Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Candace Reviews The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Published by Harper on May 20th, 2014 
Pages: 384 
Format: ARC 
Source: Gift

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.
And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they're sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few "dates", it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.
What's a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you're meant to be with, if you're still figuring out the person you're meant to be?
This review was first posted at Candace's Book Blog.

The Art of Lainey is a light summery read that still holds some depth within the characters and the situations they have to go through.

Characters~ Lainey is a character that I had to grow to like and I would say that’s probably pretty intentional. She has some growth to go through before she really gets to a place where we can really love her. She has to realize a lot of things and come to terms with how she’s changed. Fortunately she’s a good person and while maybe a bit blind to some things initially, she slowly opens up to different people and new situations. Even though she’s not the most likable person at the start, I never felt that strong feeling of dislike. I just saw that she was a bit naive and not totally seeing things very well. She never really drove me nuts, even when I knew her decisions were not the smartest. Fortunately she has a wonderful friend in Bianca who is there for her the entire way, always speaking up when Lainey is not thinking clearly, or clearly making the wrong choice about something.

Micah is Lainey’s co-worker and the perfect person to be her fake boyfriend since his girlfriend recently broke up with him. So they can trade the favor. Micah is really not Lainey’s type at all. She’s the sporty popular girl and he’s the guy with the mohawk and tattoos. But as they get to know each other they realize they have more in common than they thought. I really liked how Micah was not a bad guy and kind of shows that not every guy with a mohawk and tattoos is out breaking the law. Well, if they are it might just be over something kind of silly.

The secondary characters were done very well. Her parents weren’t real present but the descriptions of them and the little we saw of them made their personalities very bold and easy to remember.

Romance~ I think it’s pretty easy to figure out what is going to happen, but it was such a fun ride watching it unfold. There’s no insta-love as the two spend time together at work as well as on their ‘dates’. They seemed to be tied together even better by the common goal and in the end it benefited them. It was super sweet and I loved this romance!

Plot~ There’s not too much to add here since it’s a pretty simple one. But I liked that there were little issues added in. Lainey realizing that her ex and one of her friends was not all she thought they were. Coming to terms with the fact that she was a bit judgmental of others.

Negatives~ I wish we’d seen a bit more of Lainey’s parents. They were so well crafted, I just wanted to see more of them. I also felt like her friend Bianca was always there for her for everything she went through but somehow she was missing a lot of the time. I think I would have liked to see a bit more of her. All these are pretty small little issues though.

This was a super fast and fun read. The last half of the book was hard for me to put down. I was never bored and eager to find out what would happen next. This is a perfect summer read that is light and fun but adds a bit of depth as well.

Disclosure: I won this book and all opinions are my own.

Review by Candace:
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, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Far Dawn by @kcemerson Review

The Far Dawn by Kevin Emerson
Published by Katherine Tegan Books on August 26, 2014
Review copy: e-ARC

If you want to read the reviews in order here are reviews for The Lost Code and The Dark Shore.

After reading first two books in the Atlanteans series I was thrilled to find 'The Far Dawn' on Edelweiss a few weeks back.  And so, with warnings directly from Kevin about how I would hate him afterward, I went to a local cafe and dedicated my entire day to reading it.  I live tweeted while I was reading it in a non spoilery way.  It was fun to hear Kevin's thoughts based on my tweets.

Kevin's books pack a lot of punch and I was left worried about how Lily and Owen would survive once they left Desenna in 'The Dark Shore' .  Opening the book with lyrical verse about three coffins couldn't have scared me any more if he had tried.  Who had died?  Who was thinking about this happening? What a prologue!

Not only is the beginning a surprise but in a shocking move a character we haven't seen since 'The Lost Code' rejoins the story in the part 1.  Yes, I was shocked.  In fact I wrote myself a note about it and tweeted about it as well!

By chapter 4 I began to understand why he thought I would not want to talk to him ever again.  I mean...GEEZ!  Fun trivia, Kevin waited 3 years to reveal the doozy that happened in chapter 7.  I am completely evil for making you read the ENTIRE book to find out what I mean.  When I tweeted updates I had questions and sometimes Kevin would answer.  (Find Kevin on twitter @kcemerson, he tweets about his music and books!)

Once I hit chapter 12, I was sure I had figured out what may happen next, boy was I wrong.  All this time, from pretty early on in 'The Lost Code' you will have a certain idea about Owen but turns out he is not who we all think he is.  Intrigued?  You should be...I can tell you that you will not expect the twists and turns that Owen faces.

When I happened upon chapter 19, I wondered why Owen made the very tough choice that he did.  In fact, I've had discussions with a co-worker about it and I'm still unresolved on it.  This part has stuck with me.  I still wonder about it and I wonder what others will think about it.  Mostly because it seemed strange to me that this plan was Owen's and I wondered how he came up with it.  I'm being secretive but it's important to the storyline so look out!  

Admittedly as I read closer and closer to the end I started wondering if there would be a book 4.  I had no idea how Owen's story would be resolved by the time I arrived at the last page.  In fact the last few pages I almost started yelling because I was so freaked out about what may or may not be happening.  All this is to say  you won't be able to put this book down.

Things that I still wonder about:
1. If Kevin drew up a map of where the Bio-Dome is and all the places that Owen and Lily travel to throughout the trilogy?
2. Because I've read the trilogy spread out a year between 'The Lost Code' and 'The Dark Shore' and then another 6 months until I read 'The Far Dawn', I wonder what the full time line is for the trilogy?

Want to Pre-Order?

About the author: Kevin is the author of the OLIVER NOCTURNE series and CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT. His new novel, EXILE, the first book in the Exile series, came out April 29th.

Kevin is also a musician. His current project is music for the Exile trilogy, where he wrote music that is included in the book and audiobook.  

Find Kevin at: Goodreads and Twitter and of course his website!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Dark Shore by @kcemerson Review

The Dark Shore (Atlanteans #2) by Kevin Emerson
Published by Katherine Tegan Books on May 21, 2013.

A while back, I read and reviewed an amazing book called 'The Lost Code'.  
'The Lost Code' is book 1 in The Atlanteans series and I'm back today to catch everyone up with a review of 'The Dark Shore'.  Are you ready?

When it came time to read 'The Dark Shore', I was excited to finally see and experience life outside the Dome.  Plus I'm all about road trips, okay this is an aeronautical trip, but you get my drift.

This has got to be one of the best series I've found that uses dynamic prologues filled with verse and pieces from future portions of the book.  I find myself going back to re-read them as they relate so well at various points.  There have definitely been books out there where I have barely taken in the bits at the beginning or never understood their relevance.

As per usual, Kevin managed to trip me up with shocking reveals and revelations about characters I thought I had a pretty good handle on in 'The Lost Code'.  No I do not mean Paul is suddenly anyones best friend or savior.  Although that would definitely add to the drama if he did a complete 180 and was suddenly actually caring about someone other then himself and his desires.

For the Prophecy of Three, it was actually in this book that I decided if each of us could choose which we could be that I'd desire to be the Mariner.  Which would you be?  The funny thing is if we were basing this on actual abilities I would be the Aeronaut.  My friends would agree.  I'm always the driver for our outings.

I do admit I'm partial to love triangles IF they are well executed.  Kevin does not disappoint.  The triangle between Owen, Lilly and a new character felt like a perfect fit!  Plus I really enjoyed the tension it created for Owen.  The way he handled the situations felt true to a 15 year old.  When you read that part I dare you to stop and consider how YOU handled situations at that age with those you were attracted to.  It was not pretty.  I cringe just thinking about my high school experience in that area.  OH BOY!  Moving on...

The final scenes in 'The Dark Shore' were probably the most thrilling.  At the same time I was nearly sick over a few key moments.  *shakes head*  There are no words.  Read it and you will see.  I do warn you NOT to eat while you are finishing this book though.  HEED MY WARNING!

Stay tuned for my preview of 'The Far Dawn' which is the final book of the series due out this August!

About the author: Kevin is the author of the OLIVER NOCTURNE series and CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT. His new novel, EXILE, the first book in the Exile series, came out April 29th.

Kevin is also a musician. His current project is music for the Exile trilogy, where he wrote music that is included in the book and audiobook.  

Find Kevin at: Goodreads and Twitter and of course his website!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So you may be wondering about the music that goes along with Kevin's NEW book "Exile" which I reviewed a few days ago. I am here to give you my thoughts from back when I FIRST heard these amazing songs.
Dangerheart Logo created by Eliza Lane

Since I was sworn to secrecy when I was granted acces to listen to the songs recorded for Exile I listened to them constantly but didn't talk to anyone about them. Otherwise I probably wouldn't have shut up about them. I think you will find yourself, like me, listening to the music by Dangerheart and singing along. There were definitely times I've killed my phone battery because I was listening to them on the bus, at work, at home, umm...did I miss a place?

Yeah I love these songs by Dangerheart that much. They go along with the story beautifully and you would be crazy not to listen to them.So without further ado here are the songs for you to hear along with my thoughts which were jotted down as I heard the songs for the first time. (I did edit out spoilers)

Buy the music:

On My Sleeve (studio version) - Dangerheart
When I was sent these songs, I have to say after listening to all the songs 4 or 5 times this became my favorite.
I lost my breath at one point. I didn't expect to.
I love all the instrumentation.
This is an easy song to sing along I do...sing to this song all the time even when not listening to the music.
I can totally picture the characters of Exile book singing this song. It's definitely a song I would have sang in high school, if you know, I were part of a band.

Catch Me (studio version) - Caleb with Dangerheart
Second favorite song
I picture myself in a club. Course now I want to GO to a club..RIGHT NOW
It's fun to hear Val's attitude
Loved the instrumental at the end

Exile, Summer Soho Version (Eli's band demo)
Has a completely different feel to it then the first two songs which makes sense since its Eli's song. I can picture this scene from the book where Caleb sings this and imagine his facial expressions.

Have you pre-ordered the Audio Book of Exile? If so, you will have the amazing luck to listen to the following two songs. So...really you have no excuse now NOT to order the Audio Book because these songs are so special.

On My Sleeve (first Band Practice) - For the Audiobook
Wearing really good headphones keeps the bass and noise in the background really visible in the song so I can imagine being in the practice space the whole time.
I love the external extra bits that were included in this song which lands me smack dab in the practice space with Summer sitting there trying to form words.

Exile: Eli's bathroom demo
I feel bereft when Eli rubs his finger on the string at the end. Am I the only one who notices the rub of strings? It always stands out to me as something special.

Overall: I don't know what I expected the music to sound like but I was definitely surprised. I really enjoy all the songs. It's awesome that I feel as though I am at the locations for two of the songs. The songs are perfect for a high school band who is quite talented. The songs are perfect to accompaniment to Exile. Kevin Emerson really threw down the gauntlet with this entire selection of music to match his book and I can't wait to see what's next.

Check out Kevin Emerson online: Website, Twitter, Facebook, and find ALL of his amazing books on Goodreads!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Exile by @kcemerson Review

Published by Katherine Tegan Books on April 29, 2014
Originally posted on

After reading this author's first two 'The Atlanteans' series books, my anticipation and excitement was high for this upcoming contemporary, Exile by Kevin Emerson.

Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will.
Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself. . . .

I admit I totally gave Kevin crap about not getting to read his new upcoming contemporary when I found out it had been read by another author and it had turned up on Edelweiss as an e-ARC. Happily I was able to wrangle a copy and read it four times. Yes...I am addicted to Exile. I have already shared the joy of this book with several friends who were all able to wrangle their own copies of this book pre-release. This is definitely one of those books you will not be able to shut up about. I know this from experience.

It’s hard to begin this review but I want to start by telling you that Exile TOTALLY BLEW MY MIND. In fact I feel you should go to your local Indie bookstores website and order it right now if you haven't already bought a copy. I’ll wait.









Okay did you order? Great. Don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads To-Reads list of course!

So here is the easy link for that:


When I started reading this book I was reading it in Pages (Mac’s version of Word) on my iPad and decided to do something I’ve never done before, namely leave comments to myself as I went. Pages allows you to tap on the place you’d like to add a comment and do so. Then the comment disappears and there is a small area of highlight that shows up for you to go back and tap on later to read the comment.

And so it went that I left comments here and there as I read. One of my favorite quotes from the book is this one, "When a song inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will?"

My other favorite quote is eye opening for those girls who like guys in bands…ready?

“…it’s no big secret what bands talk about when they are clustered together: thirty percent is have-you-heard-this-band, thirty percent concerns the deeply technical features of music gear, and the other forty percent is girls.”

Since this book is about a band, there are song lyrics and even chords included in the story.

[bandcamp width=400 height=241 album=157781771 size=large bgcol=333333 linkcol=fe7eaf artwork=small]

I am looking forward to seeing what music will be recorded for the next Exile book. Will we get to hear two of the songs that we are searching for? That mystery remains. I do hope so though. I am a huge fan of the music for Exile. In fact I have a post coming up that is ALL about the music!

Lately there has been a lot of talk of parental units in books being completely absent which is not the case in this book. In fact, Summer our main character lives at home with her parents, yes NOT DIVORCED PARENTS. Not only were they involved in her life, but she also has an Aunt who helps Summer out by being her alibi. Spoiler? I even made a note at one point about how happy I was that her parents were around and active in her life.

I admit normally when reading a book I do not always stop and take in the chapter headings. Am I the only one who skips them? However, in Exile I couldn’t skip them. I HAD to read them as they were part of the storyline. In fact, they were tweets of Summer who is the main character. The use of twitter chapter headings was well thought out throughout the entire book. See below for one of the tweets that grabbed my attention:

Formerly Orchid @catherinefornevr 1hr

Senior Year existential sandwich. Me=the tofurkey between slices of whole grain Optimism and Oblivion. Pass the baconnaise! #Iworkedhardforthatmetaphor #stilllame

I don’t know about you but by the time I finished this it took me a good ten minutes to decompress and come to a realization. This book is a Love Song. And that is the perfect way to think of it!

If you can't tell, I'm in love with this book and I look forward to the encore in book two!

About the author: Kevin is the author of the OLIVER NOCTURNE series and CARLOS IS GONNA GET IT. His trilogy, The Atlanteans, will be complete when 'The Far Dawn' releases on in August 26, 2014 with Katherine Tegen Books. His middle grade novel, THE FELLOWSHIP FOR ALIEN DETECTION, came out in January 2013 with Walden Pond Press.

Kevin is also a musician and wrote the music for Exile.  Check out the music in an upcoming post with thoughts and links to the music!

Find Kevin at: Goodreads and Twitter and of course his website!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Upcoming YA Event in Portland Oregon

There's a wonderful event happening June 4th at 6:30 pm at Manaia Coffee House in downtown Hillsboro Oregon for Paula Stokes, Tara Kelly, Cat Winters and Miriam Forster. This event is put together by Jacobsen's Books, which is next door to the coffee house.  This is going to be a wonderful event that you will not want to miss!  The address is 204 E. Main.  We'll see you there!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy Spring! Giveaways of signed books & more!

Happy Spring my lovely friends!  
Today we have some great giveaways featuring Pacific Northwest Authors.  We have quite a few signed books, some not signed and some amazing pins that were contributed by Sara at Novel Novice
Candace at Candace's Book Blog has some massive giveaways going on as well, so be sure to check that out! 
Here's what you can win (there's a pin to go with each of the prize packages).
Open to US addresses only.
Must be 13 or older to enter.
Fill out the rafflecopter!