Friday, March 29, 2013

Stacking The Shelves (18)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by the amazing Tynga @Tynga's Reviews

Piece of My Heart Invisibility
Big thanks to Merit and Penguin!
Croak (Croak, #1)
Thanks Nicole!
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Little Bee Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, #2) The Poison Eaters: And Other Stories
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Blog Tour Review: The Devil's Triangle by Toni De Palma

The Devil's Triangle (The Devil's Triangle, #1)
Author:  Toni De Palma
Genre:  Paranormal, Fantasy
Published: February 15th, 2013
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

"When 17 year old Cooper dies in an attempt to burn down his school, he finds himself in the afterlife. Lucy, the Devil's sister who has crossed party lines, decides to give Cooper another shot at heaven. The deal? Cooper returns to Earth and has to find a girl named Grace. The rest is up to him.
While Cooper figures out his mission, he's thrown into the life he's always wanted. Great parents, a spot on the Varsity football team and a real future are all within reach. But what he really wants is Grace, a feisty girl with an abusive boyfriend who can pound Cooper into pulp if he doesn't watch out.
While Lucy plays demonic-puppeteer, clues to an unknown past between Cooper and Grace start to unravel. Cooper discovers that what's keeping him and Grace apart is far more sinister than anything this bad boy could have ever imagined."~Goodreads

 I thought I knew what to expect going into this book.  I was wrong.  Just judging by the cover and the synopsis I assumed that Cooper would be some bad boy seeking redemption while maintaining his snark and that the "triangle" in question would be one of the love variety (luckily that wasn't the case). I was nicely surprised on both points.  


  • Male POV: With YA books I get a little burnt out reading from a teenage girl's perspective all the time.  I always like it when authors switch it up and write from a guys point of view.  I felt like the author did a great job of getting into the character of Cooper and he really felt like a guy.  He reacts to situations differently than his female counterparts would and that makes the story more interesting.
  • Different "back from the dead" set up: Okay, with this one I feel like I have to be vague or I'll give major plot points away, but I loved the way De Palma set up the "back from the dead" scenario.  I expected Cooper to be zapped back to his old school before the fire as a totally different him.  It didn't quite work out like that and the result a kid who still has to deal with the consequences of his actions while getting used to a much better life.  I can't be more specific than that without spoilers, so you'll just have to read it to find out ;) 
  • Cooper's growth:  This goes hand in hand with my last point.  Cooper does a lot of growing in his new life.  He finally gets to see what life is like with a loving family and friends.  This is both a kindness and a cruelty.  He knows that it could all go away at any moment and that knowledge makes him fight to keep it.  He transitions from a selfish, insecure delinquent to a kid that people might actually want to be around.  A guy who loves his family and his life and finds value in it and I really loved watching that transition.


  • Rough start:  I have to be honest, I didn't think I was going to be able to get through the book after the first chapter.  Cooper was so obnoxious.  He kept referring to St. Peter as "St. Pete" which annoyed me to no end and his bravado and snark was a little much.  Luckily things really started turning around after that and I was able to get into the story.
  • Grace: I'll just say it.  Plain and simple, I didn't like Grace.  She was so beaten down and weak.  I realize that her character is supposed to be showing strength by self-denial and not fighting back but I just couldn't take it.  Half-way through I just wanted to shake her and yell "DO SOMETHING".  Hopefully she finds a voice in the next book.
  • The ending seemed incomplete:  The ending was something of a let-down.  It seemed like the action had just gotten going and then the book was over.  Everything was kind of left up in the air.  I always like it when books have some sort of solid ending, even if they're part of a series.  Unfortunately this ending was lacking.

The Devil's Triangle was not what I expected and that is a good thing.  I'm really glad that I got a chance to give it a read.  If you're looking for a new paranormal series that's a little brash and quirky with some great character growth I would give this a try.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mini Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods

ChokerAuthor: Elizabeth Woods
Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Pages: 233
Published: January 4th, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Rating: 4/5 Stars

"Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. 
Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in. 
But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?"~Goodreads

Let's talk a bit about how covers can be duplicitous.  Here we have a pretty pink cover, white winter trees, a long stemmed rose and some lovely handwriting.  Sure the title sounds ominous but how dark could this book possibly be?  Take into consideration that the angle of the trees is what someone who is on their back (like, perhaps, someone who's just been murdered in the woods) might be looking at and you get some idea of just how dark this book can get.  This cover is entirely representative of the story.  Choker is a thriller disguised as a contemporary.  Woods somehow managed to fit two different plot lines into just under 240 pages.  There were several times while reading this book that I forgot it was supposed to be a thriller at all.  I just wanted Cara to win the guy of her dreams and actually make some real friends.  That is probably what made this story so unsettling.  Woods manages to catch the reader off guard by luring them into their comfort zone just before delivering her blows.

First of all we have Cara, our main character.  She is the quintessential high school outcast.  She doesn't really have any close friends, she's super awkward and she can't seem to relate to anyone.  She's pretty miserable overall.  She's being bullied by the school's resident mean girls, their leader is dating the guy Cara is in love with.  Then her childhood friend, Zoe, appears and starts camping out in Cara's bedroom.  She starts helping Cara build up her self confidence and everything starts getting better.  It's all well and good until the bodies start piling up and Zoe seems pretty comfortable with it.  

The "thriller" aspect of the story is an ever-present force that guides the story along without over-shadowing it.  This creates an incredibly tense and upsetting atmosphere throughout the book.  Everything seems more realistic and that's what makes it so frightening.  I saw the ending coming from a mile away but that didn't make it any less disturbing when my fears came to fruition.  This is definitely not the book for you if you like neat, tidy, happy endings.   This one stays with you for awhile and was truly and excellent read.  I'd recommend this if you are looking for something more psychological and dark than a crime thriller.  

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

Going Vintage

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today I'm very happy to be part of the official blog tour for Lindsey Leavitt's new book, Going Vintage.  Going Vintage centers around thrift-loving Mallory.  She has a pretty great life: a job working for her dad's antique business, an awesome younger sister and an adorable boyfriend.  Unfortunately her life takes a dive when she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her with an online girlfriend.  Mallory decides to swear off technology and live like it's the sixties.  After all, life was much simpler then right?  

As part of the the blog tour for Going Vintage I have an interview with Lindsey Leavitt, herself!  So let's just get on to the questions!

Sometimes we can all feel smothered by technology. If you could un-invent any piece of technology what would it be? 

Texting. Yes, it’s easy. I don’t have to call babysitters and have that awkward pause before they tell me no. But I just miss people talking. And I hate when people text during another conversation.

Conversely what is something you couldn't do without? 

My laptop, Holden. I sleep with him under my pillow

Have you ever tried giving up any modern conveniences for a period of time? 

Yep, did it for a week while researching this book. I have mostly blacked out that period of my life

What was your inspiration for Going Vintage? 

There was an article in The Wall Street Journal a few years ago about a man with a cyber wife who ignored his real life wife. That’s straight from the pages. A breakup drama involving a family member gave me plenty of material. And The List came after I found a list I wrote when I was 19, about what I wanted to accomplish in my life (and coolness-- #1 was publish a book!)

I have to say that this is one of my favorite covers, and I am going to find that pink carpeting (just maybe in rug form)! Did you have any input and were you happy with the result? 

 Isn’t it fabulous? The cover gods were surely smiling down on me. This one isn’t much different than the original draft. I had some input on color and fonts, but the designer, Regina Flath, found this image and shaped everything around that. I love she saturated the color. I think it fits the tone of the book perfectly.
What do you want readers to take away from this story?

Happiness. Fun. Maybe a shift in perspective. Oliver Kimball (read and you’ll understand)

What's next for you? Any projects in the works? 

I’m working on another YA contemporary for Bloomsbury that will likely be out in summer 2014. I can’t say much about it, because I still don’t have much to say, but the story is set in Vegas and involves wedding chapels. I’m gearing up to start revisions soon, and can’t wait to get back into this story. There are some characters I really, really love.

I want to thank Lindsey for being with us today and for bravely giving up technology for a week so she could write the book.  That's what I call dedication. Going Vintage is available now from Bloomsbury, make sure to check it out and let me know what you think!

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Double Review: Article 5 and Breaking Point

Article 5 (Article 5, #1)

Warning: This review may contain spoilers!  I will try to keep them to an absolute minimum.  Read at your own risk.

Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre:  Dystopian
Pages: 362
Published: January 31, 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars

"New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.
The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.
There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.
Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.
Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.
That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.
Breaking Point (Article 5, #2)Author: Kristen Simmons
Genre:  Dystopian
Pages: 400
Published: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen
Rating: 4/5 Stars

"After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.
Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….
Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.
Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.
With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?
" ~Goodreads

Like everyone else on the planet I make mistakes.  In fact, I probably make them more frequently than most people (at least it seems that way).  But sometimes those mistakes can have unexpectedly great outcomes.  When Article 5 came out last year I didn't have a huge desire to read it.  So I decided not to pick it up and I moved on with my literary life.  later in the year I requested a book called Breaking Point from Tor Teen who very nicely obliged and sent me a beautiful finished hardback!  It was only then that I realized that Breaking Point was the sequel to Article 5 and that I hadn't read it yet.  Since they had sent the second book over, I figured the only thing to do was pick up the first one and read them both.  After all, it was my mistake.  And it was one of the best mistakes ever!  I ended up devouring Article 5 and jumping right into Breaking Point. I found myself completely riveted and immersed in Ember's America.  I've decided to review both books together since I basically have the same things to say about both of them.  I will try to be as spoiler-free as possible, especially when it comes to Breaking Point, but there will be some minor plot points that I have to discuss so consider yourself warned!


  • The action doesn't stop: The pacing and action in both books is great.  I flew through them at break-neck speed and loved every minute.  The America that Simmons has created is full of danger and manipulation which drives the plot along and can be pretty terrifying at times.  It's such a realistic, if unlikely, scenario that it was impossible for me not to think about the story even when I wasn't reading it.  At times it felt relentless, but not in a boring way, more in an "oh my god, how much more of this can I handle?" sort of way.  
  • Chase and Ember, the opposite of insta-love: I get a little tired of the usual YA relationships and I love it when there is some conflict and depth there.  Chase and Ember are a complex and conflicted pair.  On one hand they have grown up together.  They were close friends for most of their lives and dated before Chase joined the military.  They were in love long before this story began.  On the other hand, after Chase became a soldier he arrested Ember and her mother and had her thrown into a reform school while her mother was carted off to God knows where.  After they meet up again and come to terms with their unique situation things only get more complicated.  Old feelings start to crop up and they only have each other to rely on but there is a cloud of guilt and betrayal that hover just over the horizon throughout these two books.  The conflict serves to keep the story interesting and tugs on the heartstrings of the reader.  I just loved them.  Yes, Chase can go a little alpha-male sometimes, but what is he supposed to do in such a dangerous world?  Besides, he is the one with the military training here, so I choose to assume that he serves as the voice of reason because of his experience rather than his gender.  Plus, it's not like Ember listens much anyway.
  • All of the other characters, especially Sean:  Simmons did and excellent job with these characters.  Each one of them has their own demons and short-comings but she makes them all seem human.  Many of them are loveable despite their issues.  A great example is Sean.  Sean is a former FBR soldier who meets Ember while she is at reform school.  Although he starts out as her enemy, he becomes one of her closest friends.  Sean is like the big brother I always wanted.  He's funny, brave and gives Ember lots of crap when she needs it.  I just loved him and I loved their relationship.  There is no romance there.  They are just great friends, almost family.


  • Where's the history:  the only problem that I had with the series is that the history isn't fully explained.  Now, the author did write more about what caused the War in the second book but she still doesn't fully explain why the world has ended up this way, or for that matter what the rest of the world looks like.  We only see the U.S.  I would really love to know how we got here.  I'm hoping that this is all fully explained in the next book.
All in all, I absolutely loved these books.  I can't wait to continue the series when the next book comes out.  To my knowledge there hasn't been an announcement about when that will be, but hopefully we'll know soon.  Thanks so much to Tor for sending this one to me!  And maybe I should also thank my absent-mindedness since it led me to such and awesome series!  Let me know if you've read these as well and what you thought!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Author Interview: Carolyn Meyer

 I am so excited today to bring you this interview care of Mod Podge Blog Tours!  Carolyn Meyer was always one of my favorite authors growing up.  She's written an amazing array of books that encompass all different genres.  She is one of the most prolific and beloved young adult authors living today.  Some of her most famous work includes The Young Royals series and several of the Royal Diaries books that most of us devoured in middle school (I know I did).  That is why I am so honored to have her here today as part of the blog tour to promote her newest book, Victoria Rebels.  This historical fiction novel is based on Queen Victoria's actual journals and, therefore promises the same realism and legitimacy that readers have come to expect from Meyer's work.  I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on it.  

Carolyn has very nicely agreed to an interview about her new book and so, without further ado, onto the interview!

Some of my favorite books growing up were The Royal Diaries series and your Young Royals series. The characters have such a genuine and unique voice. How do you prepare to get inside the head of someone that actually existed?

I become as well acquainted as I possibly can with my subject by reading about her and the world in which she lived. And you've put your finger on something here: voice. That's the hardest thing for me, because it involves language as well as thought process. Marie-Antoinette, an Austrian by birth who spoke French with some difficulty, was tricky enough, but I really had a rough time figuring out how to capture Cleopatra's voice from more than two thousand years ago. She spoke whatever kind of Greek was spoken at that time. Big debate: would Cleopatra have used the equivalent of contractions? I decided that she would speak formally to her father, informally to her sisters and servants. Fortunately, I had no such dilemma with Victoria, because she kept such extensive diaries that I had a pretty good notion of how she would have sounded.

How did you develop an interest in European royalty?

One day several years ago the editor with whom I had worked on several books remarked, "Have you thought of writing about the Tudors?" And I said no, I hadn't thought about it, I didn't know a thing about English history, and I wasn't all that interested. But then I began to think about it, and to read a little, and I became fascinated by the queen they call Bloody Mary. And the rest is history. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that.)

Which of the young royals was the most fun to write about?

I like the bad girls, particularly Anne Boleyn and Marie-Antoinette, because history has painted them as such evil women. And they weren't evil. They were complex people caught up in the currents of the times and made some pretty serious miscalculations. I also enjoyed writing about Victoria and showing that she wasn't nearly as prim and proper as we assume she was.  

Historical fiction continues to be one of the most popular genres in literature. What do you think makes historical fiction so relevant and relate-able, especially with younger readers?

I think it's the recognition that thoughts, feelings, fears, desires--the whole gamut of human experience--has not changed, although the trappings have. I believe it's empowering for a girl who, like Victoria, doesn't get along with her mother, to see that this kind of conflict is nothing new, and that you can survive the rough times and go on to live your life.

You write across so many genres. Along with historical fiction, you've written contemporary, mystery and even non-fiction. Which is your favorite genre to write?

Actually non-fiction gave me the foundation for writing fiction--I learned how to do research effectively and how to use it to tell the story. I used to do contemporary novels, but frankly I find historical fiction much more fun. 

Which books inspired you growing up?

Remember that I grew up a looooong time ago, and I don't really remember what I read as a kid. I was always trying to talk the librarian in our little town into giving me more grownup books to read, but she was a friend of my mother and made sure I didn't get my hands on anything at all racy, which of course was what I was interested in. 

If you are remembered for one piece of work, what would you like it to be?

I don't think I've written it yet! (LOVE IT!)

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It is truly an honor to be able to interview you.

And my pleasure to reply, Catie! 

Thanks so much for checking out the interview guys and please take a look at Victoria Rebels and let me know what you thought.  Also don't forget to enter the giveaway below for you chance to win a copy of Victoria Rebels or Cleopatra Confesses care of Mod Podge Blog Tours!

Stacking The Shelves (17)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by the amazing Tynga @Tynga's Reviews

For Review:

The Sweet Dead Life

Huge thanks to SOHO Teen!!


Fragile Eternity (Wicked Lovely, #3) Anya's Ghost Love Letters Of Henry VIII To Anne Boleyn Traitors of the Tower The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn The Monsters Of Templeton Incendiary The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3) That Summer The Truth About Forever Just Listen Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal, #1) Silly Novels by Lady Novelists The Art of War The Spook's Bestiary (The Last Apprentice / Wardstone Chronicles) 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered (Unremembered, #1)Author: Jessica Brody
Genre:  Sci Fi, Fantasy
Pages: 320
Published: March 5th, 2013
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Source:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"The only thing worse than forgetting her past... is remembering it.
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.
Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.
Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.
Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?" ~Goodreads

This book surprised me in a lot of ways.  First of all, before I read the description I thought it was going to be just straight contemporary.  Girl loses memory in plane crash, boy finds girl, boy tries to convince girl they were in love, girl eventually remembers (probably after another blow to the head), everyone goes home happy.  Cut and dry, simple.  That's what I was expecting.  That is not what happened.  I started reading this book at around 2 A.M.  As I read the last words of the prologue I shot up in bed (like literally sat straight up) and said to no one in particular "What?!".  Then I was hooked.  


  • WTF just happened:  as mentioned previously this book was full of surprises and I love it when a story can keep me guessing.  Most of the surprises were well-timed and exciting and I loved that.  Some of them could have been left out as well but overall I was happy with the level of excitement in the story.
  • Great Pacing: at no point while reading this book was I bored.  The microscopic chapters probably helped with this.  There are 46 chapters in this book but they fly by at lighting speed, in a good way.  Brody obviously knows how to tell a story without unnecessary padding.
  • Sera and her crazy brain: I really don't want to give anything away so you'll have to excuse me if this review is a bit vague, but let me just say that I really liked Sera's voice.  She isn't a normal amnesiac.  She's actually always been a  little different.  Therefore she has a unique world-view and when you throw in a crippling case of amnesia, trust issues and all kinds of strangers the outcome is pretty intense.  This isn't a "sit down and cry" kind of story, but it is one that makes you question what makes us who we are and Sera is a great example of that.


  • My brain hurts:  this is a problem i often have with sci fi books.  Some of it was a bit convoluted and a lot of it was hard to grasp.  Perhaps if I had more of a background in science (or even science fiction) for that matter, I would have "gotten it" more easily.  As it was, I struggle through understanding a lot of the technological stuff that was going on in the story.  I think it could have been done more simply.
  • Not exactly insta-love: Okay, so Zen and Sera have known each  other for awhile and they are in love, at least until she loses her memory, but the intensity of Zen's feeling and Sera's willingness to reciprocate just didn't impress me.  I guess I just didn't see the plausibility of the extent that Zen went to to get Sera back.  That sounds heartless (and I will have you know that a certain college professor of mine used to say I was "cold" when it came to logic - I think we were talking about nuclear war at the time) but I just wasn't feeling it.
  • Don't rush the ending:  I really felt like the author piled way too much information into the last several chapters, tied up loose ends and then boom, it was over.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel like there was much of a pay-off in the end and it didn't sit well with me.
There are supposed to be at least two more books in this series.  Honestly I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I think that if the ending were different this could have been a stand alone novel and that would have been fine.  However,  I will most likely pick up the next one as I did really enjoy the writing style and the story, for the most part, was entertaining.  

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide