters in the genre. He’s relatable, he’s genuine and nice, he’s a bit clueless…he’s just so real, in that way of the guy who sits next to you in class, rather than the guy across the room who scares you as much as he intrigues you. I fell harder for him with every page. More than that, though, I loved watching him change and grow, watching him step up and face things that are really pretty scary and intimidating at times… and he doesn’t act totally fearless. He wears his emotions on his sleeve much of the time, and he isn't really ashamed of it either. Vane is just one of those characters who blows across the pages, as alluring as he is amusing, with a hint of a mess to him as well and I couldn’t get enough.

Then there’s Audra, with an airy, lyrical voice to her that is almost stoic at the start, yet morphs into something so different, and much more empathetic towards the end. She goes through tremendous changes of her own, as equally well done as Vane’s, and the interactions, and play offs between these two is easily my favorite part of this entire book. I love Audra for her loyalty to not only the Gales, but Vane specifically, and I love her for figuring out how to also come into her own person in the midst of everything, even if it isn’t always a breeze. Audra is very much a product of her situation, with some stormy parts of her past that she hasn’t exactly faced, yet it also isn't drowning her in the way often seen.

This is definitely one of those read in one sitting kind of books—the plot sucked me in at the start. There are so many elements and layers, as intricate as it is straightforward and fun. From the back story so easily blended into the bigger picture to the seamless worldbuilding, Messenger’s talent shines throughout. This is one of those books that sneaks up on you with everything actually going on, yet doesn’t overload readers at any given time. Creative in so many ways and completely easy to fall into, this book swept me off my feet. The writing is fabulous, with two very distinct voices and styles which not only lend vibrancy to Vane and Audra but makes for vivid action scenes and settings alike. Holding the perfect blend of humor and emotion, Let the Sky Fall is a breath of fresh air and is now on my favorites shelf.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: 12 and up 
Hardcover: 416 pages 
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 5, 2013