Thursday, March 24, 2016

Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer

Book Summary
In Remember to Forget from Watty Award-winning author Ashley Royer, Levi has refused to speak since the tragic death of his girlfriend, Delia, and can't seem to come out of his depression and hindering self-doubt. Desperate to make some positive change in Levi’s life, his mother sends him to live with his father in Maine. Though the idea of moving from Australia to America seems completely daunting, Levi passively accepts his fate, but once he lands faces personal struggles and self-doubt at the same time he and his dad battle through resentment and misunderstanding. And then, while at therapy, Levi meets Delilah, a girl who eerily reminds him of someone he lost.

Flo's Review
I had an interesting experience with this book. I was not familiar with the story from Wattpad, and I wouldn't necessarily call myself a One Direction or Five Seconds of Summer fan, so I was kind of going in blind with this story. I struggled for the first bit of it. Levi was just downright mean to his friends and family. Yes, it is definitely from a place of intense pain and self-dislike, but it was still rough. Ashley did such a good job of getting us into the head of a depressed person that I was starting to feel depressed myself while reading it. Note: This is actually a compliment. Having never personally suffered with depression, it is somewhat a foreign head space for me. But there was such depth in Levi's character that I, reader, could feel and understand where he was. That being said, I am glad that I did not read this all in one sitting, because that would have been way too much for me.

After spending some time away from the story, I returned to see Levi struggling with opening himself up and moving on. From that point on, I was hooked. While I don't necessarily know how I feel about the loose idea that "this girl helped me get over that girl," I did like Delilah. She, too, was a very realistic character. I would like Aiden to be my neighbor and bestie -- what fun we'd have! Loved his character.

Remember to Forget comes out April 5th, 2016.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Book Summary
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Flo's Review
Ready Player One has been on my TBR for the longest time! I have several friends with good taste who have read and loved it. Several months ago I snagged the e-book on sale, but it stayed unread on my Kindle. Then, spurred by the latest movie news and friends who loved the audiobook, I decided to give the audiobook a try.

Best. Decision. EVER.

There were times when I was driving down the road and my heart was literally racing. (I mean, this is not uncommon when I drive in Miami -- LOL! -- but I mean my heart was racing from what was happening in the story.) I wanted Will Wheaton, the amazing audiobook narrator, to go faster so I could stop sitting on the edge of my seat! He did such an incredible job of suspenseful reading! Every time Wade was going through a challenge I was holding my breath the whole time and freaking out to myself, worrying that he would fail. 

I don't want to age myself, but let's just say that I was around for some of this stuff described in the book. That was pretty cool. I enjoyed visualizing the TV shows, commercials, movies, songs, and products in the context of this story. Ready Player One was full of surprises, twists, and "OMG, no he didn't!!!"/ "OMG, no they didn't!!!" moments. I can't recommend this book highly enough. A 5 out of 5 star read for sure! 

This is going to a fantastic movie, and I can't wait to see it on the big screen!

Mary's Review: Den of Sorrows (The Grey Wolves Series Book 9)

Den of Sorrows, The Grey Wolves Series, Book 9

Author: Quinn Loftis Release Date: March 25, 2016

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review and Giveaway: The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

Book Summary
A ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It's practically every girl's dream. 
But not Jules McCallister-Morgan's. 
I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn't get to be the editor of my school's long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year-early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college-and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to "live a little," or boys. 
At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.
And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.
I know what you're thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don't understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I'm not going down without a fight. 
* Okay, I sort of did. But it's a sore subject.
** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn't go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.
***Some people think I'm overreacting. But this. Means. War.

Filled with romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that's sure to have you falling for The New Guy.

Flo's Review
The New Guy had so many elements that speak to me directly. For starters -- Alex Powell is a former boy band member. If you know me, you know that I still love, love, love New Kids on the Block and The Backstreet Boys. And others, but especially those two. Then, there's the issue of new media causing the death of print journalism. As a former magazine editor and journalism major, I know very personally the struggle around this. 

But I just did not like Jules, and that caused me to struggle a bit with this book. She has blinders on in her life as she looks to her goal of getting into Brown University. This makes her goals and things to do more important to her than anything relating to her loved ones. I guess I would have liked for her to grow out of that by the end of the story. If she started off with the blinders and then by the end realized, through all the events in the story, that her life experiences and relationships are just as important -- and maybe even more important -- than getting into the college she wants, then that would have been cool. But her moms (I love them!) try to tell her this over and over. So does her best friend and so does Alex. But it all seems to go in one ear and out the other, and by the end, she does seem to have really changed. I also felt that her loved ones gave her too many passes and she just kept using them without reciprocating. "Oh, your phone died for the 89th time in a week and a half? That's okay, Jules, we're still cool." 

Besides Jules, I really did enjoy the other characters. As I said before, her moms were fantastic, and I loved the relationship she had with them. Her group of friends were also fun and seem like the type of people I'd want in my wolf pack. And of course -- Alex. *swoons* He may be book boyfriend worthy. He was willing to be with Jules on her terms just because he wanted to be with her. And he just sounds super hot!

The New Guy comes out April 5, 2016. Thank you to The Novl for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Looks like I once again ended up with an extra copy. Let's give this away! Giveaway will run until the end of the month. Good luck! Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review and Giveaway: Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan

Book Summary
Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.

Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

Flo's Review
I love it when I am surprisingly blown away by a book! Not that I wasn't expecting to like this one. I first heard about it on Twitter,  and the author heard my interest and graciously offered to send me one of his personal ARCs for review. 
I had been intrigued when I first heard about it because it's a middle grade fantasy and I immediately thought of Percy Jackson and how much I love those books. The author of those, Rick Riordan, in fact offered a fantastic review of this book:

I flew through the majority of this book in a few hours. Right from the start, we are immediately put into the action, and it doesn't let up until the very last page. In fact, it just keeps getting more intense. And, oh, the plot twists! There were lots of clues left for the discerning reader, but I am one of those who never sees anything coming. I almost think it's more fun that way because then I'm like, "Oh my gosh!! No way!!" A lot of people aren't who they seem and you don't know whether to believe they did the things they've been accused of or not. But our hero, Thorn, never fails to see the good in people and that gives the story such heart. He's a peasant, yes, but his actions are those of a hero. 

Lily, Lady Shadow, grew tremendously throughout the novel. Towards the beginning it was a lot of whining and petulance, but by the end she is making big decisions well, with wisdom as well as heart. These two characters, Lily and Thorn, seemed a little old for 13 years old, but I suppose both of their life circumstances made them have to grow up fast. It also should be noted that our story takes place in Gehenna and is filled with dark creepy things like zombies and necromancers. They wear all black and it's cold and dreary all the time. But it's Lily's home and she loves it. She had a great line something like [I'm paraphrasing], "Most people just see the dark gargoyle statues, but I see where I played when I was little. Most people just see the dark halls, but I see ..." etc etc. Not to mention, Lily isn't at all a dark and evil human being: she has deep feelings and emotions and takes her responsibility as Lady Shadow seriously. 

Shadow Magic did a great job of explaining and introducing the world without it ever feeling like an information dump. We were never bogged down while reading about the canon and the rules of this fantasy world. Six brother Princes founded six houses of magic. Each specialized in one of the 4 elements, and then light and dark rounded them out. 

I think this is a standalone, but it would be fun to see 5 more books -- each out taking place within each of the other houses. Josh, you in?? I'll definitely read those!

Shadow Magic comes out April 12th and I definitely recommend it for those who love a light and fun action-packed fantasy novel. (Yes, I did just call a book about a place called Gehenna "light" and "fun." Lol. See you're intrigued, right?!)

Giveaway: Win an ARC of Shadow Magic
Not long after Josh sent me a copy of Shadow Magic, I received another one from Disney. So this one I'll give away! U.S. only (I'm sorry), and it will end on the day the book comes out, April 12. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Book Summary
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Flo's Review
Holy cannoli. I'm still in book hangover mood trying to write this review, but here goes. I'd heard about this book for awhile, but I didn't really know what it was about. But then I saw the movie trailer (posted below) a few weeks ago and decided that I wanted to read it before seeing the movie later this year. I did see everyone's reactions to the trailer: "I'm gonna cry!!" That's all I knew.

This book was intense. I don't want to say too much about the plot because I went into it not really knowing what it was going to be about and that, I think, made it a richer experience for me. But this book was definitely way heavier than I thought it would be. Not in a bad way. Definitely not in a bad way. I have a pretty solid stance on this issue, and this book made me consider the alternative. Will I do a 180 on my beliefs? Probably not. But it absolutely makes me understand and empathize. It gives me the reality of a different perspective and the worldview of those making the choice.

I loved Lou. She is honest, passionate and compassionate. And I applaud her bizarre sense in fashion! Lou and Treena's relationship was lovely and honest. The Q&A in the back of the book touches on this, and Jojo explains how she finds the relationship between sisters mesmerizing: "What I'm most captivated by is that ability to be at each other's throats one moment and yet totally bonded and presenting a united front in the next." #truth, Jojo. 

The characters can be frustrating, but their lives are frustrating -- I'm looking at you Will and Camila Traynor! So you want to be cross with them, but you just can't. 

I am so excited for this movie. After reading the book and then watching the trailer again, I see how the movie might do a wonderful job bringing this story to life. But everyone was right: I am SO going to cry. A lot! How am I going to handle actually watching some of these more emotional scenes?!? Seeing them played out in front of me?! I'm kinda getting teary eyed just thinking about it...

This book has some fantastic quotes. I listened to the audiobook and followed along with a copy from the library, but I may have to buy my own copy of the book just so I can highlight and flag some of these. This is my favorite, said by Will: “You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

I absolutely encourage you to read this book. It will make you cry, as has been mentioned. But I loved that it made me question and expand my mind to be open to understanding the whys of something I can't fully understand. But it also made me smile -- a lot. It made me laugh. I was frustrated with the characters, then I felt sorry for them. Then I wanted to give everyone a hug. Basically -- the full range of feels.

But back to the movie. Here's the trailer. If you haven't read the book, it won't spoil you. If you have read the book, it will immediately bring back all the feels: 

Question for you, if you're read Me Before You: the reviews for the sequel, After You, are not stunning. I know, and a lot of reviewers admit, that it can be hard to follow up something so great like Me Before You was. Have you read After You? Knowing that I will probably not like it as much as Me Before You, is it still worth reading?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Win an Allegiant movie prize pack with tons of swag & free movie passes!

Lionsgate Entertainment and their new movie ALLEGIANT have hooked us up with a giveaway! Once lucky commenter will receive a prize package of VIP advanced screening passes (for two) and movie swag, including movie posters, t-shirts, hats and temporary tattoos!

Entry Rules: Comment on this post on our Facebook page (it's pinned to the top):, Twitter, and/or Instagram  And, YES, you can enter on one or two or all three places!

From the comments we will randomly select one grand prize winner! Contest ends Friday, March 11. Good luck!

Siren's Song by Mary Weber

Book Summary
Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.

Flo's Review
It seems like only a few months ago when I walked by and picked up an ARC of Storm Siren on a whim while at a conference because I loved the cover. But, alas, it was about 2 years ago, and now we are at the end of the trilogy. Bravo! to this series!! Mary Weber took me on a legitimate roller coaster of emotions throughout. I was happy, then terrified, then sad, then hopeful, then despairing, then happy, and repeat. And everything else in between! At the end of each of these three books, I was left with a big book hangover and strong emotions.

But mostly at the end of Siren's Song and this trilogy, I am satisfied. Like the end of a thrill ride at a theme park, I am slightly breathless and have a smile on my face. If you are looking for a well thought-out, action-packed fantasy, then you should consider picking these books up. Not to mention the hotness -- er, I mean the romance. Eogan. *fans self* But there wasn't just romantic love -- there was friendship, there was love of country, and there was sacrificial love. Siren's Song reminded me of other books I enjoyed, and not in a bad way. It also definitely had strong unique characteristics. There were some beautifully written passages at the end of this one. (I kinda want to share them, but better not, in case they even slightly spoil anything.) 

My only minor complaint is that I felt that Nym spent about 40% of the book looking for Eogan. Seriously, it felt like every three paragraphs or so she was looking around whatever setting they were in, trying to find him.  If you played a drinking game and every time she was looking Eogan you took a drink, then you'd be continually happy while reading this book. Lol. I guess it's understandable, though.

I have to also comment about Mary Weber herself -- I took to lashing out my feels on her as I read the trilogy, and she is the absolute sweetest in responding! I love it when authors take time to really converse with their readers. *warm fuzzies*

Also, I posted a picture on our Instagram, but these books are just SO PRETTY! Like I said before, it was the cover of Storm Siren that made me pick it up, and the other two covers are equally beautiful:

Storm Siren review:
Siren's Fury review: