Tuesday, January 28, 2014

YA Review: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

SUMMARY: Davy had everything—a terrific boyfriend, the homecoming crown, a bright future at Juilliard—but when her genetic tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, she loses it all. Uninvited from her prestigious school and avoided by her friends and family, she is placed in a special class with other "carriers" who are treated like the murderers they someday might become.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life and tells her that she alone controls her actions—not the code embedded in her DNA. But even if she can learn to trust him, can Davy trust herself?

OPINION: I was enamored with this concept from the first time I heard about it - how awful would it be to know for a fact you have a higher chance of becoming a killer? I often think it's bad enough doing the cancer genetic testing, Huntington's, etc, those sorts of things, where you find out for sure you are more likely to end up suffering from that. Correlate that to this concept, and the different implications, and I was hooked before I ever picked up the book.

In a lot of ways, I have to say, this book is maybe a bit slower. To start, it's very much about Davy figuring out how to handle suddenly being cast aside, and the echoing of so many eras in our history as a result was chilling. This is one of those books that, despite not being solid contemporary/realistic fiction, is too realistic to be comfortable. Can I imagine everything in this book actually happening? Absolutely. I really loved Davy's character. She's a good girl, a privileged girl, with so much ahead of her, at least until she's uninvited from her school as a result of being a carrier. As everything is stripped away from her, and even her own family has some tension there now, it's both painful and realistic to read. Still, there is a lot of strength to Davy as she goes through all of this, but what I loved the most is how her fear is present, even has some element of hindering her, yet she also pushes through it and doesn't let it get the best of her.

And Sean. Oh. Sean. I love this boy, so hard. He's so determined to fight back against everything happening, even while it seems impossible to do so. He's that quiet, solid sort of guy, with mystery about him and a hard exterior, yet such a genuinely good heart inside. This boy really got to me and I want nothing more than to see him come out okay. He takes Davy under his wing so to speak, and there is definitely some romance though it's not as forefront as in Jordan's prior series. In a lot of ways, I feel like these are two people who need each other right now, who found each other at the right time, though what that means in the future I don't know.

There is so much realism infused throughout this book, and as someone who reads more contemporary than anything, I completely love it. Still, the sci-fi bend to it is scarily believable to me, and despite that niggle in my mind that this is something not in our world, how easy it is to imagine had me both hooked and uncomfortable. This book has so many layers and is brilliant in ways I can't describe without spoiling anything, but I highly recommend it for fans of all genres.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Uninvited Chapter Reveal + Giveaway: Chapter Five

I'm so excited to be hosting the final part of Chapters 1-5 from Sophie Jordan's Uninvited, out on Tuesday!

I seriously love this book. It's scarily realistic, despite the sci-fi sort of bend. It's dark, intense, painful, echoes a few too many painful things in our history, but is also awesome, memorable, and had plenty of moments to still make me melt.

If you haven't read the first four chapters, you can here:

Chapter 1: Mundie Moms
Chapter 2: Jenuine Cupcakes
Chapter 3: Good Choice Reading
Chapter 4: Once Upon a Twilight

And for the trailer, check it out here! It is GORGEOUS! It might be my favorite ever?

Copyright © 2014 by Sharie Kohler

Text Message

8:42 p.m.
Can u come over?

8:55 p.m.
Sure. What’s wrong?

8:56 p.m.

9:00 p.m.
Is Davy w/u?

9:02 p.m.
Need 2 talk. Can’t b alone right now

9:10 p.m.
On way


I report to Keller High School at eight sharp.
Amid the packet of information from Pollock were the bolded
instructions to arrive at eight and depart at three in order to
avoid fraternizing with the general population. My first clue
that even at Keller things were going to get worse.
Although it’s hard to imagine that. After Zac left yesterday,
it took me a long time to pick myself up and go back inside.
Even longer for the tears to stop. The tight, aching twist in my
chest? That still hasn’t stopped.
My phone sat quietly on my nightstand all night. I had
hoped Zac would call after he had time to process. No call.
Not even a ring from Tori. I could only guess that Zac told
her. Or he told someone who then told her. It only takes one
person to get gossip rolling. Davy Hamilton is a killer. That
kind of gossip would be too juicy to keep quiet.
I shake loose the crippling thoughts and focus on getting
through this first day.
The building is gray—from the outside brick to the flat carpet
and chipping paint inside. Idly, I wonder if gray is the school
color. It’s doubtful I’ll be attending any pep rallies to find out.
We enter the office and get behind a student waiting for
a tardy slip to class. The secretary’s smile slips from her face
when Mom tells her who we are. Humming lightly under my
breath, I scan the office as they talk. A student aide gawks at
me as she staples papers together behind a desk.
I arch an eyebrow at her and she quickly looks away.
Mom signs her name to a few papers, not even pausing to
read anything. It’s like she can’t get out of here fast enough.
“Here’s your ID. Wear it at all times.” The receptionist
slides a neon-orange tag across the counter that already bears
the picture Pollock took of me yesterday. I take it and loop it
around my neck.
“The orange identifies your carrier status,” she announces,
loud enough for everyone in the office to hear. A woman on
the phone in the corner stops talking and stares.
The secretary nods with approval at the ID dangling in
front of my chest, letting me know I have no chance of staying
under the radar. I glance at the student aide. Her badge is
white. Yeah. No chance.
My eyes burn. I blink back tears, refusing to cry, refusing
to let this small thing break me. I’ve been through worse than
this in the last forty-eight hours.
She continues, “The counselor, Mr. Tucci, will take you
to the”—the secretary pauses, catching herself and correcting
whatever it was she was going to say—“your classroom.”
Mom faces me.
I stare at her, hollow inside, nothing there except the lyrics
of an old Beatles song: Hey, Jude, don’t make it bad, take a sad
song and make it better. It doesn’t help much because I want to
grab her and hold her and beg her not to leave me here, but it
won’t do any good. She’s shut herself off. Her eyes are dull—
like she’s beyond feeling anything.
She squeezes my shoulder. “Have a good day, Davy.”
Like that’s possible. I nod and watch her walk away. Leave
me in this strange, horrible place.
“Sit there.” The secretary directs me to a chair against the
wall. “Mr. Tucci will be with you soon.”
Hugging my sack lunch, I drop into the seat, not bothering
to slide off my backpack. A sack lunch is another requirement.
Carriers aren’t allowed to eat anything from the cafeteria. Too
much chance of mingling with the general population. I sit at
the edge of the seat, my body taut, waiting, watching as people
come and go through the office.
It’s nine thirty before Mr. Tucci appears. The secretary
murmurs something to him and motions in my direction.
He advances on me, sizing me up with a mild expression.
I stare back. He’s dressed well in a pressed polo and slacks.
Something my dad would never wear to work, but still.
“Welcome to Keller, Ms. Hamilton.” He extends his hand
for me to shake. I stare at it for a moment, thinking he’s joking.
He can’t want to touch me.
His expression softens. “I know this is hard, but if you stay
out of trouble, you can finish out your senior year here with
no fuss.” Leaning down, he whispers for my ears alone. “Prove
them wrong.”
A ragged sigh escapes me. His words remind me of Mitchell
and for a flash of a second I don’t feel so alone. Prove them
wrong. A lump forms in my throat at the unexpected kindness
from this man. Maybe it won’t be so terrible here after all.
A moment passes before I nod, fighting the lump down in
my throat. “I can do that.”
“Excellent.” He smiles broadly. “Follow me.”
He leads me from the office and down a deserted hall. We
pass lockers. Teachers’ voices drift from inside the classrooms.
His shoes clack over the linoleum floor. We descend a set of
stairs and walk until it feels like we’re in the very bowels of
the school. We are long past any classrooms. We pass the gym.
The stink of the weight room greets me well before we pass its
open doors. A quick glance reveals a few sweaty guys working
out inside.
There are no windows. No sunlight. Just the buzz of a
fluorescent bulb every few feet. I see that the wide corridor
dead-ends ahead.
My pulse skitters nervously. “Where are we going?”
He shoots me a disarming smile. Instead of answering, he
says, “There are five others. Like you. You won’t be alone.”
I swallow. He means five other HTS carriers. And me.
Until graduation. I’m not sure I wouldn’t prefer to be alone.
“You’ll get to know them well, I’m sure.”
Before the end of the corridor, he turns left and stops in
front of a set of steel double doors. Opening the right side door,
he steps inside. I follow, but don’t go much farther. The space
is too small, occupied by a single desk. A teacher sits there,
reading a magazine. He’s young, looks barely out of college.
He quickly stands when he sees us, dropping his magazine.
“Ah, Mr. Tucci. Good morning. Is this the new one?” He
nods in my direction, tugging on his waistband as though his
wind pants need adjustment.
“Yes, Mr. Brockman, this is Ms. Hamilton. I’m sure you’ll
show her the ropes.”
Mr. Brockman looks me over, his gaze crawling, and I
suddenly feel exposed before him. “Not a problem, not a problem,”
he says.
I cross my arms. As if that might help to shield me from
his measuring look.
“Very good.” With another smile for me, Mr. Tucci
departs. I wince as the heavy steel clangs after him.
And I’m left with Mr. Brockman and the others, HTS carriers
whose stares I feel boring into me.
Mr. Brockman motions behind him. “Welcome to the
“The Cage?” I echo.
He chuckles. “Yep. That’s what the kids call it. The name
kind of stuck. Even the staff calls it that now.” He nods to the
wall of chain link behind his desk.
It makes terrifying sense. What better way to remove us
from the general population than to stick us down here with
only ourselves for company? And beyond isolation . . . we’re
“The Cage” consists of chain link stretching from floor to
ceiling. On the other side of the chain link there are about ten
desks. Only four students occupy the desks, all staring at me
with varying expressions. Maybe Mr. Tucci was wrong about
the number. Or maybe number five has done something bad
and is in jail.
Immediately, I see that the gate-like door is the only way
in or out. Mr. Brockman moves to open it. “It’ll take them a
while to round up your assignments. You’ll just have to amuse
yourself for today.”
The door squeaks as he pulls it open.
I pause at the entrance, reluctant to move inside, to take
the first step that will officially make me one of them. I look
back at him, unnerved at how close he’s standing beside me,
still looking me over in a way that makes me feel like a piece
of meat.
“So you don’t actually teach us?” I ask for clarification,
scanning his attire. He looks more like someone on his way to
the gym than a real teacher.
“No. Call me a glorified babysitter. I started as a part-time
sub, but they hired me full-time last year. I just turn your work
in to your teachers on the outside.”
On the outside. Teachers I’ll never even meet. I realize this
I peer inside the Cage, eyeing the others. Three boys and
one girl. She’s no longer looking at me, concentrating instead
on carving something into the desk with her pen.
“That’s Coco.” He takes one more step, bringing his body
closer. The soft bulge of his stomach presses against my arm.
“Bet she’ll be glad for some female company. Just been her in
here with the boys since last year.”
There’s something in his voice that makes the tiny hairs
on my nape prickle, and suddenly I’m not sure what I’m more
afraid of: the Cage and the supposed killers inside—or Mr.
Brockman on the outside.
“Course you don’t have to go in just yet.” His voice falls
close to my ear. “If you want you can stay out here a bit with
Then I know what frightens me more. At least right now,
in this moment, the answer is clear.
In the Cage, I notice Coco’s pen holds still. Her attention
remains fixed on her desk, but I know she’s attuned to me. To
Brockman. Her alertness reaches me, folds into my own veil
of awareness.
Squaring my shoulders, I step inside the Cage.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Excerpt: Ruined by Tracy Wolff

Welcome to the RUINED blog tour! The first book in Tracy Wolff's hot new New Adult series. Be sure to follow the entire tour here to read more excerpts from the hot new release, and for your chance to enter to win.

Advanced Praise for RUINED (Ethan Frost #1)

“Tracy Wolff knows how to steam up the pages, and she proves it again in Ruined. If you’re looking for a hot read, curl up with Ethan Frost.”New York Times and USA Today bestselling author J. Kenner

“Heat sizzles off the page and the oh-so-sexy Ethan Frost will make you swoon!”USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy

About The Book

An electrifying journey of emotional and sexual discovery that pushes two damaged souls to their breaking point—and beyond.
He’s the last man Chloe Girard should love . . . but the first she ever could.
Ethan Frost is a visionary, a genius, every woman’s deepest, darkest fantasy—even mine. And, somehow, I am his.
He stole into my life like a dream. Turned my reality upside down and made my every desire come true—especially those I never knew I had. He demanded everything I had to give and gave me everything of himself in return.
But dreams don’t last forever, and ours is no exception. Because my nightmares are darker, and my wounds deeper, than I could ever reveal. And as much as Ethan wants to protect me, the secrets we we share will only tear us apart.

Read an Excerpt

“I like your sepulcher. It’s a very . . . what’s the word I’m looking for here?”
“Uninterested.” I don’t bother looking up. I don’t have to see him to know I’ve got no interest in some guy trying his luck on the beach. Even if the sudden prickling of my nerve endings says otherwise.
“And here I was going to say it was interesting.” He leans down a little, puts his mouth closer to my ear so I can hear the tenor of his voice now, even over the din of the crowd. Realization sinks in and I stiffen, even before he says, “Hi, Chloe.”
The damn chills are back double time, although how I can feel both hot and cold at the same time—without having the flu—is a mystery to me. “Ethan.” I turn to look at him. I can’t help it. His presence is like a magnet I have no defense against. I want to see him. “What are you doing here?”
“Building community. Saving the oceans. You know, the usual.  
“Frost Industries is sponsoring this event.” It’s not a question. Only now do I remember reading about Ethan’s philanthropic interests. For obvious reasons, he spends a lot of time and money doing stuff for veterans, but the environment—and the oceans, in particular—is another big interest of his. I think back to the day I met him, to the board shorts and flip-flops. The Save Our Oceans stuff actually makes perfect sense.
“It’s a good event,” I tell him a little grudgingly. I guess I’m more upset about him not calling than I thought.
“I’m glad you approve.” He sits down on the other side of the sand castle, gently extricates the bucket from my sudden death grip, and starts to pack it with sand. “So, are you really building a sand tomb?”
I look at the mess in front of me. “It’s supposed to be a sand castle.”
He laughs. “I guess it’s a good thing you’re pre-law then, hmm?”
His words so perfectly echo my own thoughts from a few minutes ago that I can’t help but stare at him. It feels weird to think the same things as him.
When he sees my expression, his smile fades. “You know I’m just kidding, right?”
I force myself out of my Ethan-induced stupor. “Maybe, but you’re totally right. It’s a disaster.”
“Not a disaster. It just needs—” He breaks off when he sees my face. My lips are pursed, my brows raised, and I know I look as skeptical as I feel. “Okay, yeah. It’s a disaster. But I can fix it.”
“What if I don’t want you to fix it?”
He pauses in his sand-packing activities, his indigo eyes suddenly as deep and fathomless as the Pacific licking at my toes. “Then I should probably walk away now. I’m not very good at sitting by and doing nothing when I know there’s a problem—and how to fix it.”
Suddenly, I’m having a hard time swallowing—or breathing. My throat is tight, my hands shaky. He’s talking about a lot more than the stupid sand castle, and we both know it.
“I’m not broken.” The words come out sounding harsh and jagged.
“Oh, baby.” He reaches for my hand, rubs his thumb gently over my knuckles. “I know that. I just wasn’t sure you did.”

Buy Links:
About the Author

Tracy Wolff lives with four men, teaches writing to local college students and spends as much time as she can manage immersed in worlds of her own creation. Married to the alpha hero of her dreams for twelve years, she is the mother of three young sons who spend most of their time trying to make her as crazy as possible.

Author Links:
The Giveaway

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Book Review: The Vow by Jessica Martinez

SUMMARY: No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?


This book captivated me, and had me torn several times over what I wanted to happen. And if that's your definition of tension, the this book is maybe as high as tension can come. I wanted both Mo and Annie to be okay, to come out on top but, really, in such an overall impossible situation, how? I think the way Martinez handled Mo's immigrant status, and the implications of everything, had a really strong, yet sensitive to the situation, note to it. He wasn't undocumented, undeclared, etc, he did have a work visa through his father, and this book looks at the conflicts and troubles that arise when a family like this is suddenly faced with leaving the United States. 

From the start, it was rather obvious there were so many ways things could go wrong for Mo and Annie. Two teenagers, suddenly trying to be married? And convince the authorities they aren't just in this to keep Mo in the country? I really admired how there were some things the pair just couldn't foresee, without making the characters seem conveniently clueless. Rather, it's a rash decision, emotionally driven, with the pitfalls too impossible to bring in at the time. 

I think there is something amazing, as a teenager or adult, in loving a person, even just as a best friend, enough to change your life. And the flip of that, for Mo, of loving this person, and this way of life, so much to pick them, in essence, over your family. Neither are easy situations or choices to make, and the set up here has such high stakes on both sides, for both ways to go. These various elements were all woven in so beautifully, without ever feeling overdramatic or poorly planned on the author's part.

I love Annie and Mo, and more so, I think their individual and joint character arcs are so stunningly well done. This is one of those books where I rooted for Annie when I was in her head, even if it made me dislike Mo a tiny bit, yet instantly swapped that as soon as I was in his head. That little bias that comes with being thrust unfiltered in someone's mindset bleeds throughout this book, and yet I never completely disliked one or the other. 

The ending, too, makes me love this book even more. I won't say it was the inevitable conclusion, because I feel like Martinez built the book in such a way that if any other decisions were made along the way, it wouldn't have ended up like this. But was it inevitable for everything that led to it? Yes. Was it still heartbreaking and impacting? Absolutely. Even months after having read it, I still remember so much about this book. 

Source: Edelweiss
Pagecount: 432
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 15, 2013

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

SUMMARY: It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.


This one of those overall quiet feeling books, yet it is so captivating and memorable. I read this in one sitting, unable to put it down and loving both sides of this story. More so, though, I really loved seeing these two complete strangers get to know each other through emails only, and go through some really strong events and emotions, before they even meet in person. 

One of my favorite things about this book are the first impressions on both sides, the little things that set the other girl's hackles up without it being intentional and, of course, figuring out later, they misjudged. It's such a simple thing, and one we all do, whether we mean to or not. And while this element really wasn't played up too much, it was one of those softer, little things, it really stood out to me. 

With a nice romantic element, but plenty of much bigger things going on, this had all the makings of everything I love in contemporary. Elizabeth starts out so hopeful, both ready to escape and excited to see who her potential new closest friend is going to be, but quickly has to reel herself in due to the way Lauren initially reacts. Add in the fact Elizabeth's father lives in San Francisco, and some really awesome things that come up as a result of that, and this one really is just stunningly done, with so many quiet things to it that add up to pack a huge punch. 

This is a book where I rooted for both characters, even when they were at different ends of an issue. I didn't like one more than the other, and went through such an array of emotions myself. This book is masterful, and definitely one for the favorites shelf.

Source: Netgalley
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: December 24, 2013