Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blog Tour Review: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Colby's post-high school plans have long been that he and his best friend Bev would tour with her band, then spend a year in Europe. When Bev announces that she will start college just after the tour, Colby struggles to understand why she changed her mind and what losing her means for his future.

I admit one of the main reasons I was obsessed with reading this book was because of the cover.  And honestly, the cover really conveys the feel of the book perfectly.  Although, it doesn't really showcase that the book is from the male perspective . . . so I'm not sure if an actual young adult male would want to be carrying around a book with this cover ;-)

That being said though, the male point of view is done superbly.  I haven't read many YA books with the guy telling the story, but I have loved most of the ones that do.  Like Ashfall, loved that one! Colby is the narrator and he is so honest about how he feels even when he doesn't know exactly what he is feeling.  That plays a huge part in what this book is about.  Basically just growing up.  Colby has to find out who he really is and what he wants.  I was rooting for this boy whole-heartedly.

The story is about him and his long-time childhood friend Bev. She is one of the three girls in the band The Disenchantments (who kinda suck, but they look amazing! ha!).  Colby is their trusty friend and steadfast supporter.  This group of friends is made up of a bunch of free spirits and hipsters.  Like the cool 'indie' types that are so different and cool.  Not because they're trying to be different but because they are being themselves and being true to the things they love.

The huge turning point for Colby happens when Bev tells him that their plans of traveling through Europe for a year after high school aren't going to happen because she wants to go to college.  They have been planning this trip for years.  And then, boom. Not happening.  Colby is furious and I was SO mad at her too.  Colby still agrees to go on tour with their band as planned and it is a very eventful journey. Along the way you (and Colby) start to realize that Bev has some good reasons for why she didn't tell him sooner, and then it's really hard to feel mad anymore.

This book is full of some deep growing-up type stuff and I loved it.  Everything comes together to give off some good book vibes.

Publication Date: February 16, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Coming-of-Age
Source: Thanks so much to Southern Book Bloggers for making me a part of this tour :-D

Monday, February 27, 2012

'Holy Crap' Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Wow. Just wow. I'm not sure how to even review this one. If you loved Delirium . . . you will die over this one. So great!! My whole review could easily just be me finding new ways to say how awesome it is. I'll try to form a few coherent thoughts though :)

The book is told in flashbacks to 'Then' alternated with the 'Now' things that are currently taking place for Lena. Eventually they merge together and it all just builds and builds for an ending that is hard to beat. Maybe my most 'holy flippin' crap' moment in a book. I'm still in book-shock.

As always, Lauren Oliver's writing is killer. Painfully beautiful and full of meaning. Seriously, I felt like my heart was going to burst from all of the emotions I was simultaneously feeling while reading it. I love this book and will probably badger my friends and family without cease until they read this series.

Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Source: This book was lent to me :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RAK Giveaway Hop - Winner!

And the winner is...

June M.

She has been contacted by e-mail and will get to choose any one item $45 or less from Snappin Studio!

Thanks SO much to all that entered and to Inspired Kathy for hosting this blog hop.  Don't be too saddy-waddy if you didn't win.  I've got some other giveaways planned for March :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: BZRK by Michael Grant

Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia.

A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:

-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens
-BZRK's DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots. If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die. Hence the name BZRK.

Hear ye, hear ye! All you Science Fiction fans out there, you have to try out this book. This is some good stuff right here. The concept of BZRK is brilliant, maybe been done on some level before, but BZRK takes nanotechnology to a higher place :)

The characters were all pretty good, and all very crucial to the story. But that's not what has me going crazy over this one. It's the mixed and twisted and crazy viewpoints that turn the notion of 'point of view' on its head. In this world of BZRK there is a nano-tech war going on (that most people don't have any idea about). The people involved in it have to learn to master life in the macro (where your true physical body is) AND in the nano (wherever their tiny little biots happen to be traipsing at any given time). I can't do it justice by explaining because it's one of those you just have to read for yourself. The battles that take place on the nano and macro together are very intense and just plain cool.

It does take a chapter or two to get into the heart of the story and to really feel the flow of things. But even those parts are interesting and keep you reading. I loved this book in the macro, nano, wherever. A great one for me :)

Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Source: Thanks to EgmontUSA for making this title available at ALA Midwinter!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blog Tour Review: The Priest and the Peaches by Larry Peterson

Synopsis:Historical fiction novel set in the Bronx in the mid-1960s

Take a seven day journey with the five, newly orphaned Peach kids, as they begin their struggle to remain a family while planning their dad's funeral.

They find an ally in the local parish priest, Father Tim Sullivan, who tries his best to guide them through the strange, unchartered and turbulent waters of "grown-up world." A story that is sad, funny, and inspiring as it shows how the power of family love and faith can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

This is a book focused on the strength of family. The Peach kids face the death of their father followed by the realization that they have to step up and be stronger than ever if they are all going to stay together.

Now these Peaches...there are five of them. Five kids held together by their oldest brother Teddy and sister Joanie. These two find themselves thrown into a position of responsibility that they aren't truly ready for. They come to find out that the world is full of good people that will help out in the strangest of circumstances. And the Peach kids stumble into plenty of trouble and whatnot throughout the course of this book. Like moths to a flame :)

A sweet story full of faith, family and friendship.

Publication Date: December 21, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Source: Thanks so much to Tribute Books for my review copy and for letting me take part in this tour.

To find out more about the author Larry Peterson check him out on his Website or Twitter.
The Priest and the Peaches is available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Giveaway Hop - Random Acts of Kindness :)

This great Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.  Click on the link to go to Kathy's page and see all the amazing giveaways linked up for your convenience :)

This is my first time participating in this Hop, and I'm really excited!

Wondering what little old me is giving away?

Well, I recently found this awesome store on Etsy called Snappin Studio.  They do a ton of custom engraved items...seriously, the sky is the limit with this store.  I've bought gifts for people, and I also won a cutie little bookmark they were giving away and love it!  So that is what is up for grabs.

One winner will get $45 dollars to spend on any one item at Snappin Studio.  There are a ton of items to choose from and the shop owner can put almost anything you want on there. Super cool! So take a look around their shop and see all the Bookmarks they have available or maybe you'd like to put a bookish phrase on one of their many Other Items  :-D

(p.s. I am not being compensated for gushing about this shop...I seriously just love it all on my own)

*Ship to US only*
Ready, Steady, Enter!

Review: The Duff by Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.

But things aren’t so great at home right now, and Bianca is desperate for a distraction. She ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.

Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn’t such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she’s falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.

Alright, this is another book that's just been hanging out in my giant tower of books for awhile. I've heard some amazing things about it such as, "Oh my gosh, that book is SO hot!" and "Holy crap, I loved that book!" and "Read that book before I punch you!". I've seriously heard most of those things :)

Well, this book really IS hot! And Holy Crap! I loved it too! I won't punch anybody into reading it...but it's seriuosly so great. The characters are pretty straightforward at the beginning. It isn't long before they undergo some huge transformations and it is all so gripping and un-put-downable.

Another strong point is that the side characters (friends and whatnot) are all nicely rounded and enjoyable whenever they're in the book. Not just fillers. I mean, I kind of knew where the book was going to take me, but I sure as heck didn't mind. I read this one crazy fast.

Did I mention it was hot? ;)

Publication Date: September 7, 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: My own tower of books.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review and Giveaway: They Stood Alone! 25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference

Imagine this: For centuries everyone has believed that the sun and all the planets revolve around the earth. But by studying the old books and observing the heavens, you have concluded that the earth and all the other planets revolve around the sun. Your theory is so radical that you are hesitant to tell others about it. Your name is Nicolaus Copernicus. Although at first your beliefs are denounced and ridiculed, your observations are eventually proved correct. In time, you come to be called the founding father of modern astronomy.

Author Sandra McLeod Humphrey invites you to have the courage to stand alone too, hold on to your dreams, and follow your heart wherever it may lead. Like the twenty-five pioneers who lived before you, you too may someday make a difference!

What an uplifting and inpirational book! It presents 25 role models for kids to look up to and fashion their own endeavors after. I think it's so important for young people to be reminded of the fact that sometimes you have to pave your own way and it's not always easy, but sometimes the greatest results come from sacrificing and hard work. And just because something 'has never been done before' or is 'impossible' according to one person . . . that doesn't mean it has to be true for you.

They Stood Alone highlights 25 figures from history that stood alone and made a difference. I think this book would be perfect for a teacher to have in their classroom, for a young reader to learn from, or for those of us that had a hard time retaining some of the history lessons we learned many (MANY) years ago now :)

The highlighted people are presented in an engaging and interesting way, followed by how their life's journey led to their defining moments. Each story is the perfect length so the reader won't get bogged down, but gets all the important facts. I think it would even whet a young readers appetite to want to read more in-depth accounts about some of these people.

A very needed book. I loved it!

Genre: Middle Grade, Elementary, Non-Fiction, Educational
Source: Thanks so much to the author Sandra McLeod Humphrey for my review copy!

To find out more about this and the MANY other award winning books by this author check out her Website or find Sandra on Twitter and Facebook.

The Giveaway!
The author Sandra McLeod Humphrey has given me a copy to give away to one lucky winner!
Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good Luck!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: H10N1 by M. R. Cornelius

A deadly influenza virus rages out of control. There is no easy-fix vaccine. No eleventh-hour containment. Only death. With no workforce, power plants have been shut down, police and fire departments have collapsed, crops lie unpicked in the fields.

When Dr. Taeya Sanchez finds herself unceremoniously dismissed from an emergency medical facility in New York, she decides to steal the hospital's armored van for a midnight escape. Unfortunately, Rick DeAngelo, a driver for the hospital, has already stocked the van for his own getaway.

Thrown into an unfriendly alliance, these two must pick their way across the dangerous wasteland of America in search of a safe haven. And as the miles roll by, they discover that the living should be feared much more than the festering corpses out there.

It was pretty much predetermined that I would like this book. It has a few key things that I really love in my books. Pandemic that kills off a huge percentage of the population? Check. A social/economical/political collapse? Yep. A fight for survival against natural and human elements? Um, yes. (That actually sounds pretty morbid that I like all that :) I am happy to say that H10N1 came through and delivered on my high hopes.

When the book starts it really feels like you are getting a glimpse into how things would look if a horrible strain of flu came through and decimated the population, mutating as it went. I had read a sample of the Prologue and was like, 'Must. Read. More.' That prologue alone will hook you in.

The book is told from the dual perspectives of Dr. Taeya Sanchez and Rick DeAngelo. They rub each other the wrong way at the beginning. When they are both making their late night getaway from the medical facility they both were working at, they have to put aside their prejudices and work alongside one another. I really loved how their relationship evolved and they each grew individually as the plot progresses.

This book was well-written and paced with a great plot and interesting characters. H10N1 really holds its own with the 'end of the world as we know it' or 'pandemic' books. If this is a genre you enjoy then I highly suggest giving this one a shot.

Publication Date: April 12, 2011
Genre: Adult Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Source: Thanks so much to the author M. R. Cornelius for my review copy!

Find out more about H10N1 on Goodreads, Amazon or B&N.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quick Tips to Help You Survive a Zombie Outbreak. A Guest Post by Jim Beck

I'm happy to have the author of Patient Zero, Jim Beck, guesty posting today! Patient Zero is a zombie outbreak book told from the point of view of the zombie virus. Who better to give a few survival tips than the author himself?


Quick Tips to Help You Survive a Zombie Outbreak
by Jim Beck

At some point while I was writing Patient Zero, I asked myself whether or not I would survive a zombie outbreak if one were to occur in my neighborhood. And, if I'm being honest with myself, that answer is, unfortunately no. Yes, I know how to fire a gun. Yes, I can aim for the head with pretty darn good accuracy. Yes, I'm in good shape. And yes, I'd like to think that if it came down to it, I would be able to put loved ones out of their misery. But I'm simply not prepared.

So what would it take to make me more likely to survive a zombie outbreak? These are my thoughts...

Guns, Guns, Guns

Knives and bats and metal rods just won't cut it. The more guns you have, the better. Shotguns are excellent, as they spread out and are more likely to hit the head if your aim is a little off. But don't discount handguns, especially for close combat. You may also opt for military grade weapons, such as assault rifles, grenades, and whatnot, but those may be hard to come by. Also, make sure that everyone in your household is trained in the proper use of every piece of machinery.

Stock Up

I'm going to steal something here. Not sure where I read it or heard it, but when a zombie outbreak occurs, the first thing you should do is fill up your bathtub with water. Chances are, if the world goes to hell, water will be hard to come by, and you'll have gallons of water sitting there for your use. You'll also want to stock up on canned and boxed foods, flashlights, batteries, first
aid kits, and anything else that comes in a run-of-the-mill emergency preparedness kit.

Two Story House

If it all possible, buy or rent a two story house. When the outbreak occurs, immediately take your family and all of your supplies to the second floor, then somehow destroy your stairs. Zombies are feeble creatures, slow and plodding. They already have trouble climbing stairs, so they definitely won't be able to make it to the second story without any stairs to help them. Just be prepared to stay up there until help comes.

Hope and Pray for Slow Zombies

I don't have anything against fast zombies. Regardless of what some people will have you believe, Romero's zombies weren't always that slow. In a real life zombie outbreak, though, you better hope and pray that they're the lumbering, plodding kind. Slow zombies are scary because of their sheer numbers, but we have a chance to fight them off. If they are fast zombies, it's almost certain -- barring quite a bit of nuking -- that we will lose. I can't remember who said it -- I think it was just a random message board poster -- no matter how fast you are, no matter what shape you're in -- EVERYONE who plays tag eventually gets made "it." Truer words have never been

You can find out more about Jim and his book Patient Zero on his Website or Author Page.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blog Tour Review: Time Slice by Kerry Downing

Newly retired workaholic Roy Washburn is not ready for a life of leisure. On a trip to the mall with his wife, he finds a small metal cylinder with odd markings. One nudge of the cylinder's triangle-shaped pointer and Roy finds himself embarking on an exciting new adventure in the Time Stream. There he meets The Traveler, a tall, gangly being who shows Roy how to use the cylinder to visit other civilizations that co-exist on "his" Earth, each occupying a different, thin Time Slice. The Traveler solicits Roy's help in recovering an object invented by his murdered father and beyond his own reach. Roy is his last hope. At first it seems that the Traveler's wish might be easily granted. But after Roy's wife Emily becomes ill and his daughter's long-held resentments rise to the surface, he can no longer "travel" at a moment's notice. He also discovers the very real physical and mental risks involved in roaming the Time Stream. Despite the dangers, Roy is determined to help the Traveler. But he can't do it alone. Fortunately he has a loving wife and a core group of loyal friends. But first he must convince them-and his daughter-that he isn't crazy ...

I had assumed that this book would focus mainly on the time travel aspect, but it was more about the relationships. It's a wonderful commentary on how anger can blind you to reality, and how living in the past can destroy your relationships in the present.

The story centers on Roy. His life is turned upside down by finding the Time Slice Traveler(TST), and then he finds out his wife is terminally ill. While experimenting with the TST Roy meets the Traveler. The Traveler is a freaky looking alien type that is in desperate need of help. Roy goes on the adventure of his life and, in the process his relationships are tried by fire. Even in the midst of his sorrow and hardships Roy learns to appreciate the things he still has and the people in his life that care about him.

Time Slice delivers a different take on time travel, but that doesn't overpower the message throughout the novel. I found it to be less of a 'time travel' novel so much as it was a story of redemption that happened to include time travel :)

Genre: Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi
Source: Thanks so much to Tribute books for my review copy and involvment in the Time Slice blog tour.

*You can find out more about Time Slice on Goodreads, Amazon, or B&N.

**You can find out more about the Author on his website, blog, or Twitter.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Romance-y Guest Post by Susan Denney

My Inspiration: Georgette Heyer, the Queen of Romance
A Guest Post by Susan Denney

If you met me, you might be surprised. I’m really not the romance novelist type. I don’t curl up in a window seat with a cat and a cup of herb tea and you’d be hard pressed to find anything with a ruffle on it in my wardrobe. And my former high school students remember me more for my strict classroom management than for my aura of femininity.

So why am I a romance novelist? I write romance novels because of one person named Georgette Heyer. I fell in love with her books so long ago that that I was in junior high and not middle school. Georgette Heyer invented the modern Regency romance which is based on that early nineteenth century era so beautifully described by Jane Austen. I drooled over her clothing descriptions and absorbed a culture so different from my own. But I also loved her characters and their happy endings.

When I started acquiring my own set of Georgette Heyer books, I had to scour used bookstores. Then eBay was invented just so I could complete my collection. Now her wonderful books are being reprinted and are available everywhere. As my books fall apart, I can replace them with a new edition.

What’s so wonderful about her books? They’re believable. She did so much research that I’m guessing that today some contemporary Regency romance novelists don’t bother with research but just lift details from her books. But Heyer’s romances are also witty, bright and well-plotted. Her heroines are often feisty and her heroes have flaws. But in every single one, you end up the book by believing that these two people are in love and that it will last.

My modern romance with the enormous title of Snarky and Sweet: A Romantic Comedy about Twins, Texas and a Big Red Diamond was written just for fun. I wrote a book I was looking for in libraries and not finding. I wanted to read something a bit more intellectual than most romances, but also clean. I wanted to write a book that leaves a lot to the imagination. My view is that reading what goes on in a bedroom is not half as interesting as finding out how that couple got to the bedroom in the first place. But in the deepest recesses of my heart was the hope that some element in my book might approach the writing of that queen of romance, Georgette Heyer.

Susan Denney remembers writing very bad poetry at the age of nine. Luckily, she realized early on that fiction was a better choice for her. She writes stories about things she knows and loves. Her first novel, Snarky and Sweet: A Romantic Comedy about Twins, Texas and a Big Red Diamond, draws on her experiences as a Texas schoolteacher and as the sister of identical twin brothers.She has degrees in French literature from Louisiana State University and the University of Iowa. She writes on a variety of topics for adults and children in magazines and in her local newspaper.

She presently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband who writes very good poetry.

To connect with Susan you can find her on Twitter or check out her Blog.

Find her book on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday 2/3

Feature & Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read. Head over to one of their blogs to find out how you can join in the following fun!

This week's question:
Define what characteristics your favorite books share. Do they all have a kickass heroine or is the hot love interest the Alpha Male?

I don't want to sound too cliche, but I simply love a good love triangle. The key word in that sentence being 'good'. Scratch that. Love triangles must be great for me to like them. They have to be totally believeable and explainable (don't forget delectable), otherwise it just feels like the author is trying to ride the triangular bandwagon.

I also love a good alpha male as well . . . with a hint of possessiveness thrown in. But not abusive weirdo posessive. More of the I-sexily-don't-like-guys-edging-in-on-my-girl-and-I-will-protect-her-at-all-costs variety. I don't know that I've ever seen this achieved in an attractive way in real life, but I love it in my fiction!

What's your bookish fav?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Early Review: Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

After reading Wither I was dying to see, 'What happens next??!!" So here we go! Fever didn't let me down :) I have to say that it did take me awhile to adjust to the fact that it wasn't taking place in the mansion (obviously, duh. I know.) But there was something so gripping about the juxtaposition of that beautiful, comfortable place riddled with death, corruption and lies.

BUT, truth be told, when Rhine and Gabriel find themselves out in the real world once again, that sour-note-on-the-piano feeling is still there. From the second those two wash up on the beach they find themselves right in the thick of things. I kept thinking that if I were Gabriel I would be so mad at Rhine. And I kept thinking that Rhine might have really made a poor choice in leaving all the comforts of her lovely mansion behind for the 'freedom' she so badly wanted. But I think that's the point! What price would you pay to be free? Or would you settle for chains just because they're comfortable and easy? I'm definitely not as strong as Rhine. That's why I love her character. She might waver in her mind and have uncertainties, but she never falters when it comes right down to it.

Such a great (GREAT) book! The plot was pretty much amazing . . . I won't give a single thing away, but the last quarter of the book is seriously messed up. In a good way. And DeStefano's writing style and descriptions are boss. Absolutely spectacular. It makes me want to describe things and people in my life that way too. I'll keep dreaming on that one ;)

Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, (Awesome)
Source: Thanks to Simon & Schuster Publishing for making this title available at ALA.