Sunday, July 24, 2016

Summer Blog Promo Tour: Downright Dystopian

Ready to learn about another awesome blogger?! This week we are featuring Krystianna at Downright Dystopian. As bloggers, I'm guessing we all have a range of posts and reviews...some are a struggle to write up, whereas some just roll off our fingers. I was curious to find out which blog post Krystianna has written that was her favorite:

I've been blogging for four years, yet my favorite blog post is actually a rather recent one! It's my book review ofIlluminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. The book absolutely blew me away and revamped my love for reading. I was going through a bit of a struggle because I had been wanting to watch Netflix shows instead of reading, yet that book made me want to just read everything! It was such an amazing read and I actually used gifs from Grey's Anatomy to help explain my feelings for it. The post is my favorite because it got me into using gifs in posts and is a reminder of why I love to read. Finding that hidden book that is a gem is what makes it worth while!


Thank you, Krystianna! This book is definitely on my TBR. Have you guys read it? 

In a fun flip, I'm featured on Downright Dystopian today, so check out my thoughts on book-to-movie adaptations while you are looking around!

Friday, July 22, 2016

After You by Jojo Moyes

**Warning: This book summary and review will spoil the book Me Before You. If you have not read Me Before You, first read our review, then go read the book because it's amazing. After you've done all that, you can proceed to this review.**

Book Summary
“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future...

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.
 

Flo's Review
I loved Me Before You so much. So much. But when I heard there was a sequel, I was immediately hesitant.  I read an interview with the author. In it, she explained how she wrote After You because the readers wanted to know what happened to Lou. In other words, the sequel was never planned. Sometimes this ends up well, but sometimes it does not. (I will give no examples, but I am sure you can think of one or a few.) But the publisher was kind enough to offer me a copy in exchange for my review, so I decided to give it a chance...

...and I couldn't do it. It is a DNF for me at 139 pages; I am just not compelled to read any more. Part of it is me as a reader. I know that I personally do not do well with stories where the whole story is the MC Being Sad. The MC remembers and is Sad. Or hates his/her life and is Sad. Or misses someone and is Sad. I definitely understand sadness, and recognize it as a very human and very important emotion. But...I just can't do so much of it. 

But also, there was nothing that really hooked me to the new characters. They all elicited a solid, "Ehhh" type feeling from me. And the old characters that were quirky and fun and that I loved in Me Before You sadly did the same thing.  

Maybe if I had read further, I would have been cheering Lou on instead of wallowing in sadness with her. Maybe the old characters would be fun and familiar again. Maybe I would have learned to like and even love the new characters. But I don't think I'll ever know.

This is one of those stories that got an interesting range of reviews on Goodreads -- people either really seemed to enjoy or really were not feeling it. So I am curious to know what side you fall on? Or do you fall in the middle?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Book Summary
In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?

The darkly magical world of Shadowhunters has captured the imaginations of millions of readers across the globe. Join the adventure in Lady Midnight, the long-awaited first volume of a new trilogy from Cassandra Clare.
 

Flo's Review
I wrote once that Cassandra Clare could write her Shadowhunters walking down the street and I would love it. And still -- yes. I listened to Lady Midnight on CD audiobook. It was 17 CDs long and almost 20 hours. According to Goodreads, it took me a month to do, but it felt like longer. But I loved every single minute. This audiobook is fantastic. Usually my patience for long audiobooks is waning, but I listened to this one from the beginning to the end. The narrator, Morena Baccarin, may now be one of my favorites. She voiced the characters so distinctly, yet so fitting for their descriptions. She portrayed pain, love, annoyance, and the entire range of emotions in her reading. So so well done.

It did not take me long at all to fall in love with Emma and the Blackthorns. The characters are described so beautifully and so lovingly, that I felt as I read that I had loved them for a long time too. I laughed with them, I cried with them, I worried about them. I felt their love and their pain and their fear. I was not just reading this story -- I was deep inside it, deep inside their lives.

Cassandra Clare sometimes gets talk for continuing to write about Shadowhunters, and not anything else. But honestly? She's so good at it! Why stop?!? I will read it all!! I have no doubt that this new series, The Dark Artifices, will rival The Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices in epicness.

I had forgotten how Cassandra Clare likes her cliffhangers, and this one was no different. 5 out of 5 stars for this excellent book!

Monday, July 18, 2016

A WEEK OF MONDAYS - Blog Tour!


Jessica Brody's A Week of Mondays goes on sale August 2, 2016 . For this tour, bloggers are talking about the Monday they would MOST like to re-live for seven days straight and the Monday they would LEAST like to re-live for seven days straight.

Yes! Seven Mondays of THIS in a row!
My perfect Monday would start with my alarm going off. But instead of being the annoying buzzing that I usually hear around 7 a.m., it would be the voice of Russell Crowe around 11 a.m. He would be saying, "Good morning, beautiful Flo. Work is canceled today; however, you are still getting paid for it. You're welcome. In about 15 minutes, your front doorbell will ring, and it will be Matt Damon delivering you brunch, complete with mimosas." I don't snooze it, in hopes that he will keep talking. He stops, though. Oh well.

Exactly 15 minutes later, the doorbell rings. I have thrown on a cute little tank top and boxer shorts, so when Matt sees me upon the opening the door he says, "You are adorable, Flo! Here is your breakfast. By the way, the mimosa glass is magical. It will have a continual full glass of mimosa, no matter how much you drink." He sets it on my table, gives me a kiss on the cheek, and walks off.

This is great! I sit down, sip my magical mimosa and notice there are two books waiting for me. One is A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody. The other is an ARC of my most anticipated read. It's a pre-ARC actually. The ARCs aren't even out in the while, but I have a copy to read. I get lost in these for several hours, so I am thrown for a loop when I get a text message. It says, "Hey Flo! I know you are behind on Wahlburgers, so I am bringing you all the seasons on DVD, complete with lunch from the restaurant: your favorite burger, sweet potato tots, and a keg of Wahlbrewki. I feel a marathon. Can I bring Joey, too? xoxo Donnie." What a minute! Did Donnie Wahlberg from NKOTB just say he is coming over with his bandmate Joey McIntyre?!? I quickly respond, "Yess!!!" He texts back a smiley face emoji.

About 30 minutes later, Donnie and Joey are at my doorstop with DVDs and lots of food. They walk right in like they own the place and head straight to the couch. This is happening! Thank goodness I decided to take a shower and put on my cutest NKOTB t-shirt. We watch Season 3 (since I've seen 1 and 2 already) and it's the best thing ever. The guys are cracking on each other and on me, and it's so chill. I''m freaking out, but not -- ya know?!

After the season finale, Joey says, "We've got a surprise. Come with us?" Naturally, I nod numbly and follow them out of my front door....where I see a limo waiting! There is a limo outside my door! I turn to look at them. Donnie smiles and nods. I go running and dive in. A collective squee fills my ear and I look around to see my fiance, my sister, and my closest friends! My fiance gives me a kiss on the cheek. "Ready for a road trip??" he asks.

To be continued....

This is the WORST Monday ever!
My Monday would start with my alarm going off. But instead of being the annoying buzzing that I usually hear around 7 a.m., it would be the voice of Russell Crowe around 11 a.m. He would be saying, "Good morning, beautiful Flo. Work is canceled today; however, you are still getting paid for it. You're welcome. In about 15 minutes, your front doorbell will ring, and it will be Matt Damon delivering you brunch, complete with mimosas." I don't snooze it, in hopes that he will keep talking.

Unfortunately, the next time the alarm goes off, it's actually the annoying buzzy alarm. I blink in surprise. While trying to orient myself, I grab my cell phone. I have gotten approximately 15 texts and voice messages from work asking me why I'm running late.

Oh well. Another week begins...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Summer Blog Promo Tour: He Said Books or Me

I'm pretty sure that the Summer Blog Promo Tour (#SBPT) is one of my new favorite things about summer! This week we have the pleasure of welcoming Valerie from He Said Books or Me. The tagline for her blog is "...I still think of him from time to time." HA! I love it! Thanks for stopping by, Valerie, to talk about your favorite blogging related experiences and memories:

Val here from He Said Books or Me. I excited to be here today and to talk with Flo and you about some of my favorite blogging related experiences and memories!
This is hard topic for me because I am not sure it is one single thing. To give you a little background, I have been blogging at He Said Books or Me for about a year now. Throughout the last year, I have had a chance to do many things. I frequently participate in blogger reading challenges. I also get a chance to be part of Twitter chats. I have had a chance to attend two Book Con events. I have done some of the book memes like Waiting on Wednesday or Top TenTuesday. I have written over 100 book reviews. Now, I have the chance to be part of the Summer Blogger Tour and collaborate with other bloggers!  All of these have been wonderful.

The best part though? It is without a doubt the other people in the book community. I love getting to know people and about the books that they are passionate about!  I love having conversations about things that I enjoy and finding out what sparks that joy in other people. I love that books can bring people together!  I love that they can challenge you to think about topics you have never considered. I love that people can have a difference of opinion and that is okay! There is so much to be said for the book bloggers out there in the world!
What is your favorite part of the book community? Are there book blogger experiences that you have had that you think I should try out? Let's discuss!
Thanks to Flo for letting me stop by the blog today!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

Last Seen Leaving

Jacque's Review:

Flynn is a high school sophomore whose ex-girlfriend, January, is reported missing.  The breakup was a relatively recent turn of events, so he becomes a prime suspect.  In an effort to discover the truth, and clear his name, he uncovers a number of discrepancies.  January had been lying to him and just about everyone he "interviews" about her disappearance.

We don't have the opportunity to meet January before her disappearance, but there are several flashbacks to Flynn's encounters and conversations with her.  Her mother recently married a wealthy politician and her life was turned upside down.  She was forced to transfer to a private school, her home life was a disaster, and she was distancing herself from all of her friends.  She was under a considerable amount of pressure from her step-father and his campaign manager, but all of these factors combined don't seem like enough to make her run away.  

In addition to the mystery, the book focuses on Flynn coming to terms with who he is as an individual.  I loved his personality and sense of humor from the beginning, but admitting the truth allowed him the chance to finally be himself.  He was essentially forced to come out and wasn't prepared, but I felt like Roehrig did an excellent job of portraying Flynn's feelings and experiences in a very realistic manner.  Everything wasn't champagne and roses and I certainly wouldn't expect it to be. 

There were several twists that I did not see coming, including the ending.  I felt like the story wrapped up nicely, but there is still the possibility for a second book in the series. 

I gave this book 5 stars and will definitely add whatever Caleb releases next to my TBR list.  This book was very well written and is highly entertaining.

Flo's Review:

So Jacque is the resident crime thriller reader of the Book Nerds. (I mean, Mary and I read them, too, but Jacque the most I think.) So fitting her review is first. I will start with agreeing with her last statement: this book was really well done. The past few nights I found myself up late at night reading this...and then I decided that I needed to wait until daytime to read further! (This is why I'm not big into murder mysteries, etc...I spook easily!) Another tidbit about me as a reader: I never guess who dunnit. Never. You know some people are all, "I totally figured it out before the book was over!" or "It was clearly this person!" Me? Legit never. So while I was reading all these twists and turns, I was totally believing what Flynn was believing the whole time. At one point I thought I had a suspect and I was all upset because I liked that person, but it didn't end up being that person. (Of course.)

All this to say that Last Seen Leaving had me puzzling, in suspense, kinda creeped out, questioning almost everyone in the story....Caleb sucked me in completely! I opened that book and got lost in the web of mystery. And even after I finished, I was still thinking about it -- putting together pieces in my head, realizing connections, and so forth.

But Last Seen Leaving was also funny! Even though it's an intense story and subject, I found myself literally laughing out loud several times at Flynn's thoughts and flashbacks. I tend to not like too many flashbacks in a story, but the ones here were enough to give context to the story, but not too much to take you out of the current action.

Last Seen Leaving comes out in October, and I would recommend picking it up...but maybe not late at night! ;-p

Mary's Review:

Okay, I'm going to be the BookNerd to admit this first...I had no clue (in the world) who Caleb Roehrig was prior to BEA.  However, all of us BookNerds were lucky enough to meet him at BEA & let me tell you this guy is a dream! And I'll even tell you it's one reason why we read this book so fast! He's a dream!

Onto the book...

What I liked:

I've backed off my mystery love here lately. Nothing has seemed to 'grab' me and keep me hooked in. However, there's something about this book I just couldn't put down. Flynn, is OMG! (Yes, that's a descriptive word!) He's funny, caring, and desperate to find January. Every time a new character came up I was on the edge of my seat to see the clues and figure out if they had 'done it'. It's a real page-turner! Each chapter there's a new surprise, a bit of foreshadowing, and a few laughs.

What I didn't like:

I have to agree on Flo with this one...Flashbacks! I'm not a huge fan of them either, BUT...BUT...Caleb doesn't bombard you with them & they are necessary to the story. However, it's the only thing I didn't particular care for.

This book is a must read! A must have! It's due out in October and it'll be a great 'FALL' read! I would recommend it to everyone.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer Blog Promo Tour: Perks of Being a Book Nerd

It's time to meet another blogger! Yay! I am super excited about this one, because it's Kat from...


Another Book Nerd! What great taste! I love her blog already, just based on the name. I mean, besides the obvious Book Nerd love, it also references a book and movie I loved, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

We decided it only made sense for Kat to share some fun book nerdish goodies, so without further ado...



Do you want all of her stuff?! I want all of her stuff! Thanks so much Kat!

Friday, July 8, 2016

EXCERPT: The Angels' Share by J.R. Ward


If you had the chance to read The Bourbon Kings by J.R. Ward, you might be chomping at the bit to see what else can possibly happen to these characters! I know I am!! Lucky for us, the second book, The Angels' Share, will be released this month, on July 26th. While you wait, we're happy to share a little excerpt from the book to tide you over. Find it after the page break. If you need a little refresher on what's going on, here is our review of The Bourbon Kings.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summer Blog Promo Tour: The Cozy Little Book Nook

This is my first time participating in the Summer Blog Promo Tour, and I'm excited to be a part of it! Once a week throughout the summer, I'll be featuring a blog/blogger on my page. And to start us off...Brooke from The Cozy Little Book Nook! You can visit her blog here: http://thecozylittlebooknook.weebly.com/. I love the header image...makes me want to curl up with a book right now!

I asked Booke to tell us about how she would spend a day with any character in a book. Without further ado, here's Brooke to tell us about hanging out with America Singer from The Selection series:

Hi I’m Brooke from The Cozy Little Book Nook and I’m here today to talk about what I would do if I could spend a day with any character in a book. Well I think the character I have to go with is America Singer in The Selection, but you know, after she got married and had the kids; or maybe even in the middle of Eadlyn’s Selection.  I think it would be super fun to spend a day in Angeles at the Palace and just chat with her.

I’m sure America would also have many more stories about her own selection, and how she dealt with the other girls and how the other girls are since she probably would have stayed in touch with them. Getting the inside scoop of all the events would be amazing since I want to know all about what happened during the Selection.

Since I also play piano and America does too, it would be cool to play with someone who used to play for a living. She’s incredibly skilled so it may be intimidating .

It would also be fun to hang out with her sister May and Marlee and Lucy, because in the books, we really only heard about America’s side of the stories and they would probably have a lot of things to talk about, including boys, the kids, and who their picks are for Eadlyn’s selection. Even just hearing about what they would do during the Selection would be really fun; I mean, we have novellas but the only one that’s really in depth is Marlee’s and very little of Lucy’s. We know that May may have lucked out and actually got a better deal out of being royalty since she gets to travel so I would want to hear about where she has been.

Another thing we could do is go shopping because these ladies all have wonderful senses of style and would probably know some good places to shop.

I guess it could be weird since I’m younger than even Eadlyn but you know, it’s my dream :) Getting advice from older people can be extremely valuable so that would be super fun.

That’s it for my day with America. It’s really packed so there won’t be a dull moment ever. Now if only this could actually happen...well I can dream :)
~Brooke

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop


The Prize: An ARC (advance reader's copy) of What the Dead Want by Norah Olson. This book releases on July 26th and here is the description from Goodreads: 

16 -year-old Gretchen takes photographs to understand the world around her, a passion her mother Mona fostered and encouraged when she was still around. Since her mom disappeared years ago, Gretchen and her dad have lived on their own in New York City, haunted by Mona’s absence.

When Gretchen’s great aunt Esther calls unexpectedly to tell her that she has inherited the pre-Civil War mansion on her mother’s side of the family in upstate New York, Gretchen understands nothing except that her aunt needs her help. But what she finds there is beyond her imagination. The house is crumbling apart, filled with stacks of papers and journals from decades, even centuries past, and it’s crawling with rodents. It’s also full of secrets and a legacy of racism and violence so reprehensible that the ghosts of the past are exacting revenge on the living.

Somehow the mystery of Mona’s disappearance and the atrocities that happened on the land during the Civil War are inextricably intertwined, and it’s up to Gretchen to figure out how…before even more lives are lost.

Enjoy via the Rafflecopter, U.S. only, and good luck to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And now you can hop on. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Author Event: David Baldacci at the Columbus Metropolitan Library

Dedication new buildings page.jpg

To help celebrate the grand reopening of the Columbus Metropolitan Library's main branch there was an author event and book signing with David Baldacci.  I am currently working my way through his King and Maxwell series, but my Mom has read just about all of his books.  She lives only a couple of hours away, so I invited her to attend as well.

From the time the doors opened at 1:00 until the presentation began at 2:00, we were treated to some classical music performed by members of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.


Then David Baldacci took the stage for about 45 minutes.  His presentation was as engaging as any of his books, so I would highly recommend seeing him speak if you ever have the opportunity.  He told several humorous stories about encounters with readers and events that have taken place while researching content for his books.  He also discussed the fact that he was an avid reader as a child, which inspired him to write.  

The one thing that caught the attention of my 11 year-old, who was forced to tag along, was the fact that he wrote the final book in the 39 Clues series.  He discussed the differences between writing adult and children's books and how he was approached by Scholastic to write the final book in the 39 Clues series.  He also discussed what it is like writing a book for a series like the 39 Clues, which has so many different authors.  Preston and I just completed the fourth book in the series, but Baldacci wrote book 16, so we have a long way to go.  Hopefully this presentation will inspire him to keep reading, which is always a good thing.

He also discussed his foundation, which was established to help "promote the development and expansion of new and existing literacy programs."  He is a proponent for libraries in a time when decreased funding often hits libraries the hardest.  


After his presentation there was a book signing.  When I met him at BEA a few years ago I received a copy of his latest book, which I had personalized for my Mom for Christmas.  It was part of a series I wasn't currently reading and I thought she would appreciate it more than I would.  This time around I was able to get a couple of my books signed.  

In addition, my son decided he wanted to have "his" book signed.  The book he is currently reading is Flush by Carl Hiassen, which is one of the books he chose from the 6th grade summer reading list.  It was really funny when Preston handed Baldacci the book.  He looked at the fish on the page Preston wanted signed....then looked at the cover and laughed.  He told Preston that he knows the author and his kids really enjoyed the book.  He was a good sport and signed the book, which definitely made the little man's day.



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: 738 Days by Stacey Kade


738 Days was my top priority on Friday at BEA.  I left Columbus, Ohio at 7:00 AM to ensure I arrived before 1:00, which was when they were going to start passing out tickets for this signing.  Stacey didn't think there would be a problem with them running out of tickets, but I wasn't taking any chances.  I've read all of her books, except Bitter Pill, and really wanted a signed copy to add to my collection.


The story is told with an alternating point of view.  Amanda Grace was abducted at the age of fifteen and was held captive for 738 Days.  The book starts out with a look at her rescue, but flashes forward to a couple of years later.  She is still dealing with anxiety and her family life remains strained from the incident.  

Chase Henry is a famous actor who has fallen from grace.  Success got the better of him and he found himself lost in a life of alcohol, which led to a number of bad choices.  He has been sober for ten months and wants to get his life and career back on track.  He is filming a movie near Amanda Grace's hometown and his publicist insists it would be a great career move for him to invite her to the set.  It was his picture on a poster that gave her the courage to survive, so the connection makes complete sense.

Amanda decides to take Chase up on the offer and they settle on a mutually beneficial agreement.  She will help him with some publicity while he allows her the chance to branch out from her overly protective life and family.  What neither of them expected was for their troubled pasts to provide a real connection between them.  They provide a sense of comfort and support to each other that both has been desperately needing.  As their feelings begin to escalate, the shaky ground their relationship was built on threatens to tear them apart.  Add in a crazy celebrity stalker and this book is full of romance, action and suspense.  

738 Days is by far my favorite of Stacey's books, which is definitely saying a lot.  She is one of my favorite authors and I would highly recommend reading any of her books.  I gave this book 5 stars and enjoyed every page from start to finish.  The pacing was perfect and everything wraps up nicely in one novel, which is rarely the case anymore.  

Please be advised that 738 Days is NA and not her typical YA.  There is some adult language and content that readers may not expect based upon her previous novels.  The "adult scenes" were very well written and not over the top, but the added spice definitely keeps the pages turning.  I really hope she continues to write NA since this book was an absolute pleasure to read.

As a side note...Stacey, you totally underestimate yourself.  After reading this book, the tickets should have been gone within minutes :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop

You guys don't know how much I've been looking forward to summer! I have amended hours at work. There are long lazy summer days, lying around sipping beer or lemonade with your favorite book. Then there are the Summer Nights, as best described by one of my favorite bands Rascal Flatts:

Anyway, no matter how you plan to fill your summer days and summer nights, the Book Nerds would like to give you a book to help you do so! Enter via the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a SIGNED COPY of Wink, Poppy, Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke! Seriously, look how cute this is:

Unfortunately, it's got to be U.S. only (sorry guys!) Good luck and enjoy the lovely, lazy, hazy days of summer!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And when you're done here, you can hop on:​

Monday, June 20, 2016

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THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY! Blog Tour!




Guest post by A Week of Mondays author Jessica Brody 

ELLISON “ELLIE” SPARKS: An idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.

Those were the first words I ever wrote about Ellie Sparks. They were written in a synopsis for my publisher when I was first trying to sell them on the idea for a book called A WEEK OF MONDAYS.

Of course, you can’t write an entire book about a one-sentence character. Just like you can’t live your entire life as a one-sentence person. But every character has to begin somewhere. And this is where Ellie began for me.

As an idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year-old junior with a lot on her plate.

In my mind, this is who she had to be. I thought, if you’re going to write about a girl who relives the same horrible Monday over and over again, trying to “get it right,” these are the adjectives that must describe her. She has to be idealistic enough to think she can fix everything in her life. Yet, she also has to be ambitious enough to try it. And how else are you going to fill seven Mondays with interesting storylines if the main character doesn’t have a lot on her plate.

So there was Ellie. And there was me, ready to write her, thinking I understood her. Thinking I knew everything I needed to know about her.

This is the writing process for me. I start with an idea of who someone is. I draw a box around them, like an identity fence. I stuff them inside and I lock the gate. I tell them, “This is who you are. Don’t try to change that. Don’t try to be or do anything else. I don’t have time for detours. I’m on a deadline.”

I never learn.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

WIN: Miss Peregrine Tote Bag!

So remember how Jacque was excited to grab a Miss P. tote bag from BEA? It is pretty cute, right?!

Well, we can't keep the cuteness to ourselves so we're gonna share the wealth! Want to win one?  Just let us know in the comments who your favorite of Miss P.'s kids is. Don't forget to include your email address. We'll give this a random (U.S.) commenter. Good luck!! Contest ends June 30, 2016.

Also, don't forget to jump in on #5PeculiarYears: 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Happy Book Birthday to Gifted by H.A. Swain!


I'm currently reading this one and so far so good! Let us know in the comments if you plan to read it, too! 

Book Summary
In Orpheus Chanson's world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus's father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure.

Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a "plebe"--a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. Her grueling schedule and her grandmother's illness can't keep her from making music--even if it is illegal.

Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Here is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping--and terrifying.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Book Summary
Love is a risk worth taking.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.

Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
 

Flo's Review
Okay, let's start with Cover Love! Look at this beauty! The back cover and the flaps continue with the beautiful blue-green ocean waves. I only actually read the last 50 or so pages, and I kept turning the book over to look at it. 

So, let's throwback. I would say maybe a year ago I was in Barnes and Noble (aka my second home) and what do I see in the clearance bin?


I grabbed it, of course, as soon as I realized what it was -- a pre-Selection Kiera Cass book! It's been sitting on my shelf since then, and I finally pulled it down when I started listening to the audiobook. Fun fact: changes were made! I thought I would be able to match the audio of the edited Harper version with this earlier version of the book, but that's not the case. The writer in me is curious and may go back and read this other version just to see what was changed. I only read the first few pages, skimmed the middle a bit, and read the last few pages and those were different in the new version.

But back to The Siren 2016! I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. Sure, I always enjoy Kiera's stories. They are cute and they make me smile. But this one had a depth that, to me, the Selection series didn't quite have. It was beautiful and intense and my heart ached for all of these characters. I'll start backwards and talk about the sisterhood of sirens. Kahlen talks a lot about the myths and stories that we (humans) believe of sirens. This shows the kind of research that Kiera did into the topic for the book and was fascinating. I loved how she took the general idea that sirens were soulless and completely turned it around to these beautiful and fun girls who are every bit as "human" as your best friend. They go out, they shop, they dance, they travel, they dream, and they are dedicated to each other. But they must also find a way to live with the fact that they kill people. Elizabeth shops. Miaka paints. Kahlen researches. I love how each girl dealt with what they did in such a unique way.

Akinli, of course, is adorable. What I love most about his and Kahlen's relationship is how it shows that we can connect with others through more than our words. Kind of a deeper Little Mermaid type scenario. Deeper because Akinli wanted to learn more about the person Kahlen was, and he told her about the person who he was.

The Ocean...I don't know how to feel about her. I understand where she's coming from, but I also don't. I can see how she loves, but she is not good at showing love. She is a complex character who plays both the hero and the villain, who gives life but also takes it away, who has deep emotions but comes off cold. She's full of contradictions, and like I said, by the end I came to understand (I guess...) her, but I don't think I really came to like her.

And finally Kahlen. She is so complex. It's just interesting to me to compare her to American and Eadlyn. Not that the two royal ladies didn't have some things they were going through, but Kahlen to me had so much more soul and emotion. She hating taking lives and could never let that go. She carried all the lives with her, through her scrapbooks. She carried her dreams of falling in love and having a beautiful wedding. She carried her sisters by taking care of them. She carried the Ocean, as she was the favored siren. And as the book progressed she carried even more -- heartache for Akinli, pain for her sister Padma, secrets of Aisling's. She was seen as the best siren because she was the most obedient, but I think of them all she wanted the most to experience the depth of humanity.

The Siren had a lovely, beautiful ending. I closed the book with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.

I'd definitely recommend this one! Just don't go into it expecting it to be like the Selection series, because it is most definitely not.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

All the Feels by Danika Stone

Book Summary
College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life… So, when her favorite character, Captain Matt Spartan, is killed off at the end of the last movie, Liv Just. Can’t. Deal.

Tired of sitting in her room sobbing, Liv decides to launch an online campaign to bring her beloved hero back to life. With the help of her best friend, Xander, actor and steampunk cosplayer extraordinaire, she creates #SpartanSurvived, a campaign to ignite the fandom. But as her online life succeeds beyond her wildest dreams, Liv is forced to balance that with the pressures of school, her mother’s disapproval, and her (mostly nonexistent and entirely traumatic) romantic life. A trip to DragonCon with Xander might be exactly what she needs to figure out what she really wants.

Flo's Review
I hate to be cheesy, but his book really did give me #AllTheFeels. First of all, as a HUGE fangirl myself, I kind of understand Liv. Kind of. Liv's obsession is on the extreme side, honestly, but I do understand it at the root. I read this entire book in one day. It was that easy breezy to go through! Each chapter is named a quote from a different fandom and that's #awesome. And a lot of the text is actually text conversations, so that fact also made this a quick read.

Xander is lovely! I love his name, I love his quirkiness, and I love that he calls Liv "dearest." (Makes me...wait for it....SWOON. Get it?! This is Swoon Reads book?!?! I'm here all day, folks. :) I love the way their relationship progressed, starting off as besties and then realizing that this comfort they have with each other is so much more.

Part II of this book takes place at Dragon Con. I've been to New York Comic Con, and I've been to lots of book conventions, but I've never been to Dragon Con. I've heard about it before, though. And now, reading this second part of the book, I absolutely wanna go!! 

All the Feels is exactly what is promises: a light fun romance that will make you proud to be a fangirl and will definitely leave you with -- that's right, I'm going there -- ALL the feels! It comes out June 7, 2016 and you should definitely add it to you summer reading list!

Thank you to Macmillan to providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Book Summary
Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

Flo's Review
*Sigh* So...The Glittering Court. I listed to this one on audiobook, and while I loved the inflection that the narrator's voice was able to carry, this probably wasn't the best bet for audio because it felt really long. From the start, I didn't really connect with Adelaide. This is the second book I've read in a row about someone from a high position being knocked down several levels. The changing of Adelaide's circumstances did change her, but....I don't know. She still felt a little judgmental to me.  I always struggle with books when I don't like at least one of the main characters, so this was the first strike for me. Cedric was okay, but eeeehhhh. I didn't really feel swoony over him. 

Secondly, I am sad to say that I did not like the last third of the book. The plot took a completely different turn from what was supposed to be a story about the Glittering Court, and I became disenchanted and bored. I will talk a bit more about this later, but I really enjoyed reading about everything involving the Glittering Court, and I didn't feel like the last part of the story was about it at all. It honestly felt like a completely different story to me. 

But let's end on a high note. The concept and execution of the Glittering Court was fascinating to me. I loved reading about Adelaide's experiences in both the houses and seeing her relationship with her friends. I just read that this is supposed to be a trilogy with the other two books talking about the other two main girls, and I think I might enjoy them. I'd love to hear more about Tamsin and what happened to her, and Mira was just a complete mystery, so we'll see what her deal is.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct (The Naturals, #2)

Killer Instinct is the second book in the Naturals series and picks up about six weeks after the end of the previous novel.  The Naturals (Cassie, Dean, Michael, Lia, and Sloane) all have gifts that allow them to read people and situations, which is an obvious benefit to an agency such as the FBI.  Cassie and Dean are natural profilers, Michael can read emotions, Lia is a human lie detector, and Sloane is a wealth of knowledge and statistics.

After putting their lives on the line to catch a serial killer in The Naturals, the teens have been instructed to only work on cold cases.  To ensure they stick to the plan, Agent Sterling (the Director's daughter and Agent Briggs's ex-wife) moves into the residence to supervise and evaluate the program.  Her opinion could lead to the disbanding of the program, but that doesn't stop the team from investigating a local murder with the same MO as Dean's incarcerated serial killer father.  As the number of bodies begins to add up, the FBI agrees to officially pull the naturals into the active investigation.  

Throughout the story we learn more about Dean, his relationship with his father, and the events he was exposed to as a child.  It is also revealed how the love/hate relationship between Michael and Dean developed.  I felt like both of these characters came a long way towards strengthening their relationship, which will only help the group dynamic moving forward.  When push came to shove they had each other's back and even extended themselves to help one another, which was a huge step in the right direction.

This is the first YA murder mystery series that I have found that I thoroughly enjoy.  The characters are very unique and the stories are engaging from start to finish.  I looked forward to reading this book each day and simply did not want to put it down.  The only aspect that I could do without is the love triangle between Cassie, Dean, and Michael.  It was beginning to wear thin during the first book and continued for the majority of Killer Instinct.  I believe we have worked past it, which should relieve some of the tension between the characters in All In, which is the next installment in the series.

It was announced in the closing chapters that there will be a change in how The Naturals program will operate moving forward.  I don't want to give anything away, but it will definitely open up the possibilities for the series moving forward.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

SPLASH INTO SUMMER Giveaway Hop - The Square Root of Summer

Oooh, I love summer! Pool parties, long nights that are still light outside, 4th of July, amended work schedule, and the list goes on and on! I am so ready for this fun in the sun, relaxing mindset time of the year! Really -- it's the perfect time to get lost in a good book. So to help you do that, we are giving away an ARC of The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood. Here's the summary:

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she's hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn't even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie's past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone's heart is about to be broken.

With time travel, quantum physics, and sweeping romance, The Square Root of Summer is an exponentially enthralling story about love, loss, and trying to figure it all out, from stunning debut YA voice, Harriet Reuter Hapgood.
 


This is a US only contest.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now that you're done here, do hop on:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: Shade Me by Jennifer Brown


Shade Me is the first book in a new series by Jennifer Brown.  All of her previous books are stand alone novels, so this is a little different for her.  

Nikki Kill is a high school senior with a condition referred to as synesthesia.  When she sees numbers and letters they present themselves to her as colors.  This is very distracting when she is trying to study; therefore, she has never been a strong student.  She also associates colors with emotions and can read people based upon the colors she sees.  

Nikki doesn't see the benefits of synesthesia until she begins investigating the attack on fellow classmate Peyton Hollis.  Peyton is from a very wealthy and powerful family and is practically royalty within their school.  The two girls didn't hang out in the same circle of friends and never actually spoke until the night of Peyton's attack.  For some unknown reason, Peyton called Nikki when she knew her life was in danger.  Nikki is determined to uncover the truth behind the attack, but the deeper she digs the more dangerous things become.

In addition to YA I read a number of adult mysteries and thrillers, so I was intrigued by this book from the start.  Jennifer wove a number of clues throughout the story and included more than enough action to keep the pages turning.  There is even a bit of a romance mixed in to spice things up.  

I was surprised by how Jennifer ended this story and almost felt like it could have been wrapped up in one novel.  There are some loose ends, but not enough to make this a series based solely on this one case.  I'm almost wondering if Nikki will begin working with the officer who investigated this crime, Chris Martinez, to help solve future cases or cold cases.  It would be a great way for her to put her synesthesia to good use and it could be the basis for a great series.  Jennifer gave us bits and pieces of information about Martinez's past, but I think there is a lot more to him than we know.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review: Bought for the Greek's Revenge by Lynne Graham


First, a congratulation is in order for Ms. Lynne Graham because this is her 100th book! How amazing is that? How many authors can even say that? *claps* Great job Ms. Graham.

Now, for my review:

I received this beauty from BEA at the Harlequin's booth! I was deeply excited since I have read several of Ms. Graham's books before. Now, let's dive in.

What I liked:  I liked the plot line! I thought it was going to be the same old Billionaire story line, but this one has some twists and turns I didn't see coming. I like when that happens. Ella is a strong female character and is trying to save her family's financial issues. Nikolai has a whole other plan and at first I took him for a complete jerk ... but as the story goes on Nikolai has a big ol' back story and I saw him in a different light.

What I didn't like: Even though there were twists and turns a couple of them didn't seem to 'flow' with the story well. They seemed to just POP up and made me have to re-read a few parts again.

Overall: This is a GOOD book and I would recommend for others to read.


 

The Crown by Kiera Cass

Book Summary
When Eadlyn became the first princess of IllĂ©a to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

Flo's Review
Aww, I'm going to miss the world of The Selection! As you may recall, The Heir might be my favorite book of the series. Perhaps rivaling with the first book, The Selection. I just really enjoyed reading about Eadlyn and her boys. So the day this book came out, I had it in my hands. My heart is so happy with this! I closed the book with a smile on my face and complete contentment with how I was leaving the characters. I am so proud of Eadlyn and how she has grown up, and I can also say the same thing for other characters, such as Josie. As with the other Selection books, this one was a quick read that I was able to complete in a 3 hour flight to Chicago for BEA. If you haven't read any of The Selection series and are looking for something light and fun, I'm definitely recommend them. Here are our reviews:

The Elite: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2014/01/the-elite-by-kiera-cass.html
The Queen: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2015/01/the-queen-by-kiera-cass.html
Happily Ever After: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2016/02/happily-ever-after-by-kiera-cass.html
The Heir: http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/2015/05/the-heir-by-kiera-cass.html

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Book Summary
How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies - gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

Flo's Review
I love me some Rick Riordan! Ever since I picked up the first Percy Jackson book on a whim, I'm excited to read anything this man puts out. Sometimes it doesn't quite work for me (Kane Chronicles), but most of the time I've got nothing but love.

Apollo's voice is quite different from Percy's or any demigods, and I applaud Rick Riordan for being able to write it consistently so. I think at one point my status update was "I can't with Apollo!" because maaan is this god-turned-human arrogant. But if you think about it -- he's a god, so the big head makes sense. But the beauty in this book was Apollo's character growth. Is he still arrogant at the end of the book? Yep. But he has also picked up some of the best traits of humans: dedication, perseverance, love, loyalty. The story dragged for me a little bit in the middle, but I think this was because of the combination of two factors: 1) it's the first in a series, so a lot of explanation needed to happen; and 2) I was listening to the audiobook, and that sometimes makes books seem slower. I loved seeing some of my favorite demigods from Riordan books past. There was also QUITE a plot twist that I did not see coming!! I'm looking forward to seeing how Apollo reacts to things in the next part of his trials.