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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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.