Monday, June 17, 2013

Review (47): Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi

Series: Shatter Me, #1
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
November 15, 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Challenge: None
Book Website

My Thoughts: 
Any contact with Juliette’s skin causes instant pain which can lead to death and no one knows why. When her touch accidentally kills a toddler, she is locked up by The Reestablishment, a group who has come to power by convincing everyone that their way is the only way to fix things. With the world falling apart and thousands dying of disease and starvation, it is easy for the hopeless to believe. After 264 days of being locked in an asylum with absolutely no human contact, Juliette is finally let out--but what awaits her is worse than being in that concrete room. Warner, the son of the man in charge of The Reestablishment, wants to use her power as a weapon in the war he believes is coming, but Juliette wants nothing to do with his plan to turn her into a killing machine.

I love the concept of this and found it really refreshing. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about people with powers that didn’t involve werewolves, vampires, etc (which I’m getting rather bored of). As for the plot, I felt like everything happened rather quickly--not necessarily in a bad way though. This is an action packed book that holds your attention from start to finish. I was blindsided quite a bit which is always great since I’ve become quite good at guessing what’s going to happen next. 

My favorite thing about Shatter Me was definitely the characters. Juliette had a rough childhood and for 17 years was used to people being terrified of her and calling her a freak. It was great seeing her go from being withdrawn and insecure to confident and courageous. She almost becomes an entirely new person by the end; the kind and caring girl from the beginning is still there, just much stronger. Mafi depicts Juliette’s voice perfectly, especially at the beginning of the novel with all of the strikethrough when she feels the most alone and is trying to hide her emotions. The writing is truly amazing and like nothing I’ve read before.

Adam is caring, smart, and extremely mature for his age; he has had to deal with so much at such a young age. Their romance is really sweet and he is one of the biggest reasons for Juliette’s change. And then there’s Warner who is just in love with the idea of her. He is the definition of obsessed and it’s a bit frightening. it bad that I kind of almost maybe liked Warner a little bit? I have no idea what it is about him...I kept having to remind myself that he was the bad guy. Last, but certainly not least, is Kenji. I feel like every book needs a Kenji, especially if it’s a book about running for your life. He is hilarious; even with a bullet in his leg he still manages to crack jokes. I can’t wait to see more of him in the sequel, Unravel Me

Click here to read the first chapter!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review (46): The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

The S-Word
by Chelsea Pitcher

Series: None
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
May 7, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 320
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley
Challenge: None

My Thoughts: 
Prom night was all it took to ruin a childhood friendship. When Lizzie is caught in bed with her best friends boyfriend during the dance, the school turns against her and brands her a ‘slut’. With everyone making her life hell, and with Angie still not speaking to her, Lizzie decides to end her own life. But someone doesn’t want people to forget. A week after her funeral, graffiti and photocopied pages of Lizzie’s diary start to show up at school. Angie starts investigating who, exactly, is spreading Lizzie’s personal thoughts as well as who made her best friend feel like she didn’t belong in the world anymore. The truth she uncovers as well as the anguish she feels for abandoning her best friend become too much to handle and Angie spirals out of controls. Love and friendship help pull her out of the dark.

The S-Word grabbed my attention from the very first sentence and did not let go until long after I had read the last word. This book is jam-packed with mystery, betrayal, and the very real harshness that is high school drama. Despite the heavy subjects present in the book, this still has it’s funny moments which really help balance everything out. Normally I have a good idea of what a book is going to be about, but holy crap this took a turn that I never saw coming. I don’t want to say much, but I will give you this: we are hit with not one, but three shocking secrets--one right after another--that never even crossed my mind.

I love, love, LOVE Angie. Everyone has this idea that she’s just a dumb, popular cheerleader, but she isn’t at all. She is not only dealing with a broken heart, but she is mourning the death of her best friend and carrying around this heart wrenching guilt over turning her back on Lizzie when everyone else was determined to destroy her. She is a great and very complex main character and I just love how she narrates the story. Unfortunately we do not get to see much of Lizzie, but her diary entries and the flashbacks of their friendship help us understand what kind of a person she was. She in no way deserved what was thrown at her and, frankly, neither does anyone else who is bullied on a daily basis. It is sickening the kind of torture teenagers can cause one another. 

I was expecting to like this, but not as much as I actually did. This is a fantastic debut and I can not wait to read whatever else Chelsea has in store for us! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review (45): Hooked by Liz Fichera

by Liz Fichera

Series: Hooked, #1
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
January 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 368
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley
Challenge: None
Author Website 

My Thoughts: Fred Oday is basically begged by the coach of her school’s varsity golf team to join. He’s convinced she is his only chance of turning the team into champions. Fred is ecstatic to get the chance to play and hopes it might lead to a scholarship or two so that she doesn’t have to spend the rest of her life waiting tables at a fancy restaurant in Pheonix, Arizona like her mother. The problem, though, is that Lone Butte High School does not have a girl’s golf team, let alone a varsity one, so she is forced to play alongside the boys. Unfortunately, making room for her meant kicking one of the original players off the team. Seth is furious and does everything possible to to get “Pocahontas” thrown off the team. Torn between his best friend and his newfound attraction to his teammate, Ryan tries to stay away from Fred but her pull is too strong.

Ahhh, this was SO CUTE! I’m a sucker for these types of romances. I did have a couple issues with the story though. I felt like Ryan changed his mind about Fred a bit too quickly. It would have been more believable to see a gradual change in both of them, rather than having them all of a sudden be in love with each other. The ending resolution was also problematic for me. The issue was completely swept under the rug because everyone was preoccupied by what was going on with Fred’s father. It was a huge problem to just ignore like that. Ryan does redeem himself in a pretty big way though, so I can see why Fred would just want to let it go and start fresh.

Other than those two things, I really did enjoy Hooked. I like it when authors aren’t afraid to deal with issues like racism, gender inequality, and substance abuse. These things just make the story feel more real. People do have to deal with issues like these everyday, so why not incorporate them into your story? It always makes me feel that much more connected to the characters. I also really liked the Native American and golf aspects of the novel. I don’t think I’ve ever read a YA book that revolved around either.; it was a nice first.

I wouldn’t call this a ‘fun’ read, per se, because there are a few heavy topics and moments, but if you like a main character who fights for what she wants and does not give up even when her own family thinks she can’t do it, this is the book for you. Fans of Simone Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry trilogy will definitely enjoy this debut novel by Liz Fichera. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (32)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

Dare You To
by Katie McGarry
Release Date: May 28, 2013

From Barnes & Noble:
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who know where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does...

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock--with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams--and his life--for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Excerpt of Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer

Title: Arrow of the Mist
Author: Christina Mercer
Pub Date: March 21, 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy

Terror strikes the Celtic inspired kingdom of Nemetona when barbed roots breach the veil of a forbidden land and poison woodsmen, including 15-year-old Lia’s beloved father. Lia and three others embark on a quest to theforbidden land of Brume to gather ingredients for the cure. But after her elder kinsman is attacked and poisoned, she and her cousin, Wynn, are forced to finish the quest on their own.

Lia relies on her powerful herbal wisdom and the memorized pages of her late grandmother’s Grimoire for guidance through a land of soul-hungry shades, trickster creatures, and uncovered truths about the origin of Brume and her family’s unexpected ties to it. The deeper they trek into the land, the stronger Lia’s untapped gift as a tree mage unfolds. When she discovers the enchanted root’s maker, it forces her to question everything about who she is and what is her destiny. Ultimately she must make a terrible choice: keep fighting to save her father and the people ofthe lands or join with the power behind the deadly roots to help nature start anew.

| Goodreads | Amazon | B&N |

Granda Luis halted and turned Dobbin to face his troop. The chilled air tugged at his cloak and swept through his winter white hair. His eyes shone from his face and the young trio drew their horses back a few steps.

“We’ve a straight and narrow trail ahead. We’ll go in single file—”

“A narrow trail?” Lia cut in. “But, I thought it’d be some kind of, well, secret passage or something. 

How is it that only you and Grandma made it through the fog safely? Why didn’t others just follow behind, track your steps?”

“There were many who tried.” His voice turned morose. “Even after all m’warnings. Men hovering in the wooded outskirts, creeping in the grasses, waiting till I was snug enough within the fog before charging in behind me, their lives over before I could utter a word. Because you see, as with most gates, there are guards.”

Lia’s eyes widened. She cast a glance at Wynn, whose jaw hung, and at Kelven whose face was like stone. 

Granda Luis added, “But not to worry, our passage was assured long ago.”

Lia opened her mouth, but held her tongue as Granda turned Dobbin around and headed him toward the perilous boundary. Guards? How is that possible? The notion of it chilled her like an icy deluge. 

Then the words from the Grimoire echoed inside her head: 

Fogged, bogged gates of Brume, barrier to my home; 
Timeless, faceless watchers loom, but I am allowed to roam. 

“Come on, Dobbin. ’Tis all right, boy, steady now,” Granda Luis cajoled. Dobbin snorted and flipped his head up and down. “I was afraid o’this. He’s strong as a bull, but nervous as a cat, nothing like his fearless sire who’d brazen out the fog without a wink. Come on, boy, walk!” He struggled to move 

Dobbin forward, but the animal reared and the other horses backed away.

Kelven rode up and neared the anxious horse. “Luis, sir, I think I can help.” He dismounted Koby and commanded him with a mere nod, and his mount stood stock-still.

Kelven approached Dobbin and whispered words that Lia couldn’t make out. He placed one hand on 

Dobbin’s muzzle and used his other to caress the sorrel-colored mane. Dobbin settled, finally stilled, and whinnied softly. Lia reveled in Kelven’s poise, her fears ebbing like a receding tide.

Kelven reached into his leather jerkin and brought out a carrot, feeding it to the calmed animal while he stroked his coat. “If you’ll allow me to lead as we go through this fog, we could pull him through to the other side. He’d feel better, I think, following another horse in.”

With his brow knitted, Granda Luis replied, “All right, but listen to me carefully; you must stay to the trail, keep your eyes to it at all times, as that’s the only way to ensure we don’t get lost in the mists. I’ll be stopping us mid-way to leave a few offerings.”

Well, that might explain the separate pack of ale and bread, Lia surmised. Then she shuddered to think about what sort of creature could subsist in the fog.

Ropes connected the small band, led by Kelven astride his horse Koby, with Wynn and his dapple-gray Nolan bringing up the rear. The procession eased into the mists, and the air turned frigid, like the breath of a cave.

Merrie’s ears twitched and she snorted. Light dimmed to mere shadows and Lia barely made out Dobbin’s tail swishing in front of her. She pulled her cloak tighter, leaving only her face exposed to the chill. The wall of fog enveloped them, with only the horse’s rhythmic hoof beats to break its eerie silence. 

No turning back now, Lia thought.  

About the Author:
Christina Mercer writes fiction in addition to mothering two young adults, a pack of large dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees. She's been an avid reader since she could walk and took her first writing job at age 10 as reporter for her local 4-H group. Her varied interests and ambidextrous skills prompted her to study creative writing in college, earn her official degree in Accounting from California State University at Sacramento, become a CPA., acquire a certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton College of Natural Health, and become a hobbyist beekeeper. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central Regional Conference and was a semi-finalist in the2010 Amazon Breakout Novel Award Contest. You can find her at or blogging with thegirls over at 

Friday, April 5, 2013

GIVEAWAY & Excerpt of Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun

Title: Sworn to Raise
Author: Terah Edun
Publication Date: April 10, 2013
Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the kingdom. But beneath her kingdom’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron. 

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

This sensational series debut melds intricate storylines with remarkable characters and unforgettable magic. SwornTo Raise is ideal for fans of Kristin Cashore, Michelle Sagara, and Maria Snyder.

| Goodreads | Amazon |

Ciardis sat and dropped her hands into her lap, ready for anything, as long as she found out what her talent was, if any. Sarah took off her spectacles and tucked back behind her ears the wisps of hair that were fluttering in her face. Then she straightened up and put her hands on either side of Ciardis's face.

"Hmm," she said after five long minutes. Ciardis frowned. There'd been no magic spark or rustling winds or anything.

Where was the magical flash of power? Wasn’t that how you could tell a mage from a mundane? Ciardis hoped the lack of magical excitement didn’t mean anything. Perhaps Sarah’s empathic touch wasn’t meant to be a visual demonstration?

Ciardis peered anxiously at Sarah's face, hoping for a clue.

"I don't believe it," Sarah whispered finally. In a slightly louder voice, she asked, "What did you say your full name was?"

"Ciardis Rafaela Vane."

Sarah said quickly, "And it is your true name, registered by the hands of your mother and father?"

Ciardis nodded anxiously. "They went to the birth archives in the town and everything. Named me after the town, in a way. At least, that's what I've been told."

"Then someone misled you. Or deliberately lied." Sarah stared at her intently and abruptly stood, "Come with me now!"

They rushed out of Ciardis's room and into the dorm hallway, Sarah clasping Ciardis's hand as they ran. They passed through three different corridors along the way. Ciardis barely saw a glimpse of the intricate artwork and beautiful statues in the halls as she rushed around corners – trying to keep up with Sarah’s fast pace. Soon they came to an abrupt stop in front of a large door. At the top of the door in scrolled letters was inscribed, “The Companions Library”. As they entered, Sarah asked in a hoarse whisper, "Do you recall what the first part of my mage gift is?"

Ciardis nodded and said, "A photographic memory." She tried to ignore the trembling in Sarah's hands as the archivist led her through the bookcases. For her part Sarah would stop in the middle of the library aisles and turn in a circle while pulling Ciardis with her.

Occasionally Sarah’s hand would tighten on Ciardis's as she cast her gaze around her like a bloodhound on the hunt. Sarah was searching with her magic for something…what exactly that was Ciardis couldn’t say. Seeing the girl’s confusion Sarah explained, “I’m sending out feeler 
from my mage core in different directions hoping to sense the manuscript that most feels like your mage core.”

“My mage core?” questioned Ciardis, “I have one?”

“Oh, most definitely,” said Sarah in a grim tone, “I would question how you didn’t know about it before this.”

After a few minutes of this, Sarah instructed Ciardis in a whisper, "The imprints that I’m sending feelers out for are like markers. If it's in a book, I can trace the marker back to its source. With my memory and the imprint trail, I never forget where I've placed a book."

After a moment of silence she continued, "Your imprint reminds me strongly of a book I read long ago, as a child. If I'm right, there hasn't been a Companion trainee of your type in more than thirty years."
a Rafflecopter giveaway _______________________________________________________________________

About the Author:
Terah Edun is an international development professional and author/lover of all things Young Adult Fantasy fiction. She is a native Georgian, adoptive Washingtonian, unrepentant expat currently living in South Sudan, brilliant dreamer, lover of dogs and not-so-closet geek. Her first novel, Red Madrassa, was released on November 8th and her second novel, Sworn to Raise, comes out in April 2013.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cover Reveal of Bathing Beauties, Booze and Bullets by Ellen Mansoor Collier

Title: Bathing Beauties, Booze & Bullets (Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play, #2)
Author: Ellen Mansoor Collier
Genre: NA Jazz Age Mystery
Release Date: April 2013

It’s 1927 in Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for the Galveston Gazette who tries to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties. The last thing Jazz wants to do is compare make-up tips with ditzy dames competing in the “International Pageant of Pulchritude and Bathing Girl Revue.”

She’d rather help solve the murders of young prostitutes who turn up all over town, but city officials insist on burying the stories during Splash Day festivities. After Jazz gets to know the bathing beauties, she realizes there’s a lot more to them than just pretty faces and figures. Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the contest is sponsored by the Maceos, ruthless Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant.

Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang’s turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton—an impossible task that could compromise both of their jobs and budding romance. While Agent Burton gives her the cold shoulder, she fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Burton. In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on revenge. Inspired by actual events.

| Amazon | B&N |

About the Author:
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer/editor whose articles, essays and short stories have been published in several national magazines. Formerly she's worked as a magazine editor, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism, where she enjoyed both coffee and colorful cocktails. A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (31)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 
All I Need
by Susane Colasanti
Release Date: May 21, 2013

From Barnes & Noble:
The last night of summer is only the beginning.

Skye wants to meet the boy who will change her life forever. Seth feels their instant connection the second he sees her. When Seth starts talking to Skye at the last beach party of the summer, it's obvious to both of them that this is something real. 

But when Seth leaves for college before they exchange contact info, Skye wonders if he felt the same way she did--and if she will ever see him again. Even if they find their way back to each other, can they make a long-distance relationship work despite trust issues, ex drama, and some serious background differences?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Book of the Month: March 2013

Book of the Month is a monthly event, hosted by Book Whales. This is done to highlight one of the books we have read in the previous month. This meme is great because it lets us recommend that one amazing book we have read that we just can't stop talking about!
My book of the month for March is...

(Lunar Chronicles, #1)
by Marissa Meyer

From Goodreads:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future. 

I had such a hard time choosing my favorite book for this month because I've read quite a few great ones. Pivot Point by Kasie West was my runner up. Definitely check both of these out if you haven't already had the chance to read them.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Author Interview with Arthur J. Gonzalez

Title: The Photo Traveler
Author: Arthur J. Gonzalez
Release Date: Feb 13, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Gavin learns that he is one of the last descendents of a small group of Photo Travelers--people who can time travel through photos and images. But his initial excitement turns to fear, when he discovers that he and his grandparents are being pursued by the fierce remnants of a radical European Photo Traveler cult, the Peace Hunters. What Gavin has, they want!

| Goodreads |
| Amazon Kindle / Paperback |
Smashwords |

Hi Arthur! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your new book! First off, describe The Photo Traveler in 3 words for us?
Adventurous, Intriguing, Unpredictable.

What inspired you to write The Photo Traveler?
One of the most important people in my life life was facing a difficult time when their grandmother passed away. It affected him in such a deep way that it consequently affected me. I remember him crying, starting at an old black and white photo of his grandmother in Havana, Cuba. He held it, starting at it like she was talking back to him.
He said, "I'd give anything to travel into this picture right now and hug her."
I jumped off the couch my mind spinning in every direction. “What if you could?”
And from that moment…The Photo Traveler was born. It was perfect. It was as if she and my father plotted in the Heavens to gift me this story. 

What is different about The Photo Traveler?
Okay…so let me be honest--we all know time travel has been done over and over again. But I wanted an idea that everyone would hear and think, “Oh my God.  I wish I could do that!” or “Hm…that sounds awesome.” And what better way than to time travel back and relive memories? 

We live in a particular age where we document and photograph nearly everything we do. It’s a huge piece of this younger generation’s culture. I wanted to make sure whatever I did was relatable. There are no time travel machines, but there are millions of photos that anyone can pick up and travel to.

Are any of your characters based on yourself or someone you know? 
Some are. The character Yogi is loosely based on one of my best friends. And besides the more intense, dramatic storylines to Gavin, I see a lot of me in him. 

Have you always been interested in becoming a writer?
I’ve always loved writing. I began with writing poetry and music, but I progressed to imagining these stories I had to share. In some form or another, I have always wanted to be a writer.

What book are you currently reading? Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks, or hardcover?
I just wrapped up the Beautiful Creatures series and I enjoyed it tremendously. As far as what why preference is--at first I was adamant on only reading physical copies of books, but I succumbed to my Kindle and we have never parted since. I love her very much.

What do you think is more important: character or plot?
There needs to be a balance of both in order to produce a success (like a marriage). Characters help propel the story forward, while the plot promotes and helps develop who the characters are. I don’t think you can have a truly epic story with both.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
First and foremost, there needs to be a relentless belief in yourself. Even if you are insecure or scared, you must believe that there is no other way for you. You cannot accept anything less than what you have dreamed of. Second, you need to be completely committed to your book and story. Take your time. Know your characters better than you know your very self. Also, connecting with your readers. Understanding what they want and how your stories can inspire them and generate emotional attachments. And lastly, do your research. Know what's available. Think outside the box for promoting your book. Never expect that success will be given to you. Work for it. Achieve it. Earn it.

What's next for you?
Hopefully somewhere in a Best Seller's category!  ;) But in the mean time I'll be writing the sequel to The Photo Traveler, called The Peace Hunter. It will be absolutely amazing. I'm also working on three other novels. I feel a little crazy. But I love it. All I have to say is: lots of coffee...lots and lots of coffee. 

Once again, thank you for sitting down with us & good luck with your new novel! 

About the Author:
The Photo Traveler is young adult author Arthur J. Gonzalez's first novel. Arthur was born and raised in Miami surrounded by his loud Cuban family. He graduated from the University of Florida, where he acquired his coffee obsession and his chocolate hoarding antics. He's the proud father of one baby girl, Sookie--his miniature schnoodle dog. Arthur is a self-professed goodball who spends 98% of his life laughing. He's now working on his second novel.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review (44): That Time I Joined the Circus by J. J. Howard

That Time I Joined the Circus
by J. J. Howard

Series: None
Other Reviewed Titles: None
Release Date:
April 1, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Pages: 273
Format: ebook
Source: NetGalley
Challenge: None
Author Website

FYI: Slight spoilers in last paragraph. Continue at own risk. 

My Thoughts: 
After her father is killed in an accident, Lexi finds out that not only is she broke and homeless, but she can’t continue her last year of high school without a guardian. Lexi hasn’t seen her mother since she ran out on her at the age of eight. Almost a decade later, she still hates the woman who left her, but without any other options, Lexi sets out to find her. Her mother is supposed to be somewhere in Florida traveling with a circus. Unfortunately, she hasn’t worked there for over six months and nobody knows where she’s run off to this time. With no where else to go and with no money for food, Lexi joins Circus Europa.

The circus actually fascinates me for some reason. I haven’t been to one in YEARS which is why I love reading books that revolve around them. And there aren’t that many which makes them extra special. That Time I Joined the Circus is adorable. This is a cute, entertaining read, but it also has depth. It has love and self-discovery, but it also deals with some heavier topics like death, loss, and betrayal. 

Lexi is a lot like I was during my senior year. She is kind of in a slump and spends all her time at home listening to music or reading. She only has two close friends who are dating which makes it that much harder to make plans since she is the constant third wheel. As horrible as the situation is, I feel like it was the best thing that could have happened to her. Being evicted and penniless forces her to go out and do something. Those four months she spends at the circus completely change her and she comes out so much stronger and confident because of them. 

The story is not completely chronological, it bounces around quite a bit from the present to the past and then back. But it wasn’t at all confusing because the date is clearly printed at the beginning of each chapter. I did have a problem with this constant jumping back and forth thing though. I felt like the relationship development lacked a little because of the constant shift. One moment the ring leaders daughter, Lina, is giving Lexi the evil-eye, then we get a ‘flashback’ of Lexi’s life in NY, and then we’re back at the circus and all of a sudden Lexi & Lina are going shopping together and becoming roommates. We never get to see this shift in their friendship, it just kind of happens. This constant back and forth also made the romances in the book problematic for me. I never connected with any of the guys because we never really get to fully know them. First she’s making out with Jamie, then she’s falling in love with Nick, and then Eli pops up and she likes him again. It was just kind of all over the place. I would have liked to see more of Nick because I felt he was the most interesting and the one she truly cared about. I never got the feeling that she actually had any romantic feelings for Eli, it just felt like she went back to him because...well, why not?

Other than the last paragraph, this is a really great debut and I can’t wait to see what else J. J. Howard has in store for us!

Friday, March 29, 2013

GIVEAWAY & Author Interview with Jamie Canosa, Author of Fight or Flight

Title: Fight or Flight
Author: Jamie Canosa

Be smart.
Keep your head down.
And look out for number one.

These are the rules Jay has lived by for the past two years. The rules of surviving life on the streets. But when Em comes bursting into his life, in all of her disastrous glory, the rules go right out the window.

Flee what’s been left behind.
And never look back.

Emerson’s plan was simple. Though, it was easier said than done. The city streets are dangerous and unforgiving to a new arrival. Especially, a seventeen-year-old girl who’s never known anything but life in the suburbs. Sometimes, however, what’s lurking behind those white picket fences can be more frightening than any dark alley.

Both of them made the same decision when life got overwhelming—to run from their demons. Brought together by fate or circumstance, Em and Jay find the kind of love neither of them ever expected. But, when those demons come back to haunt them and their love is on the line, which instincts will they choose to follow this time . . . Fight or Flight?

| Goodreads | Amazon

Hi Jamie! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about your new book! First off, describe Fight or Flight in 3 words for us?
Brave. Strong. Beautiful. (They’re the words Jay gives Em to build her confidence and self-esteem.)

Where did the idea for Fight or Flight come from?
Honestly, it started with a dream. It was one of those half-awake/half-asleep things that fall somewhere between dreams and daydreams. I was thinking about another book I was working on and this scene just came into my head. It didn’t work for that particular book, but I liked it so much I started building a story around it and then Em and Jay were born.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m working on a few different things right now. The third installment to my Heart and Soul paranormal romance novella mini-series, the sequel to my debut dystopian novel, Dissidence, and a spin off novel to Fight or Flight that follows the character of Al.

Do you listen to music while you write?
Not while I write. I tend to sing along to music and then the lyrics and words in my head get all tangled. But, I did have a whole playlist of music to listen to whenever I got writer’s block for this book.

If your book was being turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leading roles?
For Em, I’d probably choose Michelle Trachtenberg. And for Jay, Tyler Posey. 

This or That:
  • Morning or night? Umm… neither?
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
  • Pen or pencil? Pen
  • Comedy or horror? Horror 
  • Tea or coffee? Caramel Iced Coffee!

Once again, thank you for sitting down with us & good luck with your new novel! 

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About the Author:
Jamie Canosa is a full time author of YA literature, which she absolutely loves. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. She currently resides in Ravena, NY with her wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the dog, the bird and the rabbit.

Her debut novel, Dissidence, was published in 2012 along with several novellas, including

the first in her Heart and Soul series, ‘Temptation’.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jessica by Laura DeLuca FREE on Amazon until March 29th!

Title: Jessica
Author: Laura DeLuca 

Wilbur was used to going to his college formals alone. He thought the Halloween Ball would be no different. He’s amazed when a beautiful girl in a Victorian costume displays an interest in him and even more amazed to find himself alone with her on one of the campus nature trails.

What Wilbur doesn’t realize is that another woman has her eye on him too. The White Lady returns every Halloween to take revenge on the men of the campus for her brutal murder. She has chosen Wilbur as her next victim.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (30)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

The Moon and More
by Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 4, 2013

From Barnes & Noble:
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated  exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar word of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Monday, March 25, 2013

From Print to the Big Screen: The Host

Last month we got Warm Bodies and Beautiful Creatures, this month we get The Host! WOOO!

The film rights to The Host by Stephenie Meyer were actually acquired way back in 2009, but it wasn't until mid-2011/early-2012 that the movie finally started to take form. Better late than never, am I right?

Melanie Stryder/Wanderer will be portrayed by Saoirse Ronan. She has been in some great movies including The Lovely Bones and Hanna. I love her name (though I have no idea how to pronounce it).

Jared Howe and Ian O'Shae will be played by Max Irons and Jake Abel respectively. Irons is probably best known for his role in Red Riding Hood. Abel has been in a bunch of book-based movies: The Lovely Bones, I Am Number Four, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Other actors include Chandler Canterbury as Jamie, Diane Kruger as The Seeker, Boyd Holbrook as Kyle, and Frances Fisher as Maggie.

This is definitely my favorite of Stephenie Meyer's books (it is SO much better than Twilight) and I am so excited for the movie. I am also excited that Andrew Niccol stayed as the director. He has directed some of my favorite movies (In Time & The Truman Show).

I have a great feeling about this one, how about you?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Guest Post from Brandy Nacole, Author of Uniquely Unwelcome

Title: Uniquely Unwelcome
Author: Brandy Nacole
Date Published: Sept 2012
Genre: YA Paranormal

Racquel is unique. The bloodlines of four of the most powerful beings in the Shadow World are intertwined within her DNA. She has never craved attention. She just wants to be able to live as normal life as she can. But she’s about to find that even though she’s uniquely unwelcome wherever she goes, her abilities also make her the best chance the Shadow World has to stop a threat to all the Shadow races.

Once arriving home, Racquel finds that greater evils exist and that the person she cares for most in this world, her half-sister Addie, has been kidnapped along with other Shadow World beings. Racquel finds herself facing horrible odds with those who would rather see her dead than alive.

As her journey continues, Racquel learns more about herself, what she is capable of, and that not every being looks at her as an abomination. Coy, a human captive that Racquel saves from the Vampires, starts showing kindness toward her. Racquel tries putting distance between her and the human boy but as they spend more time together it becomes harder and harder for Racquel to fight the affection she wants and needs.

But will Coy’s friendship and her new found discoveries be enough to help Racquel unravel the strangest mystery that has ever plagued the Shadow World?

| Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBookstore |

Why Book Covers Are So Important

There’s this saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but let’s face it, it happens. When searching for a book the first thing someone is going to notice is the cover. The cover can then draw that person into reading the synopsis. If the synopsis and the cover draw the reader in, they could possibly buy it or put it on their to-be-read list.

My own personal experience with a cover design came with Uniquely Unwelcome. The first edition cover was a hand drawing of a girl looking up at an eagle. While it was a nice drawing, it just wasn’t up to par with other Fantasy covers. It became very apparent to me, especially after a few readers recommended that I change the cover, that a change was indeed

Why did I decide to use a hand drawing? Well it was kind of a dream of mine. My husband is a great artist. He’s also my support system. Whenever I’m frustrated, stuck on an idea, or just at a complete loss, he’s there. I wanted to pay some tribute to his support and so I thought I would
have him do my first cover. From there, I would go with the “traditional covers” but for my first publication I wanted to incorporate him in some way.

My lesson from that, sometimes we have to let go of the smaller dreams/goals to reach the bigger ones. I felt guilty I guess you could say when I told him I thought it was best if we changed the cover. Being a great supporter like he is, he agreed. He was honored that I had tried and that I had even used his art to begin with. So together we picked out the cover for Uniquely Unwelcome and then again with Blood Burdens.

So yes, books are judged by their covers. I’m not saying that every person does this, but most probably do. I’m happy with the new cover for Uniquely Unwelcome and have a paperback edition of both the first edition with my husband’s cover design and the newer edition so I at least have a small token of my little dream.

About the Author: 
Brandy Nacole resides in Arkansas where her imagination runs wild. Her obsession is reading but herpassion is writing. She put her dream of becoming a writer on the back burner and went to collegeto become a psychologist. Three years after endless classes in a field she only felt half satisfied with, Brandy picked up her pen once again and wrote the outline to Uniquely Unwelcome. She finished outher degree in psychology but traded her dream of writing for the degree and put psychology on the backburner. Whenever she’s not reading or writing, Brandy is spending time with her family and friends, throwing around crazy ideas, and laughing through the crazy moments.

Weekly Recap: March 17 - 23

On the blog this week we had:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Guest Post from Angela Brown, Author of Frailties of the Bond

Title: Frailties of the Bond
Author: Angela Brown

In Frailties of the Bond, it only takes one bite to change a life…

After a hiking trip gone wrong, sixteen-year-old Luca should have been dead. Since then, he’s drifted from one school day to the next, annoyed by the looks of suspicion. When a vampire attack claimed his mother and forced his first shift into animal form, Luca set out for Texas, vengeance bound, only to discover so much more when Aimee crossed his path.

Flesh-born of vampire parents sixteen years ago, Aimee shouldn’t exist. Magic, though, made dreams come true for an undead couple desperate for a child all their own. But this magic came with a price, a cost Aimee discovered after one forbidden bite.

| Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo |

Five Things You May or May Not Know About Me:
  1. I stole a box of Chiclets gum when I was five. Guilt tore me apart. I haven’t had the stomach for stealing anything since.
  2. My then fiancĂ© couldn’t attend my senior prom due to distance, so I had his name drawn on my left ring fingernail in white to match my all white dress.
  3. I’m addicted to chocolate and Wild Cherry Pepsi (lol!! Most of you probably already know that.)
  4. I’m a middle child (who may or may not suffer from that silly middle kid syndrome lol!!)
  5. I’m an Aquarius
Did someone happen to check my horoscope today? If it’s bad news, I’d rather remain blissfully
ignorant lol!

About the Author:
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Angela now calls Central Texas home.

Reading and writing have been lifelong passions. It was around the time she gave birth to her forever-love, nicknamed Chipmunk, that she really took writing seriously. After all, how could she teach her child to follow her dreams if she hadn't tried herself?

As a YA fantasy/sci-fi reader and author, she favors the magical, mysterious, the darker side of life...even harbors a secret fright for things that go bump in the night.

NEVERLOVE is a special project spawned from a blog-challenge-turned-blog-opera, the Abby and Basil affair. It is the first in the Shadow Jumpers series.

FRAILTIES OF THE BOND is the first in a series of novellas and short stories introducing heroes and heroines of the secret organization, NEO – Network of Extraordinaires and Otherwordlies.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Excerpt of Trust In Me by Bethany Lopez

Title: Trust In Me
Series: Friends & Lovers, #3

Author: Bethany Lopez
Genre: NA Contemporary

Roni's dreams of becoming a contemporary dancer were smashed under the brutal rage of her ex-husband's fists. Getting divorced and starting over at the age of twenty-two was never her plan, but maybe in Texas, she'll find her path. When the town's local player, Rich, opens a Rec Center, she sees a way to rekindle her dancing dreams...and maybe have a little fun with her sexy new boss.

Rich never expected to fulfill his dreams in the town he planned to leave behind, but that's just what he's doing. His reputation as a noncommittal ladies' man might make it challenging to earn respect in the business world, but he's willing to prove that he's serious. In fact, when it comes to pursuing Roni, he's more than willing. But she's taking a page out of his book, not wanting to risk another relationship. Can he convince her that his playboy days are over and that she can trust him with her heart?

| Goodreads | B&N | Amazon | Smashwords |

When she walked in, his breath caught and his entire body seemed to stiffen.

Her hair was piled on top of her head, black boy shorts showcased her long, lean legs, and a small black tank molded to her slender form. Her feet were bare. For some reason that last bit of bare skin made Rich feel like he was going to lose his mind.

She padded softly across the wood floor to the radio and hooked her iPod in. She stretched languidly in front of the mirror, seeming to have forgotten Rich’s presence.

With each stretch, Roni became more limber, and Rich became harder. He was starting to think this audition was a terrible idea.

Terribly awesome.

When she was finished stretching, she pressed play on her iPod and positioned herself in the center of the room. As Christina Perri’s voice filled the room, Roni began to move.

Rich couldn’t have uttered a sound if he wanted to. He was completely, and utterly mesmerized.

Her body seemed to be made for this. The movement was so natural, so sensual, Rich had to focus on keeping himself in the chair… his entire body seemed to scream at him to get up and go to her.

As the music stopped, Roni turned to him, her chest heaving as she fought to catch her breath.

“That’s the contemporary. It’ll be for the advanced classes. I can show you the basic ballet and tap steps for the younger classes if you’d like.”

Rich tried to speak, but squeaked instead.

He felt his face grow warm as he cleared his throat and tried again, “Um, no. That won’t be necessary.”

Roni stretched a bit as she walked towards him, a puzzled smile on her face.

“You okay?”

Rich stood, willing his legs to hold him as he tried to look cool and unaffected. “Yeah, I’m great.”

About the Author:
Bethany Lopez was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Michigan and San Antonio, Texas. She went to Dearborn High, in Dearborn, Michigan, which is where she has set her Young Adult series. She is married and has a blended family with five children. She is currently serving in the United States Air Force as a Recruiter in Los Angeles, California. She has always loved to read and write and has seen her dream realized by independently publishing her novels through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (29)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we can not wait to read! This meme is the perfect way to add books to your TBR list. Along with upcoming releases, I sometimes include books that I have not had the chance to read or buy even if they have already come out. 

This Is What Happy Looks Like
by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: April 2, 2013

From Barnes & Noble:
If fate sent you an email, would you answer it?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?