Sunday, September 28, 2014

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan and the big, beautiful book. I grabbed this image from his blog:
Book Summary
A publisher in New York asked me to write down what I know about the Greek gods, and I was like, Can we do this anonymously? Because I don't need the Olympians mad at me again. But if it helps you to know your Greek gods, and survive an encounter with them if they ever show up in your face, then I guess writing all this down will be my good deed for the week. 
So begins Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, in which the son of Poseidon adds his own magic--and sarcastic asides--to the classics. He explains how the world was created, then gives readers his personal take on a who's who of ancients, from Apollo to Zeus. Percy does not hold back. "If you like horror shows, blood baths, lying, stealing, backstabbing, and cannibalism, then read on, because it definitely was a Golden Age for all that." 

Flo's Review
I wish Percy Jackson was around when I was studying Greek mythology in high school! Percy's voice makes these classic tales come alive in a new way that kids today will relate to and find interesting. I listened to this audiobook and I literally laughed out loud and several points in the stories. I have read the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, along with all the Heroes of Olympus books to date, and I am really glad that Rick Riordan wrote this book to give some more back story and explanation to the gods. The stories of the most of the gods have been talked about briefly or referred to in both of the Percy Jackson series, but that was all I knew of them. It was great to learn more about how Athena sprung from the head of Zeus, for example. I also enjoyed learning about how the Olympian gods overthrew the Titans. I definitely did not know any of the Titan back story, and I really enjoyed learning about that. I have to give props to the audiobook narrator, who was fantastic. Percy writes with a lot of personality, and the narrator did a great job of really bringing forth Percy's thoughts and reactions with his voice.

Now I really want Rick Riordan to write Carter and Sadie Kane's Egyptian Gods. Can do, Rick?!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

Book Summary:
A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Happy book birthday to Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper! How awesome does this book sound?!? Lucky for you, the Book Nerds ended up with two! (Not to mention, we can make a rhyme any ole time!) Anyways, we're giving away the extra copy via the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 22, 2014

Release Day Blitz: Forsaken by Kristen Day

Once you’ve been touched by darkness, it never leaves you…

Abandoned by her parents as an infant; seventeen year old Hannah spent her childhood wading through countless foster families until being adopted by the Whitmans three years ago. Unfortunately, Atlanta’s high society wasn’t quite ready for Hannah…or the strange events that plague her.

Chilling visions of murder, unexplained hallucinations, and a dark, mysterious guy who haunts her nightmares all culminate to set in motion a journey of self-discovery that will challenge everything she’s ever believed; not to mention her sanity.

Sent to live at The House of Lorelei on Bald Head Island, NC for ‘kids like her’, Hannah quickly realizes things are not what they seem. Her fellow ‘disturbed’ teens are actually the descendants of mythical Sea Gods and Goddesses. And so is she.

But when Finn, the ghost from her dreams, appears in the flesh; her nightmares become reality and her dark visions begin coming true. Inexplicably drawn to him, she can’t deny the dangerous hold he has on her heart. The deadly secrets he harbors will ultimately test her courage and push the boundaries of her love.

She must decide if she is ready to embrace the ancient legend she is prophesized to be a part of. The fate of all the descendants will forever depend upon it.

Purchase on Amazon:

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About Kristen Day

I am a southern belle at heart with a crazy streak that desperately tries to escape at every opportunity. I love all things nostalgic, rustic, and quirky. I’ve been told I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I prefer to think of them as kaleidoscope glasses – swirling and morphing reality into something I can digest (who hasn’t pretended those pasty lima beans were really kiwi strawberry jelly beans?).
When I’m not writing I’m making jewelry, painting, drinking sweet tea, watching the discovery channel, or going on random adventures in the mountains of North Carolina with my amazing husband.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle

Me and author Rebecca Serle at BEA 2014
Book Summary
The romantic story of a girl who gets plucked from obscurity to star in the next major feature film franchise based on a book and the ensuing love triangles she gets entangled in on—-and off screen. 
Meet Paige Townsen, Rainer Devon, and Jordan Wilder…When Paige Townsen, a young unknown, gets cast in the movie adaptation of a blockbuster book series, her life changes practically overnight. Within a month, Paige has traded the quiet streets of her hometown for a crowded movie set on the shores of Maui, and is spending quality time with her co-star Rainer Devon, one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. But when troubled star Jordan Wilder lands the role of the other point in the movie’s famous love triangle, Paige’s crazy new life gets even crazier.In this coming-of-age romance inspired by the kind of celeb hookups that get clever nicknames and a million page views, Paige must figure out who she is – and who she wants – while the whole world watches.

Flo's Review
Question: You're sitting at home on my couch on a rainy Saturday wanting a fun little escape. What do you reach for?
Answer: Famous in Love, of course!
I was lucky enough to pick up this book at BEA earlier this year and meet author Rebecca Serle. She was so sweet and I felt so bad because she was also injured! But since then I've been wanting to read her book. As you (may or may not) know, I am on staff at a Hunger Games fansite -- Down With the Capitol. One of the gals over there recently read and reviewed the book, so that moved it back up in my mind.  

This book was adorable and there's so much to enjoy about it. First of all -- I loved both guys!! Both were amazing!! Usually in love triangles I have a clear personal choice, but not with Rainer and Jordan. This made me more sympathetic to Paige's dilemma. Don't ask me how you're going to choose between them, girl! I don't know!! (But, if or when you do choose, can you send the other one my way? I'm just saying. Hook a sister up!!) Rebecca did a great job at writing about the romantic tension between Jordan and Paige. I loved their scenes! But then, how could you not love Rainer?! He was amazing, too! He was fun, and made everyone feel comfortable and was very honest and accommodating with Paige. Swoon! ...really, I could continue to gush over these boys, but I guess I should move on now.

Another thing I really liked about this book was the interweaving of real and celebrity life. Like, one moment we're reading about Paige and her two BFFs hanging out at each other's houses, going to the movies, hanging out in the library, going to protests. It's all very real and normal. Then we're reading about how Paige is reading movie scripts from her agent and her refrigerator in her personal condo in Hawaii is perpetually stocked with her favorite foods. It kind of gave me a feel of celebrities as real people. Paige, who feels like the overlooked youngest child and works at a small knick knack store, is suddenly this movie star. She wasn't born as a cover story. She became. On that note, it was nice to see her struggling with it, too. To admit to herself that this is her dream come true, but also that she is getting screamed at by the director and not sleeping nearly enough. 

One question regarding August was left open and I want to know the answer!! I think I'm supposed to infer it maybe from what happens to Paige, but I don't know!!

This book comes out October 21, 2014 and if you are obsessed with YA books turned movies and the actors involved, you will love it! Even if you're not, I think you'll still enjoy reading Paige's "it should be a dream come true but really it's not even though it is" story about becoming a movie star.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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

Flo's Review
Yay for Isla! I read most of this book on a day I was feeling blah, and it provided the perfect escape. Really, what can be better than falling in love in Paris?!? I had forgotten just how much I love how Stephanie Perkins writes characters. When I grow up, I want to write characters like Stephanie. Her characters aren't characters -- they become REAL to me. I know them. Because she describes every mannerism, every flaw, every  beauty. You see these characters are whole people and not just actors in a scene. And, of course, I loved loved loved seeing Anna, St. Clair, Lola, Cricket, and Meredith again. This book made me want to go back and read Anna and the French Kiss again. And this book wrapped up the trilogy so nicely and perfectly. 

Another little thing I liked about this book was Lola's relationship with Kurt. My nephew has autism, and it just warmed my heart to read about a guy who has autism but still has a fun, adventurous life -- and, more specifically, a friend to stand by him like Lola stands by Kurt. Their friendship is so great: they will always be there for and support each other, but they also understand that they need to give the other space to let that person fly.

There were times in the story when I wasn't a fan of Isla. Her insecurities and their effect on the relationship annoyed me a little bit. Like, rabbits for example. (This will make sense if you've read the book.) Of the three stories, I have to say that I loved Anna and the French Kiss, then Lola and the Boy Next Door, and then Isla and the Happily Ever After, in that order. But what an amazing, amazing trilogy. I'll have to say that this is my favorite YA contemporary trilogy.

Jacque's Review:

It has been over two and a half years since I finished reading Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  I honestly could not remember who Isla was prior to starting the book, but I did not feel bad once I remembered.  She had a VERY small part in Anna and the French Kiss.  She is a year younger than Anna and Etienne and attends SOAP...the School of America in Paris.  She has a huge crush on Josh, who was good friends with Etienne, and is a very talented artist in her grade.

Both Josh and Isla are from New York City and have attended the School of America in Paris together for three years.  They are both home for the summer between their junior and senior year and bump into each other at a local cafe.  Isla just had her wisdom teeth removed and is more outgoing than normal, thanks to some pain killers.  This was just the thing these characters needed to break the ice.  Isla has been in love with Josh since her freshman year and he has secretly been interested in her as well.

After visiting Paris last year I was really excited to read this story, which included many of the sites I visited.  Isla's best friend since childhood, Kurt, is obsessed with the catacombs, the underground tunnel system in Paris.  If you have never been there, here are a couple of the pictures I took.  It isn't something most tourists know about, but I would HIGHLY recommend taking a tour if you are even in Paris.  

I'm sure everyone wants to know how Anna, Etienne, Lola and Cricket are woven into this story, but I'm not going to spoil it for you.  I will simply say that Stephanie had a brilliant way of bringing all of these characters together for a short period of time.  Isla has a chance to interact with Josh's friends and we are able to see how their lives and relationships have progressed.

The one thing I can say about Stephanie Perkins is that she writes the most lovable characters.  They are all very unique and their stories are far from perfect.  They make mistakes along the way, but they become better people because of what they learn on their journey.  While I always appreciate a Happily Ever After, it has a greater impact when it doesn't come handed to you on a silver platter.  This is a brilliant series that I consider a MUST read for any young adult fan.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee

This book was recommended to me by one of the physicians I work with quite some time ago.  One of my blog friends gave it one star and another co-worker said it was "okay", so I have been putting it off.  I needed an audio book and this was available, so I downloaded it.

This book was well outside my comfort zone, but it was a thought provoking story.  It is a fictional story about two British journalists, Sarah and Andrew O'Rourke, who travel to Nigeria on vacation.  At the time, there are oil wars going on and there is a lot of violence in the area.  They venture outside of their hotel compound and encounter two Nigerian girls and some "soldiers" for lack of a better term.  The journalists return to England, but the events that took place in Nigeria have irreparably altered them.  

The story is told from both Sarah and Little Bee's point of view.  (Little Bee is one of the Nigerian girls.)  When we are first introduced to Little Bee she is in a British Immigration Detention center.  She fled Nigeria after the encounter with the journalists for her own safety and is seeking refuge from Great Britain. Sarah and Little Bee's world eventually collide and their story unfolds in this novel.

Overall, I thought this book was okay.  I debated between giving it 2 or 3 stars and settled on 3 because it is well written and I can appreciate the author's message about immigration.  The story just wasn't my cup of tea.  It portrays fear and terror and contains a lot of violence.  The ending was also left open, which I don't usually care for.  In this case, the reader can put two and two together to interpret what happens, but the ending is very depressing.  That is probably why the author did not include the additional few pages it would have taken to tie up the loose ends.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Flo's Review
Yup. THAT is the book summary. It got a lot of pre-publication hype and again -- look at that summary! I knew I had to read it. I loved this book! For one thing, the writing is unique and beautiful ("He is...ambition and strong coffee." I love that description of Gat! I want to meet someone intense like him just so I can describe that person that way.) 

The story struck a perfect balance between keeping you questioning and moving the plot forward. It gave you enough of a story line and enough about the characters that you were invested -- you felt you knew the Sinclairs and enjoyed reading about their summer experiences. But, at the same time, you knew -- as Cady knew -- that there was more that you didn't know. And so I wanted to keep reading to find out the more. Throughout the story, at good intervals, information is dropped in tidbits that makes you realize...whoa. Maybe you don't know the Sinclairs like you thought you did. I was thoroughly impressed because I knew going into the story that there would be a big twist -- that's all you see when you read the reviews. But I had no idea what the twist could be. And throughout the story I was reading, knowing that something was going to happen. But I had NO IDEA what it could be. And then when I got to it? I was FLOORED. I had NO IDEA. I finished this a couple of days ago and am still in book hangover mode. (The only thing I didn't get is why they're called the Liars? Did E. mention that? Or did I miss it?) Anyway, I definitely recommend this one. 

Jacque's Review:

This is one of the books that I picked up at BEA a few months ago.  I was fortunate to receive a copy because they were out of tickets and the line was really long.  Flo was in line, but wanted to get another she gave me her ticket!!!  Squeeee!!!!

We Were Liars has a very Kennedy feel to it.  The Sinclair family is extremely wealthy and owns an island a few miles from Martha's Vineyard.  Tipper and Harris Sinclair live in the largest house on the island and built three additional houses for their three daughters.  Each summer their children and grandchildren spend the entire summer relaxing and playing on the island.  Their three daughters are very materialistic and spend a lot of time fighting over who will inherit the houses, money, art...all the way down to the tablecloths.

Three of the grandchildren (Johnny, Mirren, and Cadence) are close in age and develop a strong friendship, but they only interact with one another during the summers.  Mirren's mother is divorced and brings her new boyfriend and one of his nephews, Gat, for the summer.  He is the same age as the three cousins and becomes the fourth member of The Liars.  He returns each summer and is essentially part of the family.  During their fifteenth summer on the island, Cadence was involved in an accident.  She can't remember what happened and has terrible migraines as a result.  The doctors advised her mother to let Cadence remember the events on her own, so nobody in the family will tell her what happened.

The majority of the book takes place two years after the accident...summer seventeen.  Cadence returns to the island for the first time since the accident and begins to remember small details.  I was absolutely shocked when Cadence eventually pieces everything together.  Until the last thirty pages I NEVER would have suspected the ending.  In retrospect, there were clues throughout the book, but they were very subtle.  I was so emotionally involved and connected with the characters that the ending brought me to tears.

This is the first book written by E. Lockhart that I have read and it was well worth the wait in line at BEA.  I gave it five out of five stars on Goodreads and would highly recommend it.  If you have read any of her other books, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Still Point by Katie Kacvinsky

Happy Book Birthday to Katie Kacvinsky and Still Point!!  
Still Point is the third and final book in the Awaken trilogy.  It is about a futuristic society in which technology has taken over.  There is very little face to face interaction and just about everything is done through a computer.  The grass and trees are plastic, dating is done exclusively online, and everything you do is monitored.  Maddie and her friends, who are referred to as the Digital School Dropouts, have been fighting to unplug society and bring back face to face schools.

There is a new character introduced in this book, which definitely adds a twist to the story line.  Jax was intercepted by Justin and his team of dropouts when he was about to get arrested for fighting the digital system.  Since then, he has been helping the cause in a more behind the scenes fashion.  Maddie met him during an online museum tour when she was still in Digital School and decides to contact him to see if he will help their cause.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but he becomes an integral part of the story.  He teaches Maddie that there is a Middle Ground (Hint Hint...that is the name of the second book in the series) and she doesn't have to be such an extremest.  We can use technology as a tool, but we don't need to rely on it for everything.

This series should be considered required reading for most of the younger population.  I'm just as guilty as the next person when it comes to constantly checking messages on my phone and tweeting friends hundreds of miles away while ignoring the people sitting in the same room with me.  This series not only brings to light an escalating problem in our society, but really encourages readers to evaluate their own behavior.  I'm going to make a conscious effort to limit the amount of time I spend online outside of work.  I really don't need to check my Facebook and Twitter accounts countless times a day.  Katie teaches us that we need to focus on the now and live in the moment or life will simply pass us by.

I would like to thank Katie and her publisher for providing an ARC of Still Point.  I thoroughly enjoyed this series and would highly recommend it to all of our followers who read YA.