Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tour: Shade by Cody Stewart (Guest Post) (+giveaway)

Shade banner

ShadeShade by Cody Stewart
Publisher: Midnight Frost Books
Release Date: August 24th, 2014
Clendon Kiernan has always preferred the shadows. A place where he was free from the hate and fear, from the stares and ridicule of others. One night Clen discovers the shocking truth of why. He is a Shade. A thing of darkness. A creature with the ability to shred souls. When a vile whisper tells him to destroy everything around him Clen does the only thing he can. But he cannot run from himself. The darkness growing inside Clen will soon consume him if he does not learn to control it. In his quest to do so, Clen learns that there is an entire world that exists in the shadows of Ellis, a world that has been hidden from him – secret clans with extraordinary abilities, the ghosts of a hidden past, and a war that’s been brewing for millennia. Clen must uncover the true history of Ellis, see through the generations of lies and deceit, and suffer betrayal and heartbreak if he is to save all those who hate and fear him. But when he learns the truth, will he want to? The darkness in him could save Ellis. Or it could be what destroys it.

About the Author:
Cody StewartCody was born in Upstate New York. Eventually setting off to seek his fortune, he worked in a paper mill, a whipped cream factory, cleaned apartments, and administratively assisted several organizations before returning to the Adirondacks with a wife and child that he picked up along the way. He approaches life as though it were a page – frequently rearranging paragraphs to make it more interesting if not wholly true, fudging with the margins to fit more in, and, sometimes, erasing entire sections altogether. When not altering reality, he is scouring comic book shops, lying on the ground, or floor (whichever he happens to be standing on when he feels the need to go horizontal), trying to convince his wife to make french toast (she makes amazing french toast), and searching for the darkest cup of coffee in existence.

Guest Post: Deciding to Be an Author

Scribbling stories in the margins of my marble notebook during Social Studies, it never occurred to me that I might one day be an author. I was already a writer. I knew that right then as I wrote an alternate history of the world where Archduke Franz Ferdinand did not die, but was saved with the use of cybernetic implants, and tore across Europe in all his robot fury, brutally dismantling the international conspiracy behind his attempted assassination. I had always been a writer. I couldn’t not tell stories. My head would explode. Writing is how I relate to the world and the people in it.

But to be an author? To publish something? Be paid for it? Pure fantasy. The romantic notions of a wide eyed child. So I didn’t much think about it for the next ten years. I had no idea what I sort of study to pursue at college. I didn’t even know I was going to college until three months before it started. With all the options available to me, none seemed right. Except writing. Literature classes, writing workshops, seminars, degree. Still, I never considered writing as a career option. I just went into soul-punching debt, but, for some reason, didn’t consider my field of study as a viable career path. Instead, I bused tables, waited tables, worked on a whipped cream factory assembly line, worked in a paper mill, and cleaned college apartments before landing at a nonprofit agency.

That was the first job I ever had that I actually liked. It was also my first desk job. I don’t know what I thought a desk job would be like - lots of typing, stacking papers in piles, stapling, I guess. Something. But there were long stretches of nothing. These periods of wasted time filled me with anxiety at first. I’m getting paid right now, right? I thought. I really feel like I should be doing something. I’ve been playing Minesweeper for four hours. Those feelings eased eventually, to the point where I stared blankly at my computer screen with drool dribbling down my chin.

Then, suddenly, my fingers started moving. I was typing something. I was writing a story. I wrote fifty percent of Shade at that desk. And I thought Man, I wish I could get paid to do this. Technically, I was getting paid to do that, but not the way I wanted to. I didn’t want to write secretly at my desk only to have to pretend I was busy stacking papers in piles and stapling things when my boss walked in. I wanted a desk where I was meant to write. I wanted to be published. I wanted to get paid to do what I loved. I wanted to be an author.

The Tour Schedule: 
October 31st
SleepsOnTables – Review
November 1st
Suzy Turner, YA Author – Interview
Hope To Read – Promo Post
November 2nd
November 3rd
Bella Harte Books – Promo Post
November 4th
YaReads – Interview
November 5th
NaYa Books and More – Promo Post
Fictional Thoughts – Guest Post
November 6th
M&EM Read YA – Review
Diane’s Book Blog – Interview
November 7th
Mythical Books – Guest Post
Becoming Books – Promo Post
November 8th
Cassandra M’s Place – Promo Post
November 9th
Bookworm In Barrie – Promo Post
November 10th
November 11th
November 12th
Reading Over Sleeping – Interview
November 13th
WTF Are You Reading? – Promo Post
Reading is My Treasure – Guest Post
November 14th
My Book Chatter – Guest Post
November 15th
Adventures in Writing – Promo Post
November 16th
November 17th
The Caffeinated Booknerd – Promo Post
November 18th
Sleeps on Tables – Interview
All My Book Finds – Review
November 19th
ReadWriteLove28 – Guest Post
Bitches n Prose – Promo Post
November 20th
Imaginative Dreams – Review
A Little Bit of R&R – Interview
November 21st
Never Ending Stories – Promo Post
November 22nd
Book Lovers Life – Guest Post
Pandora’s Books – Promo Post
November 23rd
Mindjacked – Review
Fly to Fiction – Guest Post
November 24th
For the Love – Promo Post
November 25th
November 26th
The Book Beacon – Review
November 27th
Mercurial Musings – Review
The Book Cellar - Promo Post

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tour: Review: The Hit List by Nikki Urang (+giveaway)

I'm super excited to be a part of this tour! If you don't already know, I love, love, love dance-related books. :) But also, as a note, I'm still on hiatus, as I'm right in the heart of college applications time. *pulls out hair* I'll be back soon; I just couldn't pass up this opportunity!

The Hit List by Nikki Urang
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: November 11th, 2014
The Los Angeles Conservatory for the Arts is supposed to be a new beginning for Sadie Bryant. Moving across the country is exactly what she needs to escape the gossip surrounding her injury, the devastating betrayal of her ex-partner, and to rebuild her career as a solo dancer.

When the school announces that the annual Fall Showcase, a performance that secures a spot studying in London, will now require each dancer to have a partner, Sadie’s fresh start is a nightmare. Now she has to dance with Luke Morrison, the school womanizer with a big ego. Sadie doesn’t know how to trust Luke enough to dance with him after her last partner left her broken, but Luke is determined to change that.

Then, The Hit List comes out. A game of sexual conquest where guys get points for all the girls they hook up with—and it seems like every guy at the school is playing.

The girl worth the most points? Sadie.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC from the publisher in order to take part in the tour. This did not affect my review in any way.

As mentioned above, I live for dance-related books. I never tire of them, and they just fill me with joy. Thus, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take part in this blog tour despite my busy November schedule. I don't regret it one bit!

The book was different than I had first imagined it but not necessarily in a bad thing. The character and emotional arcs in The Hit List are what make the book stand out. It was a bit overwhelming at times, seeing how stubborn both Sadie and Luke could be. But at the end, it was my absolute favorite aspect. It was probably the most unexpected part for me, but I'm so glad the book addressed the ways in which loss and betrayal affect us in the case of Sadie and how we can all change and become better people as was the case with both Sadie and Luke. The book is so heart-wrenching because you see Sadie hurting, and it's so easy to empathize with her. Even Luke, who's issues we also get a look at, goes through such a big change in the story. We get to see their struggle, each of them, and we also see them come out of that struggle, and that's so powerful.

Given this is in large part an "issues" book, there were times when I just got so annoyed at both Sadie and Luke for just being so stupid. I mean, I know I can't really judge because who knows what I'd be like in that situation, but there were times when I wanted to smack some sense into them. For instance, with Sadie, although I definitely connected with her struggle and could find pieces of my struggle within her, there were times when I just wanted to yell at her to see the bigger picture and to get over it. Yeah, that's far easier said than done. I know. But she's just so stubborn! I understand her pushing people away and not letting anyone in. Heck, I do that all the time. And yeah, I'm sure it's frustrating, but gahh! I wanted to pull out my hair sometimes! And Luke! He made me even more frustrated because Sadie is right, he leads her on and is cold to her and flirting with another girl the next minute. I get that he is dealing with his own issues, but how stupid can you honestly be?

But moving on, I greatly enjoyed the friendships brought up in the book. The relationship between Brielle and Sadie is an interesting one. They're roommates, and Brielle helps Sadie so much more than I think Sadie realizes. She's almost always there for her, and while it doesn't excuse her of the big twist/reveal at the end of the book, she has shown Sadie that she won't just go away either. But at the same time, I often got the feeling that they were really distant. There was so much more potential to expand on their friendship, but I feel like we honestly barely even got to know Brielle. It was the same with Adam. He helped her so much, and she does recognize that, but they never really seem to hang out otherwise (same with Brielle). They certainly don't have to be with each other all the time, and I know the book has other focuses, but I was under the impression that there would be a large focus on friendships, particularly given the circumstances in the book. This sort of leads me to another point, which is that there are many great characters in the book, but we barely get to know any of them. I think Sadie and Luke are complex and explored beyond my expectations (in a good way!), but what about everyone else? They felt a bit flat to me, as if they just moved the plot along at times.

Then, there's The Hit List itself, of course. I think the premise is so interesting and such a new idea. I haven't read a book like this before, and it sets up so many perfectly tense scenes. I definitely feel the same way Sadie does about the Hit List, but I can't deny it's ingenuity as part of the central plot. You don't know who to trust, and you keep questioning Luke's real motives and intentions. It bothered me that the biggest issue about the game wasn't really addressed--the fact that they're objectifying women and making them pieces in a game where they have so little control. Yeah, some girls like the attention, but I think it's horribly sexist and just gahh! I want to smack some sense into the girls that think it's flattering or fun! And the guys who play the game are even worse! It's so ridiculous, and I certainly hope nothing like this ever happens in real life. Give women some fricking respect, will you?! (And please note that this is in no way a reflection of the author. She obviously wouldn't support this.) But I really can't deny that it's a good way to focus the plot on something other than the character arcs.

And of course, I have to bring up the dancing! There were far fewer dance scenes in the book than I was expecting, given the setting and characters in the book. I don't think it necessarily detracted from the book, but I was certainly looking for a bit more. As students in a dance conservatory, I thought a lot more of the book would be spent exploring Sadie's relationship with dance. Not that there was any implication that that would be the case, but I digress. I believe it worked because of the strong plot and the emotion involved in the story, but yeah. Another minor, minor issue on this front is that I'm really confused as to whether the school is primarily classical or contemporary. I went in thinking it'd mostly be contemporary, but it was honestly hard to tell. It seemed as though the dances were contemporary, but her classes seemed to be classical. Of course I know they do have to have some classical, traditional ballet/pointe classes, but I know that my modern/contemporary class isn't like my ballet/pointe class, and it just seemed like they were always in their ballet/pointe class. Maybe I got the wrong impression, but yeah.

Lastly, as an overall look at the plot and the book, I have to say that as many flaws as I found in the book, I loved it so much. The pacing was overall really well done, and I was so sucked in. I couldn't stop reading, and there was something just so addicting about the story. I absolutely loved the progression of Sadie and Luke's relationship, especially juxtaposed against Sadie's reflections on her relationship with Patrick. I was rooting for Sadie and Luke all along, and ahhh, they just make my heart so happy. They both overcome SO much and become such different people but in a way that allows them to still be genuinely themselves. The suspense and tension are just right, and I think you definitely hate the characters you're supposed to. The character-driven plot made up for many of the flaws because it was just so well-written and explored. The character growth and development were just so superb. I could read this book over and over again, and I was so upset when I got to the last sentence. I just wanted more, more, more! ;) This is another dance-related book that I love!

About the Author:
Nikki fell in love with books at a young age and looked forward to reading a book with her mom before bed every night. It was only a matter of time until her love of reading turned into a love of putting those words onto the page. Now, her days are spent helping those overcoming opiate addiction and her nights are spent writing. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and two stubborn cats.

Ends 11/15
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...