Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Summerlost by Ally Condie - Release Day Celebration and Giveaway!

Hi Guys!

I'm excited today to share with you some release day goodies for Ally Condie's Summerlost! Keep reading for a change to win a fabulous prize pack!

It's the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar's father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.
(from Goodreads)

Penguin Random House | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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What others are saying about Summerlost

A Spring 2016 Kids' Indie Next List Top 10 Pick!

Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring 2016

* “Condie (Matched) strikes a deep emotional chord with this coming-of-age story.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “Multiple, seemingly random details, including a family of turkey vultures that now roost outside Cedar’s window, an absurd soap opera narrative of a woman buried alive, and Leo’s quest for a trip with his father, coalesce into metaphors that help Cedar make sense of her grief and the life she now has to look forward to. Thoughtful, poetic chapter endings guide readers new to psychological depth toward meaningful connections between plot events and thematic reflections.” – BCCB

“A moving tale of friendship and loss. I loved these characters—I wish we could have been friends when I was a kid.” –Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Five Kingdoms series

“Ally Condie’s first middle grade book might also be my favorite out of ALL her books to date. Summerlost is a story packed with nostalgia, heart, and gorgeous prose.” – The Novel Novice

“A nuanced portrait of grief deeply grounded in the middle-school mind-set.” – Booklist

“Honest, lovely, and sad.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A sweet, heartfelt story.” – School Library Journal

“Achingly good.” – Summer Laurie, Books Inc.

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Read an excerpt:


A letter from Ally to her readers:

Dear Readers,

I think most of us have had our hearts broken. Sometimes we can see it coming, and sometimes it comes down with the unexpected force of a sudden gale of wind or a rising of waters that we thought were still and safe. Loss is universal to human experience, but the way we each feel and recover is one of the most personal things we do.

In Summerlost, Cedar is dealing with the loss of her father and younger brother. And my intent was to show how hard their deaths are for her. But this is also a book about the healing power of friendship. Most of us have been broken-hearted; I hope that most of us have also discovered the miracle of friendships that were just what we needed. Cedar and Leo’s friendship is based on someone I met when I was twelve. Like Leo, my friend was fun and liked to enlist me in crazy adventures (although we never gave a secret guided tour of our town the way they do in Summerlost). And, like Leo, he thought I was wonderful and of worth at a time when I needed it most.

SUMMERLOST is my attempt to pay tribute both to the pain we feel and the friendships that save us. Thank you so much for supporting this book, and for your willingness to give Cedar’s story a try. I hope it makes you think of a wonderful friend of your own, whether that is someone you met in the pages of a favorite book or outside, in the world where it is often hard and beautiful to live.

Best wishes and happy reading always,
Ally Condie

Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thank you to Word Spelunking and Penguin Kids for hosting!
Twitter: @WordSpelunker | @PenguinKids


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication: March 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Acquisition: received a free ARC at ALA Midwinter 2016

Synopsis:
Reader, I murdered him.

A Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre.

Like the heroine of the novel she adores, Jane Steele suffers cruelly at the hands of her aunt and schoolmaster. And like Jane Eyre, they call her wicked - but in her case, she fears the accusation is true. When she flees, she leaves behind the corpses of her tormentors.


A fugitive navigating London's underbelly, Jane rights wrongs on behalf of the have-nots whilst avoiding the noose. Until an advertisement catches her eye. Her aunt has died and the new master at Highgate House, Mr Thornfield, seeks a governess. Anxious to know if she is Highgate's true heir, Jane takes the position and is soon caught up in the household's strange spell. When she falls in love with the mysterious Charles Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him - body, soul and secrets - and what if he discovers her murderous past?
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars


I didn't like Jane Eyre at all when I was forced to read it in school many many moons ago. So, a Jane Eyre retelling? No thank you.

But wait, this one has murder you say? Murders actually? Well...ok, I'll give it a go.

So glad I did because Jane Steele is fantastic!

All the ridiculousness I hated in Jane Eyre is gone and all the murdery goodness that I like (in books!) is totally here.

Ok, it's not all murder. There is also romance - which! Is so actually authentic and genuine and not flighty in the least! *cough* Mr. Rochester *cough*.

Everything in the original is given a fun twist in Jane Steele.

Mundane miserable childhood + horrible boarding school experience?
Crazy miserable childhood + fantastically wicked boarding school experience!

Seemingly perfect romance with flaky, boring, hiding-ALL-the-secrets poor excuse for a man?
Ridiculously imperfect romance with intriguing, secrets-are-the-new-sexy, adorably nurturing man!

Heroine I felt like slapping every other page?
Heroine I knew would slap me first for being so judgmental!

Love, love, love, love Jane Steele.

If you're a fan of Jane Eyre or if you hated it like me - this one's for you.

If you like Gothic romance (that actually makes sense) - this one's for you.

If you like your romance with a hefty side of actual relevant and thought provoking content - this one's for you.

Basically, I think this one's for everyone!

So very glad I didn't let that other Jane keep me away. Ms. Steele would be proud ;)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Review: Until the Beginning by Amy Plum

Book #2 of the After the End duology
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publication: May 2015 by HarperTeen
Acquisition: won an ARC

Synopsis:
When Juneau's clan disappeared, she lost so much more than her friends and family. She soon discovered everything she thought she knew about her life was a lie. Her people's gifts were actually secret abilities that others wanted, desperately enough to kidnap an entire village.

Juneau and her new companion Miles's cross-country journey to find her clan has led them to a game preserve in New Mexico. Now Juneau's people are finally within reach, and she will stop at nothing to save them. But she has a target on her back too, because unbeknownst to her she is the key to unlocking everything. To rescue her people - and herself - Juneau must discover what she, and her abilities, are truly capable of.
(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars


Book 1, After the End, ended in a way that pretty much ensured I would gobble up book 2 as fast as can be. Gotta say - I love a duology!

With Until The Beginning, I was thrown right back into Juneau's world - no unnecessary recapping. The situation is just as horrible and Juneau is just as tough.

I said it before and I'll say it again - I absolutely love Juneau! She is everything a young female MC should be. Nowhere near perfect but entirely honest with herself. Scared but determined -- even if she fails, she knows she'll be alright.

In book 1 we learned a little bit about the 'science' behind Juneau and her tribes special abilities. In book 2, more explanation is given - especially surrounding the motives of certain characters and while it all made sense...it was a little cloudy. There seemed to be a very complex system at at work but the power play involved with the control of this system felt scattered and a bit dodgy.

I'm really nit picking here because overall, Until The Beginning was a fabulous read for me. I can see myself recommending this series for years to come.

The story kept me turning the page, while the characters kept me engaged -- pretty perfect combo!

I <3 Juneau ;)

Sunday, March 20, 2016

GIVEAWAY: 5 February and March 2016 ARCs

Hello lovelies!

I'm a little behind on my reading goals, and there are just some books I know I won't get to anytime soon and I would love to find them a new home!

Enter below for a chance to win the following ARCs:
*These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas 
*Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
*Girl Last Seen by Heather Anastasiu and Anne Greenwood Brown
*The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters
*Stone Field by Christy Lenzi

These are all ARCs I received from from ALA Midwinter that released in February and March -- so, already on the shelves but still very worth the read (and review if you're able!)

1 winner - US only because of shipping - no dummy or giveaway accounts for the follows or shares - Let's all play fair, m'kay?

Use the image below for sharing on social media.

Ends 4/1 11:59pm EST

Questions? Email or tweet me!

Good luck!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review: Strangelets by Michelle Gagnon

Genre: YA Mystery Sci-fi Paranormal
Publication: April 2013 by Soho Press
Acquisition: bought

Synopsis:
17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
18-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…

All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving.

Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light Sophie, Declan, Anat, and the rest must decide what to do with a second chance at life—if they can survive to claim it.
(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars


This book was weird - in a good way! And it takes place on Long Island! Not in Long Island!

("On" being 100% correct and "In" being 100% wrong -- it's the little things like this that make me happy cause I'm ridiculous - Ha!)

Anywho!

Yes! This book is good!

Seriously though, I really really enjoyed Strangelets.

Right from the start it pulls you in. It's a fantastic ride and for the most part you can't tell which way is up. The characters were interesting. The setting was detailed, which helped set the tone, and it was also a little vague, which helped fuel my imagination.

We get some small insights into the lives of the team of characters before they are all thrown together in an impossible situation. As a reader, you don't know any more then they do. They are trying to figure things out and you're right there with them. Love when suspense stories work this way.

On - and the ending? I'm still not sure I really know what it all was. But! I love this aspect of the book! It wasn't a frustrating ending, rather, it was the type of ending that left things open for a lot of possibilities. I don't think there is a second book planned, which means your imagination is free! Kinda love when standalones do this.

If anything, I wish it were longer - I was craving a bit more details and maybe more explanations. As a thriller / mystery it's great but there isn't as much closure as I would have liked.

It's still a pretty fantastic standalone that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Unexpected Break a.k.a - Drugs are bad, MM'kay

This has been me, pretty much the last week and and a half:


Basically a small medical issue turned ridiculous thanks to the wonderful side effects of the 'helping' drugs my doctors so kindly prescribed.

(but no, seriously, "Thank you my Doctors! You are much smarter then me and I will pretty much always do what you say!")

I'm starting to feel better today -- *throws ALL THE CONFETTI*

Still not 100% but man, I'm feeling loads better then I was even a few days ago.

So -- what have I missed in the last week and more importantly, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING!? I'm craving some good book recs!

Hope you all are having a much, much better March then I've had so far!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February 2016 Wrap Up: The Winter Edition...NOT!

It's March and I still feel like I'm waiting for winter.

This has been such a strange season. Almost no snow, thunder storms. -40 degree wind chills, SUN -- like seriously, I'm confused.

My system is all kinds of, not knowing what the hell to feel. Should I be looking forward to spring and warmth? But it's already not very cold. Am I looking forward to the snow melting? Except it's pretty much already gone. What about all those no school, snow days I love?! One -- I got one!

Yeah - I really don't know what to do with February.

At least my reading and blogging were (pretty) good!

I mean, I'm not looking for perfection here! (And seriously, how would one be a 'perfect reader' or a 'perfect blogger'? Sounds boring to me ;)

So! Let's see what I was up to, shall we?

Linking it up over at Feed Your Fiction Addiction cause Nicole = awesome ;)

THE REVIEWS
The Detour by S.A. Bodeen | REVIEW 4/5 Stars
Amity by Micol Ostow | REVIEW 4/5 Stars
After the End by Amy Plum | REVIEW 4/5 Stars

FEBRUARY READS
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie
Dark Energy by Robison Wells

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Read Bottom Up: A Novel by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

Hope everyone had a great
February!
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: In the Mood for Dystopian


Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's topic is Top Ten book to read if you're in the mood for X -- my X is dystopian!

Dystopian is the (not so) new popular and trend setting topic of tons of recent books. YA, Middle Grade, Adult - it's everywhere!
It's also a term that is thrown around and attached to novels a bit too willy nilly for my liking.

A dystipian society or world is at it's essence, un-utopian. It's a really bad place and it's inhabitants got to this really bad place because of really bad things happening. At least that's the way I see it.

So, for me at least, this means that futuristic does not automatically equal dystopian. Futuristic setting could be dystopian but the single fact of it taking place in the future doesn't make it so. I'm thinking The Lunar Chronicles, which to me, aren't dystopian stories but many define as such.

Also, a world or society could be at the very beginnings of a possibly distopia - but my mind likes to categorize these as apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic.
Things are bad right this minute (apocalyptic) but who knows what the future holds (utopia or dystopia) OR things were really bad in the near past (post-apocalyptic) and the effects are still being felt but again, things haven't settled yet (into utopia or dystopia).

Many would say I'm splitting hairs here and I would agree - but it's just the way my mind categorizes it all :)

With that all said here are my Top 10 7 books to pick if you are in the mood for a dystiopian read :)