Book Tour

9781481448567_77be4100 Days of Cake

Author: Shari Goldhagen

Publication Date: May 17th, 2016

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: Get well soon isn’t going to cut it in this quirky and poignant debut novel about a girl, her depression, an aggressive amount of baked goods, and the struggle to simply stay afloat in an unpredictable, bittersweet life.

There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.

Um, no. Never going to happen.

But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.

Some Nifty Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository


 About the Author and Guest Post

Shari GoldhagenAfter serious pursuits of literature at Northwestern (BSJ) and Ohio State (MFA), Shari Goldhagen discovered she had a knack for sifting through celebrity trash and worked as a gossip writer for publications including The National EnquirerUs Weekly, and Life & Style Weekly. And her articles on pop culture, travel and relationships have appeared everywhere from Cosmopolitan to Penthouse. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell and currently lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

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Author Links:

Website | Twitter

What kind of writing advice would you give aspiring writers?

The best advice I can give writers is to, um, just write.

You may have a fantasy about a romantic life of literary fame and fortune. I blame movies for this; writers in film usually start off living in utter squalor (which is totally unnecessary, btw) and then they write some groundbreaking, international bestselling novel that makes them so rich and well-known that random people will recognize them on the street.

I’m pretty sure that’s happened all of never. The truth is you’re probably not going to get rich doing this. I’ve sold three novels to major publishing houses . . .and I’m not about to quit my magazine job. My neighbor’s first book was an international best-seller, but she didn’t leave our crummy building for some ultra luxe high-rise. Even when you do get a big payday, after you factor in how long you spent writing the darn book, it works out to about seven cents an hour. As for getting stopped on the street, well other than maybe Stephen King, can you even tell me what a single writer looks like?

And the reality is that most aspiring writers won’t even get to that level of mid-list mediocrity. Most won’t finish their books, let alone find traditional publishers. Isn’t this a great pep talk?!!! All I’m saying is that you should only pursue this because you really, really, really want to, like more than you want to do anything else. I won’t say do it because you enjoy it; most writers hate at least some part of the writing process—there’s a reason a lot of us diplomatically say, “I like having written.”

But if this is that thing you want, then yeah do it—but really do it. Not when it’s fun, not when you’re “inspired,” not when you’re in coffee shops and you think it makes you look deep and think-y to type on your laptop or scrawl things in a notebook. Do it in the mornings before you go to your day job or school. Do it on Friday nights instead of meeting your friends. Do it instead of binge watching Jessica Jones (personally I can vouch for the difficulty of that one). Be that person who actually does finish the rough draft. And then be the person who recognizes that you’re probably going to redo the whole thing in a revision anyway. Then do that revision. . .and the next one.

Sure there are going to be people with more natural ability than you, people who have a keener ear for dialogue, people with boatloads of industry connections, or ideas that just flat out blow yours away. Having a natural talent and pals is the biz is great, but those things alone are hardly going to get you there. But if this is the thing that you can’t/won’t quit and you put the work in, I’m betting on you instead of them.

Happy writing!


Giveaway!

3 Finished Copies of 100 DAYS OF CAKE (US Only)

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9780062379962_31a31
Book Title:
Girl Against the Universe
Book Author:
Paula Stokes
Publishing Date:
May 17th, 2016
Publisher:
HarperTeen
Date Read:
May 16th, 2016
Source:
eARC from publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

My Review

“Once I accepted the fact that I was bad luck, I shied away from group activities. And groups. And activities. I started spending a lot of time in my room, tucked under my covers reading books. There’s only so much damage a book can do, and I wasn’t worried about hurting myself. Accidentally hurting yourself is way better than hurting other people.

Sure, I got lonely for a while. But getting invited to slumber parties just wasn’t worth the stress of wondering if I might accidentally burn down the house with my flat iron or be the only survivor of a freak sleepover massacre. And loneliness is just like everything else—if you endure it long enough, you get used to it.”

Maguire has always had bad luck – she was in a car accident with her father, brother, and uncle after rock climbing one day, and she was the only survivor (she walked away without a scratch).  Soon after, she was on a roller coaster when it careened off the tracks.  Then she accidentally left a candle burning in her window, causing a fire.  Since then, Maguire is convinced that she is pure bad luck, and her anxiety and PTSD causes her to spend a lot of time alone in her room, doing her “five second checks,” where she makes sure there aren’t any impending disasters, and refusing to go anywhere with lots of people (or even in a car if she isn’t the driver).  It’s at these therapy sessions that she runs into Jordy.

Jordy is the boy that comes in after her for therapy sessions, and the two of them strike up small conversations here and there.  Since Maguire seems to be the only person Jordy has met that doesn’t know who he is (a well known tennis player), Jordy uses that to his advantage and enjoys the time he can spend with someone who isn’t a swooning fan.  When Maguire starts back up in school and tries out for the tennis team, she is shocked with it turns out that Jordy will be helping coach the team for the season.  While the other girls find him attractive and would love the attention that he is giving Maguire, she convinces herself to stay far away from Jordy – for his own good.

However, as Maguire keeps attending her therapy sessions and spends more time with Jordy, she beings to tackle things she never thought she would be able to do again – riding in a car with him, going places with other people – all part of her therapy plan to work up to a plane trip to Ireland with her mother at the end of the year.

As Maguire starts to fall for Jordy, she begins to discover things about herself and the world around her, and she starts to see that maybe she isn’t such bad luck after all.

I really enjoy books that manage to tackle real issues – such as anxiety in PTSD in this case – and write a beautifully detailed story about what it is really like to live with these conditions.  The way Girl Against the Universe is written really allows you to get access to Maguire’s deepest fears, feelings, and accomplishments, and feel all of those emotions right along with her.  Jordy isn’t your average YA cookie-cutter boyfriend either – he has a strong personality and is very easily likable.  He’s encouraging to Maguire and he helps her with some of the more difficult tasks she faces – tasks that most people think nothing of (such as getting into a car with a friend).  Even Jordy’s little sister, Penn, is wonderfully written and adds a lot of depth to the story.

I really enjoyed the moments that Jordy and Maguire shared in the beginning of the book, when they didn’t really know each other and spent a few minutes talking after Maguire’s therapy sessions.  I loved how it wasn’t an insta-love situation – instead it took a while for them to really get to know each other, and even then, Maguire wasn’t sure she could handle a relationship, so they took things slow.

While I tend to stay away from really hyped-up books (I never enjoy them as much as everyone else seems to, and I always feel disappointed), this is a case where I feel that Girl Against the Universe deserves all the hype – and then some.  It’s so realistic – Maguire didn’t instantly lose all of her fears and fall in love on the first page just because a boy talked to her – instead, she had to work to make even the most tiny of accomplishments, and because of that, the story didn’t feel fake or rushed.  It really was nice reading about Maguire and watching her step in and take back her life.

This is definitely one of those books that you really should not miss.  If you pick up some books for summer reading, let this be one of your choices.  It’s raw, real, and it will leave a lasting impression on you.

4.5 stars
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the tellingThe Telling

Author: Alexandra Sirowy

Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Synopsis: Lana used to know what was real.

That was before when her life was small and quiet.
Her golden step-brother, Ben, was alive, she could only dream about bonfiring with the populars, their wooded island home was idyllic, she could tell the truth from lies, and Ben’s childhood stories were firmly in her imagination.

Then came after.

After has Lana boldly kissing her crush, jumping into the water from too high up, and living with nerve and mischief. But after also has horrors, deaths that only make sense in fairy tales, and terrors from a past Lana thought long forgotten: Love, blood, and murder.


I love books that have bit of a creepy theme going on!  Therefore, I’m so excited to read this one.  It’s also coming out around the end of summer, so I think it will make the perfect book for early fall.  The whole synopsis for this one sounds really mysterious and interesting, and I have a feeling it’s going to be quite the chiller.

Have you read Alexandra Sirowy’s The Creeping?  What did you think about that one?  Will you be picking this one up?

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9781481415163_2e203
Book Title:
Essential Maps for the Lost
Book Author:
Deb Caletti
Publishing Date:
April 5th, 2016
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Date Read:
April 17th, 2016
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher

Synopsis

There are many ways to be lost.

Sometimes people want to be lost. Madison—Mads to everyone who knows her—is trying her best to escape herself during one last summer away from a mother who needs more from her than she can give, and from a future that has been decided by everyone but her.

Sometimes the lost do the unimaginable, like the woman, the body, Mads collides with in the middle of the water on a traumatic morning that changes everything.

And sometimes the lost are the ones left behind, like the son of the woman in the water, Billy Youngwolf Floyd. Billy is struggling to find his way through each day in the shadow of grief. His one comfort is the map he carries in his pocket, out of his favorite book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

When three lives (and one special, shared book) collide, strange things happen. Things like questions and coincidences and secrets—lots of secrets. Things like falling in love. But can two lost people telling so many lies find their way through tragedy to each other…and to solid ground?

My Review

“Somewhere in the universe, a couple of stars collide.  They aren’t fancy stars, or even ones with names.  Just regular old stars.  Two of millions.  Still, just like that, some of the best things begin.”

There are plenty of sweet, romantic YA contemporary novels out there that focus on cute, fluffy relationships and all kinds of high school drama – none of them going very deep or having much substance to them.  Essential Maps for the Lost offers something a little more than that.

Madison (or Mads, as everyone calls her) is spending summer away from her mother, who is trying to force her to become a part of her real-estate business, even though Mads would much rather go to college and find a career for herself that she actually wants.  In order to make her mother happy, she agrees to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousin during the summer while taking real-estate classes at the local college so she can come home and sign the paperwork making her a partner with her mom.

One morning, when out for a swim near her family’s house, Mads makes a shocking discovery: she runs into the body of a woman while swimming.  Not really a great way to start the day.

From that point on, Mads becomes obsessed with the woman – Googling her, finding her home and investigating it, even learning that the woman had a son, Billy Youngwolf Floyd.

Billy, grieving for his mother and full of questions, has moved in with his grandmother after the death of his mother.  He works at a local animal shelter, where he spends free time picking up strays or neglected and abused animals and brings them in, finding them good homes where they will be happy.  But Billy himself is lost and confused.  The only thing that makes him feel better and makes any sense is a map from a favorite book that he shared with his mother.

When Billy first notices Mads, he doesn’t think much of it – she was probably only dating one of the guys in the neighborhood of his old house – after all, why else would she be standing outside the house?  But when he meets up with her at other random times, such as on a bridge, where he thinks she might be planning to jump, he eventually starts to wonder if perhaps they were supposed to know each other.  Mads wonders the same thing, as her obsessions with the dead woman and her family continue.  As the two of them start to build a relationship, it becomes harder for Mads to tell Billy exactly why they had met – because she was the girl who pulled his mother’s body out of the water.

What I liked most about this book was that it had a lot of substance to it.  It was filled with deep, meaningful situations that stand out from traditional YA romance novels.  Essential Maps for the Lost didn’t just focus on finding “the one” – it also focused on the self-discovery and figuring out who you really are and what you want from life.

Billy and Mads were both wonderful characters – they were full of depth and had really wonderful personalities.  It was nice watching the two of them meet and slowly begin to develop feelings for each other over the course of the summer.  I even loved Billy’s grandmother (she was a bit cranky, but in a way that you couldn’t help but love her character).

The pacing in the book is a little bit on the slow side, and I felt like there were a few chapters where not too much actually happened, though.  I don’t usually mind slow pacing if the rest of the book is good, so it didn’t bother me all that much.  The writing was beautiful and serene…I think this book would be perfect for summer reading…especially on a camping trip or something.

Essential Maps for the Lost is a touching novel, the kind that you find yourself reading long into the night full of hope for the main characters and their budding relationship. 

4 stars
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The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is YouThe Only Thing Worse Than Me is You

Author: Lily Anderson

Publication Date: May 17th, 2016

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Format: Hardcover/eBook

Synopsis: Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines

at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West—and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing—down to number four.

Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben’s, including give up sleep and comic books—well, maybe not comic books—but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade.  Over a decade later, it’s time to declare a champion once and for all.

The war is Trixie’s for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben’s cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie’s best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they’re on—and they might not pick the same side.

This charming debut has everything young adult readers are craving right now: edgy, smart writing; a strong, intelligent female lead; a diverse cast of characters; and a fiery, rivals-to-relationship, root-for-them-til-the-very-end romance that will have readers glued to the page.

Book Links:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Goodreads


Praise for The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson:

“There’s a lot to enjoy in debut novelist Anderson’s geek-positive update of Much Ado About Nothing, including intense comic book fandom, a cheating scandal, student council drama, themed dances, and two central characters engaged in an epic love-hate relationship. Readers familiar with the Shakespeare will enjoy Anderson’s riffs on the original’s plot points as Trixie and Ben get their nerdily-ever-after ending.” —Publishers Weekly

“This is the kind of book that would get lost with you in a comic book shop. It would stay up late with you for a midnight release movie. It would let you practice your moves in a fighting game, before things got started. Basically, this book is the geeky best friend you’ve always wanted. A hilarious, heartfelt book that treats pop culture and Shakespeare with the same reverence and adoration, The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You a perfect geeky read that I wish I’d had in high school. If you could rate books on a scale of comic book conditions, this book would be MINT.” —Eric Smith, blogger and author of The Geek’s Guide to Dating

“This was a super fun retelling of Much Ado! I absolutely loved the voice in this book and the banter was A+++++.” —Ashley Herring Blake, author of Suffer Love

“I raced through the arc of this fast paced, smart, funny high school mystery inspired by Much Ado About Nothing! Trixie Watson’s senior year at her high school for the gifted and talented goes wildly awry. First, her lifelong nemesis has a surprising change of heart about her and second, a cheating scandal involves one of her closest friends. Trixie’s evolving
romance was pitch perfect and the mystery of the cheating kept me hooked until the last page. This is a sweet, intelligent and clever story. The dialogue is phenomenal! Highly, highly recommend!” —Karen Fortunati, author of The Weight of Zero

“I loved The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You. It’s not only fun and witty—it’s also generous and big-hearted. And as a bonus, it’s thoroughly appreciated of fandom culture AND has good parental relationships.” —Jennifer Mason-Black, author of Devil and the Bluebird


About the Author and Q & A

lily andersonLily Anderson is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU is her debut novel.

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Author Links:
Website   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Tumblr

Can you tell us a little about yourself?  Where did you grow up?  What did you like to do when you were a child?
I’m Lily Anderson. I’m 27, a Sagittarius who only kind of believes in astrology, and an elementary school librarian. I currently live just outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, but I grew up farther north in California in a town called Vacaville (which is known for the Nut Tree roadside attraction and the Zodiac Killer). When I was a kid, my entire life revolved around books and musical theater. Musicals were my first fandom, so if I wasn’t reading, I was probably listening to Broadway cast albums, watching bootleg performances, or in rehearsal at my youth theater and being a real snob about the whole thing.

What helps you write?

I love writing to music. Before I start a new manuscript, I build a writing playlist of songs that have the same tone that I want the book to capture. The playlists are usually absurdly long—THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU’s was 10 hours long so that I wouldn’t repeat songs, even if I wrote in a three hour sprint. Otherwise, I need a beverage (coffee, water, or something more grown up) and a comfortable chair.

How do you avoid distractions while writing?

I have to log out of my Twitter before I start a writing sprint otherwise I’ll never stop chatting! If I’m writing in public, I use a white noise app (shout out to Noisli!) so that I don’t get distracted by outside sounds. Or I’ll keep my music up dangerously loud.


What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

I love the part of writing where I know I need to stop working on a scene—to go to bed or to eat or whatever—and I can’t bear to tear myself away because the words are flowing so easily and I’m having so much fun. I also love when my beta readers or my agent text me quotes that made them laugh. Writing jokes is hard, so it’s always great to know when they land!


What inspired you to write The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You?

There was a perfect storm of inspiration for this book. First of all, I wondered (aloud, on Twitter) why my favorite romance novelist, Eloisa James, hadn’t tackled a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing since she her day job is as a Shakespeare professor. Much Ado is my favorite play and I had never read a retelling of it. The second bit of inspiration came from my students. I had just started working at a huge elementary school and so many of my students were into things that we would call geeky—like Marvel movies or Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars. But to them, it was just pop culture. It was what was printed on their backpacks and binders and pencils. And I started to wonder what it would be like to be in their generation, when opening loving “nerdy” things didn’t really make you a nerd anymore.

Poof! Much Ado About Nothing + fandom = The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You.

Were there any plot twists while writing your novel?
Since the book is a retelling, I pretty much knew what was going to happen when I went in. But I didn’t want it to be too boring for anyone who was familiar with Much Ado About Nothing, so I added in a mystery! I wanted to make sure that the villain wasn’t too obvious. There are lots of red herrings as to who is actually the antagonist of the book. And the person who it is in the finished version is not who I originally intended. About seventy five percent of the way into the first draft of the book, I changed my mind and rewrote the entire mystery subplot to change the culprit. (I can’t say anything else without totally spoiling the ending!)

Which character was your favorite and why?
My favorite character changes basically whenever I think about the book. Right now, it’s Meg because she sees the world so differently than her friends and is at once so logical and so sunny.


What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

When I’m not writing, I love to cook and bake. I crochet and quilt and drink a lot of tea. Basically, if you can picture a storybook witch or a Victorian-era spinster doing it, I’m probably all about it. Otherwise, I’m trying new beers and hanging out with my baby nephew (although never at the same time).


What are some of your favorite books?
I’m going to stick to a top five because otherwise we’ll be here all day. (I am a librarian, you know):
1.    Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

2.     Landline by Rainbow Rowell

3.    Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

4.    The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

5.    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling


Some Nifty Publisher Links:

Website   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Tumblr

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the girl i used to be
Book Title:
The Girl I Used to Be
Book Author:
April Henry
Publishing Date:
May 3rd, 2016
Publisher:
Henry Holt and CO. (BYR)
Date Read:
May 4th, 2016
Source:
eARC from publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis

When Olivia's mother was killed, everyone suspected her father of murder. But his whereabouts remained a mystery. Fast forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia's father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there's a killer still at large. It's up to Olivia to uncover who that may be. But can she do that before the killer tracks her down first?

My Review

I read a lot of thrillers, but I always find it difficult to find a good one.  A lot of them are just really hard to get into – whether it be from lack of details and a plot that make the book truly memorable, a predictable plot twist (or twists), or a book that’s just so fast paced that we don’t really have any time to actually connect with the characters and get to know them.

In the case of The Girl I Used to Be, I kind of felt like I was reading a short story as opposed to a full length book.  For one, I was able to read the entire thing in one sitting, and then there was the pacing of the book, which was just so fast it was almost impossible to keep up with it.  I didn’t feel like I got to know any of the characters in the book, especially the main character, Olivia.  Because of this, I didn’t really find myself caring much about the problems she was faced with, and this detachment kind of ruined the book for me.

Olivia is a teenage girl who is almost eighteen, and she is emancipated and living on her own.  When she was a little girl, her mother was killed, and her father disappeared.  She spent a very long time thinking that her father had murdered her mother, as did everyone else who followed the case.  However, when some police officers come to their house to inform Olivia that they found her father’s jawbone, it doesn’t seem very likely that her father is the murderer after all.

So, when Olivia goes back to the town she lived in before her grandmother died and she went to foster care, she plans on going to the memorial service for her father.  She meets her grandmother’s neighbor when she stops to see the house, and gives her a ride.  Lying about her identity to everyone so that they don’t pity her or ask too many questions, Olivia sits through the service and then goes back to her grandmother’s house, telling the neighbor she was looking to rent it.  So she stays with the neighbor until she can get in touch with the realtor.

Okay, taking a pause here…I hated how smug Olivia was when asking to rent the house.  I mean, we have a seventeen year old girl who works at a little grocery store, probably making very little money, and she just insists that she is going to be renting this house.  When the realtor has doubts and doesn’t think that’s the best idea, she keeps pushing and pushing until he decides to let her.  . . .What?  Really?  That kind of thing doesn’t work all that well in the real world.  But, pushing that aside, let’s continue, shall we?

Once she rents the house, she moves in and starts doing some research over who could have killed her parents.  She starts going to hypnosis sessions to get to the bottom of things, and while she uncovers a few things, it isn’t really enough to put everything together.  So she sets off to the site of her parents’ murder to look around and see if she can remember anything.  After that happens, things kind of get out of hand, and then there’s a big plot twist (which I admit I didn’t really see coming, so I’m giving the book some extra credit for that), and then it’s pretty much over.

I didn’t really dislike this book, but I didn’t exactly like it, either.  It did feel a bit engaging, and I more or less kept reading because I wanted to see who actually murdered Olivia’s parents.  I was pretty surprised, because there weren’t really any clues (at least none that I picked up on).  The pacing was just so fast, though, and it left a lot to be desired.

The characters weren’t all that memorable…I know Olivia met a boy who lived near by and wanted to start a relationship with him, but he seemed kind of cookie-cutter to me and definitely didn’t leave a lasting impression.  Olivia herself just seemed kind of arrogant and annoying, and I couldn’t connect with her, either.  Perhaps if the book had been a little longer so we could have actually spent some time on details, it would have been a bit better.

2 stars
4 Comments
klickitat
Book Title:
Klickitat
Book Author:
Peter Rock
Publishing Date:
April 12th, 2016
Publisher:
Amulet Books
Date Read:
May 17th, 2016
Source:
I received a copy from the publisher

Synopsis

Vivian feels left behind when her older sister, Audra, runs away from home. She believes that Audra will return and pays careful attention to the clues around her. Then, inexplicably, writing begins to appear in a blank notebook.

When Audra does come back for Vivian, she’s in the company of a strange man. The three of them run away together and practice wilderness survival. While Audra plans for the future, Vivian continues to gather evidence: Who is this mysterious man, and does he have any connection to the words appearing in her notebook?

Klickitat is a haunting story, full of atmosphere and awakening, crafted by one of today's most startling literary talents.

"The dreamy narration is evocative of The Virgin Suicides…it might be a readalike for E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars…"--VOYA

My Review

Klickitat is quite possibly one of the most unique, strange books that I have read, and that isn’t a bad thing.  This book pulled off a story that, while at first I didn’t know if I would enjoy, I ended up applauding how well it was written and how unique the plot itself is.

Vivian and her older sister, Audra, live in a nice suburban family with their parents.  The sisters are pretty close, and since Vivian has a type of anxiety that causes her to become “agitated” and need to feel secure and often hold onto something or someone, her sister frequently calms her down and makes her feel better.  Taken from their favorite childhood book, Ramona and Beezus, the word Klickitat is one that they often use to remind each other that everything is okay, and they are there for each other always.  It helps calm Vivian down during some particularly bad episodes growing up, and it sticks for both of them and becomes an important sentiment between them.

As time goes on, Audra starts acting more and more strange.  She spends a lot of time out in the woods walking around barefoot, reading wilderness survival guides, and giving their parents a hard time about their lives, claiming that she doesn’t want to become a “robot” like society wants her to become.  She says that Vivian does not need the medications that she takes, and that she would be better off without them.  She starts telling Vivian that she is going to be leaving soon, to live out among the woods the way they were meant to live – without the technology and materialism that everyone seems to fall victim to.

So when Audra disappears one night, Vivian is crushed.  She misses Audra and can’t believe that she would just leave her behind.  However, one night the man that Audra has been seeing and left with comes by to collect Vivian, and takes her to where he and Audra have been staying – outside, under a woman’s porch, away from all the things that they hate and believe are poisoning the way everyone else lives and thinks.

As Vivian leaves her previous life behind and starts spending more and more time with her sister and her boyfriend, she begins to wonder if what they are doing is the right thing. 

During her sister’s disappearance and while she is living with Audra and her boyfriend, Vivian finds a notebook that seems to write her mysterious messages, and while they don’t often make sense, they are often chilling (especially some of the messages toward the last chapters of the book.

From the first page to the very haunting conclusion, Klickitat is a book that will shock and surprise you.  When I was reading this book, I got to see the world from a new viewpoint – that of a group of people who believed that living without technology and material items is the best kind of life.  I found this book to be a treat that I just couldn’t put down until I had finished it.

Vivian and Audra’s relationship is the kind of sisterly bond that you can’t help but love – the two of them together aren’t only sisters, but friends as well.  While the girls’ parents seem a bit lacking when it comes to personality, you could tell that they loved their daughters and wanted to find them again.

While Klickitat is a rather quick read, the story comes across clearly and there is plenty of room to enjoy the characters and the plot.  It seems to be the perfect length for an enjoyable rainy-day read!

4 stars
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the crown's game
Book Title:
The Crown's Game
Book Author:
Evenlyn Skye
Book Series:
The Crown's Game, #1
Publishing Date:
May 17th, 2016
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Date Read:
May 18th, 2016
Source:
eARC from publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear... the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

My Review

The Crown’s Game is another instance where an overly-hyped up book and I just don’t click.  I tried to get into this multiple times, and I spent over a week just barely making it past the 25% mark, when I finally decided that I just couldn’t do it.

So I guess, more than an actual review, this is a DNF (at 25%) review.

If you’ve read through my other reviews by following my blog or checking out my posts on Goodreads, you’ll see that it’s incredibly rare for me to not finish a book.  I absolutely hate when I have to say “Hey, I simply can’t get into this book, I think it’s time we call it quits.”  I tried saying that “Well, it must be me, because everyone else is in love with you!” and then I came to the realization that “No, wait…it’s definitely you.”

It was kind of like being in high school and everyone is in love with the same person, only I’m one of the rare ones who can see right through them and see what they’re really like (okay, so that pretty much was me in high school, but that’s beside the point).

The Crown’s Game was one of those books that I practically jumped up and down with joy for when I got approved on Edelweiss (again, thank you Harper!), and after seeing how much everyone loved this book, I was pretty eager to jump into it and see what all the fuss was about.

“For the winner of the game, there would be unimaginable power.
For the defeated, desolate oblivion.
The Crown’s Game was not one to lose.”

With an opening quote like this, I kind of expected to be blown away.  I thought this book was going to be filled with magic, a nail-biting competition, interesting characters, and maybe a hint of a romance that just added the right amount of spark to the book.

However, as I kept reading (through falling asleep multiple times, sorry), I didn’t really seem to get any of this.  Sure, there was a bit of magic, and a promised competition that didn’t really seem all that exciting, and the characters fell a bit flat for my taste.  There wasn’t any defining qualities about them that made me care about them one way or the other, and the plot was just taking so utterly long to go anywhere. 

This, coupled with the fact that as soon as our female main character meets one of our male main characters (at the Crown’s Game competition where they have to use their magic to fight to be the Imperial Enchanter), she pretty much starts talking about how incredibly handsome he is and so on and so forth.  I mean, yeah, we’re in a lose-and-you-die kind of competition here, let’s take some time out to swoon over our opponent and how amazingly good looking he is.

Needless to say, I didn’t make it past that part.  I just couldn’t find myself wanting to read any more of the story, no matter how hard I tried.  But it came to the point where I was simply disliking it more and more because I was trying to force myself to finish it, so I gave up.

Maybe someday I’ll feel up to coming back to this one and trying it again…maybe I just wasn’t in the right mindset for a fantasy novel (which I love, so I doubt that, but who knows), or maybe it was just one of those times that, after reading a particularly amazing book, I fell into a reading slump and couldn’t get out of it with this one.

1 stars
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Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


i'm not your manic pixie dream girlI’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Author: Gretchen McNeil

Publication Date: September 13th, 2016

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Synopsis: Beatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?


This sounds like an incredibly interesting YA contemporary that seems different and fun.  I really can’t wait to read about how “Trixie” comes up with “The Formula” to get her boyfriend back.  I’m not usually one for reading a lot of contemporaries because so many of them sound the same, but this one seems like a nice breath of fresh air and I really can’t wait to check it out!  Plus, it’s Gretchen McNeil, so you know it’s going to be awesome.

What are you waiting on?  Leave your link in the comments and I’ll come check it out!

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because i love you
Book Title:
Because I Love You
Book Author:
Tori Rigby
Publishing Date:
May 17th, 2016
Publisher:
Blaze Publishing
Date Read:
April 14th, 2016
Source:
eARC from publisher

Synopsis

Sometimes, love is sacrifice.

Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.

Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil Donaghue, a dark-haired, blue-eyed player. With him, she finds comfort and the support she desperately needs to make the hardest decision of her life: whether or not to keep the baby.

Then a tragic accident leads Andie to discover Neil’s keeping a secret that could dramatically alter their lives, and she's forced to make a choice. But after hearing her son’s heartbeat for the first time, she doesn’t know how she’ll ever be able to let go.

My Review

stars-3.5

I’ve noticed a lot more books that deal with teenage pregnancy are surfacing lately, and I’ve read a couple of really, really good ones lately.  Because I Love You falls into that category – it was definitely a great read that dealt with a really difficult topic that is being discussed in YA fiction more and more – and it’s about time.

Because I Love You tells the story of sixteen year old Andie, who recently gave up her virginity to her best friend, Carter.  Knowing that she cared about Carter, Andie thought she would be safe and everything would be okay – until she discovers that she’s pregnant.  When Andie tells her other best friend, Heather what’s going on, she decides to say it was a different guy rather than ruin their friendship over her sleeping with Carter (since the three of them are inseparable).  When Andie decides to tell Carter that she’s pregnant with his baby, things don’t go over as well as planned.  Carter doesn’t want anything to do with the baby – he believes that it will mess up his plans for college and he just isn’t ready to be a dad, so he denies the fact that the baby is his.  When Heather hears that it’s Carter’s baby, she doesn’t just get upset – she sets out to make Andie’s life absolutely miserable.  She and another group of girls taunt her, make fun of her, and continue to cause her emotional distress every day.

Eventually Andie and her ex-boyfriend Neil end up spending time together – Neil still has feelings for Andie and wants the very best for her, so he starts trying to help calm her down after the girls torture her and make school unbearable. 

As Neil and Andie start to form a relationship, Andie is still faced with her pregnancy.  As she goes to doctor appointments and hears the baby’s heartbeat and sees the ultrasound pictures, she really begins to picture her life as a mother, even though she doesn’t know how she is going to make it all work out.

This book is definitely a book that will bring out a lot of emotions.  It made me happy, angry, sad, elated…just to name a few.  There’s a lot going on in this book, and it’s one of those books that kind of felt like the romance aspect ended up taking center stage over everything else.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing necessarily, because the romance in this book was beautiful and well done (Andie and Neil definitely had some chemistry!), and it was definitely a swoon-worthy part of the book.  It seemed like Neil had become Andie’s knight in shining armor.

I liked Andie’s character, especially in the beginning.  She seemed strong, like she could get everything together and figured out, and do what was best for herself and her baby.

I really didn’t think that some parts of this book were realistic…I’m not going to say because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but there’s something that happens with Andie’s mom that just really ticked me off.  It just felt like it shouldn’t have been a part of the book, or it could have been more tastefully done instead of just throwing it out there out of the blue.

Along with teenage pregnancy, this book does deal with adoption, which is a turn that most YA novels don’t really take, so that’s something to think about as well.  Andie’s mother tries to get Andie to consider giving her baby up for adoption to a couple who really want a baby and have the means of raising one, as opposed to a single teenage mother with no job and no way to take care of a baby on her own.  When Andie’s mother reveals a secret to Andie, it takes the story in a whole new direction, as well.

Either way, this is definitely a contemporary romance that I would recommend, especially if you enjoy realistic fiction!


Blaze Publishing is happy to announce the release of the YA Contemporary Romance BECAUSE I LOVE YOU by Tori Rigby! You can get your copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or you can order a signed copy from our website. We’d love for you to help us celebrate at the Facebook party May 17th from 12pm to 11pm EST.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay at home mom, Tori Rigby grew up with her nose in a book and her fingers on piano keys, always awaiting the day she’d take her own adventure. Now, she goes on multiple journeys through her contemporary and historical romances. She longs to live in the Scottish Highlands, and her favorite place in history is Medieval England—she’d even give up her Internet and running water to go back in time! Tori also writes high-concept genre fiction as Vicki Leigh, and when she isn’t writing, she’s kicking butt in krav maga or attending classes to learn how to catch bad guys.

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