Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#13)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...
Title As I Descended
Author Robin Talley
Release Date September 6, 2016

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28218948-as-i-descended

Lesbian retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth? Uh, yes please!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave your WoW in the comments below and I'll be sure to stop by!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Book Review: Phage

Title Phage
Series Sam Townsend Trilogy, book one
Author Mark Tamplin
Release Date September 12, 2015

Phage is the first novel of a science thriller trilogy. Dr. Sam Townsend faces the greatest challenge of his career, preventing Owen Potter, a deranged government scientist and home-grown terrorist, from unleashing a genetically-engineered pathogen on the United States population. This would-be mass assassin frames Townsend, who is forced to run from the FBI while scrambling to produce the antidote and wrestle the demons from his past. Even if Townsend succeeds in time, he is still faced with delivering the antidote to all of Potter’s victims who unknowingly have a biological time bomb ticking in their bodies.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26769497-phage
Review

I can't say that I've read many scientific thrillers before, so this book was definitely out of my comfort zone. Something definitely told me that I needed to read it, though. Maybe the cover spoke to me. Or maybe I just thought it would be interesting. No matter what it was, Phage far and away exceeded my expectations.

First things first... I didn't have any trouble following along with the science stuff. The author clearly explains what's going on, so there's no need to fear not being able to follow enough to enjoy the story. This was one of my biggest fears when I agreed to read the book, so I'm super happy that I worried for nothing.

The book is really well written. The pacing is perfect. The story was absolutely fascinating! I was hooked in fairly easily and couldn't stop reading. Loved it. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

I saw another review on Amazon that said a movie script is needed and I have to agree. I feel like Phage could be a big hit. The way the book read, I could clearly see it all playing out in my mind (I love when books read like this).

Phage is definitely a book that you'll want to pick up.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review: My Kind of Crazy

Title My Kind of Crazy
Author Robin Reul
Release Date April 5, 2016

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25695607-my-kind-of-crazy
Review

I loved this book. Just absolutely loved it!

My Kind of Crazy has so much going for it. It's fun, quirky, cute, and made me laugh. It also touches (albeit not in depth) on some more heavy matters like mental health and having absentee parents. There's a perfect balance between fun and serious that adds to it's realism and relatability.

Robin Reul's writing was fantastic. The story drew me in and held my attention from the very beginning until the last page. The characters were so interesting. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

I highly recommend My Kind of Crazy.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Book Review: Don't Get Caught

Title Don't Get Caught
Author Kurt Dinan
Release Date April 1, 2016

10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. -Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he's Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He's Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it's also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust...

Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students-who also received invites-are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security "catches" them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It's time for Rule #7: Always get payback.

Let the prank war begin.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24157427-don-t-get-caught
Review

Don't Get Caught was a pretty good book. I can certainly see why the reviews pre-publication are as positive as they are (4.59 stars on Goodreads in early February).

Here's the thing, this book has a lot going for it. It's got pretty great writing. The story is packed full of action. There's no lulls or parts that could have been eliminated for a better book. The characters are all interesting. The pranks are funny. It's an enjoyable book.

My biggest problem with it (my only problem really) is that I never felt fully engaged in the story. I must say that it felt sort of strange. It had everything a person might want in a book like this, but somehow I still felt a bit disconnected.

Even feeling that disconnect from the story, I can tell Don't Get Caught is going to be a big hit.

Rating

3.5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, April 8, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: My Kind of Crazy

Title My Kind of Crazy
Author Robin Reul
Release Date April 5, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492631767

A promposal that (literally) goes up in flames sparks a friendship that might be just crazy enough to work

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can’t quite seem to catch a break. It’s not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells “Prom” in sparklers on her lawn…and nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank’s dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him—and his “work.” The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25695607-my-kind-of-crazy

An Excerpt


So here’s the thing. It’s not like I woke up this morning and said, “Hey, I think I’ll light the 100-year-old Eastern Red Cedar tree in front of Amanda Carlisle’s house on fire today.” Because I don’t know about you, but when I wake up, my mind doesn’t go straight to arson. Honestly, the first thing I focus on is how fast I can get from my room to the bathroom without my dad’s girlfriend, Monica, trying to chat me up while I’m awkwardly standing there in my boxers.

I’d read online that how you ask a girl to Prom can completely make or break a guy’s chances. I wanted to do something special that Amanda would never forget. Apparently it worked, just not the way I intended. ‘Use sparklers to spell out PROM’ the article on the Internet said. There was even a picture with them all lit up on the ground. Totally idiot proof.

I snuck into her yard like a ninja under the cover of darkness and tried to jam the sparklers in her lawn, but the soil was hard and unyielding. I looked around, desperate, and then I spied a nice soft patch of mulch underneath the cedar tree near the side of her yard. It was perfect, and the sparkler slid in easily. A few minutes later, I had them all lined up just like I’d seen in the picture, and once they were lit, yelled, “Amanda!” I actually had to call out twice because she didn’t hear me the first time. Then she came to the window and gazed down as the sparklers fizzled down to the ground and--boom!

Turns out that was fresh pine mulch underneath that cedar. Pine trees produce turpentine, so I might as well have lit those sparklers in a pool of gasoline for how quickly the mulch caught fire.

I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. Which is why I’m now hiding behind a bush across the street in her neighbor’s yard. This is definitely going down in history as the most epic promposal fail ever. And then, as if things couldn’t get more catastrophic, they do.

Baseball is practically a religion where I live in South Coast Massachusetts. People take their Red Sox pretty seriously, and the die-hards decorate their trees with red and blue streamers every season in a show of support. The Carlisles are no exception. And it doesn’t take long for the flames to catch and race the length of those ribbons into the dry branches above.

From where I’m crouched down, I have a perfect view of the Carlisle house. I can see Amanda’s eyes widen and her jaw drop open as she observes the quickly escalating situation in her yard. She pulls away from the window, I’m guessing to call the fire department. We should probably talk about Prom some other time.

With things clearly going south, I do what any sensible person would do: I get the hell out of there. Of course, a sensible person wouldn’t have put sparklers in a pile of fresh mulch directly under a highly flammable tree. Hindsight is 20/20.

So in the most casual way possible, I hook my backpack - which is loaded with empty sparkler boxes - over my shoulders, hop on my bike, and pedal away from the scene at what I hope passes for a normal speed. Cool as a cucumber, that’s me.

I reason for a brief moment that, perhaps, Amanda didn’t actually see me there. Even if she did, she doesn’t know me all that well so she might not recognize me. I am wearing black jeans, and my Batman hoodie conceals my medium-length, stick straight brown hair, so I am sort of camouflaged. Not to mention, those flames were pretty distracting.

The fire station is about five streets away, near the library. I start to worry that the firemen won’t get there fast enough and Amanda’s whole house might burn down. I know I’m a lame-ass chicken shit for hightailing it out of there, but the last thing I need is Dad on my case for something else. As far as he’s concerned, I can’t do much right. I would like to say he’s just being an asshole, but lately I’ve been wondering if he’s onto something.

I consider turning around and heading back to Amanda’s, which would be the right thing to do, but I swear I’m about to piss myself with fear so I pedal faster, listening for the sounds of approaching police sirens. For good measure, I jerk my bike off the main road, cutting through the back alleys toward home.

Buy Links:


Praise for My Kind of Crazy

“I had so much fun reading this book that it made want to accidentally set things on fire. Great characters you instantly care for, and a lot of heart.” --Adi Alsaid, author of Never Always Sometimes and Let’s Get Lost

“MY KIND OF CRAZY is for everyone who felt they never fit in and weren't sure that they wanted to.” --Eileen Cook, author of Remember and What Would Emma Do?

“Hank Kirby will steal your heart, Peyton Breedlove will set it on fire, and then together they’ll mend the pieces.” --Shaun Hutchinson, author of FML and Violent Ends

“MY KIND OF CRAZY is my kind of read, and Reul, the best kind of writer.” --Gae Polisner, author of The Summer of Letting Go and The Pull of Gravity

“Funny, authentic, and, at turns, heartbreaking.” --Jessi Kirby, author of Things We Know By Heart

“A sensitive look at two teens with complicated histories learning to build a future together.” –Kirkus

About the Author

Robin Reul has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Though she grew up on movie sets and worked for years in the film and television industry, she ultimately decided to focus her attention on writing young adult novels. And unlike Hank, she does not know how to ride a bike. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. My Kind Of Crazy is her first novel. Find her at robinreul.com



Links

Sourcebooks Fire
Twitter
Facebook

Giveaway

Open to US & Canada Residents Only

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: Don't Get Caught

Title Don't Get Caught
Author Kurt Dinan
Release Date April 1, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492630142

10:00 tonight at the water tower. Tell no one. — Chaos Club

When Max receives a mysterious invite from the untraceable, epic prank-pulling Chaos Club, he has to ask: why him? After all, he’s Mr. 2.5 GPA, Mr. No Social Life. He’s Just Max. And his favorite heist movies have taught him this situation calls for Rule #4: Be suspicious. But it’s also his one shot to leave Just Max in the dust…

Yeah, not so much. Max and four fellow students—who also received invites—are standing on the newly defaced water tower when campus security “catches” them. Definitely a setup. And this time, Max has had enough. It’s time for Rule #7: Always get payback.

Let the prank war begin.
Oceans 11 meets The Breakfast Club in this entertaining, fast-paced debut filled with pranks and cons that will keep readers on their toes, never sure who’s pulling the strings or what’s coming next.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24157427-don-t-get-caught

Trailer


An Excerpt


Ellie calls it Operation Stranko Caper and gives each member of the Water Tower Five code names related to his or her role.

Adleta is Goon.


Malone is Shadow.


Wheeler is Potatoes.


Ellie is Crybaby.


And I’m Bleeder.


But at the moment, waiting for zero hour while standing in the back hallway where I can view the filled cafeteria, I’m feeling more like Puker because I want to sprint to the bathroom to vomit up my guts.

And to think this was all my idea. Here’s Heist Planning 101:

1.Identify your target. In this case, the target is Stranko’s phone. Clearly he’s investigating the Chaos Club; the pictures he took in the office prove that. Who knows what other evidence against them he might have? 


2.Formulate a plan. It took a week of observing Stranko during school (all of us) and after (thank you, Adleta) 
to realize he’s most separated from his phone during lunch duty. It sits on a table on the stage next to where Stranko polices the cafeteria. Now, if he were to be pulled away from the stage...

3.Practice, practice, practice. The five of us rehearsed our roles for over a week. The plan isn’t the most complicated, but we only have one shot at Stranko’s phone.

Our final run-through of the plan lasted two hours on Saturday, with Ellie and Wheeler the most excited. Even Adleta, who’s probably risking at least a thousand push-ups every day for the rest of his life, liked the idea. Malone, go figure, predicted failure.

“It won’t work,” she said. “Maybe in a movie, yes, but not in real life it won’t.”

“No, they won’t see it coming,” I said. “No one expects things like this to happen, and especially not from us. We’re trying to stay out of trouble, remember? Why would we risk getting suspended?”

“Max is right,” Adleta said. “There’ll be too much going on for Stranko to realize what’s happened. It’s going to work.”

“What if we get caught?”

“Then we do what you should do whenever you get busted,” Wheeler said. “We lie our asses off.”

I don’t mind Malone’s concerns. In fact, I appreciate them. The more I’m around her, the more I depend on her skepticism. Every heist crew needs someone to point out the weaknesses in a plan. Malone’s perfect for that. She’s also tech savvy, a brilliant artist, and athletic as hell. A jack-of-all-trades, really. Or more like a jill-of-all-trades.

A heist can go wrong for any number of reasons, the worst of which is the double cross. You can just never be sure if everyone is really on your side or if they’re working an angle. I don’t necessarily think anyone in my crew is behind the setup at the water tower, but the hint of doubt is there. Still, why would someone set us up to get busted and include him or herself in the busting? It makes no sense.

We picked Monday for our heist because that’s the school day where everyone, even the administration, just slogs through until the final bell. At the time I was excited, but now it’s nausea city. Reality sucks that way. But I’m not going to back down and hide in the theater again like I did the day after the water tower. Not that I could put a stop to our plan if I wanted to. Everyone’s in position. The pin’s pulled and the grenade heaved. All I can do is try not to get my head blown off.

On stage, Stranko reads something on his phone, then places it on the table beside him before returning to his surveillance. In a lot of ways, thinking of him as a prison guard is dead-on. The entire building is a prison, with the staff as guards, students as prisoners, and rules that dictate when we can stand up and leave, talk, and even go the to the bathroom. The school even has security cameras, which are positioned in all corners of the cafeteria. I’ve seen the room with the video monitors though and am not as worried as I might be in a newer school. The monitors here are in black and white and the images almost blurry, like it may be the first security system ever created, maybe used back in the Garden of Eden where God watched a grainy image of Eve heisting that apple.

Then, right on cue at 11:45, Crybaby, sitting at her usual table near the front of the cafeteria, pushes her tray aside and puts her head down in her arms.

Step One, the Split, has begun.

Buy Links


Praise for Don't Get Caught

Don’t Get Caught is just everything I love about young adult fiction. It's funny and awkward and exciting and full of revelations and surprises.” -Josh Berk, author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

"Not only is Don't Get Caught the best kind of underdog story---heartfelt and hilarious---but it's filled with genuine surprises up until the very last page, which features one of my favorite endings in recent memory. I'm highly inspired to prank someone right now." -Lance Rubin, author of Denton Little's Deathdate

"Witty, charming and always surprising...Call it OCEAN'S 11TH GRADE or whatever you like, Don’t Get Caught snatched my attention and got away clean." -Joe Schreiber, author of Con Academy and Au Revoir Crazy European Chick

“Genre-savvy, clever, and full of "Heist Rules" like "If questioned, be evasive" and "Play to your crew's strengths," this twisty tale is funny, fast-paced, and full of surprises. –Publishers Weekly

“This caper comedy about an Ocean's 11-style group of high school masterminds will keep readers guessing.” –Kirkus

“Teen readers will delight in the way such totally different individuals begin to cooperate to triumph over their wrongs.” –VOYA Magazine

About the Author

© Whitney Ballentine
Kurt Dinan has taught high school English for over twenty-one years, and while he’s never pulled any of the pranks detailed in this novel, he was once almost arrested in college for blizzarding the campus with fliers promoting a fake concert. He lives and works in the suburbs of Cincinnati with his wife and his four children he affectionately refers to as “the Crime Spree.” Don’t Get Caught is his first novel.

Links

Website
Twitter



Giveaway

Open to US and Canada residents only

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Review: Love Will

Title Love Will
Author Lori L. Otto
Release Date March 27, 2016

Love Will Guide You.

At 24, Will Rosser has finally seen evidence of love. He witnessed the loyalty between his older brother and sister-in-law once they moved back to New York, and he watched his younger brother fight societal conventions to be with the guy he loves. Will hopes that he, too, can find someone he can trust with his secrets who will appreciate his talents and forgive his many past transgressions.

Given an opportunity to escape New York and the routine that encouraged his bad behavior, Will chooses to leave his job to go on tour with his best friend's band.

Love Will Destroy You.

The examples Will saw growing up showed a different side of love. Love was cruel and manipulative; one-sided and false. It sure as hell wasn't what they wrote songs about. His parents were at odds from the moment he was born. While his dad spent years in and out of jail, his mother was more interested in alcohol than in raising her boys. When the two were finally together, they were toxic.

Will finally had a chance to experience real love for the first time when he was 16. He was smitten with his girlfriend–until he found out she'd been cheating on him. That was all it took to send him down a ruinous path of his own, disbelieving in this fairytale of love he'd almost bought into.

Love Will Find a Way.

Now an adult, Will relies on his uncompromising discipline to commit to a new way of life, even though temptations to stray are numerous and constant while on the road with Damon. He meets a woman who inspires him and believes in second chances. Shea is a breath of fresh air and challenges Will's despairing past with light and hope.

As Will works to accept his own dependencies and forgive himself for the mistakes he's made, the relationship becomes one that requires more trust than Shea first realized.

There's only one thing that will keep Will from self-destructing.
There's only one thing that will keep Shea from running the other way.

Love Will.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28955500-love-will
Review

I didn't realize how much I wanted a book about Will until I read Love Like We Do. Then, I absolutely fell in love with him when I read Crossroads (a novella that I highly recommend you read before Love Will).

Every single time I read something new from Lori Otto, I'm amazed at just how much I love her books. It never fails. Love Will is currently my favorite (though, Lost & Found is an extremely close second). Lori makes it so easy to become emotionally invested in her stories. The characters that she writes, both old favorites and new ones, feel like real people and you can't help wishing the best for them. As always, I'm eagerly awaiting more from her in the future.

Whether Lori Otto is a new-to-you author or you've read her work before, pick up Love Will. You won't be disappointed.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Monday, April 4, 2016

Book Review: Flawed

Title Flawed
Series Flawed, book 1
Author Cecelia Ahern
Release Date April 5, 2016

The Scarlet Letter meets Divergent in this thoughtful and thrilling novel by bestselling author Cecelia Ahern.

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23438288-flawed
Review

Okay, so Flawed isn't going to be winning any awards for originality. It follows the very well known dystopian trend of a girl becoming the reluctant leader of a revolution against the big bad organization. However, I was still able to thoroughly enjoy the story.

This is the very first book that I've read by Cecelia Ahern. I must say that I really liked her writing style. It captured my attention from the very beginning. I didn't want to stop reading. While this is her young adult debut, I can definitely see myself checking out some of her other work.

Like I said, the story isn't exactly original (nor is it perfect), but it was enough to keep me engaged the entire time. I feel like the first book laid a decent foundation for the rest of the series and I am looking forward to reading the next book.

If you can overlook the fact that Flawed isn't exactly an original story, which admittedly may be hard for some to do, you might find a decent story here.

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Feiwel and Friends via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose

Title Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose
Edited By Gillian McCain & Legs McNeil
Release Date April 5, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492609629

They call me a freak.
I’m sick of it. It makes me want dangerous, bad things. Drugs—hard drugs—and people who are bad for me, but I don’t care, because I’m so lonely and no matter what their intentions are at least they’re talking to me…


They say that high school is supposed to be the best time of your life. But what if that's just not true?
More than anything, Mary Rose wants to fit in. To be loved. And she'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Even if it costs her her life.

Told through the raw and unflinching diary entries of a real teen, Mary Rose struggles with addiction, bullying, and a deadly secret. Her compelling story will inspire you—and remind you that you’re not alone.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18704925-dear-nobody

Click here to view an excerpt!


Buy Links


Praise for Dear Nobody: The True Diary of Mary Rose

“A rare, no-holds-barred documentation of an American teenager’s life.” –Publishers Weekly

“The voice is authentic, this book is an experience.’ –Kirkus

“The writing style has a beautiful lyricism…Readers will appreciate this unflinchingly honest work.” –School Library Journal

“Mary Rose’s diary is a heart-wrenching tale of a young girl trying to figure everything out…It will appeal to teens.” –VOYA Magazine

“One of the most powerful stories we've read this year.” –Justine Magazine

About the Editor

Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil are co-authors of the highly acclaimed Please Kill Me: An Oral History of Punk. McNeil is a former editor at Spin and co-founder of Punk Magazine. Always drawn to “teen misfit” stories, he heard about Mary Rose’s journal through a neighbor and immediately knew it had to be shared. McCain has also collaborated on several poetry and photography collections. She is on the board of directors of The Poetry Project and currently lives in New York City.

Website

Giveaway

Open to US & Canada residents only