Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Candace Reviews Poison by Bridget Zinn

Poison by Bridget Zinn
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published: March 12, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: ALAMW
 Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.
This review is also posted at Candace's Book Blog.

Poison by Bridget Zinn is a different sort of fantasy than most of these fantasy reads that have been coming out lately.  It's a lighter, funner and funnier book.  It's easy to cruise through in no time, and while I wouldn't say it packs a powerful 'punch' it packs a lot of greatness into a shorter, easier reading package.

Kyra is a potions master and is running from the law.  It's a bit shocking to discover WHY she's on the run, and the twists at the end were pretty stellar.  Kyra is a very serious person and getting to know her a bit through her memories helps us get a better grasp on her but it's not until the last quarter of the book that I felt like I really understood her.  While Kyra is very serious, Fred, who becomes a travel companion, is completely the opposite.  He may make your heart go pitter patter, but he'll also have you rolling in laughter.  He's an absolutely hilarious and very fun guy.  I enjoyed getting to know him, and he was one character that I felt like I knew very well almost straight away.

This world is magical and beautiful.  It's the fantasy world from all our imaginations.  The Princess Bride is what comes to mind first but I honestly watched that movie so many years ago I'm surprised that that's what popped into my head.  I think perhaps it's the tone of the book as well as the world itself.  The world has potion masters, witches (including seers), goblins, and many other things.  But most importantly, there's a pig.  A very adorable enchanted pig that will steal your heart away.  

I enjoyed this adorable book immensely and while some fantasy fanatics may think it's a bit on the 'light' side and could use more depth, I loved it just the way it was.  This book may be accepted more by the younger YA crowd and would even be appropriate for mature middle grade readers.  It's a perfect intro to fantasy as well since there are no lengthy descriptions or confusing court drama.  It's a clean read that's loads of fun but has enough serious mixed in for those who need some edge of the seat moments.

Disclosure: I received this book at ALAMW and all opinions expressed are my own.  I was not paid or influenced in any way.

Note: The author, Bridget Zinn, passed away from cancer in 2011.  Not only is it very sad that she passed away, and not around to write more stories for us to devour, but she's not around to see her book in the hands of readers, nor to do the promotion that authors do themselves.  For this reason I think it's important as bloggers that we help spread the word of this book and help get it into the hands of readers that may not have heard of it yet.  So please take the time to ask your library to order it, and to spread the word of this wonderful fantasy story to readers everywhere.

Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Get the Heck @Go2Heck over here for an awesome interview

'Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go'


What inspired you to write your first book?

After working in journalism and advertising for so long, I desperately wanted to just make something up (though I did that a lot with my advertising campaigns!). I just really wanted to write something fantastical and ridiculous. My son was about five at the time and we were reading a lot of classics (Willy Wonka, The Wizard of Oz, Erica Jong's Fear of Flying) along with some newer books like Series of Unfortunate Events and Harry Potter. I was just amazed at how dark kids literature could go! And how funny! I wanted a piece of that…So I initially came up with Heck after ruminating on Satan and the underworld: just wondering, as so many of us do, where exactly do bad kids go? H-e-doublehockeysticks just seemed way too harsh. But a place that was really indistinguishable from my middle school experience? Yeah: that's it! So with that concept in mind, I got writing. I initially wrote Heck as a TV pilot for Bravo, but they didn't go for it, so I turned it into a book. That could be why it's so…visual.


'Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck'


How did you come up with your titles?

Since each circle of Heck is based upon a child-centric sin (lying, greed, growing up too fast) I would just sort of play around with words. Rapacia started out as Gimme, but my editor didn't think that was scary enough. Fibble is, of course, lying: telling fibs. Snivel is pretty obvious: just being whiny. It's actually kind of fun.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

Currently I am desperately trying to keep up with my New Yorkers. It's always the same cycle: I subscribe due to some insanely low, can't-pass-up deal, keep up for a while then finally fail miserably and, in frustration, don't renew. But then they always come back…I'm also in something of a comic book phase now (pardon…graphic novels). I'm reading It Girl, End Times, Morning Glories, iZombie and a lot of other cool series. I have China Mieville's Perdido Street Station on my bedside table but haven't cracked it open yet.


'Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck'


Tell us, what books/authors have influenced your writing?

I definitely love Roald Dahl. His stuff was so rich and darkly funny. Kurt Vonnegut is also something of a god to me. I like a lot of authors but those are the only ones I am aware of being directly influenced by.

Are you an Outliner or a Pantser?

Actually, both in a way. I always outline everything I do. I can't imagine just venturing forth without knowing most every plot detail. But there's always a point where I deviate, like my septum, and amble a bit. And as I am always late with my drafts, the last third of my books is always a seat-of-my-pants experience.




'Fibble: The Fourth Circle of Heck'

Okay, are you a Morning Person or Night Owl?

Used to be a Night Owl. I couldn't get to sleep before 2 AM ever…but, ever since having my son (with a little help from my wife) I have lost the ability to sleep in, so I have trained myself to get tired by about 11 PM. I still seem to get my craziest ideas at night, while day is when I'm most productive and get stuff done.

Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

That depends. Whenever I DO actually get to travel, which isn't nearly as much as I would like due to finances, I always pop into book stores and sign my books if they have them. But the only time I really went on a bona-fide book tour with with Rapacia. I got to go to Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. My Denver appearance was the only time that absolutely no one showed up for one of my readings! Lately I keep it local, though I do school appearances on the Oregon coast a lot. A lot of really cool, really weird kids there.




'Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck'

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

A mentor? No clue. In terms of whose career Id like to emulate, again, Kurt Vonnegut. Or perhaps Tom Robbins. After Heck I can see myself branching out and for older audiences, may get a bit sci-fi. Though I have a feeling most anything I do will have an element of humor. It's just who I am. 



'Precocia: The Sixth Circle of Heck'

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I don't think I would with my latest book, though I would love to revisit the first Heck book. I feel like the series gets better as it goes on because I'm becoming more confident as a writer, or at least getting a stronger sense of the characters and the sucky world I've made for them.


'Wise Acres: The Seventh Circle of Heck'

Last question, what's the song/album/artist you are listening to the most now?

I'm liking Iceland's Of Monsters and Men now and Vampire Weekend has an album coming out this spring which I'm looking forward to. The Joy Formidable just put out a new album which I'm enjoying. There's a great R&B band from Ireland called The Strypes which sound like early Who that I'm crazy about. They're just 16! They don't have any records out yet so I just listen to them on YouTube.


Dale's Sixth book 'Precocia: The Sixth Circle of Heck' is out TODAY!  You can find Dale on his site, Goodreads and Twitter.






Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by @finneyfrock

The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door by Karen Finneyfrock
Release Date: February 21, 2013
Published by: Viking Children's
Pages: 272

That’s the day the trouble started. 
The trouble that nearly ruined my life. 
The trouble that turned me Dark. 
The trouble that begs me for revenge.


Celia Door enters her freshman year of high school with giant boots, dark eyeliner, and a thirst for revenge against Sandy Firestone, the girl who did something unspeakable to Celia last year.

But then Celia meets Drake, the cool new kid from New York City who entrusts her with his deepest, darkest secret. When Celia’s quest for justice threatens her relationship with Drake, she’s forced to decide which is sweeter: revenge or friendship.


The ending- After Celia and Drake battle through some tough issues the ending was perfect. I can't wait to see what Karen writes next. I happily recommend this book to others to read!


Celia is someone I empathize with. She is struggling to deal with how others in her class treat her. At the beginning of the school year she has put into a place a new method to see if she can avoid the issues she has faced in years past. She hasn't admitted the problems she is facing to anyone.


She meets Drake, surprised that he doesn't know he 'shouldn't' be talking to her. Celia wonders how long it will be before he catches on that she is not considered to be a desirable friend. But Drake sticks like glue.


I was definitely conflicted by how Celia was treated and how she treated others throughout the story but that's why I enjoyed it so much. I was emotionally involved but not angry at how she handled things.


While I enjoyed following Celia's thoughts, I also really enjoyed having Drake in this story. I don't know that I've read many story lines that include a character with his devotion to their friendship or even the qualities he had.




If you enjoyed this story you should read:
'The Fault in our Stars' by John Green 
'Almost Home' by Joan Bauer







Disclosure: I received an ARC of 'The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door' from the bookstore I work at. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.


This review is by Mel:

Mel is a bookaholic as well as loving music. She just recently moved to the Portland area from the Midwest and has been enjoying exploring the whole area, including the Coast and downtown Portland. She has been blogging at Shot in the Arm since May 2008 but has had a couple other blogs before that at various places around the web. Young Adult is her favorite genre but she loves to read most other genres including Romance, Fiction, Sci Fi and some Historical Non-Fiction. You can find her at her blog, her twitter and on Goodreads. Stop by and say hi!



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Karen Finneyfrock stops by to talk to us before her new release @finneyfrock

Karen Finneyfrock is the author of  'The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door' on February 21st.


So Karen, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

As I kid, I read so much that I actually got in trouble. Well, not trouble exactly, but my mom had a talk with me about how she and my dad were concerned that I wasn't coming out of my room and into the "real world" enough. That was when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

Haha that sounds an awful lot like me as a kid!


So what is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I'm at my best when I'm on a retreat. Then it looks like: get up, make a BIG pot of coffee, write for four hours, eat, go for a walk, read by a window, dinner. When I'm at home it looks like that with more interruptions for email.


I always wonder what authors love to eat while writing, so tell me what is your favorite writing food?

Did I mention coffee? Also frozen blueberries right out of the freezer. So crunchy!


I've read your new book, and I'm wondering what you are working on next for us?

I'm finishing up my second contemporary YA fiction novel for Viking Children's Books. The tentative title is, "Starbird Murphy and the World Outside." I'm also editing a poetry anthology.

That sounds really exciting! I can't wait to read about Starbird!


When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I suppose I wrote my first mess of an unreadable book at 34. That's the "practice novel"that will never come out of the drawer.


What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I'm obsessed with Zumba and try to go three times a week. I also go to poetry readings, hang out with my boyfriend, eat sushi and go to estate sales.

Oh lovely! I've always wanted to try Zumba.  It looks fun and intense!


What jobs did you have when you were a teen?

I was a drink-cart-girl at an elite country club where the Presidents play golf. I worked in parks during the summer and played games and made crafts with neighborhood kids. I make mean spin art and lovely hand-woven pot holders.


Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I'm writing this response at 11 p.m.

We can be best friends.  I'm always staying up late writing reviews and reading books.


What's the most embarassing fashion trend you followed when you were younger? (feel free to include a photo)

I grew up in the age of "feathered" haircuts. If you're not sure what I mean, check out this image:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.cute-hairstyles.org/wp-content/uploads/5_feathered_hairstyles_from_the_80_s.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.cute-hairstyles.org/4317/feathered-hair-styles/&h=581&w=550&sz=40&tbnid=6Q9CtnlFASvS1M:&tbnh=96&tbnw=91&zoom=1&usg=__u-eeql1YPyRF50767Nx1lyTlUic=&docid=2aahm8K1kIMrCM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yHMkUZ71LoWsiALpjIDICw&ved=0CDIQ9QEwAQ&dur=4708

Sadly, I don't have a photo of myself with a feathered haircut because none exist. I was born with exceptionally thick, pencil straight hair which rudely refused feathering, and instead fell down my head in obvious chunks like a set of stairs. But I never stopped trying all the way through middle school.



So one last question, what book from 2012/2013 would you recommend us reading after we read 'The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door'?

I'm currently reading Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily and absolutely loving it! The language is so poetic that all the poets-at-heart will fall in love.


Thanks to Karen for stopping by.  You can check out her new release tomorrow right here where we will have a review!  And stop by Karen's site, find her on Twitter and also on Goodreads.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Candace is excited about Shadows of Asphodel by @karenkincy!


I wanted to let you all know about this amazing book that is coming this fall!  I was going to do this as a WoW post, but didn't want to wait since there's no 5 days left in the kickstarter. 

Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy
A dieselpunk novel set in 1913, at the death of the Belle Époque and the brink of the Great War. Swords, necromancy, & mechas.

1913. The death of the Belle Époque and the brink of the Great War. The simmering hostilities in Europe have been halted in their tracks by the Hex, a powerful curse placed on the land by the archmages of Vienna, which renders gunpowder powerless and forces a return to swords, archery, and sorcery. But a greater and more terrible threat looms…
Ardis, an American swordswoman with a dark past, lives only to fight as a mercenary. She never expected to meet Wendel, or to fall for him. Bleeding out on a battlefield in Transylvania, he intrigues Ardis with his suave arrogance and his once-in-a-lifetime talent. Wendel is a Prussian nobleman fallen from grace and a necromancer with the power to raise the dead. If you kill a necromancer, he will only come back ten times stronger—or so Ardis has heard. Afraid to find out, she saves his life.
Together, mercenary and necromancer forge an uneasy alliance underscored with sexual tension. When Ardis fails her next mission, they discover the military secret of Austria-Hungary: robotically-enhanced soldiers constructed by the inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel himself. Only Ardis and Wendel know the truth about the Emperor of Austria’s machinations—but can they stop the Great War from reaching an even bloodier end?
"A gripping alternate history of World War I, filled with magic and swordfighting, steamy romance, and general badassery—a daring adventure you don't want to miss!" - Chelsea M. Campbell, author of The Rise of Renegade X
Doesn't it sound AMAZING?!
I contributed my bit so I will get a gorgeous signed copy when the book releases.  There's a very short time left to contribute to hurry and do so before it's too late! Click the widget below for all the kickstarter info and to see what options you have (it goes as low as $5). 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Candace Reviews Athlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack

Athlete vs. Mathlete by W.C. Mack
Paperback, 208 pages
Published: Feb. 5th, 2013 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
Ages: 8-12 (though I would say this is upper MG & the characters are in 7th grade)
Source: ALAMW 2013/ Bloomsbury

Owen Evans lights up the scoreboards. His brother, Russell, rocks the school boards. These twin brothers couldn't be more different. They've long kept the peace by going their separate ways, but all that is about to change. The new basketball coach recruits Russell for the seventh grade team and a jealous Owen has to fight to stay in the game. When someone tries to steal Russell's spot as captain of the mathlete team, will the two be able to put aside their differences in order to save his position? Or will they be sidelined? Perfect for fans of Matt Christopher and Andrew Clements alike, this is a lighthearted and hilarious look at what happens when brains meets brawn meets basketball.
 This review can also be found at Candace's Book Blog.
Athlete vs. Mathlete is an upper middle grade novel about twin brothers in 7th grade.  Owen is an athlete who loves basketball and Russell is a mathlete.  But when the new basketball coach convinces (er, forces) Russell to try out for basketball everyone assumes he'll just prove how clumsy and un-athletic he is.  But everyone is shocked that he has a bit of a hidden talent.  This makes Owen jealous as Russell has now stolen his spotlight.  And Russell is having trouble balancing his different teams (basketball and Masters of the Mind) along with school work.  In a addition there's a new member to the Masters of the Mind club and he's trying to take Russell's place.

In this book we get a good look at two brothers that clearly love each other but struggle a bit with being top dog.  Owen was always the one close to his father since they both love basketball and Russell, once he gets some of his fathers attention, realizes that he really does want to make his father proud and so tries harder to do so, kind of leaving Owen behind.  When Owen tries to steal back the spotlight he not only hurts his brother, his family and his team mates, but also himself.

This family dynamic is very important and present in the story and I really liked this.  I loved seeing how much they loved and cared about each other, and how when they realized they did something wrong and hurt another that they were truly sorry and did the right thing.

There's some father son time that was really important to the story.  However I didn't feel like the father ever realized that his pushing Russell so hard to be a basketball player was wrong.  He said rude things about how Owen was the normal one and there wasn't any clear indication that he was ever informed that this hurt Russell's feelings.  But the conclusion to everything overall was good, so maybe this is an issue that will reappear in the future books.

I'm not a sports fan and so I didn't feel any connection to that aspect, or the Mathlete stuff either.  But it was clear that the book takes place in or near Oregon as the team they cheered on was the Blazers (Portland's team) and knowing that made me feel a bit more connected with it all.  Just knowing that it takes place locally, I guess.  And even though because I'm a 31 year old woman and I couldn't actually really connect with these characters, I did really like them and their personalities. 

This is the first of a series (I have heard) and I'm not sure how it'll play out since this had a nice conclusion, but knowing these characters will live on in future books is exciting.

I think this is a perfect book for middle school boys.  It's entertaining and has a lot of things they should connect with.  There's no inappropriate content and no romance or hint of one.  It's a fast, easy read that I read in less than 2 hours.  All middle school libraries should most definitely have this book on their shelves!

Disclosure: I received this book at ALAMW as a free gift.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of children's books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mel reviews Torn by Stephanie Guerra

Torn by Stephanie Guerra
Released on: May 15, 2012
Published by: Marshall Cavendish
Pages: 263




Stella Chavez is your classic good girl: straight As, clean-cut boyfriends, and soccer trophies . You’d never guess that Stella’s dad was a drug addict who walked out when she was a kid. Or that inside, Stella wishes for something more.

New girl Ruby Caroline seems like Stella’s polar opposite: cursing, smoking, and teetering in sky-high heels . But with Ruby, Stella gets a taste of another world—a world in which parents act like roommates, college men are way more interesting than high school boys, and there is nothing that shouldn’t be tried once.

It’s not long before Stella finds herself torn: between the best friend she’s ever had and the friends she’s known forever, between her family and her own independence, between who she was and who she wants to be.

But Ruby has a darker side, a side she doesn’t show anyone—not even Stella. As Stella watches her friend slowly unravel, she will have to search deep inside herself for the strength to be a true friend, even if it means committing the ultimate betrayal.

The Ending: The ending of 'Torn' completely surprised me.  I did not think it would end as it did.  There were several ideas I had for what could happen and none of them did.  I enjoyed the ending and I think it will grab you.  The idea that Ruby has is devious and awesome.  I admit it, I clapped.  She was hilarious about how she tricked some girls.  No spoilers!

While I really enjoyed this book there are definitely scenes that were tough to read.  Tough because Stella was making hard decisions to save her friend and putting herself out there in new for her situations.  Ruby is not the easiest person to be friends with but Stella is a stick by you friend.  The other tough thing was seeing Stella basically leave other friends out of her life in order to be friends with Ruby.  Although it was tough it was realistic circumstances.  High school friendships sometimes change rapidly and I groaned at a couple of incidents that happened between the girls.

My favorite thing in this book was Stella being strong.  Mind you she was led a bit astray by Ruby, but there are so many times I really felt for Ruby.  Ruby had her own quiet strength in making decisions that were the complete polar opposite of Stella.  It was fun to see the back and forth between the two girls.

As this is Stephanie's debut novel, I am looking forward to read what she writes next.


Disclosure: I bought a copy of Torn to read for my enjoyment. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.
This review is by Mel:

Mel is a bookaholic as well as loving music. She just recently moved to the Portland area from the Midwest and has been enjoying exploring the whole area, including the Coast and downtown Portland. She has been blogging at Shot in the Arm since May 2008 but has had a couple other blogs before that at various places around the web. Young Adult is her favorite genre but she loves to read most other genres including Romance, Fiction, Sci Fi and some Historical Non-Fiction. You can find her at herblog, her twitter and on Goodreads. Stop by and say hi!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mel reviews Devine Intervention by @mbrockenbrough

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough
Released on: June 1, 2012
Published by: Arthur A. Levine
Pages: 304

There is a great legend of the guardian angel who traveled across time and space for the human girl he loved, slaying those who would threaten her with a gleaming sword made of heavenly light.

This is not that story.

Jerome Hancock is Heidi Devine's guardian angel. Sort of. He's more of an angel trainee, in heaven's soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens. And he's just about to get kicked out for having too many absences and for violating too many of the Ten Commandments for the Dead.

Heidi, meanwhile, is a high school junior who dreams of being an artist, but has been drafted onto her basketball team because she's taller than many a grown man. For as long as she can remember, she's heard a voice in her head - one that sings Lynyrd Skynyrd, offers up bad advice, and yet is company during those hours she feels most alone.

When the unthinkable happens, these two lost souls must figure out where they went wrong and whether they can make things right before Heidi's time is up and her soul is lost forever.

The Ending...well it made my cry.  I loved the ending.  In fact, in my head I thought of what would happen after the ending.  It was nice to think of what might happen after...well the end of this story.  I won't ruin it for you but it surprised me and I loved the surprising quality of it.

Heidi - She is me.  She is a normal average girl.  YAY for someone who isn't the prettiest, smartest, most athletic girl.  Finally we have a story about a real girl.  And Jerome, well he's a regular, normal guy who has made huge mistakes and is trying to 'help' Heidi.

If this book were a guideline for Guardian Angels I don't think I'd want one.  With rules for Guardian Angels such as:
Thou Shalt Not Complain About Being Dead, Thou Shalt Not Coved the Food or Drink of the Living and my favorite, Thou Shalt Not Inhabit the Bodies of the Living, it really makes me wonder what types of situations I might find myself in if my Guardian Angel talked to me, led me to do the wrong things or even wandered off when I ended up needing them most.  I do not want a Guardian Angel who takes over another person's body and I end up in trouble.  Course I also do not know what I'd do with myself if I could hear my Guardian Angel, whispering in my ear each day.  Can you imagine it?

I am laughing remembering how funny the incidents are in this book.  I cracked up at a number of events I would hope to NEVER find myself in.  Course it wasn't all laughs.  Heidi remembering past incidents in her life with her friend Megan, was embarrassing for me!  The incident that embarrassed me was one that happened early on in the book.  It reminded me of when I danced in competitions and how not everything works out the way you think it will before you go out on stage.

My favorite twist on this book is the back and forth of Jerome's side of the story versus Heidi's.  I loved seeing Jerome's motives and thoughts.  And Heidi was easy to relate to, although I definitely did not have a Guardian Angel speaking to me as I grew up.

I want you to read this book.  If you have, tell me what you thought.  If you haven't, HELLO hop to it.


Disclosure: I bought a copy of Devine Intervention to read for my enjoyment. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

This review is by Mel:

Mel is a bookaholic as well as loving music. She just recently moved to the Portland area from the Midwest and has been enjoying exploring the whole area, including the Coast and downtown Portland. She has been blogging at Shot in the Arm since May 2008 but has had a couple other blogs before that at various places around the web. Young Adult is her favorite genre but she loves to read most other genres including Romance, Fiction, Sci Fi and some Historical Non-Fiction. You can find her at her blog, her twitter and on Goodreads. Stop by and say hi!



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mel reviews Return to Me by @JustinaYChen

Return to Me by Justina Chen
Release Date: Jan 15, 2013
Published by: Little, Brown
Pages: 352

Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She's weeks away from starting college--at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad's last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there's the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.

And if that isn't enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb's dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her "perfect" boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?

This book was emotional for me.  It reminded me of how thankful I have been since I was young that my parents are in fact, still married.  Growing up, I remember my brother and I realizing that most of our friends parents were not together, that it could happen to us too.  I even remember the discussion we had of where we wanted to live, and later telling our parents.  This might seem like over-sharing but I loved the farm, the place my parents still live.  It is my home and haven.  

Rebecca or 'Rebel' as Jackson calls her, is stuck in the middle.  Lost in the middle of her family's fallout she is confused and unsure of herself and what comes next.  My heart went out to Rebel.  I wanted to be Rebel's friend.  Honestly, there aren't a lot of characters that make me wish I could jump in to their world and be there for them.  This is a relatable story to me and pretty much everyone I can think of.  When I finished I wanted to go out and buy multiple copies to give to every teen I see.

When you read the title did you think to yourself, I know exactly what that means?  Justina is going to flip that thought on it's side.  At the end of this book you will understand the title and it's meaning just as I did.  You will also be surprised by the depth of understanding you have.  So that's the ending, what's next?

People.  I loved Rebel, Jackson, Rebel's family, okay not her father, everyone else involved in this story I felt that I could easily meet on them the street and be on their side.  So many books I've read lately have missing parents.  Kids raising themselves or trying to get through hard situations on their own.  Not everyone has missing parents and no siblings or no family at all.  I loved that Rebel's grandparents were around.

When you are going through hard times the most important thing is to find a safe haven.  A place that allows you to grow and heal.  I wish everyone had that.  I have that in the farm.  The safe haven in this book is a place I want to go.  I can picture it in my head and it is so beautiful.  I can picture Rebel drawing it and creating it.  

Do you see why this book was emotional?  I highly recommend you read it.  Then I recommend you go buy a bunch more and give them to your local high school.  Teens need to read this book.


Check out Candace's Review of North of Beautiful by Justina Chen

Disclosure: I received an ARC of 'Return to Me' from Justina in order to review it for this blog. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

This review is by Mel:

Mel is a bookaholic as well as loving music. She just recently moved to the Portland area from the Midwest and has been enjoying exploring the whole area, including the Coast and downtown Portland. She has been blogging at Shot in the Arm since May 2008 but has had a couple other blogs before that at various places around the web. Young Adult is her favorite genre but she loves to read most other genres including Romance, Fiction, Sci Fi and some Historical Non-Fiction. You can find her at her blog, her twitter and on Goodreads. Stop by and say hi!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

@JustinaYChen stops by to answer some questions!



Today on the blog we have Justina Chen visiting us for an interview.




Can you tell us a bit about your new book(s)?

RETURN TO ME is my love letter to my children, written for them a few months after their father left. I wanted my kids and every single reader to know that they can turn the dust of disappointment into the stardust of a new life. In fact, I wrote an essay about the inspiration behind this novel for Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/back-story-tragedy-becomes-inspiration-successful-/

What kinds of jobs have you had besides writing? Mom is probably the most demanding, far-ranging job I have ever had. Aside from that, I have been a dressing room attendant (where I developed the most amazing biceps from hauling clothes back to their rounders), a cosmetics inventory drudge, poster mounter, speechwriter, and corporate storyteller.

Do you have a favorite scene in Return to Me?For personal reasons, I rather love every scene featuring Reb with her grandfather. My dad is the world's best grandfather, and I can very easily imagine him swooping in to rescue and reassure my kids.

What is your #1 most recommended book?That is too tough to say! But last year, my top choice for adults and young readers alike was Gary Schmidt's OKAY FOR NOW. I thought it was hilarious, heartbreaking, and profound.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure?Sweet potato fries. I am a connoisseur of French fries. Sad, but true.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?After writing RETURN TO ME, I realized that I had much much more to say to adult women. So I wrote WHAT NOW: Survival Guide for the Blindsided and Brokenhearted, which will be published on March 1, 2013. As well, I'm deep in the rewrites of my next YA novel, A Blind Spot for Boys (2014).

What is your favorite thing about living in the Pacific Northwest? Aside from having dewy soft skin all through winter, I love the proximity of the mountains. As an avid hiker, being outdoors refreshes my soul. One of the prettiest trails is just twenty minutes from my home. So I can get on a mountain, hike to a peak, and be home in about 90 minutes if I really scramble.

What kind of research did you have to do for your book(s)?Reb is an aspiring architect, one with a passion for treehouses. That necessitated a crash course in architecture--and I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing a number of architects and builders. And here's the amazing thing: just a few weeks ago, an aspiring architect in college emailed me, asking if she could design a studio for me as one of her school projects. It was as if my character stepped straight out of my novel!

Where do you like to write?When I'm writing a first draft, I love to sequester myself in a coffeehouse, cozy and intimate and surrounded by other working people. But when I'm rewriting, I need perfect quiet so that I can think about every single word, weave plot and sub-plots together, and listen to the voice that is emerging, sentence after sentence.

Justine's new books RETURN TO ME and WHAT NOW are both available now!  




Thanks for answering some questions for us today Justine!  
Tomorrow look for Mel's review of RETURN TO ME.

Find Justine on her Blog, Goodreads and Twitter











Monday, February 4, 2013

Heidi & Mel review The Essence by @kimberlyderting

The Essence by Kimberly Derting
Released Date: Jan 2, 2013
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry
Pages: 352



At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.

What Heidi says...

The Essence picks up right where The Pledge left off, and I liked being able to plunge right back into the story. I was pleased to see how Charlie has grown, and how she fights to bring prosperity and equality to her kingdom despite the protests of those who want things to remain the same. Charlie is proving to be a capable ruler, but what I liked most was the fact that she wasn't letting power go to her head. She remains the sweet young girl we got to know in The Pledge. I really liked that she wanted to just be a normal girl and for people, especially those who have know her throughout her life, to treat her the same. She doesn't put on a bunch of airs, and she refrains from power trips. I admired that she really wanted to make things better for all the citizens of her kingdom, even those criminals outcast to the furthest regions. She has a good heart. I also appreciated how terrified she was to face the other queens. I can only imagine the fear and trepidation one would feel when suddenly thrust into a room full of heady, powerful women! Charlaina is certainly an admirable character. 

The inclusion of Sabara's essence inside Charlie is definitely something different. I liked getting to know the evil Queen Sabara a bit better, and seeing a little in her past. It is an interesting situation to say the least. At times, Sabara appears to be conniving and bent on evil, but there are other times where she seems to be helping Charlie. Whether she is out to completely destroy Charlie or help her is still a mystery. I am most curious to see how this story line plays out. 
 
I love the fact that this dystopian series features a society that is ruled and controlled completely by women. It is nice to see women in power and control for once. I especially enjoyed getting to know Brooklyn better. She is a fierce warrior, incredibly sexy and never backs down from a challenge.
I liked that this book shows how even when someone is fighting for change and is trying to bring about equality and make everything better for the people, there are always those in opposition who hate and fear change. People who will vehemently fight it and do what they can to destroy prosperity and equal rights. This story line mirrors many of the great struggles we have seen in our own society. I am excited to see how Charlie fares as she fights to do the right thing for her kingdom.

What Mel says...

This book was great and I can't wait to read book 3. Without having to re-read The Pledge I immediately remembered who everyone was and was able to pick up the storyline again. I love these characters and really want to know what happens next.  At times, I really wanted things to go differently for Charlie but it was interesting to see Brooklyn and Aron in their new positions by Charlie's side.  To figure out who was betraying Charlie and who were staying true to her.

Charlie is as always a conflicted girl trying to do her best and what is right as she is Queen.  Max is a character I wish we would have seen more of in this book.  I am interested to see what happens next in book 3.  There were times when point of view switched and it was interesting.  Interesting to try and figure out who the betrayer was.  Sabara being part of the overall picture was intense and I want to know when and how Charlie is going to completely remove Sabara from herself.  Book 3 needs to come out NOW.


Go HERE to find Heidi's full review on her blog.


Disclosure: Heidi received a copy of this book for review purposes.  Mel received a copy of this book from the bookstore she works at.  We were not paid or influenced in any way. All opinions expressed are our own.

This book was reviewed by:

Heidi
I am a recent transplant to the rainy, region of Portland, Oregon; thus the reason for my blog Rainy Day Ramblings. The many rainy days here provide me ample time to snuggle up under a comfy blanket with a cat and read while the rain drips down my window.
I also, when I find time, enjoy baking, candle and jewelry making, cross stitching and spending ample time with family.
Find me on my blog, facebook, and twitter.

Mel
I am bookaholic as well as loving music. She just recently moved to the Portland area from the Midwest and has been enjoying exploring the whole area, including the Coast and downtown Portland. She has been blogging at Shot in the Arm since May 2008 but has had a couple other blogs before that at various places around the web. Young Adult is her favorite genre but she loves to read most other genres including Romance, Fiction, Sci Fi and some Historical Non-Fiction. You can find her at herblog, her twitter and on Goodreads. Stop by and say hi!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Candace Reviews Scarlet by Marissa Meyer @marissa_meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published: Feb. 5th, 2013 by Feiwel and Friends
Source: Amazon Vine
 Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.
 This review was first posted on Candace's Book Blog.

 Spoiler free for both Cinder and Scarlet.
When I read Cinder back in the fall of 2011 I was a bit unsure about it.  I mean Cyborgs, an alien race a futuristic society... it all sounds strange.  But when I read it I completely fell in love.  It was so much more than I expected!  I think it may have started my quest for all things strange and different and ever since I have found myself more open minded to anything sci-fi 'esq.  But then I had to wait forever for Scarlet and I was afraid that I may have forgot a lot from Cinder or that it would be the dreaded middle novel where the story barely progresses.  I needn't have worried.  I know that reviewers are saying that Marissa Meyer is a genius and not only does she create a perfect 'middle' book, but she weaves in new characters and new story lines seamlessly.  I have to agree.  I wasn't sure how Scarlet could be a main character while Cinder's story still progresses.  I promise you, you get an amazing new story that weaves in with Cinder's perfectly.

I loved the new characters introduced.  Scarlet is brave and bold and totally kick butt.  She's determined to find her grandmother, no matter what.  And Wolf was a character that you don't know what to make of.  He's one your not sure if you should trust your instincts, but yet you kind of do.  Well, I did anyway.  There's also another character introduced that definitely lent a lighter tone to things.  And Cinder is just as brilliant as always.

The romance was lovely.  It may have happened quickly time wise, but it was perfect.  And not much actually happens other than some strong emotions which are very present on the page.  I think the broken boy is easy to fall for even when you're not sure if they are good or bad.  You just can't help but feel for them.  

I definitely urge you to pick this series up if you haven't already.  If it just sounds too strange for you, try it anyway.  Trust me, lots have said they didn't think it would be for them and they walked away loving it!

Disclosure: I received this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.


Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.