Friday, May 30, 2014

Cover Reveal: Deadly Sweet Lies by Erica Cameron

Today I'm bringing you the cover of Erica Cameron's Deadly Sweet Lies. I love the color scheme and mysteriousness, and I hope you like it too!

Synopsis:
Nadette Lawson knows when you're lying

Every night for the past two years, the Balasura have visited her dreams, enticing her to enter their world. And every night she's seen through their lies. Now, they're tired of playing in the shadows and they begin to stalk her in the waking world. It's no longer just an invitation; if Nadette doesn't join them, they'll take her family. Forever. She needs help, and the haven she's seeking may be just out of reach.

Julian Teagan is a master of deception.
To survive, he has to convince the world his mother isn't useless, that everything's fine, otherwise he'll lose what little he has left in this life. He knows the lying won't be enough to keep him and his mother in the shadows, but it's all he knows. The only light of truth is Orane, a Balasura who sees past Julian's facade and challenges him to face the darkness.

Then Orane is killed, and Julian learns his mentor was far from innocent. The Balasura have hunted children like him for centuries, and their next target, Nadette is his one chance atfinally being a part of something real. If Julian can just convince her to trust him...

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Erica Cameron: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes (ARC)

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
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?
 Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author as a contest winner. This did not affect my review in any way, and I am in no way being compensated for this review.

"If you love sweet, funny, real contemporary romances, this is the book for you."

You've probably already heard about the awesome-ness that is The Art of Lainey. And for good reason too. If you love sweet, funny, real contemporary romances, this is the book for you. It would probably be a quick read for me, if school hadn't gotten in the way. There's just so much that I love about the book, and I really recommend this book.

The first aspect of the book that struck me was the fact that it connects real life to The Art of War. I mean, how awesome is that? The inclusion of The Art of War tied hand-in-hand with the book, and it enhanced the book in every way. It turned a story that might not necessarily be unique to being incredibly fresh and new. I loved the spin, and I especially love how it was also used to highlight Lainey's change.

Speaking of Lainey and her change, for a large portion of the first half of the book, I could barely connect to Lainey at all. I sort of felt bad for her, but at the same time, she was almost the epitome of the popular girls I don't like. But one of my favorite aspects of The Art of Lainey was her change throughout the book. She learned so much, and she became a better person. She learns who she really is, who she really trusts, what she cares about, and she learns to see the world and other people in such a different light. She went through such a journey, and after getting past the beginning (I knew she was going to change, so it wasn't a huge deal), I just felt every emotion for this girl.

Other characters were also really amazing and well-written. Of course, there's Micah, whom everyone talks about when they talk about this book. I love Micah too. We're told he's a bad boy, but honestly, he doesn't come off as the traditional bad boy you find in books, which made me love him even more. He's funny, caring, and just so genuine. He's the kind of boyfriend I would want--although I hate that he smokes. DON'T SMOKE, GUYS.

But another character I really loved was Bianca, aka Bee. As much as The Art of Lainey is about the romance, a large portion of it is also about the amazing friendship between Bee and Lainey. They really look out for one another, and they have such a solid friendship. They have small bumps along the way, but in the end, they're really close friends. Their friendship is beautiful and everything one could ever hope for in a relationship.

The other characters--Leo, Trinity, Amber, Jason, Kendall, Lainey's parents, etc--were equally well-written. I also really enjoyed Jason's character in that he's really well-written and complex. We get a glimpse into his side of the story, mainly a la Kendall, but I think it was important to see that, especially since it showed Lainey's character growth. Trinity is another one of my favorite characters because she's just so kind and pure. We don't learn a whole lot about Leo, but I like him too. He's also another fairly pure, sweet character, and I love that about him.

So the plot is fairly predictable, but as I'll explain in a future Fiction Friction, that was totally okay with me. I often find that it's more about how the story and the characters get to the predictable end point. I can't say I was always surprised, but there were little parts that I wasn't necessarily expecting or that I thought a character would act/react differently. I guess it's sort of like Sarah Dessen--you know what's going to happen in the end, but you still love the story because the rest of it is so unique. So yeah, I think I'd compare this book to Sarah Dessen's books. This is just as well written, if not better (I haven't read Dessen's books in a while). The characters are so great and complex. The romance is to die for (you'll understand this reference/joke when you read the book ;)). The friendship is beautiful. And so much more. I just love this book so much, and I highly recommend The Art of Lainey if you're looking for a fun, quick, cute summer read.
The Art of Lainey: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Paula Stokes: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday (#11): Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

This feature is hosted by Breaking the Spine!
For more info on this feature, see my features page.

Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 10th, 2014
Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except...

There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

Why I Want to Read This Book

This sounds like the kind of book I'd like. The premise really intrigues me, and I've heard great feedback about the book. The cover and title also draw me in. I like how this seems to focus on Skylar and her sister, and while there may be a romance in there, it seems, based on the synopsis, that the primary focus is on the sister relationship. Sounds good! I can't wait for this title.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fiction Friction (#10): On Gaining a Larger Audience (Blogging)

These posts are meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. These discussion posts can occur at varying days of the week, mostly depending upon what's scheduled on the blog and what I feel like discussing.

I mentioned something along the lines of "how do I get more readers to look at my blog?" the other day on Twitter, and I started talking to Natalie @ Novel Reads about this dilemma. 

I know that I'm still a fairly new-ish blogger, and with my URL move and all, it's even more confusing for some people. But I do think I've been trying a lot harder, both for myself and for my audience. I know I don't have to post every day, and the main reason that's been able to happen is that I had a bunch of old reviews that I wanted to circulate out after my URL switch. I try to have original content and make my reviews interesting or insightful to read. I try to sort of promote my blog via Twitter. 

I mean, yes, I still blog for myself. I don't necessarily think about my stats and my page views or anything like that, but as much as many of us hate to admit it, it is important sometimes. Plus, I like knowing that people do read what I put out there. I want to blog because I want to talk about books and TV shows and music and movies. That's part of the reason why I LOVE comments. I want to talk to you guys! (And extra shout out to Cait @ Notebook Sisters for constantly commenting on my posts.)

So what I want to know is, how do you think is the best way to increase readership and reach a larger audience? Is there any way other than time and chance/luck? What makes you follow or read a blog's content? And just for me to know, why do you/do you not come back to Fly to Fiction and read my posts/reviews?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blog Event: Book Bloggers and the Fandom Wars (Sign Ups)


Hey everyone! I want to introduce you to an event that Eli from RealityLapse and I have been planning for a while now. As you can see, it's called Book Bloggers and the Fandom Wars (though it's not exclusive to book bloggers). Now, this MAY be a bit complicated to explain, but I'm sure you'll be able to follow along. The two of us are obviously huge fangirls, so this event just seems perfect. It'll offer a bit of friendly competition between fandoms, and you'll be able to root for, support, and talk on and on about your fandom(s). More will be explained later, but this is mostly a sign up post at the moment. :)

The Way It'll Work

  • Applications will close on June 7th.
  • Everyone–bloggers, authors, book lovers, whoever–is welcome to apply.
  • There will be bonus questions on some forms, not all of them. Don’t worry–whether or not you answer these does not account for the point system we’ll be using to judge these. Those bonus questions are simply a way to show us a little bit more of what you have to offer and your insight.
  • There are two things you need to do to apply officially to be on the team. 1) Fill out the designated form. 2) Tweet. You can use anything from something as generic as
I just signed up to be a part of the team representing [name of book or series] in the #BBFandomWars. [link to post] You can too!
  • If you can, be sure to mention me and Eli at @FlytoFiction and @elimadison2019 so that we can retweet and celebrate with you!
  • Definitely not mandatory, but make sure to follow us on twitter to keep up with all the news about #BBFandomWars!
  • There will be two posts a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Teams and the Application Process

  • Please acknowledge the fact that series signups will most likely include questions that will include spoilers and stand-alone questions will also include spoilers. This does not mean that you will have to talk about spoilers in the posts that you and your team are responsible for, but it does mean that you will have to answer those questions.
  • Teams will be composed of ten people (this may change depending on how many people sign up).
  • There will be two team leaders per team. Team leaders will be responsible for organizing the team. They will get pretty much the exact same information as everyone else, but will help to make sure everything stays on task, deadlines are met, etc.
  • There are ten trivia questions per application and a handful of general questions.
  • If you are accepted to be a part of the team, emails will be sent out to you at the latest by June 9th (signups close June 7th). If you do not respond within 24 hours, someone else will take your place on the team.

Things to Remember

  • This is a friendly competition. This is not designed and was not created in the intention of starting a fandom war. We do, however, encourage you to continue discussing (or arguing about) your fandoms after the event has ended.
  • If you are chosen to be a part of the team, you will be given information that is not open to the general public as of that time. You are not allowed to tell anyone outside of the fandom what they think about the matchups or who did better. You can only discuss it with your fandom and if any type of war or argument ensues, the team that started it will be disqualified. Eli and I will be following conversations and threads to make sure these rules are followed.
  • We will be objective about this. My personal opinions, as well as Eli's, about different fandoms or answers to questions does not affect our decisions.
There WILL be another post later that will outline the event in more detail once sign ups are closed and teams have been chosen. Now, without further ado, here are the sign up sheets! I highly encourage you to scroll down and check out all of the fandoms before you decide which team(s) to sign up for.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fiction Friction (#9): Reading Books Outside Your Comfort Zone

These posts are meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. These discussion posts can occur at varying days of the week, mostly depending upon what's scheduled on the blog and what I feel like discussing.

I've run into this...scenario recently. I'll get a book or pick up a book that sounds interesting but isn't something I normally read, whether because of the cover, topic, genre, or whatever. But I've been finding more and more often that these are the books I'm really enjoying. So I've been rethinking what my "comfort zone" is and what I usually like reading.

I usually don't like any of those cheesy, YA contemporary romance covers, and I tend to stay away from such titles. It's one of the reasons why I still haven't read Anna and the French Kiss. But I loved Open Road Summer, I love Sarah Dessen's books, etc. So are these books really outside my comfort zone? Maybe they were or maybe I was a bit embarrassed to be caught reading such books. I realized that perhaps it was less my comfort zone and more of what I thought I liked reading. I've always known that I liked contemporary, but I didn't think I liked YA contemporary romance more than I love fantasy or historical fiction. And now, I realize that by stepping out of what I usually read, I really enjoy YA contemporary of all kinds.

Another example is when I received an ARC of You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert. It's adult chick lit (or it could be). The premise drew me in, but I wasn't sure I'd really enjoy. I ended up LOVING the book. I never would have read it if I saw it in a store, but by stepping out of what I'm used to reading, I discovered another book that I loved.

I think it's really interesting to think about all the books I never knew about before blogging because I wasn't brave or willing enough to try something new. Now, I'm generally not into the paranormal genre, but I'll still try some books out because I may find another awesome book or series. I wasn't huge on dystopian until very recently (and I'm still a little wary at times). But I try to read books for their content and premise rather than their genre now, and I think it's made a huge difference. There are fantasy books I don't like, not necessarily because they're fantasy books. In the same way, there certainly are contemporary/realistic fiction novels that I don't like, but now I think it's less about the genre and more about the book.

Do you have a favorite genre? How do you determine whether or not you read a book? Have you had a similar experience as me? What's one book that surprised you (as in you liked it more than you thought you would)?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Blast: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes (+Giveaway)


The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
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?

About the Author:
Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.


Giveaway:
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
2 Winners will receive a Copy of The Art of Lainey+Swag by Paula Stokes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (ARC)

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (Penguin)
Release Date: May 15th, 2014
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

 Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Penguin's First to Read program. This did not affect my review in any way; all thoughts below are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.

"This was a wonderful, subtle, quiet, beautiful book about friendship, life, relationships, film, and so much more."

Wow. This book. I was expecting it to be great, and it delivered. I want to start off with the cover. After reading the book, I love the cover even more. It's not that it represents a lot, but I think it completely encapsulates the tone and feeling of the book. There's a subtle beauty to both, and it's the kind that hits you after the fact.

One of the major aspects of the book that I absolutely loved was that it's an LGBT story, but it's not a coming out story. The characters are accepted for who they are, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that's so refreshing to read. Yeah, there are lesbians; yeah, there are straight girls. They're both awesome. It's basically like that. As I said, it's refreshing, and I love how it's taken at face value. It's so rare to that in literature today, particularly YA fiction, and I'm so glad that it takes a secondary role here, though it allows for a beautiful, complicated relationship to blossom.

Speaking of relationship, there are a couple of different types of relationships that take a central role in the novel, the first of which is the obvious romantic relationship. I don't say obvious in that the romance was obvious but in that many/most novels have some romance in it. What I love about the romance in Everything Leads to You is that it's a slow burning romance. While that makes it a slow moving story at times, it also fits the characters completely. It makes sense that both are cautious about getting into a relationship. It's a kind of romance that you don't see often in a book but that is so common in real life as events and our past get in the way. The romance feels so real, and I love how the two of them came together.

The second relationship is the friendship between Emi and Charlotte. It's just such a pure friendship. They're always there for one another and are supportive of one another's careers. This is the kind of friendship I would want. Charlotte wants Emi to be in a healthy relationship, and I love that too. The friendship between Ava and Jamal was also great, but there was a very different dynamic in their friendship than the friendship between Emi and Charlotte. Ava and Jamal lead a very different, harsher life than Emi and Charlotte, and I think the four characters together bring different backgrounds and dynamics together, and they affect one another in an amazing way that I can't really put into words.

Another relationship would be the familial relationship within Emi's family, as well as Ava's. Although we don't know or see much of Emi's family, you can get the sense of their relationship and utter support for one another. This is sharply contrasted by Ava's complicated, messy family life. But what's also beautiful and amazing about it is that it also redefines what family means. Ava decides who to call family, and that's what I think it so impactful.

Finally, there's the relationship with film and the film industry, which is such a huge part of the characters and the book itself. As a TV and movie fanatic, this obviously attracted me. But I love how it shows the conflict between the characters and the industry and others in the crew of a movie. Often, we forget about the behind-the-scenes people such as the set producer/designer, and this gave a rare tiny glimpse into what it's like. It's not just glitz and glamour, but the story is also set far enough away from the industry that it isn't filled with industry drama, as many books about movie stars are.

I also really love LaCour's writing. I've never read any of her books before, but there's a quiet beauty. It's not that the writing is complex or necessarily beautiful, but it flows and it fits the characters and tone so well. But speaking of that, the book is really soft and subtle to the point where there's often a lull in the story. I mean, that's normal in life, right? Yup. But there were times when I just didn't feel like picking up the book and reading. There were dull moments, and I felt that even the climax was a bit muffled, if you know what I mean.

One other aspect that bothered me was that there were times when Emi's irritated me a bit. When I say there were a few times, I literally mean one or two small portions. At first, the way she talked to/about Ava bothered me because it really did feel like she just saw her as Clyde Jones' granddaughter. She thought that everyone would like Ava and do what Ava wanted because of who her grandfather was, but Emi didn't credit it to Ava herself. I believe Ava did point this out, and I think that by the end, Emi came to realize this and she changed her perception, which was a great transformation.

Another great transformation was how she (Emi) viewed her work. Before, she thought she knew everything. The room she set up was perfect until the set designer messed it up by choosing a different couch. She thought she had the perfect flower pictures for the film set, but she was told it wouldn't work. And she realizes, with the help of Morgan, her ex-girlfriend, how true this is. I just think that she (and Ava) has such a great learning arc throughout this book. Not only does Emi change in her perception of her work and of set designing, she also learns to look at people in a different light, and it just came together so well.

All in all, this was a wonderful, subtle, quiet, beautiful book about friendship, life, relationships, film, and so much more. Despite the lull in the plot at times, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it.
Everything Leads to You: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
Nina LaCour: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fiction Friction (#8): Commenting/Commenting Back

These posts are meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. These discussion posts can occur at varying days of the week, mostly depending upon what's scheduled on the blog and what I feel like discussing.

Comments. We all like receiving them, I think. We like to know that people are actually taking the time to read what we write. As bloggers and book lovers, we want to be able to discuss our thoughts on books, and we like talking to other book lovers as well. I hope I'm not too far off in assuming that that's true for most of us.

But commenting and commenting back can be really time consuming. I always try to comment back, and I think that for the most part, I've been doing pretty well on that point. But I don't comment often on other peoples' blogs/posts.

A few months ago, I decided that I was going to commit to commenting on blogs more often and more frequently. One problem I encountered, however, was that most posts were reviews. While I love reading reviews, I generally only like to read them after I've read the book. Most of the books bloggers are reviewing are ones that I desperately want to read but haven't been able to yet. So I don't like reading those reviews unless I'm really curious about the book or just really want, on a whim, to read the review. When I do read or skim through reviews, I try to leave at least a short comment, but as I've been finding it harder and harder to write posts for my own blog while keeping up with everything else, I've fallen wayyy behind on commenting.

Which brings me to my discussion question: Do you comment on reviews? Do you try to comment back? How often do you comment on blogs (I know at least one or two people that almost consistently comment on here, and it makes me really happy)? How much time do you take to comment on posts? Do you have a way to push yourself to comment once in a while?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blitz: Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay (+Character Interview and Giveaway)


Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
Paperback Re-Release: May 13th, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
My wish is to fall
cranium over Converse
in dizzy, daydream-worthy love.
(If only it were that easy.)

When her parents split, Marcie is dragged from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She leaves behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father. By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this "vacation" has become permanent. She starts at a new school where a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up.

But understanding love, especially when you've watched your parents' affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you've lost it?


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Book Depository

Character Quick Picks with Marcie

Books or Movies: Books.
Handwriting or typing: Handwriting. I can’t live without my blue notebook.
Poetry or prose: Poetry. You can say so much with less.
New or Vintage: Anything. I only have one suitcase of clothes and I am really tired of wearing the same things.
Inside or Out: Outside. Being stuck in the same house with my mother is driving me crazy.
Quiet or Loud: Quiet. I’ll leave the loud for Katie, my best friend. She plays in a band.
Sneakers or Flip Flops: Sneakers. I just started running, and I like it.
Coffee or Tea: Coffee. Because that’s what J.D. brings me—but that might have more to do with J.D.’s dimples than the beverage itself.
Truth or Dare: Dare. Because if anyone finds out what I did. I’ll die of embarrassment.
Cake or Pie: Cake. I really need that birthday wish to come true.
Sweet or Sour: Sweet. Donuts. Marshmallows. Chocolate. Kisses.
Day or Night: Night. I feel free to write in my journal when I’m the only one awake.
Action or Adventure: Action. This little driving-across-the-country adventure Mom and I started back in June is getting old.

About the Author
Raised without television, Sarah Tregay started writing her own middle grade novels after she had read all of the ones in the library. She later discovered YA books, but never did make it to the adult section. When she's not jotting down poems at stoplights, she can be found hanging out with her "little sister" from Big Brothers Big Sisters. Sarah lives in Eagle, Idaho with her husband, two Boston Terriers, and an appaloosa named Mr. Pots. Her next book, Fan Art, will be released in June.

Author Links:



GIVEAWAY:
Win a signed paperback copy of Love and Leftovers and a guitar-pick necklace. (USA and Canada)
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#10): Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour and The Fault in Our Stars Movie

This feature is hosted by Breaking the Spine!
For more info on this feature, see my features page.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: May 15th, 2014
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

Why I Want to Read This Book

Firstly, what a BEAUTIFUL cover. I know, I know. Don't judge a book by it's cover. But come on, we all do. Secondly, I kind of like reading books about famous people/movie stars/etc, so this appeals to me. Also, I'm really happy that this is a book with homosexual characters/relationships. But not just that. Based on the blurb, it's also about family and acceptance, and I'm just like "yes!"

Release Date: June 6th, 2014
Director: Josh Boone
Based On: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


Why I Want to Watch This Movie

Who doesn't want to watch this?! Okay, so this movie will almost definitely make me cry, but I loved the book SO much, and I can't wait to see it on screen. 

Yes, I'm uncertain about a lot of it, namely Shailene and especially Ansel, but I hope it ends up being better than I expect. At the moment, I just can't see Ansel as Augustus. Based off of stills and the leaked trailer, I just...I don't know...I just don't feel it. He seems...off. Same with the Hazel/Augustus relationship. It looks so...fake or forced from what I've seen. Perhaps the movie itself will be different, but these are my thoughts at the moment. I'm also excited to see Nat Wolff on screen as Isaac, as well as John Green's cameo in the movie. We shall see! Either way, I look forward to watching the movie and will definitely see it in theaters...with a lot of tissues. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: The Book Thief Movie

Note: I've decided not to use ratings for my movie and music reviews


"The characters, their stories, their voices, their experiences--it's so real because it's really something that could have happened to families all over Germany at the time."

"War is brutal and unforgiving, and The Book Thief remembers that."

I must first note that I haven't finished reading the book yet, so I don't know how accurate the movie is. 

Wow. That was my first thought once the credits started rolling. This movie blew me away, and I love it. It has a subtle beauty but not in the way one might think. It is certainly not a beautiful story in that it takes place during World World II in Nazi Germany. There isn't really a happy ending because war does not have a happy ending. It is a sad, heart-wrenching story, but there's something about it that takes it beyond a war story. 

There's so much depth and emotion woven throughout this film, and it's done so incredibly well. This is partially what I mean when I say that there's a subtle beauty to The Book Thief. The characters, their stories, their voices, their experiences--it's so real because it's really something that could have happened to families all over Germany at the time. In a similar way that cancer stories can become too central on the cancer aspect, war movies tend to become too central on the war. But The Book Thief isn't one of those. It's about family, love, loss, friendship, sacrifice, passion, and above all, hope. It's a story that's loaded with so many elements, yet it works together so well. 

The cast was utterly breathtaking, particularly Sophie Nelisse, who plays Liesel. But really, the entire cast, from Hans to Rudy to Max and even the narrator, Death, just pulls off their roles so well. The movie was so incredibly emotional, and I felt everything the characters felt because of the actors and actresses. 

I loved the sub-plots, as well as the major story-arc. Liesel felt relatable in many ways, even if her experience with war is not one most of us have been through. 

Normally, I would say that the ending (or right near the end) of the movie felt incredibly sudden and out-of-nowhere, but that's the thing about war. It's unpredictable. You never know what's going to happen the next day. You can only prepare so much. War is tragedy. So no, I can't complain about the ending of the movie because it's what makes the story so real, so tangible. Because these are the experiences of so many people during the war. And it's scenes like this that make the story stick out.

The movie doesn't sugar-coat anything about the war. Yes, there are some things we don't see, but that's because we view Liesel's story. Her story is not sugar-coated. There are good days, happy days, and there are bad days, tragic days. There are experiences that she'll never want to remember but that she has to remember. There are things that she saw that no person should ever see, let alone a teenager. And it's a part of who she is, and it becomes a part of the story. War is brutal and unforgiving, and The Book Thief remembers that.

Now, my goal is to finally finish the book because I can only imagine that it's better than the movie, which already blew me away.

The Book Thief
Directed by: Brian Percival
Written by: Michael Petroni, based on The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
Cast: Roger Allam, Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, and more
Release Date: November 27, 2013

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cover Reveal: How We Fall by Kate Brauning

I have yet another cover reveal today! This is for another one of my street teams, one of the newer ones. I love being a part of this particular street team for so many reasons. Kate Brauning, the author, is just so kind and sweet. Be sure to check out her book!

HOW WE FALL by Kate Brauning
Release date: November 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Merit Press, F+W Media Inc.

About the Book:
He kissed her on a dare. She told him to do it again.

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting—a bit too much—with her cousin, Marcus. She pushes away the inevitable consequences of their friendship until her best friend, Ellie, disappears, and the police suspect foul play. Just when she needs him most, Marcus falls for the new girl in town—forcing Jackie to give a name to the secret summer hours she’s spent with him. As she watches the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance start to break, Jackie has to face that she’s fallen in love at an impossible time with an impossible boy. And she can’t let Marcus, or Ellie, go.

...



...


...




Excerpt:

Chapter One

Last year, Ellie used to hang out at the vegetable stand with Marcus and me on Saturdays. This year, her face fluttered on a piece of paper tacked to the park’s bulletin board. Most weeks, I tried to ignore her eyes looking back at me. But today, Marcus had set the table up at a different angle, and she watched me the entire morning.

The day that photo was taken, she’d worn her Beauty and the Beast earrings. The teapot and the teacup were too small to see well in the grainy, blown-up photo, but that’s what they were. She’d insisted sixteen wasn’t too old for Disney.

The crunch of tires on gravel sounded, and a Buick slowed to a stop in front of the stand. I rearranged the bags of green beans to have something to do. Talking to people I didn’t know, making pointless small talk, wasn’t my thing. My breathing always sped up and I never knew what to do with my hands. It had been okay before, but now—surely people could see it on me. One look, and they’d know. Chills prickled up my arms in spite of the warm sun.

Marcus lifted a new crate of cucumbers from the truck and set it down by the table, his biceps stretching the sleeves of his T-shirt. Barely paying attention to the girl who got out of the car, he watched me instead. And not the way most people watched someone; I had his full attention. All of him, tuned toward me. He winked, the tanned skin around his eyes crinkling when he smiled. I bit my cheek to keep from grinning.

The girl walked over to the stand and I quit smiling.

Marcus looked away from me, his gaze drifting toward the girl. Each step of her strappy heels made my stomach sink a little further. Marcus tilted his head.

He didn’t tilt it much, but I knew what it meant. He did that when he saw my tan line or I wore a short skirt. I narrowed my eyes.

“Hi,” she said. “I’d like a zucchini and four tomatoes.” Just like that. A zucchini and four tomatoes.

Marcus placed the tomatoes into a brown paper bag. “Are you from around here?”

Of course she wasn’t from around here. We’d know her if she were.

“We just moved. I’m Sylvia Young.” The breeze toyed with her blonde hair, tossing short wisps around her high cheekbones. Her smile seemed genuine and friendly. Of course. Pretty, friendly, and new to town, because disasters come in threes.

“Going to Manson High?” Marcus handed her the bags.

She nodded. “My dad’s teaching science.”

Finally, I said something. “Three bucks.”

“Hmm?” Sylvia turned from Marcus. “Oh. Right.” She handed me the cash and looked over the radishes. “Are you here every day?” Her eyes strayed back to Marcus.

“Three times a week,” he said.

“I’ll see you in a day or two, then.” She waved.

I was pretty damn sure she wouldn’t be coming back for the radishes.
~~~



 About the Author:
Kate spent her childhood in rural Missouri raising Siberian huskies, running on gravel roads, and navigating life in a big family. Now living in Iowa, she is married to a videographer from the Dominican Republic, and still owns a husky. She loves bright colors, fall leaves, unusual people, and all kinds of music. Kate has written novels since she was a teen, but it wasn’t until she studied literature in college that she fell in love with young adult books. Kate now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. 

Visit her online, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Cover Reveal: Her Secret Inheritance by Jen McConnel (+Giveaway)

What would you risk for a second chance?

HER SECRET INHERITANCE_FINAL_300DPI

Five years after the trip to Scotland that changed her life, Lou is back in the misty, magical country. But this time, she’s not on vacation.

When Brian, her old Highland fling, turns up at the scene of some depressing family business, tension mounts between the former lovers. But dealing with Brian is only part of the problem; something wicked is stirring in Scotland. Lou must use all her strength to handle the increasingly desperate situation, but will she be strong enough to battle both a vengeful ghost and her heart?

Lou may have thought that she was finished with the witch Isobel Key, but some secrets can't stay buried forever. Coming June 12, 2014, HER SECRET INHERITANCE is a story of risk, second chances, and magic.

Visit Bloomsbury Spark for more information.

The Secret of Isobel Key Comps_FINAL_RBG


Want to find out where it all began? Check out THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY now!
Learn More Bloomsbury | Website| Goodreads | Bloomsbury Spark |
Purchase Amazon | B&N | Google | iTunes| Kobo | Audible |  




Jen McConnel-0034About Jen McConnel 

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. A graduate of Western Michigan University, she also holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. When she isn't crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches college writing composition and yoga. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Her debut NA novel, THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY, is out now from Bloomsbury Spark, and the sequel is coming in June. She also writes YA and nonfiction. Visit http://www.jenmcconnel.com to learn more.


To celebrate the cover reveal, Jen's got three fabulous giveaway prize packs up for grabs. US only, please. Each prize pack includes an eARC of HER SECRET INHERITANCE, and you might also win the "Naughty Celt" candle, graciously donated by BookScents CandlesCheck out the other awesome book- inspired candles from BookScents: Etsy Twitter Blog

What are you waiting for? Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tour: The One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Guest Post)


I am so excited to be a part of this blog tour! When I was asked to be a part of the tour, I hadn't realized how many awesome, well-established bloggers were involved with this tour. It's such an honor to be on this tour with them. For this stop of the tour, I have Mariko Tamaki talking about how to start something. I hope you'll find it enlightening. ;)

How to Start Something

One of the hardest parts of the creative process comes at the beginning of the artistic “journey,” the part that starts with a blank piece of paper and a sense that you have no idea what to do with that piece of paper. This is to say that, at least for most of us, there comes a time when we have to start something and we’re not sure WHAT exactly it is we’re about to start or HOW to start it.

This part of the artistic process can be very upsetting. I’ll tell you now that a lot of artists that you see in the public eye who appear to be very happy people CRY when they hit this point, most especially when they’ve already finished something and now must begin AGAIN. If you read these artists REAL online journals you can practically hear the glass breaking in the background as wits snap over the first all important sentence.

So, okay, it’s very stressful and so, in the interest of avoiding stress, and being organized, if that’s something you can see yourself wanting, here are a couple of ways to get started, a couple of ways of starting SOMETHING, whatever that may end up being.

APPROACH #1 The “I CAN DO BETTER” Inspirational Method 

One of the easiest ways to start something is by hating something else that already exists. This particular kind of hate could be aesthetic, like you hate the way something sounds or looks and you want to fix it and make it better (by remixing it, painting it yellow, or cutting it up and re-assembling it -- a la Pretty in Pink), or political. 

Within this particular method of getting something started you can get to work either playing with a stereotype that exists out there in the social world, in which case the first thing that appears on your page is the stereotype itself, say, the fat suit Eddie Murphy wears to rejuvenate his career every three years, or the anti-stereotype, that creature/possibility that you know society is ignoring. 

One thing to do is put the stereotype and counter stereotype on the page and have them duel. This duel can be verbal or physical. See who wins. 

Either that or list the things you have to say to the perpetrators of the stereotypes in question. A lot of stuff started by me began with letters to TV networks.

Generally speaking, it is not wise send these letters.

They are part of the creative process. Rarely a final result.

This method can be both cleansing and an easy way to get started.

Method Number Two

LISTEN TO THE VOICES IN YOUR HEAD

It’s kind of an open secret that artists, most particularly writers, often hear voices in their heads. 

In a controlled environment, a voice may very well be your next character. This is not to say that you must necessarily become some sort of scribe for the voice in question. You can, and a lot of people do, just take dictation from the voice in question, if you want to light a candle and sit in front of a mirror to do this, that is your business.

Alternately you can just sit down in front of your computer and think about the character that goes with that voice. This exercise, you will note, is a lot like the previous exercise in that the goal here is to write down as much as possible, knowing that more than likely you will have to get rid of most of what you first put down. Even if you get only one detail from your first writing spree, that is a start.

Method Number Three

DEFEAT YOUR FEAR OF A BLANK PAPER JUMP IN THE WATER

Not hearing a voice, is of course, not necessarily a sign that you yourself have nothing to say. Writing is as external, about observing, as it is internal, bringing that thing from the inside out. And in fact the best way to get something started is just by looking around you and writing what you see DOWN.

The key to this method is to avoid worrying or thinking too much about what it is you are putting down on the blank piece of paper in question. What you put down on this piece of paper is probably not going to be any part of your final project. The idea here is not to CREATE something per se but to START something, and sometimes the best way to get started writing, painting, filming or drawing is to write paint or draw ANYTHING.

So take a piece of paper, which could be this piece of paper, and do one of the following:
Make a list of everything and everyone you see.
Write a set of directions of how to get from your house to your parent’s house, best 
friend’s house, and favorite restaurant. Then write out what to order.
Categorize and describe all your shoes, socks, and pants.
Write out your lunches for the past three weeks.
Make a diagram of every mean or nice thing anyone has ever done to you.
Follow around your cat and document what you imagine he is thinking.
Make a timeline of fake presidents and explain how each one was elected.

The point of this exercise is the ANYTHING part. Don’t sweat what exactly it is you are going to do or document. This is not your grand slam, this is you putting all your bats wherever it is bats are supposed to go before the big game.

More than likely after you finish this less than functional exercise your brain will click into something more interesting. It’s like changing the topic of conversation so you can remember the name of that movie where the guy got in the elevator and pressed all the buttons? Still can’t remember what that’s called. Anyway the point of this project is to be mentally distracting and spatially productive. Fill the page with whatever you can think of. Nine times out of ten, I promise you, this will snap your brain into something else, something more interesting and with potential. One time out of ten the exercise itself proves to be somewhat interesting when it’s done and then you have that.

And you can feel good about yourself.

So it must be worth while.

Ok. Ready. Go.

(Elf! It was Elf. FINALLY.)

This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
For links and other information, please check out MY REVIEW for THIS ONE SUMMER. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cover Reveal: This is Sarah by Ally Malinenko (+Guest Post)

Ally Malinenko is here today, revealing the cover for her YA novel, THIS IS SARAH, and sharing some writing advice.

Writing Advice 

Here are my top five bits of writing advice from some really great writers all of whom know a heck of a lot more than I do about this writing game. Read and be wiser!

5. Garret Freyman-Weir – Author of My Heartbeat, Stay With Me, When I was Older and The Kings are Already Here.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Read. Really, I cannot begin to describe all the times I’ve met people who tell me that they would love to write, if only they could find the time (as if writing were a hobby, although given the quality of much of what is published, I sometimes think it is!), but if I talk to them at length it quickly becomes clear they do not read. That’s like wanting to run a marathon, but not wanting to run. Reading is the only way to learn how to write. It can’t be taught, exactly. It has to be absorbed.

4. Rebecca Stead – Author of When You Reach Me and Liar and Spy

What tips or advice can you share with young students who hope to start writing?

First: Read. It’s been said over and over, but reading is the most important thing an aspiring writer can do. Read what you love. Read something you think you won’t like at all. Experiment with your reading, but don’t stop reading.

Second: Don’t be discouraged by your first draft. For many writers, the first draft is a pretty terrible translation of what might be a terrific idea. Don’t stop and think, “this is awful.” It doesn’t help. Revision is just as much a part of the job as the first draft. If you aren’t willing to revise, you can’t be a writer.

3. Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) – Author of The Series of Unfortunate Events, When We Broke Up and All The Wrong Questions Series.

What’s the greatest or most memorable piece of advice on writing that you have ever received?
“Read everything out loud.”

2. Laini Taylor – Author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight

“Be an unstoppable force. Write with an imaginary machete strapped to your thigh. This is not wishy-washy, polite, drinking-tea-with-your-pinkie-sticking-out stuff. It’s who you want to be, your most powerful self. Write your books. Finish them, then make them better. Find the way. No one will make this dream come true for you but you.”

1.Neil Gaiman – Author of (tons of other stuff but also) Coraline, The Sandman Series, The Graveyard Book

Be wise

Make amazing mistakes

Break rules

Leave the world a more interesting place, and

Make good art



So there you guy. Easy right? Read. Write. Believe. Don’t give up. Read more. Write more. Believe more. Don’t give up more.

I don’t think there’s much that I could add to this. I mean, let’s be honest – these are all big fish writers and I’m a bottom feeder – happily and joyfully – but still a bottom feeder. But I will say this:

When you do start writing don’t give up. Just write. Keep writing. When it’s good keep writing. When it’s bad keep writing. When someone tells you it’s terrible and you should stop, keep writing. When someone tells you it’s perfect don’t change it, keep writing. You know in your heart what you are striving for. One day you’ll wake up and you’ll have found your voice. But it takes work. Be ready to do the work.




About the author:
Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collection, The Wanting Bone (Six Gallery Press), and the children’s novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb (Antenna Books). This Is Sarah is her first YA book. Ally lives in Brooklyn with her husband and a very ridiculous tabby cat. She blogs at allymalinenko.com and you can follow her on twitter at @allymalinenko


About the book:
When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin's world unravels as he is transformed from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, what is Colin willing to do to bring her back?

And as Colin struggles with this possibility, across the street, Sarah’s little sister Claire learns how to navigate the strange new landscape that is life without her sister. Even as her parent’s fall apart, Claire is determined to keep on going. Even if it kills her.

THIS IS SARAH is a meditation on loss, love, and what it means to say goodbye.







Cover design by Anita B. Carroll at Race-Point.com
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