Monday, December 29, 2014

Favorites of 2014: Books

Favorite Contemporary:


Landline by Rainbow Rowell - my review


Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan  - my review

Favorite Historical/Fantasy-ish:

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White


The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - my review

Favorite Children's Book:

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Favorite Mystery:

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry - my review


We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - my review


Favorite Sequel:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater - my review

Favorite Series Ender:

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - my review

Overall Favorite:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Read This: The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse
by Marie Rutkoski

The Goodreads Summary Says:
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction.

Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


I Say:
5 stars
This sneaky book came in at the end of the year and became my favorite read of 2014

The Winner's Curse is just so good. Initially I was worried because it's technically a fantasy, but it's not at all a traditional fantasy. I was interested from start to finish. The world is reminiscent of Rome (and other military/conquesting societies). Kestrel, the general's daughter, is a terrible fighter but an excellent strategist. And she finds herself unwittingly buying a slave for a ridiculous price. It's then that the idea of the winner's curse is brought up - where a person has won at such a price that they've really lost. That idea weaves itself throughout the plot, as Kestrel, Arin, the Valorians and the Herrani all try to navigate how much they're willing to lose to get what they want.

I loved that whole set up for the plot, and I really enjoyed the characters. Although Kestrel had a few moments where I thought she was giving up too much information to a slave (her father was so important in society I'm surprised she didn't think more people might be out to get them). But I still believed her, for the most part, and Arin. I liked that the author was able to make me want both characters to have what they wanted, even though they both couldn't be "winners."And then the end left me feeling gutted and wanting the sequel ASAP.

Monday, December 15, 2014

North and South Read Along



Since I really enjoyed doing The Book Thief read along last year, it's time to sign up for another one. The lovely bloggers Suey, Kami, & Jenni are hosting a North and South read along and I'm in!

Here's the schedule:
**January 1 to 10: Chapter 1 to 28
(Discussion hosted by Jenni Elyse.)

**January 11 to 20: Chapter 29 to 35
(Discussion hosted by Kami's Library Thoughts.)

**January 21 to 31: Chapter 36 to end
(Discussion hosted by It's All About Books.)

I know absolutely nothing about the book (or the movie) so this should be fun. I'm guessing it's a Civil War book? Maybe? Also this book is in the public domain (meaning, free). Kindle link Google book link

If you'd like to join, sign up at either of the three blogs by clicking on the names above!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Little Update

I've hardly been around the blogging world lately (as in most of 2014) but here's why:


She's all cheeks and puffy sleeves

I had a little girl! She's two months old today. There was a medical emergency during labor so I ended up in a very fast c-section. It was kinda scary. (I lost a lot of blood and they had to pump the baby's stomach right after she was born. But she didn't have to go to the NICU and although they thought I'd need a transfusion I ended up not) So the recovery was tough and I didn't feel like doing much.

Channeling a zombie, meeting the baby for the first time.
At least I didn't need to be turned into a vampire.




But! I'm slowly trying to get back into things so I'll hopefully be around the blog more. I've missed everyone!

In the mean time, have you guys seen PulseIt's 31 Days of Reading? There's a free book to read every day this month. One more thing to be excited for in December. What has everyone else been up to? How was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Read This: Blue Lily Lily Blue

Blue Lily Lily Blue
by Maggie Stiefvater

The Goodreads Summary Says:
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel


I Say:
5 stars
If you only read one October 2014 release, make it this one.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue was my most anticipated read of 2014 and it did not disappoint. Maggie Stiefvater is great at characters, and everyone here is interesting and well developed. From secondary characters like the ladies of 300 Fox Way, to The Gray Man and Gansey's old friend Mallory, the Raven Cycle is full of people I love to read about. Like the first book, this third one spends time with all of the characters, rather than focusing on one or two. After the way The Dream Thieves ended, there is a bit more focus on Blue and her family. But everyone is still present and problematic. There's so much less angst this time around but Blue and her boys struggle with problems supernatural (possibly evil magic caves) and mundane (college applications). Everyone can feel that the search for Glendower is coming closer to an end and no one knows what to do about it. Gansey especially struggles here and it was so interesting to see the cracks in his character coming out. Meanwhile Adam is more self-possessed than he's ever been and I really came to appreciate his character more.

The characters were enough to have me flying through the story but it also has an excellent plot. After finding the cave at the end of the last book, Blue and friends have to decide if/when to enter and what to do with what they find there. They're warned early on that there are three sleepers to be found, and only two should be woken. And then they have to figure out what that means and how to do it. The magic in the series gets more complex and dangerous. (and good) Add on the fact that our main 5 characters all have secrets they're keeping from each other and the tension and suspense go through the roof. Like the other books, this one has an ending that will leave you saying "Wait, what?" and then wanting the next book immediately.

Just So You Know:
I received a free review copy from Scholastic via NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Blue Lily Lily Blue will be available Tuesday, October 21! Preorder

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Utah Book Review: Evertrue

Evertrue (Everneath #3)
by Brodi Ashton

The Goodreads Summary Says: **Spoilers for Previous Books**
Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself... which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love

 
I Say:
3.5 stars
This book might be better than 3.5 stars, but I think that's an accurate rating for how much I enjoyed it. I was so intrigued by the premise set up in Everneath, and then I couldn't get enough of the world building and action in Everbound. So my expectations for Evertrue were probably too high (through the roof). And... unfortunately, it didn't meet them. I never realized how important Cole was to the story until Evertrue. He's intersting and plays dirty. I loved how Nikki knew she shouldn't trust him, but found she had to try anyway. Cole, and his anti-hero hijinks, are all the fun of the story. And, through a series of twists, he's not as involved in the plot of Evertrue as he is in the other books. I was so incredibly disappointed by this. I can see how the twists facilitated the plot, but it took all the fun out of the story for me. That constant sense of tension Cole brings was missing, and I found myself flying through pages hoping to get it back.

So instead of the fun of Cole, the book focuses on Nikki and Jack and their hopes of getting Nikki out of what happened at the end of Everbound. For me, the sweet, caring Jack of the first couple books was gone and he was replaced by more a brutish, cartoony character. My heart wasn't with Jack (or Nikki) and it felt like they were going through a checklist of tasks to try to bring the Everneath down. I felt like this big sense of danger, or conflict, was missing. The very end of the story was really enjoyable for me, and the writing there was so good. But I think taking Cole out of the equation the way the author did just made the story a bit of a disappointment on the whole

 
The Big Three:
Language: a couple profanities
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: some death and mildly gory scenes


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Utah Book Month Author Spotlight: Elana Johnson & WriteOnCon

I've had the chance to feature local YA author Elana Johnson and her books a couple of times on my blog before, so today I want to highlight something really cool she's involved with: WriteOnCon!

WriteOnCon is a free online writer's conference held each summer. This year's will be held this upcoming Tuesday and Wednesday, August 26-27. Elana is one of seven authors, and several agents, who will participate. They'll be offering critiques on queries, pitches, and first five pages for people who register and post on the WriteOnCon website.

And it's all free!

I wish I were a little further along with my own writing to take advantage of WriteOnCon this year, but hopefully I'll able to participate next summer!

Here's a little more about Elana Johnson, should you come across her at WriteOnCon this week:

About Elana Johnson: 
Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist. School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Find Elana Online:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Utah Book Month Blogger Interview: Penelope

You might not know it around my blog, but August is Utah Book Month! And today I get to feature the awesome Penelope from The Reading Fever. Come learn more about her!



What are some of your favorite genres to read?
My favorite genre is fantasy--any and all fantasy. Urban fantasy is fun for me, but so is high fantasy. I just love escaping, and pretending there are entire worlds out there we don't even know about. And when fantasy doesn't do it for me, I like to escape into the past, with historical fiction.
 
What's your favorite book(s) in that genre? Outside of it?
My favorite fantasy books are: The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson (or literally ANY of his books), and the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. Outside of the fantasy genre, I love Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory, and Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.
 
What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption? Are there any coming out soon that you're looking forward to?
My favorite book-to-movie adaptation has to be The Lord of the Rings. I don't think I have ever come across another adaptation where I felt the book was so fully brought to life. So much so, that some days--but not always--I think it is better than the book. *gasp!* Except for the few things that never happened in the books...but that's a story for another day. I just think it was something fans had been waiting for for a long time, and it delivered on every level. As for one I am looking forward to: I am absolutely looking forward to Mockingjay, which comes out in November! I love The Hunger Games, and have loved the movies, as well. I'm excited for Katniss to accept her role as the Mockingjay.
 
What books are you looking forward to reading during Utah Book Month?
This month I plan to read Bree Despain's The Dark Divine series. It has been on my to-read list for a long time, and for some reason I haven't gotten around to it. I also have The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson sitting on my side table, waiting to be read, and The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen coming in the mail. Add a few books by Utah authors that are available on Kindle Unlimited, and this month's reading is going to be great!
 
What do you like to do when you're not doing bookish things?
When I'm not doing bookish things, I'm either working, teaching, or learning. I work at drug & alcohol rehabilitation center for teens, where I get to learn exactly how long it's been since I knew what was hip, and cool. ;) It's a fun job though, and I love working with teenagers. When I'm home, I homeschool my son, so our days are filled with lessons, and field trips around the state. We like to learn out in the real world, so we're always going places. I also do photography, which is my ultimate dream job. I'm going back to school this fall, with the intent to pursue that path.
 
Ketchup, fry sauce, both, neither?
Fry sauce! Every time. In fact, my son participated in a culture swap with a family in Australia last year, and we made sure to include a bottle of fry sauce in the package. Because it is just that great.
 
You've taken a bit of a break from The Reading Fever. What have you been up to lately? Do you think you'll be back?
Oh, how I've missed blogging! I've been working a lot, and switched positions earlier this year, so I no longer had copious amounts of free time while at work. Now I've got to squeeze things in here and there, in between teaching and work, but I'm learning to manage my time better. I will definitely be back! In fact, planning posts for Utah Book Month is the boost I needed to get me back to blogging. I plan to continue after the month is over, so never fear! :)

Thanks to Penelope for answering my questions. Find her online:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After Sneak Peek

Isla and the Happily Ever After (sneak peek)
by Stephanie Perkins

The Summary Says:
Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.
Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

I Say:
Can it please be August 14 already? I've been so excited to read Isla since I finished Anna and the French Kiss. It's one of my all-time favorite contemporary romances and I couldn't wait to revisit Paris and SOAP and so many of the characters I loved from the story. I didn't think anything could get me more pumped up for Isla, until I read this preview. From the adorable beginning when a post-surgery, drugged-up Isla runs into Josh at a local cafe, to the hints of a budding feelings between the two in Paris, I couldn't read this preview fast enough.
Isla is only mentioned in passing a couple of times in Anna, but I liked her immediately. She's sweet and introverted, and she's got it adorably bad for Josh. I thought I had a good feel for Josh's character in Anna - funny, carefree, maybe a little irresponsible. But shy, quiet Isla sees him in a different light, and so do readers. I can't wait to read more about the two of them. And you can too

Just So You Know:
I received a free 50 page preview from NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Isla and the Happily Ever After releases Thursday, August 14.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Read This: Split Second

Split Second (Pivot Point #2)
by Kasie West

The Goodreads Summary Says:
Life can change in a split second.

Addie hardly recognizes her life since her parents divorced. Her boyfriend used her. Her best friend betrayed her. She can’t believe this is the future she chose. On top of that, her ability is acting up. She’s always been able to Search the future when presented with a choice. Now she can manipulate and slow down time, too . . . but not without a price.

When Addie’s dad invites her to spend her winter break with him, she jumps at the chance to escape into the Norm world of Dallas, Texas. There she meets the handsome and achingly familiar Trevor. He’s a virtual stranger to her, so why does her heart do a funny flip every time she sees him? But after witnessing secrets that were supposed to stay hidden, Trevor quickly seems more suspicious of Addie than interested in her. And she has an inexplicable desire to change that.

Meanwhile, her best friend, Laila, has a secret of her own: she can restore Addie’s memories . . . once she learns how. But there are powerful people who don’t want to see this happen. Desperate, Laila tries to manipulate Connor, a brooding bad boy from school—but he seems to be the only boy in the Compound immune to her charms. And the only one who can help her.

As Addie and Laila frantically attempt to retrieve the lost memories, Addie must piece together a world she thought she knew before she loses the love she nearly forgot . . . and a future that could change everything


I Say:
4 stars
I didn't realize this was the last book in the series (I just assumed it was a trilogy). So I was surprised when the book seemed headed more toward resolution than the usual second-book cliffhanger. :)

But I really enjoyed Split Second. Kasie West has created an interesting world with fun characters. I liked the different abilities, and the way the story explores the good and bad of living with them. I was happy to see so much of Laila, Addie's BFF from Pivot Point. Instead of switching between two realities like PP, Split Second alternates POV between Addie (in the Norm world at her dad's house) and Laila (who spends much of her time back in the Compound). They had distinct voices and plot lines, although I would have liked more resolution for some of the things. Laila's family issues don't really go anywhere, and I was surprised by her choice at the end of the book.

But Split Second successfully mixes a couple of cute romances with suspense and unexpected plot twists. I loved the new bad guy(s) and abilities that were introduced. Although I'm sad this isn't a trilogy, Split Second was a decent wrap up for the world set up in Pivot Point.

 
The Big Three:
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: not an issue

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Read This: We Were Liars

We Were Liars
by E Lockhart

The Goodreads Summary Says:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.


I Say:
4 stars
This is the kind of book that's best to go into knowing absolutely nothing! So, if you're interested in reading it, skip the reviews until you're done.

**Slight spoilers**
I'd heard some buzz for this book, especially that it had some ending, and I wish I hadn't known that. Because I ended up thinking the ending was obvious pretty early on. At one point I was sure that the author only wanted me to believe that was what was going on, so I was a little disappointed to get to the end and see that I was right. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't figured out the what, although it was really interesting to read the how/why. I didn't expect the reasons, so there was still enough mystery to keep me turning pages.
**End spoilers**

Otherwise there was a lot to like about We Were Liars. I've been an E Lockhart fan since the Ruby Oliver series, and this book has a different tone but some similar ideas (wealth and how it affects people, family issues, good/dumb dogs) I loved the poetic writing, from Cady's unreliable descriptions of her life events, to the different variations on her story. I absolutely love reading an unreliable narrator, and there's plenty of that in a book called "We Were Liars." The book is really smartly put together. And the emotion at the end was pretty powerful. Overall a good book. Just try to hear as little as possible about it before reading


The Big Three:
Language: overall infrequent, but a few instances of the f-word
Sex and Stuff: some kissing
Violence: vague references to injuries but nothing explicit

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spotlight: Elemental Hunger series by Elana Johnson

One of my most favorite local authors, Elana Johnson, has a new book series out. These sound so interesting!


About ELEMENTAL RUSH:
Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes.

He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.

When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.

He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.

When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.

He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.

ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER, which is also available now.

Find this novella on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, and Wattpad





About Elemental Hunger:
The second installment in the Elemental series, a new futuristic fantasy for young adults and new adults, ELEMENTAL HUNGER is a full-length novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.

So she does two logical things to survive.
1. She runs.
2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.

Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.

With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.

Look for the third and final installment, ELEMENTAL RELEASE, an Elemental novella, coming on July 2, 2014.

Find this novel on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, iTunes, B&N, and Kobo

Monday, April 21, 2014

Read This: Cress

Cress
by Marissa Meyer

The Goodreads Summary Says:
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.


I Say:
4.5 stars

I really liked this one. Another fun edition to the Lunar Chronicles. I'm less familiar with the story of Rapunzel, other than the whole alone in the tower & long hair bit. So I couldn't identify how Meyer wove in parts of the original fairytale with her story. In fact when my book club talked about this one I learned some things about the original story that I wish I'd known going into it.


But it was still very enjoyable. At 550 pages I worried it would drag, but there were only one or two spots where I lost a bit of interest. (There are so many points of view, and a couple of the Kai chapters weren't that interesting to me) There are a couple things that are resolved conveniently and I guessed most of the twists, but the story is so unique and interesting that it didn't bother me. I would have liked to get to know Cress a bit better or had more time in her POV specifically, but with this many characters it's hard to do.

The Big Three:
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: fighting with fists and weapons, but nothing graphic; a character is tortured

Monday, April 14, 2014

When Do You DNF? TV Edition

I haven't been reading much lately, but we're in the middle of an Amazon Prime trial. Which means lots and lots o'TV. It has Veronica Mars. And Friday Night Lights. And How I Met Your Mother. All for free!

But I'm not trying to be a commercial here. I have a problem. Everyone keeps recommending these shows to me. Now I've watched the first couple episodes. And I'm not in love. (How does anyone want Veronica and Logan together? He's so completely awful!)

So I turn to you, my book loving (and TV loving!) friends. How many episodes do you give a show before you decide it's not for you?



Or for those series specifically, is there a better place to start than the very beginning? Do you have a favorite episode/season I should check out?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wish You Weren't Excerpt & Giveaway










I'm excited to be part of the blog tour for Wish You Weren't, a new middle grade novel by Sherrie Petersen. Today I've got a fun excerpt for you guys!


About WISH YOU WEREN’T:
Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of
his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family
is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during
a meteor shower, he doesn't expect it to make any difference.

Until his annoying brother disappears.

With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck
in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones
he loves.


An Awesome Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Excerpt:
     I knew my life was over the day my parents brought my brother home from the

hospital. Dad sat me down on the couch, smiling like he’d just won the lottery. He was

holding a bundle of blankets that smelled like a mixture of powder, poop and rubbing

alcohol. The smell made me nervous. Nobody had warned me about the smell.

Dad settled in beside me then loosened the blankets to give me my first look at the

baby. His puffy, scrunched up face turned red and without even opening his eyes, the

little booger started screaming.


Check out the rest of the excerpt after the jump:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

If You've Wondered Where I've Been

Maybe this will clear it up:



No? I didn't for me, either. That could be my spleen, for all I know. :) But they tell me it's a baby, coming up on 14 weeks now. Mostly I've been up to that. I get really sick when I'm pregnant and don't feel like doing much. So I disappear for awhile.

But I'm still reading (sometimes). I just finished Cress and really liked it! And I'm still writing (sometimes). I'm in the middle of writing a new chapter. Some day I'll finish that book. I even did my taxes.

So that's what's new with me. How are you guys? I feel like it's been forever!

And in case you wanted to see my other two:

He turned 5

We had a super hero party. Even the little guy got in on it



Monday, February 24, 2014

Guest Post: Sarah Beard on The Healing Power of Creativity

SARAH BEARD is the author of Porcelain Keys, a YA contemporary romance. She has a degree in communications from the University of Utah and splits her time between writing and raising three energetic boys. She is a cancer survivor and a hopeless romantic. She enjoys reading and composing music, and lives with her husband and children in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can follow Sarah on twitter at @authorsarahb, or at facebook.com/authorsarahbeard. Her website is www.sarahbeard.com.




            A few years ago as I was finishing up eight rounds of chemotherapy, a fellow cancer survivor warned me about the fear that would come after my treatments ended. She said it would feel like there were tigers hiding in the trees along my path, waiting to pounce. I soon understood what she was talking about. Believe it or not, having toxic chemicals pumped into your body when you have cancer can have a comforting effect. Because despite all the horrible side effects, those chemicals (if they’re doing their job) are fighting the enemy. So even though I was cancer-free when my treatments ended, I was left feeling vulnerable and fearful. I could feel those tigers stalking me, sometimes even breathing down my neck. I wanted to fight them off; to shove them away and tell them that I was healed, that the cancer was never coming back. But how could I challenge something that I couldn’t even see?
                The only solution was to bring those tigers out of the darkness and into the light. So I took a pencil and paper, and I embodied one of those tigers in a way that I could see it—snarled muzzle, bared teeth, flattened ears and all. It made my fear more tangible. But it also made it less scary because now I could see it. Which meant that I could challenge it. I drew my own face on the same paper, staring down that tiger with an expression that said, “I’m not afraid of you. You can’t hurt me.”
                There was something so therapeutic about this exercise, and I realized much later that it wasn’t the first time in my life that I’d used a creative process to deal with fear, pain, or grief. In high school, as I was going through a very dark time, I channeled my emotions into poetry, music, and art. When I felt pain or sorrow, I would sketch the shape of it on paper. Or play the sound of it on a piano. Or write words to cryptically describe it. And looking back, I can see how my creations carried a portion of my burdens and helped me make sense of the things I struggled with. The music embraced my sorrow so I didn’t have to. Or the paint on the canvas captured my grief so that I could let it go.
                In my book, Porcelain Keys, both of my main characters use forms of creativity to cope with the darkness in their lives. Seventeen-year-old Aria dreams of following in her mother’s footsteps and going to Juilliard to be a classical pianist. But when the story begins, her mother has been gone for five years, and Aria is grieving silently and alone, living in a situation that makes it impossible for her to pursue her dreams. She turns to music for solace and to express the things she can’t safely say with words. Aria’s love interest, Thomas, is also carrying his own secret burdens, which he uses as fodder for beautiful art pieces.
                I believe that through the power of creativity, our struggles can be a great opportunity for growth. We can take the scary or painful things inside of us and transform them into something beautiful, obtaining a measure of healing in the process.


Thanks so much to Sarah for visiting the blog today. Her debut book, Porcelain Keys, is now available!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Read This: Prodigy

Prodigy
by Marie Lu

The Goodreads Summary Says:
Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

I Say:
5 stars
Gah! this book. I really, really enjoyed Prodigy. I thought the pacing was great, and there was a nice balance of action and intrigue. I loved the characters, and how distinct the two points of view were. Day and June spend most of the book separated from each other, trying to figure out who to trust and what the best thing to do is. I loved to watch them struggle and reason and play different roles. Not everything in the plot is unique (a lot of elements reminded me of Mockingjay or Ally Condie's Reached), and occasionally it was hard to believe June or Day would be as influential as they are in the story. But those were easy to overlook because I was so invested in the story.

I usually hate a love triangle (and there's no triangle here), but I loved what Lu did with the romance aspect. While June and Day are apart, they each interact with other characters who might technically be better matches for them. I loved (and hated) seeing June and Day each think seriously about if their relationship really was best for themselves and the other person. I like when characters have options. Although, of course, I want June and Day together.

And then the ending! I'm happy I had Champion sitting right on the shelf to pick up. I couldn't imagine having to wait a year after finishing Prodigy.


The Big Three:
Language: one or two swear words
Sex and Stuff: some making out
Violence: shooting and fist fighting and a few deaths, but nothing explicit

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Read This: Elevated

Elevated
by Elana Johnson

The Summary Says:
The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.


I Say:
4 stars
This was a really interesting story. I've never read a YA book in verse before, but it reads like all the great epic poems of the past. The tone is more somber than I'd expected from the vibrant cover, but it was really gripping from start to finish.

Elevated is just over 200 pages, but I appreciated how much emotion and suspense are packed into such a small space. The book opens as Elly finds herself stuck in an elevator with Travis, her former best (more than) friend. And through a series of well-placed flashbacks the reader gets glimpses at all the things that brought the two from close friends to not speaking. Elly was an interesting character that I really felt for. She's been through a lot, and takes blame for even more. I loved seeing her growth in the story. Every time I began to doubt where her character was going, Johnson moved the story in a realistic way.

If I had any complaints it's that I would have liked to get more of a feel for Travis. I wasn't as sympathetic toward him as I think I was supposed to be, and definitely not to the level Elly was. Having grown up in Chicago myself there were a couple things here and there that struck me as inaccurate (if Travis' mom is on drugs and having money is a constant issue, he wouldn't have a car. Or live in a building with a doorman). But those things won't stick out to most readers, who are otherwise in for a really quick, intense read.


Just So You Know:
I received a free review copy from the author in exchange for an honest opinion. Elevated is available today! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Author Interview: Kristin Bryant

Today on the blog I'm happy to have debut author Kristin Bryant. Her book, The Others, came out this past September.

Summary from Goodreads:
A dangerous adventure to save a distant world Ryen is just a normal guy trying to do his job. Unfortunately, that job includes trying to save his distant world on the brink of disaster.

Ryen is on a mission to Earth to find the answers to his distant world's most critical questions. While searching the Yucatan Peninsula for a mythic figure-a savior-who would live a perfect life and ultimately die to save their souls, Ryen meets Savannah, a beautiful woman hiding a painful past. On their dangerous adventures together through the untamed jungles of Mexico, he can't help but fall in love with her. As his time runs out, Ryen must decide if he is willing to give up everything he has ever known and loved to stay on Earth with Savannah.

The Masters, a powerful clan of corrupt leaders, are plotting to take back Earth, the sacred planet, from the humans. Ryen and Savannah are thrust into the middle of The Masters' plot.





Find Kristin online:

About The Others:

 How did you get your idea for The Others?

The idea came to me while I was doing laundry. It came so out of nowhere and so clearly, I actually dropped my laundry basket on my feet. It was such a strange idea, I wasn’t sure what to do with it at first. It took me a little bit of time to put pen to paper and start outlining a story around it, especially because I had never thought of writing a book before.

Was it difficult to write from a male POV?

It was actually a lot fun! I let my dad read early versions and he said Ryen (the main character) wasn’t believable because his thoughts weren’t violent enough. So, I had to man up a little. I also paid close attention to the way my husband would answer questions- straight and to the point, no frills, no nonsense. I tried to write Ryen that way. 

About Writing:

What is your writing process like? Any routines that help you write?

Whenever I get stuck, I surf Facebook. There’s something about doing something totally mindless that frees up your brain for creative thought (FB friends, don’t take this as a hint that your posts about what you had for lunch are mindless…)
And when I really get stuck, I grab my phone full of music and hit the running trail. I usually come back with all sorts of ideas. My website has a playlist for my book that goes along with each chapter.

How you do find balance between your writing and all your other life responsibilities? 

I realized very early that no one is going to pay you to get good at something. If you want to accomplish something like writing a book, you have to pretend it is a job- the worst paying job ever. You have to set time apart for it. So, from 9:00 pm until midnight through the writing process, I treated it like a job. And it still counts as the best/worst job I’ve ever had. 

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Anyone can say they want to write a book. Few people do it. Why? Because…
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
- Thomas A. Edison
Work hard. Work often. Don’t give up.

Check out more of my interview with Kristin after the jump.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Swoony Books

You guys, today's Top Ten Tuesday is possibly my favorite topic ever: Top Ten Books to Make You Swoon. Come play along!

In no particular order:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta - it's a contentious sort of swoon, but still swoony

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - so many cute little things

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - basically every part with Levi was swoony

The Crown of Embers & The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson - Hector! Enough said.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - the beach!

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater - I know, this is not a kissing book. But, that drive up in the mountains!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer - somehow it manages to be mysterious and swoony

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson - the banter!

 
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater - somehow killer horses manages to bring out the swoon in Sean Kendrick.
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - Joe goes from zero to swoon pretty quickly.


Extra: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi - Perry and Aria are so great together

Friday, February 7, 2014

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard












I'm happy to be part of the blog tour for Porcelain Keys by debut author Sarah Beard.
Sarah will also stop by the blog on the 24th with a guest post!



About Porcelain Keys:

Aria's life is full of secrets--secrets about her mother's death, her father's cruelty, and her dream to go to Juilliard. When Aria meets Thomas, he draws out her secrets, captures her heart, and gives her the courage to defy her father. But when tragedy strikes and Thomas disappears, Aria is left alone to transform her broken heart's melody into something beautiful. Porcelain Keys is a captivating love story that will resonate long after the last page is turned.













Reviews:

"Emotionally rich, elegant description, beloved characters--Sarah Beard delivers a fresh, new novel that will go on my list of classics."
 --Stephanie Fowers, author of With a Kiss.  

"Aria is a heroine worth rooting for, and the plot is an emotional melody that weaves a spell so potent, it can only be broken by reaching the end. And even then, I couldn’t stop thinking about Aria and her story."
--Heather Frost, author of The Seers Trilogy 

"Emotionally gripping, this beautifully crafted young adult romance will pull at readers’ heartstrings from tragic beginning to happy ending. A must-read for fans of contemporary romance, both young and seasoned. "
--Julie Ford, author of Replacing Gentry

"Porcelain Keys is a fresh, heart-wrenching take on boy-meets-girl. Using fantastic and musical imagery to tell the poignant love story of Aria and Thomas, the author leads the reader to a swelling crescendo as if we're part of the song—and what a beautiful song it is."
--Cindy C. Bennett, author or Geek Girl and Rapunzel Untangled

"A lyrical love story that will leave your heart singing. Porcelain Keys is a masterpiece with emotional depth, young love, and family angst. Beard takes us on a journey of self-discovery, second chances, and ultimately, sweet resolution."
 --Heather Ostler, author of The Siren's Secret

Buy Links:

Barnes and Noble
Amazon

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The January Recap!

In January I read:

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
Like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the cute romance takes a backseat to some family drama. I don't think Smith's books are for me.

Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Loved this alternating POV of two girls getting ready to go to college.

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
DeStefano has such a pretty writing style, but I would have appreciated a more defined conflict in this series opener.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald
This was a cute story about a girl who has to get past her fixation on a friend who will never be "more than friends" I loved her adventures trying different things and learning to be her own person.

Defy by Sara B Larson
This high fantasy debut had a lot of world building issues and wasn't for me, but had a really strong ending.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
This was a middle grade fantasy that one of my book clubs read. I really felt for the characters, and I loved the talking cat.

Favorites for the month were Roomies, Getting Over Garrett Delaney, and Plain Kate.


I was also able to go to the Sara Zarr signing at the Provo Library and I'll be writing about that soon.

And I officially joined a writing group! Some local bloggers and I are going to give this writing business a go and I'm excited. And also slightly afraid that I will be critiqued as hard as I critique! Good thing our writing group has the #2 & #3 toughest reviewers in Utah County....