Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Character Interview + Contest: Rollins from Slide

Stopping in today to celebrate a debut release is Rollins, the best friend, hot boy, and potential love interest to Vee, the main the character in Jill Hathaway's Slide! And not only is he bringing himself, he's also got a great contest for you guys, so let's get to it!

Every time you see Vee lose consciousness, what's it like for you?

It’s scary. No matter how many times it happens, I can’t get used to it. We’ll just be sitting there, watching movies, and she’ll suddenly go unconscious. I try to stay close to her in case I need to catch her. I don’t know what I’d do if she got hurt—like, really hurt.

What was the worst part about watching Vee's interest in another guy?

I want her to be happy, but at the same time it’s tough because I always felt like she kind of had some feelings for me. It’s also hard because she’s my best friend, and we’ve grown apart since she met Zane.

What's your favorite part about the zine you put together, and about drawing in general?

When I’m drawing, it’s like a release. I’m not one to really talk about my feelings that much. Instead I put all that energy into my art. Same thing with writing.

What's it like to kiss Vee? 

I’m uncomfortable with this question.

Boxers or briefs?


What kind of reptile would you describe yourself as?

A reptile? Uh, I don’t know. A turtle, probably. I like to keep to myself mostly.

Thank you, Rollins, for answering my questions, and you would make a very cute turtle.

Congrats, Jill, on the release. I can not wait for more from Vee, and am so excited this book is finally out! You guys definitely do NOT want to miss it!

To celebrate the release, Jill and Rollins are offering up a signed copy of Slide, as well as bookmarks for 10 runner up winners!

To enter, just fill out THIS form!

This contest IS International, and ends April 6.

No entries will be accepting through comments, but you should totally comment anyhow. I mean, come on, we've made the guy uncomfortable. Give him some support.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Review: Zero by Tom Leveen

SUMMARY: For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn't materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero's parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she's so much more than a name.


Unconventional compared to a lot of YA, Zero is stunning in it’s scope. Taking a main character who has plenty of confidence and body image issues, and who is far from the usual outgoing, girly girl kind of character, Leveen has crafted a book that will speak to many readers without them really even realizing it. Though slow to start, and the kind of ending that you have to let sink in before it’s really appreciated, Zero is a great romance mixed with coming of age mixed with just living your life.

I love Zero has a character, from the skewed way she sees herself to the awkwardness that surrounds her, to the screw it attitude she takes on sometimes. With only one friend, who she isn't talking to at the start of the book, and a home life that causes a huge amount of stress for her, there are plenty of reasons for Zero to just hole up in her room and hide, spending her times with her paints and charcoals. While this is her fall back at times, she surges forward at other times, and ends up meeting Mike, a boy who goes far to change her outlook on things. She goes through tremendous growth and change in this one, and though she definitely makes mistakes, and is maybe a brat at times, her reasons are so easy to understand, her pain so evident, that it’s impossible to dislike her. One of the things I loved most about Zero, though, was her almost boy-ish sense of humor. Far from perverted, she has her moments, and every one of them had me cracking up. She also has some almost lame and cheesy lines and thoughts, adding to not only her character but the humor as well, and coming off completely natural. Her love of music also incorporates into the book, but even more is her obsession with Dali, and Leveen does a phenomenal job building that in without it being overbearing.

Mike is a great character, and an almost perfect match for Zero. Enamored with her for his own reasons, and frustrated when she makes degrading comments about herself, he forces her to realize she is beautiful, even if not strictly in the fashion model sense. With a quiet intensity about him, just the right amount of awkwardness, and the kind of guy who doesn’t throw smiles around like candy, making each one mean so much and leave you melting just a little, Mike is a realistic and endearing character.

This book is, in a lot of ways, a romance. Sure, there’s other stuff in there too, but the romance was one of the best parts for me, in large part because it is so organic. Zero sees Mike play at a show, and in a moment of just not caring, because she’s so out of sorts from everything else in her life at the time, she talks to him. Awkward and embarrassing, it’s the sort of exchange that every reader will be able to understand, and is the point in the book that really had me engaged. They start to see each other, and things grow from there, and Leveen absolutely nails the building of feeling, desire, love and lust… nails trying to figure all of that, what it means, how to take it and what to do with it. I adore these two as a couple, both for what they can do to help the other, and the growing connection between them. Certainly not without their faults and issues to overcome, but still with a stunning realism in every aspect of it, this is the perfect kind of romance that will leave you with a smile.

While the start of the book did drag a little, it does a great job of showing not only how Zero came to view the world like she does, but the problems she’s dealing with before Mike ever walks into her life. Once things between the pair starts happening, the book keeps a steady pace, and Leveen throws in plenty of smaller plots to keep things interesting. Focused on Zero, but pulling in not only Mike’s band and what’s happening with them, but also the problems with her parents, this book has some rough elements mixed in with the sweeter ones. Well written, with a distinct and fantastically done voice, Zero is an unflinching must read.

Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 304 pages 
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Book Love: Contemps to Not Be Missed

It's no secret to those who really follow my blog, and especially follow my twitter, that contemporary fiction is my favorite. It's what I write, it's what always sucks me in the most, and it's probably 80% of what I read. From time to time, I like to do a post about favorites, and remind people of how awesome these books are. So here's some awesome ones you don't want to miss, both upcoming and already out:

Freefall by Mindi Scott: This is one of my favorite books, ever. It's an amazing male POV, and it's also so well written, with stunning depth and emotions. Also, despite the whole dead best friend thing, there's a lot of sweetness and even humor in it. Really, it's just this teenage boy who isn't in the best place in life, trying to figure things out. Add in the very organize and beautifully done romance, and some stellar side characters, and this book is just wowing.

Don't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala: This book is truly the right mix of romance and grit. Creed and Joy have this softness between them, even on the streets, even when things are going horribly. Joy's motivations for what she does are so well infused into the book, and the writing is fantastic. This book had me from the first page, and I read it straight through, then kept thinking about it for days after. It's that good. I also adored Tell Me a Secret by Holly, but I think this one has always stuck me with just a little bit more.

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller: This one comes out in June, but seriously, do not miss it. Just preorder it now. I read it straight through, then reread it the next day, and read my favorite parts the day after. I couldn't pick up another book for about a week or more after, this book got to me that much. It is absolutely, undeniably extraordinary. This book shattered me, put me back together, then broke me just a little more. Travis is, in a lot of ways, a jerk... but he's also intensely loyal and caring and straightforward. He is a mess in his own right, and wanting to get past that. Watching the changes he goes through in this book are aching and so realistic, and then add in the romance and the way it develops, with this slow yet gripping burn... and this book is just breathtaking.

In Honor by Jessi Kirby: Again, with the hard hitting emotions mixed with the perfect amount of sweetness and humor. Honor is a stellar character, one who is oblivious to a few things from how much pain she's in over losing her brother, and Rusty is the perfect counterpart, full of anger he doesn't really know what to do with. Watching these two relive the history they share, the stories of her brother and his best friend, and also figure out where to go from here... beautiful, and memorable.

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour: This is another male POV that is amazing, only not because it is... typical boy, I guess. I haven't yet figured out how to explain the voice in this one, but ultimately, it's like Colby feels so much that there's potentially a feminine quality to his voice at least compared to other male POV books and yet, that is not at all it. I loved his character, his voice, his motivations. The stupid things he does, and the bold things he does. His interactions with Bev, and everything between them, is just so stunningly done, with so much between the lines and not outright said, that this is definitely a book to read over and over.

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz: Also male POV, this one is intense and breaking and, truthfully, left me bawling. There is such poignancy with this one, and even more stellar is watching how Chase grows over four summers, essentially growing up through high school. Though we only see him during the summers, Hannah still nails the gentle shift in his mindset as he ages, growing it more with what's happening. With a very heavy family note, and a few characters who left me with mixed feelings, this one is honest and stunning.

What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen: Intense. Seriously, this book has such a strong undercurrent of foreboding that it's impossible to put down. Tracy drew me in so fully, I was gripping the book and felt like I was right there, in the midst of everything. I love the characters in this one, the mix of fear and determination, and I think the pieces of everything are given to the reader at the perfect times. Tracy also does an amazing job of adding in a soft romance, without it being the focus or taking away from the big things in any way, yet also being completely satisfying to me as a reader.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry: Coming out in Dual POV, and an amazing one. This one mixes romance with issues beyond what most people have to handle, and does it perfectly. There is definitely no insta-love here, and this one is more of, a slow burn at the start before exploding and being filled with intensity, maybe beyond what the characters even know what to do with. Set on the backdrop of what each is going through, and weaving between needing each other and needing to figure their stuff out, this one has an amazing pacing to it, plenty of mystery and plot to keep things going, and is fantastically written.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman: This is one that, honestly, I am bad about recommending, I think because in my head, it is just so amazing that I basically assume everyone has read it. Yeah, I know, silly, but this book... there are no words for how amazing it is. It is truly stunning in every aspect, and some of the most memorable scenes ever, in all the books I've read, come from this one. It will put you through the gauntlet of emotions, testing you in absolutely every way, break you apart, but put you back together as well. Forman is stunning in her execution of this one, and Adam will always be one of my favorite characters ever.

So those are the ones for now, many of which I have been getting more and more tempted to reread.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig

SUMMARY: Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?


Pretty Crooked had a lot of potential that it didn’t completely live up to. Slow to start, choppy in many of the transitions, with some elements left lingering in a way that felt like it was just to try to ensure readers picked up the next book, this was a book that disappointed in a lot of ways. Still, there was a certain drive behind it that kept me reading, and some of the characters grabbed me. With an interesting twist on the Robin Hood theme, this one definitely has its perks to it, even if some level of suspension of disbelief is required with it.

Willa is a girl who, at least at the end, I really liked it. I was able to get behind her in her determination to help the scholarship students are her rich prep school, and I supported some of the decisions she made, however misguided they may have ultimately been. What bothered me about her was how long it took her to open her eyes to what was real, and the level of superficiality that went with her at the start. Though she seems to be someone who has her style and way of doing things at the start, she almost instantly becomes brainless and fashion/shopping obsessed, in a way that is grating and almost blatantly out of character. While I can appreciate the fact that having money is new to her, and this is a side of life freshly opened to her, she seemed like a completely different person right away, before snapping back to the go getter she was on the first page as soon as very blatant evidence comes out that some of her new friends are, in fact, jerks. Still, her overall development was well done, and I think there is room for some great antics from her in the next book that will have a greater level of depth to them than this one.

There is some romance in this one, though in truth it felt as though it was there just to have romance, rather than being something Willa really wanted. Aiden is the stereotypical rich playboy, the guy who flirts with everyone and is used to getting what he wants. At times, I wondered why he was so interested in Willa apart from she’s new, and more than that, I wondered what Willa really saw in him. Sure, there were times where he was sweeter, but mostly he just seemed shallow and often times bland. Though he redeemed himself towards the end, I much prefer Tre, a boy with a rough past and secrets of his own, but who has this quietness about him that is melting. Tre has some great scenes in the book, and in a lot of ways, his character stands out as much as Willa’s. Rivaling Tre for well done characters is Cherise, the exception to the rule of the mean popular girl. Though she has a few falters of her own, Cherise has a great strength to her that shines even through Willa’s eyes. Unwilling to take part in some of what the other Glitterati do, but also not going so far as to just walk away from them, she straddles her own battle lines and does it well. She is a great friend, and someone who has a huge influence on Willa, and the interactions there are one of the best parts of the book.

My biggest issues in this book are the lingering threads, and the pacing. It takes until about halfway through the book for Willa to actually start figuring out how to steal from her rich friends to give to the poor scholarship students. Before that, the book is mostly shopping, partying, random scenes at school, and more shopping. With choppy transitions between the different scenes that are, overall, really rather unrelated, and a repetitive feeling well before things actually take the new turn, this is a book that can be hard to get through, at least until Willa starts thinking again for herself. As far as lingering issues goes, there is something going on with Willa’s mom that is sort of hinted at, but overall, seems to just be there to try to add drama and mystery, without serving much other purpose. With hardly any big clues, and definitely no closure in this regard, I felt like this was done just to make sure readers keep going, rather than because it actually fits into the story that well, at least at this time. Willa and her mom are laid back and pretty close, at least before this book opens, and I had a hard time believing that this new life and money rips them apart and lets both keep secrets and they’re just okay with that. There was a level of obliviousness that felt convenient rather than real, which is the main thing that left me feeling unfulfilled at the end of this book. Apart from this aspect, Ludwig ties many other things up in a good way, giving herself a steady launching point for the next installment. Despite the problems I had with this one, there is a level of humor and fun in this one that makes for enjoyable reading, and for anyone who likes seeing the gray areas of justice, this is definitely a book to check out.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 368 pages 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: March 13, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

SUMMARY: The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.


The Short Version: 
Brilliant, wowing and addicting, Tempest is a fantastic mix of action, emotion and fun. With a very likable and swoonworthy protagonist, and an action packed and mind blowing plot, this one will easily grab readers from page one and not let go even after the final page is done. Masterfully blending the past and present, and easily transitioning between the different time jumps, Tempest is a stellar debut from a talented author.

The Extended Version: 
Jackson is a fantastically well done central character, definitely the kind of guy who makes mistakes and has his immature moments, while still having this fierce internal drive and sense of passion. Charming and witty, and endearing to no end, he is both the kind of character readers will root for and melt over. His character growth and development from start to finish is exceptionally well done, bringing him to life in inexplicable ways and pulling readers in to his story. Even more notable about his development is the way he changes within each time jump, fitting within where he is and changing relevant to the time, yet also have this phenomenal overall growth and range. Though a playboy in some ways, yet sensitive and loyal in others, Jackson is just broken enough without being unredeemable.

The remainder of the cast has a very strong presence and development, and it’s impossible to discuss any single one without giving spoilers to the book. Regardless, the way they crop up and play into the overall plot with each time jump and new twist in the story fleshes them out, and keeps them beautifully in line with whatever specific year they are in. Cross navigates these character changes easily, blending them perfectly into the book without the reader’s immediate notice.

The plot is stellar, mind boggling in its intricacy and detail, and astounding in its magnitude. Cross interweaves the past and present beautifully, using it to build her world and confines without blatantly data dumping on the reader. Taking things far deeper than even a reader might wonder, Cross drizzles clues throughout while still having enough unique and unexpected twists to keep readers from predicting most of the book. Holding a strong romantic element without being a blatant romance, this is definitely a book for readers both male and female.

Writing that is rich in voice, emotion and description show not only Cross’s talent and abilities, but build Jackson in a fantastic way that will set him apart from other characters. Perfectly placing the reader in each new year and setting, and building each individual scene boldly in the reader’s mind, the description is as smoothly woven into the book as everything else. Jackson’s motivations, drives and view of the world are laid out, giving the reader perfect access to him without intentionally holding back any secrets.

A perfect example of talent and brilliance, Tempest pulls in numerous new or uniquely twisted elements to create a stunning and amazing read. Leaving readers desperate for more, yet tying up the bigger events of this book in a very fantastic and endearing way, Cross has laid the groundwork for an unpredictable next installment that is guaranteed to be just as awing. With a phenomenal blend of storyline and characterization, Tempest is a perfectly done time travel mystery that will be a hit with readers of all ages.

Source: ALA 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 352 pages 
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 17, 2012

Audiobook sample can be found here, something you definitely want to check out!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

SUMMARY: From the fantastic author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice comes a story of all the drama and comedy of four friends who grow into themselves at a performing arts high school.

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.


Take a Bow is a great blend of contemporary romance with the cut throat world of arts and performance. Shifting between the perspectives of four teens, each with their own goals and desires, and all at the same school focused on the arts, this one puts a nice twist on going through life and figuring things out. While the voices didn’t always sound distinct enough for me, particularly the two males, and parts of the book lagged for me, there was still an endearing undercurrent that kept me engaged.

Emme is my favorite of the four characters, someone who prefers to stay in the background rather than be in the limelight. A bit of a door mat at times, and blindingly trusting of some people, there are definitely times I wanted to shake sense into her, and yet, Eulberg writes her in such a way that honestly, I couldn’t help but appreciate the way she was. Emme wants to see the good in people, and though she doesn’t throw her trust around, it’s also very hard to lose it once it’s earned. She grows through the most notable growth of the group, and watching her changes was one of my favorite parts of the book. She is deeply caring and truly talented, and the mix set against a backdrop of betrayal is refreshing.

Carter is also a favorite, a guy who has been a star plenty yet resents it in his own way. While he has some misconceptions about things, he is finally at the point of wanting to do things for him, rather than others. Though he’ll stand up for himself, he is far from cocky or arrogant, and he truly is the kind of boy any girl would be lucky to know, even just as friends. Caring and understanding, there is great depth to Carter that shines throughout the book.

Ethan is an interesting character, one who has his own sort of problems and though I didn’t always completely understand what was driving him, the fallout was still brutal at times. A brilliant songwriter with intense natural talent, he is who many people want to be and yet, he throws plenty of it away, or close to. With some not so great crutches, and somewhat of an inability to cope, Ethan is a very relatable character in the ways that count. A bit of a mess, but also one of the best friends anyone could have, Ethan is endearing in all the right ways.

Then there’s Sophie, a character that likely will not leave such a great taste in reader’s mouths. I most definitely wanted to smack her more than once, and at times found her utterly appalling, and yet I understand and can even appreciate who she is and how she got to be that way. She adds a lot to the story, things that readers need to be in her head to really get, and in truth, I fully back the way her character arc played out.

Despite the four characters being so arts focused, be it the music composition that Emme and Ethan are going after, singing and performance that Sophie is craving, or the acting that Carter has known all his life, this book is still completely relatable and easy to get into. In plenty of ways, it’s like these characters are at any high school, and their trials through friendship and love play strongly into the overall story. With a stunning side cast that stands out in plenty of ways, and an easy flow to the writing, Take a Bow is a great read.

My only problems with this book were the few places the plot seemed to lag, and I admit, the ending didn’t satisfy me as much as I would have liked. There was an almost abrupt feel to the way things ended, with no closure in some aspects. While I can appreciate that their high school stories are closed, with plenty left to come for these talented teens, it felt almost forced rather than natural. Apart from this, and a certain lack of variance in the voice and styles of the individual characters, I really enjoyed this read and definitely recommend it.

Source: ALA
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: April 1, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: Slide by Jill Hathaway

SUMMARY: Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.


The Short Version:
A unique twist on body invasion mixed with a great murder mystery, Slide is definitely an intriguing and luring read. A very sympathetic and well rounded central character interacts in a great way with the strong supporting cast of characters. With a fantastic who done it plot, and emotion blended into strong writing, Slide is a great debut for a range of readers.

The Extended Version:
Vee is an average girl in all the ways that count, yet has this stellar internal strength and defensive nature that makes her relatable, sympathetic, and highly likable. Obsessed with 90s music, and holding her past battle wounds close to her heart without letting them completely overrun her, she is a very fleshed out and well rounded character. Though holding a slight rebellious streak with her pink hair and take it as it comes attitude, her love for her father and sister is clear. Struggling with the sliding and the secrets she keeps because of it, the reason she sometimes acts how she does is easy to see yet hard to swallow at times. Though she’s far from a mess, she still goes through great growth and development, facing what’s thrown at her and changing in some stellar ways.

Rollins is charming in a very unconventional sort of way, and is a great friend despite some of the book’s events. Though holding his own secrets, and definitely one to mess up now and then, his friendship with Vee is something that betters them both. While he isn’t a constant presence in the book, and his relationship with Vee is tested in more ways than one, he still will leave a mark on readers and does his own part to drive the book forward. Creative and gentle, Rollins is definitely different from a lot of book boys, but not one to ignore.

The rest of the cast is relatively small, with some fantastically done side characters. From Mattie, Vee’s younger sister who is pretty much the polar opposite of her, to the endearing and swoonworthy Zane, Hathaway has built a solid set of characters who weave into the story perfectly. The bond between Vee and Mattie is a tenuous one, holding a strong note throughout the book and growing and shifting in a way reactive not only to the story and events, but to their varying personalities as well. Zane, too, has a strong role in not only Vee’s development, but the book as well, holding a strong and appealing presence.

The sliding aspect of this book is fantastic, with the confines and causes of it well shown, learned by Vee through experience only. A secret she’s told no one, the guilt Vee feels at knowing Sophie didn’t commit suicide yet being forced to continue to tell no one is crushing and tangible, adding a huge emotional element to her character. The things she sees when she slides into others, and the effects it’s had on her life set her apart from many other characters. Though supernatural in this sense, the rest of the book is strongly grounded in a realistic setting, and the two are laced together smoothly, never letting one take precedence over the other.

Centered heavily around a murder mystery plot, Hathaway keeps things progressing at a smooth pace while still allowing plenty of time for her characters to grow and develop. With plenty of clues dropped along the way, astute readers will be able to piece together the person behind the deaths while still getting the gutting feeling of truth when it’s revealed. Though able to be predicted after a certain point, Hathaway still does her bigger reveal in a very fantastic way, with a bold build up to it and a smooth fall out afterwards.

The writing has an easy flow to it, heavily emotional but fun and engaging as well. Descriptive without being overly done, the reader gets a good sense not only of Vee’s day to day but what it’s like stuck through the eyes of the various people she slides into. Hathaway does a great job keeping the story going, using just enough to let the reader’s mind take over for the rest.

With a fantastic motive behind the deaths and a beautifully scripted overall plot and play out, Slide will be a hit with murder mystery buffs. Holding some great scenes, a uniquely twisted supernatural element, and set against a strong family background, Hathaway’s debut is bold and alluring.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 256 pages 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: March 27, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

SUMMARY: Even angels make mistakes in this page-turning epic romance...

When her parents are murdered before her eyes, sixteen-year-old Helen Cartwright finds herself launched into an underground London where a mysterious organization called the Dictata controls the balance of good and evil. Helen learns that she is one of three remaining angelic descendants charged with protecting the world's past, present, and future. Unbeknownst to her, she has been trained her whole life to accept this responsibility. Now, as she finds herself torn between the angelic brothers protecting her and the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her, she must prepare to be brave, to be hunted, and above all to be strong, because temptation will be hard to resist, even for an angel.

Michelle Zink masterfully weaves historical fantasy with paranormal romance to create a gripping tale of love and betrayal


One of my favorite things about Zink’s books will probably always be the mix of stunning writing with rich setting. Her books are addicting and enamoring, pulling me in so completely that I feel, every time, as if I am right there with the characters, in period clothing. A Temptation of Angels is no exception, and with the stunning plot, this one is a total must read.

Helen is, in many ways at the start, a girl typical of her period. Obedient and loving to her parents, and used to the relative oppression of women at the time, she stays within her bounds. Terrified when her mother wakes her in the night, rapidly packing a bag and hiding her away with explicit instructions to get out at all costs, Helen’s entire world is shattered and turned over. Forced rapidly to give up on life she is used to, Zink beautifully navigates the gap between dainty to strong and determined. While her change is forced by circumstance, Helen has it within her the entire time to stand up to everything she is facing, and not let anyone push her around in the process. This isn't a tale of a girl against her time period’s way of life, but rather a girl who simply has such fortitude that she can handle the rapid shift. Still, she has her moments of sorrow and weakness, and she will easily tug readers into her story. Helen goes through excellent growth, from learning about love to the truth of what she is, and handling all of it with a certain grace.

Griffin and Darius are the pair of brothers who she’s instructed to go see, who take her in, however hesitantly. Though Darius is strong-minded and often rude to her, he is fiercely protectively and intelligent. He will easily grow on readers, and brings his own set of assets to the table. Zink writes him perfectly, the boy trying to take care of his younger brother and protect his own life as well, and the one who has learned the hard way to trust almost no one. He softens to some extent as things progress, and goes through his own sort of changes. Griffin is charming and sweet, a perfect love interest in large part for his ability to understand and see things through others eyes. Loyal to his brother, with a beautiful and strong dynamic between the two, Griffin has such a well rounded personality that readers will have no choice but to melt for him. The budding romance between Griffin and Helena is that quiet kind of steamy that comes with the time period, where even a touch is so meaningful, and I absolutely loved the way these two learn to balance their feelings for each other with what else is happening and what they must do.

Then there’s the plot, with some beautifully woven elements and quite a bit of uniqueness to it. Set in no specified time period, but certainly historical, and hitting slightly into a steampunk type element with some of the tools used, Zink has created a type of story all her own, and done it masterfully. Vivid in setting, with beautifully written scenes and actions, this one will easily play out like a movie in reader’s minds, and setting them right beside Helene the entire time. The writing is stunning, saying so much in few words, and having a lulling air about it while also keeping with the tense and sorrowful emotional atmosphere that comes with the situations Helen finds herself in. This book is easy to get lost in, and memorable in many ways.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
  Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 448 pages 
Publisher: Dial
Publication Date: March 20, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Character Interview: Rowan from Wanderlove

Stopping in today is the hot boy from one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, and I couldn't be more excited! I introduce to you Rowan, from Kristen Hubbard's Wanderlove!

1. What was your first impression of Bria?

I first saw Bria at the Guatemala City airport, with her tour group. Everyone was twice her age. I remember her white-knuckling the handle of her purple suitcase, and her cheeks were all pink… I just felt really bad for her.

The next time I saw her, it was at the Mayan market in Chichicastenango. I admit, I was impressed she was navigating it all by herself, even if she'd just violated the number one rule: never take your eyes off your stuff. When I asked her to dinner across the lake, I was certain she wouldn't go. Yeah, I'm glad she proved me wrong.

2. What's the worst thing that's happened to you in your travels?

I've had a lot of shitty things happen abroad, thing I don't like to talk about. Mostly, they were my own fault. It took me forever to share them with Bria, so I'd rather not repeat them now. But the worst thing of all… well, I think it was the point when I thought I'd never see Bria again.

3. Boxers or briefs?

What? Seriously? All right, fine—a little of both. Also boxer-briefs in unusual patterns. When you're living in Central America, you take what you can get.

4. What's it like to kiss Bria?

Okay, on THAT one, I'm pleading the fifth!

5. What kind of shoe would you describe yourself as?

An overworn, overloved leather sandal – but with a lot of miles left to go.

Thank you, Rowan, for stopping in, and congrats, Kirsten, on the release!

Trust me, guys, when I say you need to check this out. Not just to get to know Rowan better (though that is likely reason enough... seriously, this boy is SO awesome!), but for the entire story and the drawings. So go!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Character This or That: Andie from Where It Began

Stopping in today is Andie from Ann Redisch Stampler's debut Where It Began, for some This or That fun!

Black or Gray

Gray because I really like rainy days and fog. I love how magical everything looks when it’s foggy out. Especially when I get up in the morning and it’s very soft and foggy, but then it starts to burn off and the day gets all sunny.

Sand or Grass

Grass. Especially barefoot. I think it’s really awful the way Winston re-did the football field in artificial grass. It’s the wrong color, it feels terrible, and isn’t it bad for the environment when you get rid of plants like grass? Also, if you were playing football on that field, what would you rather fall down on, grass or green stuff that feels like spikes?

Stay In or Go Out

This is really a hard one. Nothing against my house, but I like to hang out at Andy’s house. So that’s really going out, but it feels like staying in because I’m there so much. So if Andy’s house counts as going out, then going out, but if it counts as staying in, then staying in.

DVD or Blue Ray

Blue Ray. If you can have a better image, why would you want a worse one? If you’re watching it. If it’s just in the background, I guess it wouldn’t matter.

Shrek or Donkey

I love Shrek. I wish he could be my uncle or something. I wanted him to be happy so much, and then I didn’t want any sequels because I was thinking, “He’s happy, now leave him alone.”

House or Grey's Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy. Better romance, less weirdness.

Zebra or Gazelle

Zebras. They just seem like super-cute ponies to me. Chunky ponies. I know that a friendly zebra would only be friendly because humans messed with it and screwed it up, but if there was such a thing as a friendly zebra, I would definitely go see it and pet it and everything.

Dr. Pepper or Mr. Pibb

I totally don’t drink that stuff. Nobody should drink that stuff. I’m not exactly a nutrition expert and I eat candy and I drink and everything, but if it’s that bad for you and it doesn’t even taste as good as Coca Cola, which is also not health food, why bother? For the same calories, you could have a cookie. Wouldn’t you rather have a cookie? I totally would.

Dog or Cat

I miss my dog Duchess so much, I’m not even sure I could handle having another dog. So this probably makes me a cat person. After Duchess died, Andy said, did I want a kitten, only I didn’t want any other pet, I was too sad. So he kept the kitten, which is named Happy. I play with her when I’m there. She’s a very sweet cat.


Winter or Summer

Winter because I love the holidays. Except for New Years because Andy hates his dad’s party. Did you hear about his dad’s New Years parties? Gross. But Christmas is different. People get so cheerful and nice that time of year.

Cover Reveal + Contest: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Today, I've got a seriously awesome cover to share with you guys... one for a book that I have been drooling over since I first heard about it, and definitely one that is at the very top of my 2012 Holy Crap WANT list.

But this isn't just any reveal. Nope. We've got some awesome stuff mixed in for you guys, like an ARC giveaway and a chance to win a super special, contents top secret Grab Bag! But since I know you want the cover, at least before you actually read any of this.....

Well, I'm giving you the synopsis first, because honestly, you'll appreciate the cover SO much  more if you look it right after reading it.

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem. 

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven. It's gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn't leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what's really on her mind. 


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she's figured out just how to do it. She'll haunt him for the rest of his days. It'll be brutal . . . and awesome. 

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen's obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she's willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker. 

Velveteen can't help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

And NOW for the seriously awesome cover that I freaking love:

Seriously. Is that not AWESOME? Dark and twisty but a little soft, and very fierce? I mean, okay, so the characters look a little, well, weird... but they are dead. You can't hold that against them. But frankly, I think that girl looks like someone who will kick some serious butt.

And now that we have that amazingness out of the way, I promised you guys a contest, didn't I?

Daniel is not only giving away not just one, but THREE chances to win an ARC of this book, he's also throwing in something special. So here's the details:

Enter here by filling out THIS form, and then hit up The Mod Podge Bookshelf and Novel Thoughts for a chance to win there (Novel Thoughts has the International contest, btw!).

You must comment on the blog you're entering from, so comment and enter on all three for three chances to win. MY Contest is US only, and ALL contests end February 21.

But there's more!

Daniel has given Delacorte three different authors photos of himself. The truth of which one they are using is still a secret, so he's given each of the three blogs one of the photos.

So that extra surprise I mentioned? One winner will be chosen from the blog with the REAL photo to win a Grab Bag. What's in it? I have no clue. But here's a picture, in case you have special powers to figure it out:

So here is my (potentially fake) bio and author photo for you guys:

When DANIEL MARKS isn't attempting to frighten bored puppies, he's writing dark and morbidly comic young adult novels for the bitter and jaded youth of the world (as well as the young at heart). His youtube channel is a front for a slapdash money laundering scheme that has yet to see a dime, so if you've got some dirty bills please send them. He's currently on an expedition to the Arctic as part of a long-standing and completely unhealthy obsession with toy-making elves.

So what do you guys think? Make sure to leave a comment, telling us your thoughts on not only the cover, but the author photo as well. Frankly, I love it. Also... what do YOU think is in The Grab Bag?

And also, CONGRATS to Daniel... now to figure out how to get *my* hands on this book.... since it doesn't actually come out until October 9...

In the mean time, you can also Add it to your Goodreads, Pre-order at Powell's Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or for pre-orders outside the U.S., The Book Depository.

And find Daniel all over: YouTube, Website, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Release Day Top 5: Wanderlove

Photo jacked from Kirsten's blog.
There's a book coming out today that, honestly, I think everyone needs to read. It's by an author who blew me away with her 2011 debut last year, one who I've had the privilege to meet and is honestly one of the sweetest, kindest people you will ever meet, and one who loves baby animals. And sloths. Yes. Sloths.

The author? Kirsten Hubbard. The book? Wanderlove.

So to celebrate the fact that this book is out, here are my top five reasons why you guys need to buy it. Yes. All of you. You, and you, and even you, person trying to claim you don't like contemp. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed. And if you are, well, that's silly.

5. If you buy this book, then hopefully the publisher will buy more of Kirsten's book, and the world needs that. I, for one, will suffer immensely if I never get to read another Kirsten Hubbard book, and no one wants that, do they? So do all of us a favor, and go buy it.

4.The setting. Stunning, gorgeous, vivid. It helps that Kirsten is a travel writer, and has been to the places she writes about in the book. But she has a way with words, a way of making you feel like you're there. Feeling the sand under your feet, the sights and sounds of the marketplace, the animals in the trees not far from you. I want to go backpacking through Central America because of this book, because of how freeing Bria finds it, despite the fact that I am a total homebody. And Kirsten has incited that, just through her words. And if you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about, but you need to buy it so you can reread it and look at her blog posts, with pictures, to bring it to life even more. There is 11 of them, and they are amazing.

3. Romance. I adored Like Mandarin, and it is one of my all time favorites. It, however, doesn't have any romance (Something I didn't notice till a few days after, its that well done). This one does have romance, with an enigmatic and seriously sexy love interest, and the kind of falling for each other that happens through the good and the bad, without them really realizing it.

2. The art. Yes. Art. There are drawings in this one... done by Kirsten. They are gorgeous, and since I have so far only seen them on my ereader, I need a finished copy to see them in their full spectacular-ness, and you do too. I mean, come on, do you want pixels or the real, glorious thing?

1. Characters. Kirsten knows how to write characters that are so fully dimension, ones that have their flaws, but have the amazing things about them too. Each character stands out so well, with their own little assets and strengths, and their change and development is equally as stunning. You won't love just Bria, but the group she travels with as well.

So there you have it. 5 reasons why you MUST get this book. Then you can join me in the long and, face it, agonizing wait for another book of Kirsten's.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Review: Someone Else's Life by Katie Dale

SUMMARY: When 17-year-old Rosie's mother, Trudie, dies from Huntington's Disease, her pain is intensified by the knowledge that she has a fifty percent chance of inheriting the crippling disease herself. Only when Rosie tells her mother's best friend, "Aunt Sarah," that she is going to test for the disease does Sarah, a midwife, reveal that Trudie wasn't her real mother after all. Rosie was swapped at birth with a sickly baby who was destined to die.

Devastated, Rosie decides to trace her real mother, joining her ex-boyfriend on his gap year travels, to find her birth mother in California. But all does not go as planned. As Rosie discovers yet more of her family's deeply buried secrets and lies, she is left with an agonizing decision of her own, one which will be the most heart breaking and far-reaching of all.


Most memorable about this book is how emotional it is. Intense and authentic, Someone Else’s Life ties together both life in England and the States in a great way. With very well rounded and developed characters, a hard scenario to start and an even rougher one to play out, and some awesome twists thrown in, this one is gripping and enamoring, and I seriously could not put it down.

Rosie is a great character, one who can be a bit selfish at times yet is also trying to make it through one of the most painful times of her life. Relieved to have Andy back, but also knowing how much she has messed some things up, watching her navigate everything is both poignant and real. I loved this girl, even at her worst, and truly wanted things to work out for her. Angry that the woman who raised her isn't really her mom, Rosie’s determination to find her real birth mom is understandable and well done. Though she does some underhanded things at times, and was infuriating at others, Dale easily keeps Rosie’s motivations and desires in mind and smoothes any reader annoyances out pretty quickly.

Andy is fabulous, charming and sweet and the kind of boy any girl would be lucky to have at her side. Caring deeply for Rosie, and also trying to make up for his own anger at how she handled things, Andy has some stellar moments and is a very memorable character. He goes through his own fabulous development, and the interactions he and Rosie share are endearing and fun. They play off each other, grow with each other, yet also have their individual elements, and Dale blends this perfectly.

The rest of the cast has its own wit and charm to it, and each character is distinct. Though some were bratty, and there was a little too much drama at times, the overall characterization is well done. Adding to this is the pacing itself, with something always going on to keep readers interesting. I couldn’t put this one down, even when I admittedly found myself rolling my eyes and feeling like it was too over the top and soap opera-ish. Underneath all that, however, is an emotional and sweet story, and one that I loved overall.

Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 464 pages 
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 14, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review: Believe It or Not by Tawna Fenske

SUMMARY: Do you believe in...accounting?

Numbers never lie, so Violet McGinn found safe haven in the most boring profession she could find. Until her renowned psychic mother lands in the hospital and Violet has to run her business. Now you can have your taxes filed and your aura read, in one convenient location.

Do you believe in...music?

Drew Watson is the jaded owner of the local hot spot next door, and doesn't need a single thing except a good crowd to dance to what he's spinning on Saturday night.

Do you believe in...love?

The only thing Violet and Drew seem to have in common is that neither believes in that psychic hoo—hah. Except Drew seems to play exactly the right song at exactly the right time. And truth be told, it makes Violet's heart dance just a little ...


Sexy and sweet with just the right amount of humor and emotion mixed in, Believe It or Not is a lusty hit of a novel. With a natural and intense chemistry between them, but their heads getting in the way of their hearts and their parts plenty, Violet and Drew are a realistic and fun couple. More than just opposites in personality, with some pretty conflicting views of things yet a constant connection between them, these two will make any reader yearn to be in that new and intriguing relationship stage again.

Violet is hilarious, with her own outlook on life that has its quirks, but is far from the free spirit and even hippie take her mother has. Exasperated by some of what her mom thinks and does, but clearly loving her all the same, there is something quietly endearing about Violet that will pull readers towards her without them knowing it. Add in her take the bull by the horns way of doing things, and the straightforwardness in her words, and Violet is a firecracker of a girl.

Opposite her is Drew, a straight guy who runs a bar that just happens to have male exotic dancers a few nights a week. Fenske adds in the laughs and jokes about this plenty, using them to both build his character and the story. A charming and good guy at heart, Drew is a bit of a womanizer and someone who is, in all the ways that count, just bored in love. Pained over things in his past, and almost afraid of big attachments, Drew has a few lessons of his own to learn.

While individually these two are great characters, its the interactions and sparks between them that really drive this book. Running into each other in the most random of ways and butting heads plenty, there is plenty about these two to keep them apart. Yet they find a way to keep running into each other, crossing over into the lame reason territory that gets your heart beating. With plenty of witty banter flying between them, crazy and almost unbelievable antics, and just the right amount of emotion and rough stuff, Violet and Drew have a path all their own that is both hilarious and sexy to follow them down.

There are some wowing scenes in this one, not just those that involve kissing or rolling around on the floor, and Fenske keeps the pacing brisk and engaging throughout. With writing that is just the right amount of quirky, yet certainly in different voices than what was seen in Making Waves, this one is alluring from the start. Leaving readers feeling good, and wanting what Violet and Drew have, Believe It or Not is delightful, riotous and tempting.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: March 6, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Perception by Kim Harrington

SUMMARY: When you can see things others can't, what do you do when someone's watching you?

Everybody knows about Clarity "Clare" Fern. She's the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare's pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare's hopeful ex-boyfriend who'd do anything to win her back?

One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.


I loved Clarity, from the mystery to the characters to the writing. Perception was great, but I admit, for me, it focused too much on the guys and who Clare would ultimately choose and not as much on the mystery this time around. There was definitely still a great mystery involved, and Harrington once again built up to it fabulously, I just felt like the story dropped off at parts to simply be a head game in love for Clare.

That being said, I still love Clare. She is feisty, spunky and insightful, yet she also has a certain vulnerability about her. Used to being a bit of an outcast because of her family, made a bit worse by the fact that her brother was accused of murder, she has a few pieces of baggage she carries close to her heart. Watching her work past these, and break through some of them, added a great element to not only her characterization but the book as well. Her overall growth and change has a smooth flow to it, and she is definitely someone readers will side with.

Despite my gripe about the potential love triangle being played up too much, individually, Harrington has done a great job with both Gabriel and Justin's characterizations. They are great guys, in different ways (other than the whole Justin cheating thing that broke them up before Clarity even opened...), and each have their own strengths about them. I liked Gabe more in this book than I did the first, and Harrington has done a great job with the hurt and remorse that hangs over Justin for what's happened. Though he gets a little too clingy in this one, he is still a sweet guy at his core.

The mystery aspect of this one had a great pacing to it when taken out of everything else. The romance stuff admittedly slowed it down too much, and I felt like Clare didn't realize some things that should have been kind of obvious to her just because she was so caught up in her boy issues, but Harrington still throws in some great twists and unexpected turns. Giving some clues to figure out who is behind everything, but still making it a challenge to pinpoint motive, Harrington certainly knows how to build her mysteries and wow readers with them. With the same sprightly writing and vivid setting, Perception is a good follow up overall.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 288 pages 
Publisher: Point
Publication Date: March 1, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book Review: Katana by Cole Gibsen

SUMMARY: Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline had given her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn't explain her dreams of 15th-century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings.

While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior.

Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana--a deadly Japanese sword that's also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.


Katana is a book that admittedly, for me, didn't quite match up to its potential. Though the samurai and history of the souls in Rileigh and Kim was well done, Rileigh herself wasn't a character I easily connected with. Despite this, there was still something intriguing about the entire book, with some great twists thrown in. This is also a book that has a lot of humor in it, one to not necessarily be taken too seriously, but set against the backdrop of what's happening, it's a hard mix to swallow sometimes.

Rileigh is hugely sarcastic, and though it felt like some of this was trying too hard at times, it still lent itself to plenty of laughs. This was the part of her that I could appreciate it, and while she definitely came off as weak at times, she still had a certain drive in her that helped her face down whatever was thrown at her. Her banter and interactions with her best friend, Quinten, were hilarious and fun, and Gibsen did a great job of keeping Quinten tied into the story even after the whole samurai thing really starts coming into play. Though it could be seen as Quinten having little importance, I felt like the simple fact that he was still there spoke volumes, rather than Rileigh just being too busy or unwilling to tell him the truth of what's going on.

Kim was an interesting character, broody and intriguing, with seemingly little patience at the start. The initial meeting between the two, and the growing attraction lent itself to some great scenes, and was definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of the book. Layered over the history between them and the souls that live within them, and Gibsen definitely wove their relationship in a good way.

The writing of this one was strong in voice, with some great and hilarious descriptions that are definitely stand out. With a straightforward nature to it, and dragging only a few times, the writing has a great quality to it. Though the pacing of the overall plot fell through at times, Gibsen still provides a great climax and a good ending for the story. The history was woven into the present in a very good way, with some beautifully done triggering moments and switches. Despite the flaws this one had for me, it was still an enjoyable read.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: March 8, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

SUMMARY: It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.


The Short Version: 
 Enchanting, alluring and empowering, Wanderlove spins a new kind of tale on finding yourself and having fun while doing it. With a vivid setting that is almost magical in its reality, and a main character that every reader can find at least a piece of themselves in, this one holds not only a unique setting but phenomenal characterization that is rapidly becoming a beautiful mark of Hubbard’s abilities. With gorgeous drawings woven into the story at the perfect moments, Wanderlove is a blend of not only traveling but the arts in a magnificent way.

The Extended Version: 
Bria is reserved in enough ways to make her decision to take off to Central America a shock to her family and friends, and even herself. Her determination to step outside of her usual bounds, however, shines strongly from page one and builds an instant bond to readers. With a great internal strength, a sense of constant fortitude that keeps her going even in the roughest of moments, and a depth that is built with each turn of the page, Bria’s definitely the kind of character that will be relatable to just about any reader, no matter their background.

Rowan is endearing in all the right ways, strong and intense yet soft and intriguing. Intelligent yet guarded, Rowan holds plenty of secrets while remaining open in enough ways to keep the reader interested without being frustrated. His interactions with Bria fly off the pages, building their relationship in a realistic, steady manner while moving enough to leave a mark on both early on. With a unique and charming relationship with his sister, and a deep sense of camaraderie between them, Rowan brings plenty of fresh elements to the table while still being everything a love interest should be.

Starling, Rowan’s sister, is about as vivid and full of life as they come, and will leave as memorable an impression on the reader as Bria or Rowan. Though centering in a fantastic way around Rowan and Bria, there are several other characters with plenty of depth and face time without detracting from the central aspect of the plot. The impact each has on Bria is clear and defined, and her overall character growth is tremendously handled not only through what she endures but the people she meets.

The plot is steady, filled with plenty of emotional scenes to tear at reader’s hearts while also giving plenty of laughs, grins and amusement. Though certainly character driven, there is also an external component to this one that adds an extra layer and pulls the reader in more. Unpredictable not only because of the foreign setting and related events, but in the actual execution as well, there is plenty to keep readers on their toes while also giving the satisfaction of being able to piece things together.

Hubbard’s writing is stellar, having an almost magical and entrancing quality to it that cannot easily be put into words. Making the setting as vivid and memorable as any character, and describing in a way that is never mundane or something the reader will want to skip over, Hubbard has an almost unmatched ability in the way she weaves words onto the page. Literary while still being rich in voice, this one pitches the full beauty and extent of Central America in a way that readers without any experience can understand and imagine.

A unique element of this book is the artwork interspersed throughout, drawn by Hubbard herself. Guiding the reader in imaging things without forcing them into a specific picture, and showcasing the author’s talent, these additions build the book in a fantastic and appealing way. Coupled with the rampant and magnetic writing, and the stellar characterization that shines on every page, Wanderlove will ignite a desire to travel in even the most reserved of readers.

Source: Netgalley 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 352 pages 
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 13, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Author This or That: Marni Bates

Dropping in today is Marni Bates, author of the cute and funny book Awkward, to tell us a little about herself, This or That style!

Country or Rock

Rock! Absolutely. I did go through a country music phase but I overdosed on songs about fishing, beer, and trucks. You know, all that stuff I could really relate to back in middle school (Not). Now I can't even handle Shania Twain. But I love indie rock music and tend to do my best work when I have it blasting in my kitchen.

Cougar or Bear

Bears have fascinated me since I read Blueberries for Sal (written by Robert McCloskey) as a kid. I always wanted to switch spots with a bear cub and live on honey and berries. Yum!

Shrek or Donkey

Donkey! He made the movie. He was just so cute and upbeat.

Firefighter or Policeman

Mmm . . . can't I have both? Okay, how about this: FBI agent! What do you mean, I've been watching too many episodes of White Collar? Is that even possible?

Laptop or Desktop

Laptop! I am so ridiculously in love with my MacBook Air that I named her Amelia Airheart. She goes everywhere with me.

Purple or Green

Purple! It's the color of royalty. And it's pretty.

Stripes or Spots

Stripes? I'm super indecisive on this one. I love polka dots but when I hear "spots" I mainly think about spaghetti stains on a white shirt. Okay, stripes it is.

Mayo or Mustard

Mayo. Mustard really grosses me out.

Saltwater or Freshwater

Yikes, this one is tough. I think I have to pick freshwater (sans chlorine). I absolutely love scuba diving in pools. My family members think it's weird, but all I want is to sprawl out on the pool floor, look up at the surface, and watch the air bubbles while I breathe. So calming.

Morning or Night

Night. I am not a morning person. I tend to just skip over it entirely and emerge from my lair around noon. Rouse me before nine a.m. at your peril.

Thank you, Marni, and congrats on the release!

Awkward is out now, so check it out!

Mini Reviews: Something Like Normal, Endlessly and Arise

It's time for another round of mini reviews... gush fests of books I've recently read that aren't coming out for awhile but I can't just stay silent about. So as always, enjoy, put these on your radar, and come back closer to release for my full reviews of all of these!

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller: I've been waiting since 2010 for this book. I've heard from several of Trish's beta readers how much I will love it. I've been Bellatrix Lestrange level of crazy wanting this one. So, yeah, I had huge expectations for it. But even with all that? It blew me away. This is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. The characterization is absolutely stunning, almost indescribable in how well it was done. There are so many little things, small turning points and huge steps back, with so many layers and intricacies that all I can say is do yourself a favor and read it. Travis is amazing, kind of a jerk, definitely closed off at the start of the book and not just because he's on leave from an active war zone, but also endearing and caring. The changes he goes through in the book, of who he was before he left for boot camp and how that's changed him, layered over the way he changes as the book's event progresses is so authentic, wrenching, and perfectly handled. There is just something about him, and I seriously love this boy. But don't forget Harper, who I have a girl crush on, because she is just... awesome. With a little romance, plenty of emotion, a few scenes that made even me cry, and a beautiful, poignant, realism to it... Something Like Normal is stellar, amazing, brilliant, and a million other such words. Also? I read this one straight through in one sitting. Then did it again the next day, it's just that good.

Endlessly by Kiersten White: So, you know how sometimes you worry that the last book in a series will be a let down? Fret not, Kiersten delivers with this one. It has the same wit, innocent humor, and hilarious banter that drew me into the first two books, with a level of depth and emotion riding underneath it. With a compelling overall story line, and some awesome tie backs to things that happened in the first books, Endlessly is stunning as its own book but also as the final installment. Challenging once again how you'll view some of the characters, and testing Evie in some crazy ways, I blazed through this book and am still grinning about it over a week later. Also? There is more Reth in this one, and he is really rather amazing. And so is Lend. And the selkies (okay, so I might be partial to one of them....). And really, just the level of imagination that is in this book knocks it out of the park.

Arise by Tara Hudson: Kissing, in the first ten pages! Joshua! Amelia! Okay, so you get that with Hereafter, but still. I love these characters, and am always up for a good kiss, so Tara's way of starting this installment was quite lovely. But the story? Yeah. Original, well put together, hard to predict at times, emotional, and awesome. You get to see a new side of Amelia, and watch as even Joshua is tested. Plus, this one takes place mostly on New Orleans, and Tara does not scrimp on vividness and bringing it to life. There are some great twists in this one, and it had me as engaged as the first one, if not more.

So there you have it, some of my latest reads that I loved! The full reviews will come closer to their releases, but make sure you add them to your lists!