Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

SUMMARY: There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.

This unflinchingly emotional novel is written in the powerful first-person voice of a legally blind teen who just wants to be like everyone else.


Though definitely overdramatic at times, and a little convoluted at others, there is still a strong emotional element and intensity in Blind Spot that will keep readers hooked. This is one of those books that is like crack, completely addicting even when you might get frustrated. With a fiery main character, though, and an intricate murder plot weaving throughout, Blind Spot is a quick read with a great payoff.

Roz is a spitfire, a girl who is so determined she is stubborn to a fault and even selfish. Furious at being put in Life Skills with the other disabled students, and refusing to admit that her eye disease is a disability of sorts, she comes off strong and self-sufficient at the start. As the story progresses, though, there are times when she is hard to like and get behind, particularly the cold and selfish way she treats Greg, a guy who doesn’t care that she’s legally blind and who has such an honest, sweet crush on her. Having been flirted with by Jonathan, one of the jock heroes in the school, Greg is simply not good enough to her. Even when Jonathan proves to be an uncaring player, and cheats on her almost openly, Roz still lets him draw her in and sweet talk his way out of things. While I can understand that happening once, it’s a few times, and Roz is so adamant that she and Jonathan were a couple when no one else seems to think, Jonathan included, that it gets both frustrating and a little tiring as a reader. This bleeds into her friendship with Greg, who doesn’t have the patience for it either and while I completely respect that about him, the overdramatic fights that often ensued and the silence between them that resulted, more than once, dragged me down a bit.

Still, Roz has a great character arc, with plenty of realism to it, even if some of it felt too overdone. Ellen has written her character in a sympathetic but not excused way, yet goes far to let readers know that not only is Roz fighting bigger battles, even some that are only in her head because of her eye disease, but she also comes from a house where her mom is basically a drunk who sees Roz as nothing but a source of income because of the social security checks she gets. The way Jonathan makes her feel, special and beautiful and wanted, takes such a strong hold in her that even when I wanted to smack her and tell her to figure it out, I did understand why she kept letting him pull her back in. And while I had a hard time understanding why and how she got wrapped up into the entire drug aspect of this book, I do think Ellen has crafted a character who is so determined to do everything on her own that she ends up hurting herself far more.

Even with my issues with Roz, I completely admire Ellen’s characters, who have strength and depth to them at varying degrees that fit the book perfectly. From intense and kind but strung out and messed up Tricia to so with it he almost doesn’t belong at that school Greg, and a range of characters in between, Ellen has crafted a memorable and powerful cast. Each character has a different impact on Roz, going far to develop her character and guide her without taking away the strong sense of independence that she has.

With plenty of twists, and misleading clues, and a gutting climax, the plot of this one is intense and almost nonstop. Almost too intricate, feeling convoluted at times, the moment where everything comes together has that holy crap kind of feeling that will last. While a few aspects of the plot tested my suspension of disbelief in a not so good way, Ellen still did a remarkable job of not only building the mystery but playing everything out as well. With plenty of damages on the way, and having a different kind of romance built into it, the plot of this one is strong despite its smaller flaws. Strongly written, vivid in voice, and holding a good mix of rough and tender, Blind Spot is a great book from a promising writer who I definitely will look for more from.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 336 pages 
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Publication Date: October 23, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Contest: Rebel Heart Prize Pack

To celebrate the release of the next book in Moira Young's Dust Land series, Rebel Heart, two lucky winners will receive a Dust Lands prize pack, including a custom t-shirt and a copy of Rebel Heart!

About Rebel Heart (Book 2): Nothing is certain and no one is safe in the second book in the highly praised Dust Lands trilogy, which MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog called “better than The Hunger Games.”

It seemed so simple: Defeat the Tonton, rescue her kidnapped brother, Lugh, and then order would be restored to Saba’s world. Simplicity, however, has proved to be elusive. Now, Saba and her family travel west, headed for a better life and a longed-for reunion with Jack. But the fight for Lugh’s freedom has unleashed a new power in the dust lands, and a formidable new enemy is on the rise.

What is the truth about Jack? And how far will Saba go to get what she wants? In this much-anticipated follow-up to the riveting Blood Red Road, a fierce heroine finds herself at the crossroads of danger and destiny, betrayal and passion.

About Blood Red Road (Book 1): Saba has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when a monster sandstorm arrives, along with four cloaked horsemen, Saba's world is shattered. Lugh is captured, and Saba embarks on an epic quest to get him back.

Suddenly thrown into the lawless, ugly reality of the world outside of desolate Silverlake, Saba is lost without Lugh to guide her. So perhaps the most surprising thing of all is what Saba learns about herself: she's a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Teamed up with a handsome daredevil named Jack and a gang of girl revolutionaries called the Free Hawks, Saba stages a showdown that will change the course of her own civilization.

Find out more about the Dust Land series here!

To enter the contest, just fill out THIS form!

This contest is US only, and ends November 9.

And don't forget to enter the Rebel Heart giveaway hosted by SimonTEEN for your chance to win the first two books in the DUST LANDS trilogy by Moira Young. The giveaway ends on October 31. Enter here!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Book Review: I Swear by Lane Davis

SUMMARY: Who’s to blame when bullying leads to suicide? A gripping exploration of crucial importance seeks answers in and out of the courtroom.

After years of abuse from her classmates, Leslie Gatlin decided she had no other options and took her own life. Now her abusers are dealing with the fallout.

When Leslie's parents file a wrongful death lawsuit against their daughter's tormenters, the proceedings uncover the systematic cyber bullying and harassment that occurred. The ringleader of the accused girls, Macie, maintains they are innocent. In her mind, Leslie chose be the coward they always knew she was.

Jillian, Katherine, and Beth try to keep their stories straight and shift the blame, as Jake, Leslie's only true friend, tries to make sense of what happened. As the events leading up to her death unfold, it becomes clear that Leslie may have taken her own life, but her bullies took everything else.

Told in alternating perspectives and through well-paced flashbacks, this timely novel sheds light on both the victims of bullying and the consequences bullies face.


Gripping and visceral, I Swear is a phenomenal tale of not only just how much being bullied can hurt, but the ramifications for those who had a hand in the bullying. Though there is certainly a central player in the bully ring with this one, there are several people involved and Davis dose a remarkable job of not only tying that together and not easily placing solitary blame, but also portraying the different views towards the events. With stunning characterization across the board, from the POVs we do get to who Leslie is and even Macie, I Swear is an unconventional but powerful take on bullying.

This one expertly alternates between four separate perspectives, including three people closely involved in everything that led to Leslie’s death and Jake, the boy who wanted to help her and saw past what everyone else did. There is a raw honesty particularly in Jake and Beth’s perspectives, with a give and take between the two that adds a deep intensity to the book. Beth, a girl with some big goals she’s set to achieve and a few secrets of her own she is determined to hide, battles against Jake, a boy who is just the right amount of sensitive but who also doesn’t make excuses for those he holds responsible. While I am glad to get to know all four characters we did, and the book certainly would’ve been very different without them, Jake and Beth stood out the most, not only for how starkly their two stories contrasted but also due to the depth of their emotions. The way each person’s story not only stands on its own but weaves with the others takes this book to some great levels, and definitely sets it apart.

Macie is infuriating, the perfect queen bee, so to speak, who seems to play a hand in everything yet keeps herself flawless and untouchable. She’s the one major character who’s perspective we don’t get, and here, I think it’s a good thing. Her true personality comes through the other’s eyes easily enough, and even her motivations for everything are depicted in a way that makes you understand her, even if you don’t agree or excuse. This, coupled with the way the others view towards everything and even the various levels of their own guilt, makes for an intricate look at how one targeted person can be so unable to escape the bullying.

There is a big legal component to this book, a devastated family looking for justice and some scared teens trying to avoid it. This is where this book really got me, twisting me in so many different ways. Davis artfully challenges readers to see both sides of things, from the devastated family seeking justice to the scared teens trying to avoid it. The full depth of what Leslie endured comes out as the story progresses, however, testing both the characters and readers more. With some deeply moving and visceral scenes, and a constant sense of pain and loss, this one is affecting and amazing. I Swear is without a doubt a book to make you think, and will challenge you.

Source: ARC won from contest 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 288 pages 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Character Interview: Will from Stealing Parker

I am so excited to have Will, AKA Corndog, from Miranda Kenneally's second book Stealing Parker dropping in today for an interview!

Describe yourself in three words.

Frank, loyal, likes-cuddling. (Can likes-cuddling be one word? I think so.)

When you found out about Parker and Coach Brian, what was your first reaction and thoughts?

I wanted to break the trophy case and throw trophies on the floor and stomp on them. I felt betrayed and confused, but I also felt like I should've known better than to get too attached to Parker when she was so confused in her own life.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Jumped off a bridge into the Cumberland River. Naked.

Boxers or briefs?

Boxer briefs. Playing sports is hard in boxers.

What's the best kiss you ever had?

You'll have to wait for Miranda Kenneally's third book to read about it, but it's with Parker. We sneak away to kiss in the dark at the summer camp we're working at, and it's definitely against the rules, but I don't think either of us care. Kissing Parker is so worth getting in trouble/fired.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

A Deinonychus. They were thought to be smart, strategic thinkers, and I spend a lot of time thinking about my friends, family, and the things around me.

Thank you, Will, for dropping in, and congrats, Miranda, on the release!

If you haven't picked up Stealing Parker yet, or Miranda's debut Catching Jordan, make sure you do! They are fast, fun, and hot reads that I totally recommend.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Forget Me Not Ghost Tour: Meet the Characters

To celebrate the recent release of her newest novel Forget Me Not, I've got Carolee Dean here to introduce the characters from this book, as well as bring you the chance to win a copy of the book and a raven feather bookmark!

FORGET ME NOT is a paranormal verse novel about a young girl, Ally Cassell, who makes a rash and desperate decision after compromising photos are texted around the school. She soon finds her soul is trapped on the H-Hall of Raven Valley High School surrounded by ghosts. The only way she can get off the hallway and have a chance of returning to her body is if someone will leave a door open, but she’s not sure if there’s anyone left who cares enough to take the risk.

Even if they did care, how would anyone know where she was?

There is one person who can help. Elijah McCall understands the hallway all too well. He spent three days there when he took a bottle of sleeping pills. He’s loved Ally for years. But is there still time to save her or is she too far gone?

Here’s an excerpt from the book, a cinquain chain of poems describing Ally, Elijah, and the ghosts of the H-hall:

Cast of Characters:

afraid, alone
hurting, hiding, biding
never can go back

timid, guarded
sitting, knitting, praying
quiet girl in black

hungry, unsatisfied
holding, kissing, groping
always gets his way

Julie Ann
trapped, bored
forgetting, conceding, letting
she never gets away

dark, dangerous
playing, plotting, punishing
ruler of the hall

And a cameo appearance by:
brave, bold
knowing, helping, showing
he risks it all

To win an autographed copy of the book along with this raven feather bookmark and other unique prizes, check out Ghost Tour Central and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway found there! Also found there are links to the other tour stops such as the interview with Ernest Hemingway, the ghost hunter video, the raven trivia challenge, and more. And of course, make sure you check out the book trailer, found here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Author Interview: Janet Gurtler

To celebrate the release of her third book, Janet Gurtler is here today to talk about writing, sea creatures, and more!

With Who I Kissed being your third published book, how has the writing and revision process changed from when you I'm Not Her?

Well, hopefully I am learning about craft along the way. I don’t know that the process has changed that much except I think my first drafts are more drawn out. I find that with a 3 book contract, which I was lucky enough to sign with Sourcebooks, that I need to write faster and revise faster. I kind of like deadlines though. I function better when I have a deadline to meet. Hectic but motivating!

Which character in Who I Kissed was the hardest for you to write and develop? Have they been the hardest of all your characters to date?

It was hard for me to develop the character of Alex. Though he dies in the opening (which isn’t a spoiler) I still had to show him as a person which I did through television interviews and through the eyes of other characters. A friend of mine actually lost a son who was a little younger than Alex, but it was pretty harrowing to make myself go to that place in my head. I felt really bad for all that Alex might have been but couldn’t be. I think as a mother the thought of losing a child is about as hard as it can get. I do NOT allow my head to go there with my own child.Alex’s mom and Alex were probably the most difficult characters I have written to date. Actually there was one other character, a girl in WAITING TO SCORE, which I published under a pseudonym in 2009. Her name was Mona and she completely broke my heart.

If you could pair Samantha with any character in any book, who would it be?

As friends, I would love her to hang out with Ashley from IF I TELL. Ashley was a swimmer in IF I TELL (and she actually swam on the same team as Sam!) I think they would be great friends. Both kind, nice people who are super dedicated to the sport of swimming.

What kind of sea creature would you describe yourself as? 

An oyster. Sometimes I close myself off from the world, but inside I am turning things into sparkly jewels.

Character Interview + Contest: Trevor from Pivot Point

I am so excited to have Trevor, one of the seriously hot and melty boys from Kasie West's 2013 debut Pivot Point here today to answer some questions, and give away an ARC of this book! I loved this one, and totally devoured it as fast as possible, and couldn't stop thinking about it for days. Trust me when I say you want this one! So let's meet Trevor and get on with it!

Describe yourself in three words.

Um... my mom says I'm too laid-back. I think that's her nice way of saying I'm always late. So two more? Unorganized. Private.

When Addison told you about her ability, what was going through your head?

At first I thought she was trying to be funny. But then I thought, impossible. It didn't make sense. I like things to make sense. Everything about her from the way she smiles to how she bites her lower lip when she's nervous always made sense to me. So I was trying to put together what I knew about her with what she was saying. It just took a minute.

If you hadn't of been injured, and quit football, do you think you would've noticed Addison when she showed up at your school? 

Absolutely. I'd notice her anywhere.

What about football do you miss the most?

The team. Being part of something where everyone is working toward a goal. We won together. We lost together. You can't be part of that from the outside.

What's your favorite part of Addison to draw?

Her hair. She has great hair.

What's it like to kiss Addison?

I don't kiss and tell. Wait, does she? Has she been talking about us kissing? What did she say?

Boxers or briefs?

This interview is getting a bit personal......boxers.

What kind of sea creature would you describe yourself as?

Sea creature? Where's Addison? She's the one who's good with metaphors or symbolism or whatever the deeper meaning of this question is.

Thank you, Trevor, for stopping in! Seriously, guys, I love this boy. And he is so in my Boy Closet.

But since I want everyone to read this book, here's your chance to win an ARC!

To enter, just fill out THIS form!

This contest is US Only and ends November 9. No entries will be accepted through the comments, but you know you want to leave one regardless.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book Review: Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

SUMMARY: How far would you go for love, beauty, and jealousy?

When Nicole Castro, the most beautiful girl in her wealthy New Jersey high school, is splashed with acid on the left side of her perfect face, the whole world takes notice. But quiet loner Jay Nazarro does more than that--he decides to find out who did it. Jay understands how it feels to be treated like a freak, and he also has a secret: He's a brilliant hacker. But the deeper he digs, the more danger he's in--and the more he falls for Nicole. Too bad everyone is turning into a suspect, including Nicole herself.

Award-winning author Paul Griffin has written a high-stakes, soulful mystery about the meaning--and dangers--of love and beauty.


Engaging from the start and a perfect mix of emotional and thrilling, Burning Blue weaves both a who done it kind of plot in with an across the tracks sort of romance. With a quietly charming protagonist and some very lively side characters, Griffin ha built a realistic tale centered around his characters while still having plenty of story behind it. Pulling in some great elements, and most definitely keeping readers guessing, this is a smart, well designed mystery.

Jay is an amazing character, a guy who is a loner by choice yet also, to some extent, by circumstance. Suffering from seizures, and having had an especially embarrassing one from of the whole school, he tends to keep a distance, even when he’s being friendly on the outside. Though not particularly ambitious, Jay is intelligent and perceptive, and has taught himself how to hack into almost anything. Definitely a useful skill to have, especially as he starts digging into Nicole’s case, it also gives him plenty to want to hide. Charmingly awkward at times, but endearingly determined at others, Jay has an authentic not to him that will have readers swooning.

The cast of this one is relatively large, pulling in not only Nicole and Jay’s parents but some of her friends, and a few other key people as well. While some have stronger presences than others, Griffin has crafted each of them individually, making them stand out and be more than a space filler. With a stark honesty to them, and Jay’s individual perception of each mixed in, Griffin doesn’t slack on the people he puts in the book.

There is definitely a romantic element to this one, built smoothly into the overall plot and never coming off as forced. Though Nicole has a boyfriend when she’s burned, and he’s even around for a bit after, it’s clear there is something forming between Jay and Nicole. While Nicole’s ex flits in and out, and is a suspect from the start, he doesn’t seem to put up too much of a fight over his girlfriend hanging out with another guy. Still, even with the issues, Nicole and Jay form a strong friendship that also develops into more, with a tension between them that is subtle yet effective.

This one has a twisty plot, one that will leave readers guessing and enthralled. With some stellar left hooks and plenty of turns, Burning Blue has a great mix of danger, softness, and action. Peppering little clues throughout, but having many of them seem totally inert until everything falls into place at just the right moment, Griffin has crafted his mystery beautifully, and in a way that lets readers guess at least some stuff without giving everything away too soon. Pulling in a strong emotional element as well, Burning Blue will entice readers from the start. Add in the bold writing, and strong voice, and this one is a hit that should not be missed.

Source: TLA 
Reading level: Ages 14 and up 
Hardcover: 288 pages 
Publisher: Dial 
 Publication Date: October 25, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Character Interview: Tyler from Out of Reach

Carrie Arcos' debut Out of Reach is out today, and this is easily one of my favorites of the year, so to celebrate, I've got Tyler here to answer some questions! He's not exactly your typical sort of love interest, but he most definitely won me over.

Describe yourself in three words. 

Athletic. Musical. Artistic.

What's the hardest part, for you, about Micah's disappearance?

That I kind of knew he would leave. I should have said something, but I guess I hoped he’d get his shit together. Or maybe I didn’t want to be the one responsible. I did talk to Mr. Stevens that one time, and well, it was kind of strained with me and Micah after that. So…I don’t know. It’s hard watching that happen to someone, to someone you care about.

You get to know Rachel pretty well as you guys search for Micah. What about her surprised you the most?

How she handles it. That thing with the dealer, most girls, most people would have freaked. But she didn’t. She just stayed there, talking to him, holding his had. She was incredible. And how loyal she is. She doesn’t talk bad about people. You can trust her.

What's the best kiss you ever had?

Hopefully I’ll let you know later.

Boxers or briefs?


What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

Probably a Velociraptor because they were supposedly smart and you never saw them coming.

Thank you, Tyler, for dropping in and congrats, Carrie, on the release!

Trust me, guys, when I say, you want to get this book. It's a one sitting, gripping the edges of the pages and totally emotional kind of read.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

This or That: Nick from Velveteen

Today I've got Nick, the swoonworthy and hilarious love interest from Daniel Marks' debut Velveteen here for a round of this or that!

Coffee or Soda?

Mountain Dew. Sometimes I need a kick.

Beach or Mountains?

I love the mountains. Hiking. Cabins by lakes. Mosquitos. Come on! All these questions are making me homesick for life.

Be alive again or Purgatory?

Life is for the living and that’s gone. I’m not supposed to think about going back, because it’s happened. It happens all the time. People get possessed and we’re supposed to fight that desire. We have to fight it. But, there are days. There are days.

Pizza or Nachos?

From the Cryptid Bestiary
Oh man. Can I get an order of Nachos? With a pizza on the side. Pepperoni or Italian sausage with ricotta. Cheese. Melting cheese. I miss food. Argh.

Hippogriffs or Centaurs?

Hippogriffs, definitely! Centaurs talk too much!

Boxers or briefs?

Boxers mostly. Depends on whether I’m running. I’ll leave it at that.

Red or Green?

Red cars and green eyes. So both.

From And So We Ramble
Caramel or Chocolate?

Caramel. Before I died, my mom used to buy these caramels with salt on top that were amazing. The salt did something to ‘em, made them more sweet somehow. Like what it does to watermelon. Maybe I could just get some salt.

Car or Truck?

Car. For sure. Trucks imply you’ve got some work to do and I do enough work.

Thank you, Nick, and congrats, Danny on the release! Velveteen is out now so make sure you pick it up! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: The Space Between Us by Jessica Martinez

SUMMARY: From the author of Virtuosity, a novel about two sisters and the secrets they tell, the secrets they keep—and the secret that could tear them apart.

Amelia is used to being upstaged by her charismatic younger sister, Charly. She doesn’t mind, mostly, that it always falls to her to cover for Charly’s crazy, impulsive antics. But one night, Charly’s thoughtlessness goes way too far, and she lands both sisters in serious trouble.

Amelia’s not sure she can forgive Charly this time, and not sure she wants to... but forgiveness is beside the point. Because Charly is also hiding a terrible secret, and the truth just might tear them apart forever.


There is a quiet pain to this one, mixed in with a breathtaking poignancy that will have readers gripped and engaged from the start. Playing heavily on the relationship between the two sisters, yet also keeping a strong focus on Amelia and how she handles everything, Martinez’s talents shine in this book. While the big secret can be predicted, it isn't really something that readers are supposed to have no idea about, and suspecting it in no way detracts from the rampant feelings through this book. If anything, it amps them up, leaving readers to study the characters even more intensely, yet also having a gutting feeling as things are revealed.

Amelia is a fantastic big sister, having no particular ill will towards her sprightly and intriguing younger sister despite seeming to clean up her messes more often than not. Clearly someone who loves her sister and wants to protect her, yet also not going so far as to keep her under lock and key, there is a certain selflessness to Amelia at the start. As things start to happen, though, her ability to remain so considerate is challenged, and there are some times where she is decidedly selfish. Despite the ways her flaws really start to show, and the times she says some truly awful things, readers will understand why she reacts as she does, and will feel her pain tenfold.

As I read this one, I never really felt myself be particularly angry with Amelia, even when she was at her worst, primarily because Martinez does such a stunning job of infusing Amelia’s feelings and motivations into every page. My frustration stayed with Charly more often than not, suspecting but not always completely understanding why she was doing the things she did, reacting as she did. Still, I love both these sisters, and wanted both of them to find a way through all of this and come out on top, without completely kicking the other down. Martinez absolutely nailed the push and pull between these girls, without blatantly forgiving their flaws and mistakes yet also not eviscerating them for it.

The setting in this one is vivid and well portrayed, and there is actually quite a bit of gentle humor mixed into what is, overall, an arresting read. Add in the soft romance that takes place with a boy who is awkward and charming, yet holds plenty of secrets of his own, and there is plenty to keep readers hooked. Well written, with a smooth flow and intelligent writing, infused into a voice that is very clearly Amelia, rivaled against the vividness that we get when Charly flutters across the pages even from the start, The Space Between Us is one for the favorites shelf.

Source: ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review
Reading Level: 14 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 16, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

Character Interview: Gyver from Send Me a Sign

Dropping in today is a charming boy who totally stole my heart in Tiffany Schmidt's (awesome) debut Send Me a Sign. His name is Gyver, and trust me when I say you want to know him too.

Describe yourself in four words.

Male. Musician.

That about sums it up. Do I get extra points for only using two words?

What's your best memory with Mia?

Do you know how many thousands of days I’ve spent with her? Can I have a minute to sort through them and pick?

Okay -- I've got two.

The first is when I gave her Jinx—that’s her cat. Someone had left a box of strays at the police station and I convinced my mom to bring a black one home—and this is after I convinced Mr. Moore to let Mia have one.

This was all on a Tuesday. That Friday was a 13th, and I somehow managed to keep Jinx a secret until then—then surprised Mi. She couldn’t have been scared or superstitious that morning, even if she tried, she was too busy falling in love with the kitten. I was eleven, I felt like a super-hero for making her that happy.

The other story is from eighth grade—and she's going to kill me for telling you. It was right after Mi quit gymnastics and joined the cheerleading squad. She was suddenly really busy with all these new friends, and I was starting to get serious about music, so a lot my time was lessons and rehearsing. We just weren't seeing each other that much.

But anyway, the story takes place on this stupid field trip thing the school organized. It was a ropes course and was supposed to be team-building and help us "come together as a class before high school." Mostly it was cold and rainy and lots of guys trying to look up or down girls' shirts as they did the different climbing things.

When it was Mi's turn to cross this log suspended between two trees, she got halfway across and froze. It doesn't make any sense—the girl is pretty fearless, she had on a harness, and that part was pretty much the same as a balance beam, which she's always rocked. Granted it was way up in the air, but she hadn’t had any problem climbing the rope ladder to get there. Anyway, she refused to move. And the rain was starting to pick up, it was the end of the day—everyone was getting pissy about it. The teachers wanted us back on the bus, the rope course instructors were yelling at her about how the log was only going to get MORE slippery if she kept waiting and it kept raining.

All her new friends, they weren't teasing, but they weren't helping either. They were all "You can do it!" and "Just don't look down!"

Then she called for me. She just said, "Gyver, can you come get me?"

And I did. I climbed up there, held her hand, and just talked to her. We took it one step at a time.

I guess it sounds cheesy, but it was that moment that I knew it didn't really matter who she ate lunch with or if we went to the same parties on Friday nights—I was still important to her, and she was always going to need me.

Ah, that sounds lame—maybe just use the cat story.

Admittedly, Mia's friends aren't fans of yours. Do you ever wish you could pull her away from them?

All the time. I’m pretty sure she gets that from them too, so I try not to make it a game of tug-of-war with her the middle. And I guess it’s good that it’s mutual dislike between the Calendar Girls and me, because I really don’t want to be around her when she’s with them.

But if she likes them and they make her happy, she shouldn’t have to choose between us.

So, Mia sort of has a thing going on with Ryan, who you're not such a big fan of. Do you think Mia's wrong when she thinks there might be more to Ryan?

I have no clue what she sees in Ryan Winters. She’s not shallow, so if she says there’s more to him, there’s got to be something there. I guess.

What's the best kiss you've ever had?

I’m not touching this question. Or if you need something, put down that I hope my best kiss is one I haven’t had yet.

Boxers or briefs?

Now I’m seriously starting to wonder why you’re asking these. You’re not creating some online dating profile for me, are you? Please don’t. For what it’s worth, boxers, and I’m not a fan of pina coladas or getting caught in the rain.

What kind of dinosaur would you describe yourself as?

I actually have an answer to this one! Triceratops.

Mi and I went through a big dinosaur phase when we were little – her lucky number was three back then, so our favorite was always the triceratops. We thought we were going to be archeologists, or maybe it was paleontologists? We used to dig for fossils in my sandbox and her dad would hide these little rubber dinosaurs all over their house for us to find.

Then we watched Jurassic Park and Mi got scared and that was the end of dinosaurs, I think we moved on to space, or maybe our forest ranger phase came next?

Anyway, triceratops.

Thank you, Gyver, for stopping in, and congrats, Tiffany, on the debut!

Send Me a Sign is out now, and there is even more Gyver-goodness in it, so you should definitely pick it up. Plus, it's an amazing book, with awesome characters, some great kisses, and another hot boy (but Gyver is my pick).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Book Review: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

SUMMARY: Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he'd give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv's deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn't Viv.

The apparition's name is Nina, and she's not a ghost. She's a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can't believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn't the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he's forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all.


Addicting in an inexplicable way, and focusing very much on the romance aspect and everything Cam is going through in terms of grief, Through to You is a strongly contemporary book with just a touch of something more. While I admit, some areas of the book left me wanting more, and most of the big twists were predictable, there was still something gripping about this one that had me unable to put it down. Taking love to some different levels, and giving meaning to love beyond life, Through to You is will make readers think, while still leaving them contented.

Camden is a great character, a guy who loved his girlfriend so intensely that it's almost a detriment. Completely broken up over her death, and almost useless in his every day life now, Camden has such a strongly sympathetic angle to him while still being intriguing. I felt for him, but I also rooted for him. I adored the devotion Camden held towards Viv, even 2 months after her death. His entire life is so shattered, and there is just something endearing about him. Despite the faults he may have, and I admit, he did get on my nerves a few times when he was so obviously mind to some things around him, Camden is easily one of my favorite characters.

Though there are some twists in this one, most of them felt predictable to me. I didn't get many surprises in this one, but I still enjoyed the ride very much. While I admit, this one didn't feel very sci-fi to me, apart from the random green doorway between the two realities, as such a strong fan of contemporaries, this one made me happy. Though some of the changes Camden goes through by the end, at least in regards to how he views some people, didn't make too much sense to me and actually left me disappointed, this book still had a strength and depth to it that captured me. This book definitely raises some questions, and is thought provoking to an extent.

The writing of this one completely lured me in, with a strong voice that is so very obviously Camden, without trying too hard at all. With the right amount of light sarcasm and humor, and an honesty to it that shines, Hainsworth is a talented writer who I can't wait for more from. There were some breathtaking moments in this one, and an overall well crafted world, even playing two similar yet different realities against each other. Fans of both contemporary and the supernatural will enjoy this one, and anyone who loves a good male POV should be sure to pick it up.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 13 and up 
Hardcover: 272 pages 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Character Interview: Reece from Live Through This

Hitting shelves today is Mindi Scott's stunning sophomore novel Live Through This, and to celebrate, I've stolen Reece, the adorkable love interest from the book, for an interview!

Describe yourself, in 5 words or less.

Tall sax player from Alaska.

Tell us about the first time you ever met or saw Coley.

A few months ago, Coley and I went to the zoo with friends. Even though we’d gone to school together last year, the zoo was when she and I first “met.” It ended up being just the two of us hanging out together for a couple of hours, and it changed everything. In that one day, Coley Sterling went from being just some girl to The Girl. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since.

Boxers or briefs?

Boxers. Skinny jeans aren’t my thing, so I don’t need briefs.

So… the gossip mill says you and your ex-girlfriend banged over 400 times. Let’s talk about that little fact of your life.

*laughs* Four hundred times? I don’t know. I’m thinking that’s probably not a fact? I’m interested in hearing who was counting for us, though.

Even though the hot tub scene ended up with you and Coley freezing in the snow, was it worth it? 

It was the best thing ever. Well, until her parents drove up.

What’s it like to kiss Coley?

Well, it’s like, um. I don’t know how to answer this. I mean, kissing her is awesome, of course. I guess, when she kisses me it’s kind of like . . . she’s asking a question and I’m the only person who has the answer. Does that even make sense?

Coley ends up having to face up to some really heavy stuff. Are you glad you’re able to be there for it, or do you kind of just want to turn tail and run?

I still don’t know what she’s facing. I want to know. I want to help her in any way that I can. But no matter what it is, I’m not going to run.

So there you guys have a little look at Reece! Live Through This is one of my favorite books of the year, and absolutely is on my Kari Recommends list, so make sure you pick it up right away! Not to mention, Reece isn't the usual kind of hot, cocky, love interest, he's a sweeter, gentler variety, but he is so worth it.