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Oct 122014
 

Title: Foreign Exchange
Author: Denise Jaden
Publisher: Evernight Teen
Publication date: October 10, 2014
Source: Author in exchange for a fair and honest review

Foreign Exchange

From Goodreads:
Jamie Monroe has always played it safe. That is, until her live-for-the-moment best friend, Tristan, jets off to Italy on a student exchange program. Left alone with her part-time mother and her disabled brother, Jamie discovers that she is quite capable of taking her own risks, starting with her best friend’s hotter-than-hot older brother, Sawyer. Sawyer and Tristan have been neighbors for years, but as Jamie grows closer to the family she thought she knew, she discovers some pretty big secrets.

As she sinks deeper into their web of pretense, she suspects that her best friend may not be on a safe exchange program at all. Jamie sets off to Europe on a class trip with plans to meet up with Tristan, but when Tristan stops all communication, suddenly no one seems trustworthy, least of all the one person she was starting to trust—Sawyer.

***

I’m a big fan of Denise Jaden and was so honored when she asked me to beta read her latest YA a while back. I’m even more honored now to have read the published novel and be able share my thoughts with you all!

Foreign Exchange is a YA contemp/mystery with a European road trip mixed in that creates a very compelling and interesting story. It begins with Jamie’s best friend Tristan heading off to Italy for an exchange program, leaving Jamie alone with Tristan’s off-limits but hot brother, Sawyer. Tristan has made it clear throughout her and Jamie’s friendship that Sawyer is a player and she doesn’t want Jamie falling for him…but of course, she does. With Tristan gone, the two can now start exploring a relationship that has the potential to turn into something else. Only now Tristan has gone MIA and Jamie and Sawyer embark on a trip of their own to find Tristan and bring her back.

I’m a sucker for a book set in different locations around the world (especially Europe) so I loved that aspect of Foreign Exchange. The story includes Michigan, Canada, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona, and you get to see a bit of culture from each place. Not only are the settings vibrant, but the main character speaks a bunch of different languages–gotta love an intelligent girl!

I also loved how the book showcased different relationships: Jamie and her special needs brother, Jamie and her absentee mom, Jamie and Tristan’s sometimes toxic friendship, and Jamie and Sawyer’s newfound love. It really makes you think about your own relationships and how the good relationships can outweigh the bad ones. My favorite was watching Jamie and Sawyer bond over their common interest in finding Tristan and seeing their emotions that had been buried for years come to life. And I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say I thoroughly enjoyed how it played out.

If you’re into contemp and mystery like me, you’ll love Foreign Exchange!

Find Denise on Twitter and FacebookBuy Foreign Exchange

Oct 072014
 

Title: Rain Reign
Author: Ann M. Martin
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: October 7, 2014
Source: Publisher

Rain Reign

From Goodreads:
In her most powerful novel yet, Newbery Honor author Ann M. Martin tells the story of girl with mental/emotional challenges and the dog she loves.

Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.

***

When Macmillan reached out to me about reading a new Ann M. Martin book, I jumped on the chance. The Baby-Sitters Club books were my favorite as a child, and I will always hold those memories of me curling up in my bed devouring every single book. Rain Reign is nothing like the BSC books, but I can see it as being one of those that young (and old) readers will cherish for years to come–just like I did with the BSC.

Rose has high-functioning autism and is obsessed with homonyms, prime numbers, and rules. It’s this obsession with homonyms that leads her to name her new dog Rain (Reign, Rein). Rose doesn’t have the best childhood, living with a father who struggles dealing with her condition, and she finds solace in her four-legged best friend. One night, when Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in Rose’s town, Rose’s dad lets Rain out and she doesn’t return. Rose sets out on a mission to find Rain with the help of her uncle, and when she finally finds her, she learns that Rain actually belonged to another family before Rose. Now Rose is faced with losing her best friend yet again.

This book absolutely tore at my heartstrings the entire time. I’ve never read a book told from an autistic child’s POV, and Ann M. Martin completely nailed it. I had a foster brother with autism when I was younger, and reading this book took me back to when my family was trying to understand his personality and learn how his mind worked. Rose is incredibly intelligent, kind, and has a heart of gold, but her outbursts and different behavior are difficult for people to understand. I loved seeing the interactions between her and her uncle and seeing her classmates slowly letting Rose in after she opens up to them.

Rain Reign is full of hope, love, and understanding about children with austism/Asperger’s syndrome. It gives you a first-hand glimpse into the life of a child living with these challenges and the extraordinary ways they can touch our lives. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Oct 062014
 

Title: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
Series: Veronica Mars #1
Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Publisher: Vintage
Publication date: March 25, 2014
Source: Library

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)

From Goodreads:
From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappear from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But his is not simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

***

Veronica Mars was one of those cult TV shows I discovered WAY too late (and subsequently binge-watched like a boss). It’s my go-to show whenever there’s either a) nothing on TV or b) I just need my regular VMars fix. I was super excited to back the movie and was thrilled with how it turned out on the big screen. To further feed my obsession, I knew I had to read the book. And while it was a bit of an odd experience, I loved it!

After being used to seeing Veronica and the cast of characters on the screen, it was a bit jarring to see them transition to the page. It was great because I could visualize what they looked like and how they sounded, but it was weird to have to put that extra effort into it, you know? I’m used to zoning out in front of the TV with the gang, but this required me to pay more attention. Not a bad thing, just different.

After I adjusted to the new way of experiencing the characters, I got sucked right into the story. It had the same tone, vibe, language, and feel of every TV episode, with the extra bonus of feeling like I was more immersed in what was going on. I’ve never seen a TV script in real life, but the book felt much longer than what I would expect a script to be. Any extra time with Veronica = win.

Rob Thomas, you’ve successfully made me even more obsessed with Veronica Mars. I’m pumped for the second book, Mr. Kiss and Tell, that comes out in January. If you’re a VMars fan, you’ve got to check these out.

Sep 232014
 

Title: Blood of My Blood
Series: Jasper Dent #3
Author: Barry Lyga
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: September 9, 2014
Source: Publisher

Blood of My Blood

From Goodreads:
Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?

The chase is on, and beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

***

This is one of those reviews where I just want to say, “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK DO IT NOW.” But instead, here is my attempt at coherent thought for a series I adore.

<rambling musings>

Blood of My Blood is an amazing ending to a great series. I have never read another YA series even remotely like this one–it truly stands out as one of a kind for me. I Hunt Killers and Game were fantastic, but Blood of My Blood takes the cake.

In addition to being unique to me, I think Jasper Dent is one of the most underrated series in YA. Barry Lyga has a knack for getting so deeply inside his characters’ minds that you can’t help but start thinking you’re one in the same as those characters. Throw in the fact that some of those minds belong to serial killers, and you have one heck of a fright. I wanted to finish this book late one night but couldn’t because it was bedtime and I knew it would give me nightmares (lesson learned from doing this while reading I Hunt Killers). These are the creepiest books–young adult or adult–I’ve ever read in my life.

</rambling musings>

Even though it’s psychologically scary as hell, you have GOT to read the Jasper Dent series. Just maybe don’t read them if you’re home alone or at night ;)

Sep 192014
 

Title: The Assassin’s Blade
Series: Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication date: March 4, 2014
Source: Purchased

The Assassin's Blade (Throne of Glass, #0.1-0.5)

From Goodreads:
Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

***

Right off the bat, I have to admit this: I typically never read YA novellas. I might even sort of/kind of think they’re usually unnecessary for the series and seem like a ploy to make more money. Having said that, after hearing so much about the Throne of Glass novellas, I had to give them a shot. And folks, these novellas totally changed my mind.

The Assassin’s Blade novellas added SO much to Celaena’s backstory. I really wish I would have read these before Crown of Midnight because it would have made the reading experience even more enjoyable knowing of all these adventures Celaena went on before being sent to Endovier. Seeing her train and live with Arobynn was super eye-opening and helped me figure out just exactly what she went through while under his watchful eye. We also learn more about Sam, which really shows fans why Celaena is the way she is with Dorian and Chaol. I connected with her even more because I actually got to see all of the pain and sadness she went through before we “meet” her in Throne of Glass.

If you’re like me and aren’t a fan of YA novellas, I highly recommend giving these a shot. Maybe they’ll change your mind like they did for me :)

Sep 122014
 

I am beyond thrilled to be offering a giveaway for the entire Legend series *plus* Marie Lu’s newest book out October 7, The Young Elites! The Legend series is one of my favorites and Marie Lu is one of the nicest, sweetest authors I’ve ever met. Learn more about The Young Elites below and then enter to win this amazing prize pack!

About the book:
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Read an excerpt

Pre-order The Young Elites: Amazon & Kindle | Barnes & Noble & Nook | IndieBound | Apple | Kobo

photo credit Paul Gregory

About the Author:
Marie Lu is the author of the New York Times bestselling Legend series. She spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one boyfriend, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

Learn more at her Official Website

 

 

GIVEAWAY TIME!

LEGEND. PRODIGY. CHAMPION. ELITE. Don’t miss a word. Enter for your chance to win the full list of Marie Lu titles including the complete Legend trilogy and the all-new release The Young Elites.

Prizing & samples courtesy of Penguin Books USA
Giveaway open to US addresses only

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Aug 292014
 

Title: It’s in His Kiss
Series: Lucky Harbor #10
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: August 26, 2014
Source: Publisher

It's in His Kiss (Lucky Harbor, #10)

From Goodreads:
ONE KISS CAN LAST FOREVER

Becca Thorpe has uprooted her life and escaped to the beach. Now’s her chance to get away from city living, throw caution to the ocean winds, and live in the moment. Especially if the moment includes the deliciously sexy surfer she meets shortly after arriving in Lucky Harbor. Something about the dark intensity of Sam’s eyes and the thrill she gets at his touch convinces her to stay awhile.

Boatbuilder and investment genius Sam Brody is a self-made man who knows how dangerous it can be to mix business and pleasure. But he can’t resist offering Becca a job just to hear her laugh and have her near. Yet when her brother comes to town asking for help, will he tempt her back to her glamorous life in the city? Or do Sam and little Lucky Harbor have a chance to win Becca’s heart?

***

It’s the beginning of the end, folks. Only three books left in the Lucky Harbor series before Jill Shalvis wraps it up. *cue sobbing*

It’s in His Kiss is the first book in the last three-book continuation of the series, and boy does Jill Shalvis give it all she’s got. I love all of her books, but this one stood out to me more than others. I think a huge reason why is Sam Brody, the definition of a hot alpha male. You can’t help but be drawn to his moody personality, and you soon realize there’s way more to him than just a hot body (although that doesn’t hurt…AT ALL). I loved the chemistry between him and Becca and watching it get hotter and hotter as the story went on was so fun to read.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do when the series is over (other than cry), but until that happens, I’ll just get excited about reading the last two books coming out this year: He’s So Fine and One in a Million.

Aug 262014
 

I am thrilled to be kicking off the tour for Isabel Gillies’s debut YA novel, Starry Night, publishing on September 2! Check out my QA with the author below, along with the fun extra info about the book, and then enter to win your very own copy! Big thanks to Isabel (AKA Kathy Stabler for all you fellow Law and Order: SVU fans) for answering my questions and Macmillan for organizing the tour :)

Q: Where did you get the idea for Starry Night? Is the story inspired by a personal experience?
A: Starry Night has had a long and twisty road — but a fun one. I was inspired by love, teenagers, family, friends, school, walks in Central Park, heartbreak. And yes, lots of it was inspired by my own experiences, how could it not be? But a ton of it is made up, too. I think of it like a blended soup. All the vegetables go into the pot looking like what they are: broccoli, potatoes, etc, but then you put an emersion blender in there, whiz it around, and it transforms into something entirely different in texture and shape, even the taste will change. So if there was anything “real” from my life at the start of the book, it’s been soup-i-fied.

Q: You’ve had two highly successful memoirs published in the past few years. What made you want to switch gears and write a young adult novel, and what was the hardest part about making the switch?
A: I needed a break from memoir. It’s sort of exhausting to reveal so much of yourself that is real real real, so real people can say, “I remember when that happened!” I knew that I wanted to try fiction and I adore teenagers. I have three tweens in the house and I am fascinated by them. It’s definitely the most fun I have had as a mother. I love their conversations, their points of view, their ideas. I even love the back-talk! It’s scary because they are on their own in many ways, and have to fall down so they will learn how to navigate their way in life, but it’s colorful and rich and exciting. I LOVED being a teenager. The highs and lows are extremely clear, the feelings are big, bold, and so much happens. I fell in love for the first time as a teenager and it blew my socks off! I couldn’t get over how intense and incredible it was. It made sense to try my hand at fiction and have the main characters be teenagers. But it’s HARD! Writing fiction is so hard I had no idea. It took me three entire 400 page drafts just to get something that didn’t stink. I love this book for a couple different reasons, but one big one is that I did it at all!

Q: Can you share a phrase from Starry Night that you’re most proud of?
A: Well, the parts that keep popping to the top of my head are all the conversations Wren has with her parents Nan and David. I wanted to make the parents and secondary characters feel real and flushed out. In my first draft I neglected to do that. I didn’t mean to leave them out but I was so focused on Wren and Nolan I sort of spaced out on everyone else. My editor alerted me to this mistake and so I spent the rest of my time writing the book thinking hard about everyone who surrounds Nolan and Wren. Wren’s little sister Dinah says funny stuff — I dig her. Actually one thing Dinah says is, “Your ass is grass.” Anytime I think of her saying that in the book I smile.

Q: What are some of your favorite YA books? Did any inspire your writing in Starry Night?
A: Oh I love Judy Blume. I loved her when I was a teenager and I loved reading her The Pain & The Great One series to my kids not so long ago. She is awesome. I loved Wonder, The Catcher In The Rye, The Outsiders, The Fault in Our Stars, and Every Day by David Levithan. I love watching my kids read so many great looking books that I wish I could read, but end up not reading because I fall asleep too fast at night. I love and am inspired by John Hughes movies, and I know they are not books, but who cares if the work stays with you, feels true and real and inspires you all over the place.

Q: If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be and why?
A: This answer could go a million ways, but today, I think I would like to meet J.K Rowling. My kids are reading The Harry Potter series for the second time and they are OBSESSED — again! They all talk and talk and talk about Harry and Hogwarts, etc etc until the light goes out and they fall asleep. Those books melted in to all three of my children and I would love to go on a long walk with the author just to feel her vibe.

***

Learn more about Isabel Gillies and Starry Night
Add Starry Night to your to-read list on Goodreads
Join in on social media with #StarryNight
Check out Isabel’s website, follow her on Twitter, ‘like’ her on Facebook, and follow her on Tumblr

***

Isabel’s Upcoming Public Events
Saturday, August 30: Decatur Book Festival - Map of My Heart Panel (Decatur, GA)
Tuesday September 2: Barnes & Noble Upper West Side - Launch Event with John Searles (New York, NY)
Sunday, September 14: Books of Wonder - Debut Author Panel (New York, NY)
Saturday, September 27: The Voracious Reader - Reading/Signing (Larchmont, NY)

Starry Night Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, August 26: Fiction Folio
Wednesday, August 27: The Compulsive Reader
Thursday, August 28: Green Bean Teen Queen
Friday, August 29: Paper Cuts
Saturday, August 30: Love is Not a Triangle
Sunday, August 31: Gone With the Words
Monday, September 1: Mac Teen Books
Tuesday, September 2: Jenuine Cupcakes

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Aug 142014
 

I’m thrilled to be a part of the release day blitz for Dangerous Boys! I adored Dangerous Girls and all its twists and turns, and now the wait is finally over for this highly anticipated thriller!

Out Now!

August 14th, 2014

Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Three teens venture into the abandoned lake house one night; hours later, only two emerge from the burning wreckage. Chloe drags one Reznick brother to safety, unconscious and bleeding; the other is left to burn, dead in the fire. But which brother survives? And is his death a tragic accident? Desperate self-defense?

Or murder?

Chloe is the only one with the answers. As the fire rages, and police and parents demand the truth, she struggles to piece together the story of how they got there-a story of jealousy, twisted passion, and the darkness that lurks behind even the most beautiful of faces…

Purchase Now!

Amazon: amzn.to/1wrph3u

iBooks: bit.ly/1mS0PXB

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dangerous-Boys-Abigail-Haas/dp/1471119165/

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1AYM77B

 

Early Praise

“Dangerous Boys is a taut, compelling thriller balanced on the razor’s edge of suspense. I could not put it down, and could not stop grinning wickedly as I raced through the pages.” — Leah Raeder, USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable

“Abigail Hass is a master at her craft! This is a special book and a special author. This is the kind of storytelling and writing that stick with you no matter how much time passes.” — The Book Geek Blog

“As with Dangerous Girls, the closing left me with a huge, admittedly rather twisted smile on my face. I don’t know how Haas manages to turn me into such a gleefully evil creature.” — Dahlia Adler, blogger.

“Dangerous Boys was an intense, psychological read which was full of suspense and drama,…Abigail Haas has a way of writing books which reel you in and keep you there, hooked and addicted until the very last page.” — Goodreads.com

About Abigail Haas

Abigail Haas has written two adult novels and four young adult contemporary novels under the name Abby McDonald. Dangerous Girls is her first young adult thriller. She grew up in Sussex, England, and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She lives in Los Angeles.

Website / Twitter / Facebook

Aug 052014
 

Title: Mortal Danger
Series: Immortal Game #1
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: August 5, 2014
Source: Publisher

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game, #1)

From Goodreads:
Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn’t imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She’s not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he’s impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly… bad things are happening. It’s a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil’s bargains, she isn’t sure who—or what–she can trust. Not even her own mind…

***

Warning: do NOT read this book before going to bed. Unless you want to have nightmares and/or not be able to fall asleep like me.

Mortal Danger is a unique combo of super scary mixed with cute romance. I don’t know many books that can pull that off, but Ann Aguirre did it with this one. The book starts off on a very heavy note and doesn’t really let up except for the scenes with Edie and Kian, which manage to inject love and hope into an otherwise dark situation. Without that romance, I think the book would be too creepy for me to read.

I love books that make you think, especially ones that have a scary element to them. What if your deepest, darkest wishes actually came true? What if when you said, “I wish you’d suffer,” the person actually did suffer? Edie goes through a lot of this throughout the book and you can’t help but feel sorry for her. Everyone has bad thoughts at one point or another, but to have them actually happen is another story. I know I won’t be thinking negative thoughts for a while…

I will say that there were quite a few terms I didn’t understand that I just skipped over, so I’m hoping I didn’t miss out on something big. I was still able to follow and enjoy the story so I’m guessing no ;)

Haunting and creepy but with an oh-so-sweet romance, Mortal Danger is a great start to a promising series.