Saturday, March 29, 2014

Weekly Update + New Books

Saturday, March 29, 2014 with
Hello bookish peeps,
It's the best time of the week! It's when we get to show off our new acquisitions and we get to see yours. But before we get to that, here are our posts in the last two weeks--you know, in case you missed them.

Michelle reviewed 1 already released and 2 upcoming YA contemporary titles

We can't wait for this book!

You'll be surprised with Katie's picks.

Lots of readers really liked this one. I wasn't one of them.

A different take on the Snow White fairy tale!

Here are the new books we got.

From Edelweiss
Feral by Holly Schindler
The Swap by Megan Shull
The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan
Don't Touch by Rachel M. Wilson

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeline Kuderick
In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

From Netgalley
Played by Liz Fichera
Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor

Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare
Hard Time by Cara McKenna
Push by Claire Wallis
Dazed by Kim Karr

Bought on Kindle
Connected by Kim Karr
Torn by Kim Karr
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Physical Books for Review
Rebecca's Lost Journals by Lisa Renee Jones (unsolicited)
Twisted by Emma Chase (unsolicited)
Dash of Peril by Lori Foster

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Books I Covet: Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 with
I love the sound of this novel. It's a different (sci-fi!) take on Snow White.


Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival

Stitching Snow will be released on October 14, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.


What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.




 
"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Format: Kindle Book
Publisher: Bluefields
Pages: 278 pages
Release Date: May 4, 2013
Source of my copy: bought
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
When Avery Shaw’s heart is shattered by her life-long best friend, she chooses to deal with it the only way she knows how—scientifically.
The state science fair is coming up and Avery decides to use her broken heart as the topic of her experiment. She’s going to find the cure. By forcing herself to experience the seven stages of grief through a series of social tests, she believes she will be able to get over Aiden Kennedy and make herself ready to love again. But she can’t do this experiment alone, and her partner (ex partner!) is the one who broke her heart.
Avery finds the solution to her troubles in the form of Aiden’s older brother Grayson. The gorgeous womanizer is about to be kicked off the school basketball team for failing physics. He’s in need of a good tutor and some serious extra credit. But when Avery recruits the lovable Grayson to be her “objective outside observer,” she gets a whole lot more than she bargained for, because Grayson has a theory of his own: Avery doesn’t need to grieve. She needs to live. And if there’s one thing Grayson Kennedy is good at, it’s living life to the fullest.




I kept seeing The Avery Shaw Experiment when I was browsing for my next YA contemporary read on Amazon but I didn't buy it. It sounded like something I'd very much enjoy but 3 bucks for an e-book written by a new-to-me author? No. I thought it was too expensive to give it a chance. But it kept haunting me, always popping up on Amazon and Goodreads as one of the suggested titles so I finally gave in, bought it and crossed my fingers it didn't disappoint.

The verdict: It was just... okay. I am all for a guaranteed romance-y, cutesy happily-ever-after kind of read (which this novel is) but there were just too many things that bothered me for me to fully enjoy it.

First, Grayson's character was too good to be true and too lovestruck silly in my opinion. Grayson's character is too unbelievably gallant for a teenaged boy (especially in that cafeteria scene). And Avery? She basically blushed and cried the entire book and was too much of a wide-eyed, innocent type. I found myself rolling my eyes whenever she cried (which happened a lot). There was too much crying!

Also, the entire book revolved around their science experiment/case study. Avery was trying to prove that a person goes through the seven stages of grief to get over a heartbreak with herself as the test subject and Grayson as the supposed “objective outside observer.” Umm... yeah. It's not good science and I didn't buy it. It was too subjective, there was no control subject and I'm sure you need more than one test subject for the results to be valid.

There were some funny parts and sweet parts and they were great. But the not-so-great outweighed the not-so-bad parts. If you're in the mood for a cute, mindless fluff of a read (where you don't think too hard) then you might enjoy it. Unfortunately, it required too much suspension of disbelief for me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hello everyone,
It feels like forever since I did a blog post (though it's less than a week) but last week was Spring Break and all I wanted to do was read and not really do anything. And that's what I did. Break is over though and it's back to work for me. But I am happy to start the week with a blog tour.


Today, we have a special guest romance author Katie Lane! Her newest novel A Match Made in Texas comes out tomorrow, March 25th!

A Match Made in Texas is the sixth book in Katie Lane's bestselling, witty and sexy Deep in the Heart of Texas series.

Living with four over-protective brothers is enough to make a good girl go bad. But the day Brianne Cates hits the road for a taste of freedom, she gets more trouble than she bargained for when she's arrested by a sexy sheriff in mirrored shades. Now doing a stint of community service, she's not going to let a cowboy cop like Dusty Hicks mess with her newfound independence-even if he awakens every wicked fantasy she's ever had.

In Bramble, Texas, Dusty is the law. That means no leniency for the gorgeous rebel whose highway antics almost got them both killed. The divorced lawman doesn't need another rich, pampered princess, even if Brianne has the lushest body and sweetest smile in the whole darn state. But even as Brianne proves that she lives to walk on the wild side, Dusty begins to wonder if maybe he has what it takes to tame her...

Doesn't that sound good? I, for one, love the cover. I'm a sucker for hot men with mirrored shades. And don't let the fact that it's the 6th book in the series scare you away because it can be read as a standalone.

We asked Katie to share with us her top five favorite villains. Here's her list.

Katie's Top 5 Favorite Villains:

1. Lord Voldemort: I think my fear has more to do with his dirty nails than his snake-like appearance and scary voice. I’m a wee bit of a germaphobe and dirty fingernails freak me out.

2. Snidely Whiplash: Such evil in a cartoon character, and you have to admire a man who knows how to properly tie up a woman.

3. Wicked Witch of the West: As a kid, she scared the crap out of me. Not so much as the wicked witch, but as Dorothy’s neighbor who stole her dog. I had a middle-school math teacher who was really mean and rode a bike with a basket on the front. Whenever I walked my peek-a-poo, Pudgy, I always ran when I saw her.

4. The Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood: In one story, the wolf killed the grandma, and in another, he only locks her in the closet until the woodcutter lets her out. This latter version really bothered me as a child. I think it was the image of the wolf undressing grandma and tossing her naked in the closet. I would rather he ate her and be done with it.

5. Jim Carrey as the Riddler. It was Jim in the skin-tight, green leotard. I swear I had nightmares about that.

Thanks for hosting me, Michelle and Leslie!

*****
More about Katie...
Katie Lane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Deep in the Heart of Texas and Hunk for the Holiday series. Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she isn't writing, enjoys reading, going to the gym, golfing, traveling, or just snuggling next to her high school sweetheart and cairn terrier Roo.

You can visit her website for more info about her books and chat with her on Twitter and Facebook.

As part of the blog tour, Forever Romance/Hachette has a special giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy reading,
Michelle

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book I Covet: Played by Liz Fichera

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 with
Yup. Another romantic contemporary YA for this week's pick. I really like the premise of this one.


This Game Is Getting All Too Real

He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me.

She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can't get over, I'll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.

Played will be released on May 27, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.


What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.




 
"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hello everyone,
This is a new review format I'll be doing once or twice a month. I love to read but writing reviews is a a struggle for me. It takes me about two hours to write a typical "long" review and I don't always find time. And then review books I mean to feature and review within a week of reading them gets put off. Soon a month has passed and I forget my initial thoughts about them and then it takes me even longer to write the review.

These short, speedy reviews will help a lot with the review back up. And I think many people, who don't have a lot of time to read a long review, will appreciate quick, to-the-point reviews as well. I know I do.

Today I'll be reviewing three contemporary YA from Simon Pulse: Hung Up by Kristen Tracy, #Scandal by Sarah Ockler and Magnolia by Kristi Cook.



Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368 pages
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher via Edelweiss
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
When pictures of Lucy kissing her best friend's boyfriend emerge on the world of social media, she becomes a social pariah after the scandal rocks the school.
Michelle's Thoughts:
My first Sarah Ockler novel and it certainly won't be my last.

I really, really enjoyed #Scandal. I quickly devoured it. Funny, snarky, sweet... this is a book to read this between your more serious contemporary novels for a pick me up. Although lighter in tone, it also discusses important issues about social media and cyber bullying that are relevant today.

The romance between Lucy and Cole was sweet but not overwhelming. The novel was first and foremost about Lucy's growth than anything else
I highly recommend you add #Scandal to your summer reading list.


Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 282 pages
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher via Edelweiss
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
When a wrong number blossoms into a phone friendship for Lucy and James, two Vermont high school students, James wants to meet in person, but Lucy is strangely resistant. Told in the form of telephone calls and voice mail messages.
Michelle's Thoughts:
The entire novel is really told through phone calls or voicemails so it is written in a script format. I did have reservations in the beginning because the entire novel was a long back and forth conversation between Lucy and James. And I have a feeling you're either going to like that or be turned off by it. But give it about ten pages before you chuck it. The plot came together after a while and I got into it.

I thought James was acting kind of an annoying creeper when he kept calling Lucy (he reminded me of this guy in college... **shudders**) in the beginning. Lucy also annoyed me at some point because she kept evading saying anything about herself even though as a reader you can figure out what she refused to say. Overall, both characters were likable.

There were a couple of twists in the end, though I saw them coming. It has an abrupt ending but I kind of liked the that the author left things to the reader's imagination.

I found Hung Up an interesting (because the format of the novel), quick and fun read.



Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher via Edelweiss
Summary (for full synopsis visit Goodreads)
High school seniors Ryder and Jemma have been at odds for four years, despite their mothers' lifelong plan that they will marry one day, but when a storm ravages their small Mississippi town, the pair's true feelings are revealed.
Michelle's Thoughts:
Magnolia was just what I expected: an excellent romantic contemporary YA with a great, likable main character in Jemma and a swoon-worthy love interest in Ryder. Magnolia was just the book I need to lift me out of my reading slump.

I'm a sucker for the rivals-to-love trope and Magnolia really hits the spot. Jemma and Ryder had great chemistry and I liked how their relationship changed, how they softened toward the other in the novel. Their romance was sweet and swoon-y.

I loved that it was set in the South, with all the Southern things like football, Ole Miss, fancy parties, "y'all"-s, plantation homes, huge trees dripping with Spanish moss, etc. It was awesome that Jemma was a Southern belle but she could also shot a poisonous snake right on it's head, saving Ryder.

But while I love all the Southern stuff, this book also scared me from ever moving and living on the mainland: killer storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders...? No thanks! I think I'll stay in snake-free, tornado-free, black widow spider-rare Hawaii.

Magnolia was a delightful, feel-good escape kind of read--just how I like my contemporary YAs to be. There was drama but it was light in tone and had a lovely romance. I had a great time reading this book.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekly Wrap-up + New Books

Sunday, March 16, 2014 with
Hello fellow bookaholics,
We didn't do a wrap-up post last week because so we're doubling up this week. First up are our posts in the last two weeks.

I Gave up on Tin Star But You Might Like It... (Leslie's DNF review)

Now for the books!

Physical Books
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn (for review)
The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu (for review)
I already read and reviewed this one. It's a wonderful, emotional and very readable. Highly recommend it.

In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin (bought)
Book 3 in the Birthright trilogy. Leslie is crazy about this series!
Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter (bought)

I also got random unsolicited books from Galley/Pocket Books.
I'll See You Again: A Memoir by Jackie Hance with Janice Kaplan
A High, Hard Land by Tory Cates
Where Aspens Quake by Tory Cates

E-Galleys

Far From You by Tess Sharpe (via Netgalley)
Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt (via Edelweiss)
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly (via Netgalley)
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (Read Now title via Netgalley)

Attachements by Rainbow Rowell (Read Now title via Netgalley)
The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst (via Netgalley)
Tease by Sophie Jordan (via Edelweiss)
Nash by Jay Crownover (via Edelweiss)

Never Been Kissed by Molly O'Keefe (via Netgalley)
Mad About You by Joan Kilby (via Netgalley)
The Broken by Shelley Coriell (via Netgalley)
The Burning by Jane Casey (Read Now title via Netgalley)

I also got a letter from author Holly Schindler, which is super sweet of her.

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Hello everyone,
Today's post is all about Julie Murphy's debut novel Side Effects May Vary. First up is my thoughts about the novel and then our interview with Julie. So, without further ado...

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336 pages
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher via Edelweiss
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
What if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you?

When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission.

Now Alice is forced to face the consequences of all that she’s said and done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

Julie Murphy’s Side Effects May Vary is a fearless and moving tour de force about love, life, and facing your own mortality.




I don't usually pick up cancer-themed novels (I prefer my romantic-comedy type of YA contemporary) but with The Fault in Our Stars fresh in my mind, I wanted something in the same vein. But while both books deal with young adults and cancer, that's really where the similarities ended. 

Okay, to be honest I kind of had a love/frustration relationship with Side Effects May Vary. The frustration part is for Alice. Yes, life had dealt her a crappy hand but she was a mean girl. She was a very hard character to like, connect and sympathize with until almost to the very end. She was frustrating and annoying and plain old witchy with a "b." Facing death was easy for her but when she was given a second chance at living and she didn't know how to deal with it, especially because she had to face the consequences after completing her bucket list, which included getting revenge on people, the year before.

My love relationship to Side Effects May Vary was for Harvey. He was so sweet and such a great guy. We all need a Harvey in our life! He loved Alice and was there for her no matter what. But, ugh, Alice treated him so shabbily and dragged him along and took advantage of him. He deserved better than what he got from her. He sounds like a doormat, yeah? But he wasn't because he can speak up for himself. 

I did like their romance though. I liked that they had so much history together and there were some really sweet moments between them. Yes, I did think Harvey deserved better but Alice had strong feelings for Harvey. She just didn't know how to deal with them and, come to think of it, it's not like she made a secret of what she was going through. Harvey knew what she was like and loved her anyway. And this book has something you don't see often in YA (or at least I don't): the male protagonist was the one who really fought for the love of the female protagonist.

There were a lot of up and downs in Side Effects May Vary and some very strong emotions. I did like that it's a dual perspective and we get to see what's going on in both Alice and Harvey's head even though I liked reading Harvey's parts more. It also goes back and forth between the "now" (remission) and "then" (when Alice had cancer). I sort of wish it just stayed in the present with flashbacks because it was a bit confusing at times. Though the novel could've been a lot more confusing and messy with all the back and forth and backwards and forwards but I thought the story flowed relatively well. I'm glad I picked Side Effects May Vary up. I enjoyed reading it despite my issues with Alice. I'm really looking forward to Julie Murphy's next book. 


Read more about Side Effects May Vary on Goodreads 
Buy the book from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes or borrow/request it from your local library.

 *****

Julie Murphy
Hi Julie! Thank you for stopping by our blog today and answering our questions. What motto or quote do you live by?
Thank you so much for having me! I have so many favorite quotes, but one of my all time favorites would have to be: "I am a part of all that I have met." - Lord Alfred Tennyson

I love this quote so much because it reminds me to absorb every experience--good and bad--and allow life to change me.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of Side Effects May Vary? How was the revision process?
Writing Side Effects May Vary was very much a whirlwind experience. I drafted the first 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo, finished the draft in December, and revised for two months or so before looking for an agent. Including rounds with my editor, I would say that Side Effects May Vary went through five rounds of edits, not counting the smaller line edit type stuff.

Writing a novel is never easy, but what part of writing Side Effects May Vary was the LEAST challenging for you? 
Ooooh, that's a hard one! There's a scene where Alice drags Harvey (you'll find that she does a lot of that) to an old amusement park they would frequent when they were children. Because it's during the winter, the park is closed and they decide to break in. It was such a fun scene to write. The park was actually based on an old, dingy park I went to all the time as a kid, so it felt very authentic for me from the first time I wrote it.

Who or what were your biggest influences in creating Alice and Harvey's characters?
You'll sometimes hear writers say that a character came to them in one piece, meaning that they felt very dimensional right off the bat. And that's how Alice and Harvey felt, which was why I had to make them both narrators. (Plus someone had to be Alice's contrast. :)) I think, though, that because they came to me so whole, you can look at my favorite books and movies and see the inspiration. My major inspirations were: God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, Blue Valentine (movie), and SKINS, a great show out of the UK. Speaking of inspiration, you can find my pinterest board here.

What is next for you? Have we seen the last of Alice? Or are we going to see Alice or Harvey make cameo appearances in future books?
I am currently working on Dumplin', which is about a curvier girl from Texas named Willowdean whose life-long nickname is Dumplin'. Since I'm still drafting, I can't say much, but I will give these hints: secret summer affair, lies, a best friend you love so much it hurts, and beauty pageants. As for Alice and Harvey, they are character who will always stay with me, but I think that, for now, their story is over. However, there are some secondary characters (like Debora!) who I would love to play with, so you never know. A cameo may be in the realm of possibility!

Thank you Julie for answering our questions!

*****
More About Julie
Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she's not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library. Side Effects May Vary is Julie's debut novel.

For more info about Julie and her books, stop by her website, Goodreads, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube and Tumblr.

Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
For the full blog tour schedule, stop by The Fantastic Flying Book Club.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hello everyone,
I am so excited to share with you Maria E. Andreu's amazing debut novel, The Secret Side of Empty. This post will include my review as well as our interview with the main character, M.T.

Seriously, you guys, I haven't been this into a book in a very long time. I started reading The Secret Side of Empty late Saturday night and at 11 o'clock Sunday night I was done. I finished it in about 24 hours because once I started reading it was hard to stop.

It is such a timely novel, with main character dealing with being an undocumented immigrant living in suburban New Jersey but I think everyone will find something in M.T. that they can relate to as well. Anyway, more about all that in my review below.

Here's some book details just in case you haven't come across this novel before.

Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Pages: 336 pages
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
As a straight-A student with a budding romance and loyal best friend, M.T.’s life seems as apple-pie American as her blondish hair and pale skin. But M.T. hides two facts to the contrary: her full name of Monserrat Thalia and her status as an undocumented immigrant.

But it’s harder to hide now that M.T.’s a senior. Her school’s National Honor Society wants her to plan their trip abroad, her best friend won’t stop bugging her to get her driver’s license, and all everyone talks about is where they want to go to college. M.T. is pretty sure she can’t go to college, and with high school ending and her family life unraveling, she’s staring down a future that just seems empty. In the end, M.T. will need to trust herself and others to stake a claim in the life that she wants.

Author Maria E. Andreu draws from her personal experience as a (formerly) undocumented immigrant to explore an issue that affects over one million children in the U.S. But while the subject matter is timely, it is M.T.’s sharp, darkly funny voice and longing for a future that makes this story universally poignant.




I won't be surprised if The Secret Side of Empty wins a bunch of awards. Because, yep, it's that good. The novel is a little over 300 pages and I read it within 24 hours. I haven't read a 300+ book that fast in... well, forever. Right from the get go M.T.'s (her full name was Monserrat Thalia) voice and situation sucks you in and you pretty much have to keep reading until you're done.

The main theme of The Secret Side of Empty was being an undocumented immigrant or, as M.T. calls it, an "illegal." Her parents illegally came to the United States from Argentina when she was a baby. Her dad had big dreams of starting his own business and making it big in the U.S. and they will all eventually go back to Argentina. But over the years, it never happened and it left M.T.'s dad very bitter and abusive. So, M.T.'s home life wasn't a happy place. 

School was her happy place--she's a straight-A student, the vice-president of the National Honor Society, she has a great best friend in Chelsea and was falling in love with her first boyfriend. But they were in their senior year and everyone was talking about college. Being an undocumented immigrant and her family poor, college wasn't an option for M.T. Seeing her friends' lives moving on to greater and grander things while she's stuck with no true options, she felt empty.

M.T. was an intriguing character. I felt for her and her situation but she wasn't entirely a sympathetic character either. She made some bad decisions. She's book smart but she also drinks at parties. She's outspoken but she's keeping a huge secret about her and her family. She sees her mother as a doormat and doesn't always appreciate all the things she did for M.T. or see her mom's inner strength. In her most darkest moment she contemplated suicide. She's imperfect and very human. There were times I didn't like her and there were times I wanted to give her a hug and I really liked that. I think all readers will see a bit of themselves in M.T.

The secondary characters were fleshed out as well. I love M.T.'s best friend Chelsea--she's the kind of friend you want in your corner. And M.T.'s love interest, Nate, was lovely. Everyone's first boyfriend should be like Nate. M.T. and Nate's relationship was bittersweet in the sweetest possible way. 

After I finished reading The Secret Side of Empty it stayed with me for days. Such as fantastic debut novel by Maria Andreu! I cannot wait to read more by her. The entire story just felt so real and written so well that it sucks you in. The characters were imperfectly perfect and M.T.'s situation is real because there are millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States going through what she went through. But even if you're not an "illegal," you can still relate to the story because it is more than about being undocumented. The novel also touched on issues of physical abuse and suicide but, really it's more than about all the issues. The Secret Side of Empty is about growing up, making decisions, finding inner strength and finding yourself. You need this book in your life. Read it.

Read more about The Secret Side of Empty on Goodreads 
Buy the book from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell's or borrow/request it from your local library.

 *****


What's your favorite song and movie? What titles can we find on your bookshelf?
I am just crazy looking forward to the movie Maleficent with Angelina Jolie. I know everyone liked Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, but I was always intrigued by Maleficent. What had happened to her to make her the way she is? When I heard they were making that movie I started counting the days. To stay on that theme, when I heard Lana Del Rey was singing the song for Maleficent, "Once Upon a Dream," I totally fan-girled. I love Lana Del Rey!!! "Once Upon a Dream" by her is kind of creepy and dark and awesome. My other favorite song from Lana Del Rey is "Ride."  I really relate to that song.

As for books, there is this book called Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that I read for English class junior year that totally blew my mind. It's one of those books I think I'll re-read over and over again.

If you can live off of 3 foods alone, what would those three foods be?
My mom makes these things called empanadas. They're like these little meat pies with hamburger meat inside, wrapped up in this awesome flaky crust. When I was little it was my job to put in one olive and one piece of hard-boiled egg inside each of them. She only makes them on holidays but I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

Besides that, I'm a fan of Cheetos and pizza. I know I'm supposed to like vegetables, but blech.

What is the most romantic thing a guy can do for you on a date?
I think it's romantic to have a really real conversation, which probably makes me a total dork. My boyfriend, Nate, and I can talk about, like, the third grade or the subplots of movies or whatever for hours. I think that's super romantic. I like romance that's not really trying too hard.

Leslie is about to graduate from high school in a few months and my friends and I want to make as many memories as we can. What is your favorite memory from high school?
There was this time my sophomore year the last day before Christmas break when a bunch of us got on a bus to go to the mall. None of my friends had a car yet and someone had this crazy idea to ride the bus. I was surprised to see the bus was almost full. There were like 10 of us and we went all the way to the back. We started goofing around, singing T.V. show jingles, first just among ourselves. But we started to notice people looking at us so we began singing louder. Then we started on Christmas carols. By the time we got to the mall we were singing full volume and a few of the other passengers had joined in. When we got off the bus everyone clapped. That was an awesome day.

So, yeah, Leslie, totally enjoy it and make all the memories you can.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'm sorry, I know you're just making conversation, but as a senior in high school, I'm SOOOO tired of this question. "I don't know" is the short answer. Everyone is all like "college" and "study abroad" and "career" and I'm just like... I can't... that's not how my life is going to go. I can't explain, but my future isn't going to be like yours or Leslie's or anyone else's. It's... I don't think I have a future. Not like normal people. I don't mean to get all dark and depressing, but I think some people can plan five years ahead and some people can't. I'm one of those people who can't.

If I was just making some crazy story up, like if a fairy godmother came and could wave a wand and make my life less weird and I COULD plan five years ahead, I could see myself living in New York, doing stand-up or community organizing or something kind of fun and off the grid. I want to be with people who are true to themselves and not living life by someone else's rules.

Thanks for interviewing me!

Thanks for answering our questions M.T.! And a huge thank you to Maria for making this interview possible. 
*****

If you guys want to know M.T.'s story and whether or not she can finally plan for the next five years by the end of the novel, read The Secret Side of Empty! It is not to be missed. For more info about Maria, The Secret Side of Empty and her future novels, visit her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hello everyone,
We are so excited to be part of the #16thingsithoughtweretrue blog tour and to have Adam answer our questions.

Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan's mom gets sick, it's hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn't as far away as she thought...

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan's getting to know the real Adam, and he's actually pretty sweet...in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She's not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend...and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can't imagine living without.

And without further ado, here's Adam.

Hi Adam! Thanks for stopping by our blog today. What are the biggest perks of working in an amusement park?
Being the boss. I like being in control. I like things done a certain way. The right way. Also. I can ride the rollercoaster for free as many times as I want to. Best perk. I met my girlfriend there.

What was your first impression of Morgan when you first met her?
I thought Morgan was one of those really pretty, really stuck up girls. Everyone knew about her online video that went viral and I assumed since she was dancing around in underwear she totally thought she was hot stuff.

You went on a road trip recently. What was the most strangest random thing you, Morgan and Amy saw on the road?
The most random thing was Amy pulling over to the side of the road and taking a pee like it was no big deal.

What have you been up to since we saw you last in #16thingsithoughtweretrue?
Back in school now, I’m working hard because I want my grades to be top notch so I get into a pre-med program. Morgan helps me study. She’s smarter than she thinks she is. And she’s an amazing kisser. I hang out at her house a lot. Her mom loves me.

*****
A big thanks to Janet Gurtler for making this interview possible. Janet writes readable, heartfelt YA contemporaries. I've read and enjoyed Janet's previous novel If I Tell (check out my review here). For more info about Janet, her books and #16thingsithoughtweretrue, visit her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lauren Barnholt. 'Nuff said.

Opposites attract—and then complicate—in this romantic, relatable novel from the author of Two-way Street and Sometimes It Happens.

It starts with a scribbled note in class: I like your sparkle. Harper had casually threaded a piece of blue and silver tinsel through her ponytail in honor of school spirit day. And that carefree, corny gesture is what grabs Penn Mattingly’s eye. Penn—resident heartbreaker of the senior class. Reliably unreliable. Trouble with a capital “T.” And okay, smolderingly sexy.

Harper’s surprised by Penn’s attention—and so is Penn. The last thing he needs is a girlfriend. Or even a friend-with-benefits. The note is not supposed to lead to anything.

Oh, but it does. They hang out. They have fun. They talk. They make out. And after a while, it seems like they just click. But Penn and Harper have very different ideas about what relationships look like, in no small part because of their very different family backgrounds. Of course they could talk about these differences—if Penn knew how to talk about feelings.

Harper and Penn understand their attraction is illogical, yet something keeps pulling them together. It’s like a crazy roller coaster—exhilarating, terrifying, and amazing all at once. And neither knows how to stop the ride…

Through to You will be released on July 8, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.


What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.


 
"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hi everyone,
If you stop by our blog enough times, you know that contemporary romance, YA and NA are my genre of choice. So, it will probably come at no surprise that I'm going to be listing my favorite contemporary romance, YA and NA of all-time for this week's Top Ten Tuesday (which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish--go here for all the details about this awesome meme).

So, in no particular order...

What are your favorite contemporary romance, YA and/or NA?

Happy reading,
Michelle

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

This pick will come at no surprise since I'm a sucker for this kind of romantic contemporary YA.

According to the guys at Fairfield Academy, there are two types of girls: the kind you hook up with, and the kind you're friends with. Seventeen-year-old Alyssa Reed is the second type. And she hates it. With just one year left to change her rank, she devises a plan to become the first type by homecoming, and she sets her sights on the perfect date—Justin Carter, Fairfield Academy’s biggest hottie and most notorious player.

With 57 days until the dance, Aly launches Operation Sex Appeal and sheds her tomboy image. The only thing left is for Justin actually to notice her. Enter best friend Brandon Taylor, the school’s second biggest hottie, and now Aly’s pretend boyfriend. With his help, elevating from “funny friend” to “tempting vixen” is only a matter of time.

But when everything goes according to plan, the inevitable “break up” leaves their friendship in shambles, and Aly and Brandon with feelings they can’t explain. And the fake couple discovers pretending can sometimes cost you the one thing you never expected to want.

The Fine Art of Pretending will be released on September 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.


What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.


 
"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hello everyone,

When my sister suggested that I read Tin Star, I was a little wary. I'm not a huge science fiction fan and I've never read anything by Cecil Castellucci before, but since the blurb sounded promising, I figured I'd try it and read Tin Star.

I didn't finish it. Yup, I DNF-ed it. Sigh.

Before I get into why, here's the synopsis.
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 234 pages
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Source of my ARC copy: publisher
On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist's leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station. When three humans crash land onto the station, Tula's desire for escape becomes irresistible, and her desire for companionship becomes unavoidable. But just as Tula begins to concoct a plan to get off the space station and kill Brother Blue, everything goes awry, and suddenly romance is the farthest thing from her mind.

For the first few pages, I thought, "Okay, this is pretty good. I can like it," but as I continued reading, I grew less and less interested. I was bored by the main character Tula, who seemed too naive for her own good; I felt like the beginning dragged as Tula, in practically every chapter, visited a new place or room and met different aliens, who cared not a cat's eye for her; and I was unmoved by the writing, which may not have been a problem if the other problems I had only 40 pages in did not arise. I couldn't get into Tin Star, let alone tolerate the story to the end, that I eventually just avoided it, feeling completely reluctant to continue reading.

But I must admit, maybe my dislike of Tin Star was a result of what kind of personal state I was in while reading it. During the week I read Tin Star, I was overwhelmed by schoolwork and college prep that my stress came to a point where I couldn't even let myself read and relax for even just a few minutes. I was in a terrible reading slum, and with my personal preferences, Tin Star was not helping me get out of it. With that said, maybe my mental state was what caused me to not give Tin Star the justice it deserved.

So, although I couldn't get through Tin Star and didn't finish it, it doesn't mean that others will not enjoy Tin Star as well. I believe that if you're a reader who loves science fiction and/or has previously liked Castellucci's books, then I recommend that you check out Tin Star.

However, if you're still wary about the book after reading this review, here's the opening of Tin Star for you to test the waters out for yourself:

[This is an ARC. The final copy may be different from what is pictured above.]

This reader and this reader and this one too gave Tin Star a good review on Goodreads. Check them out. Have you read Tin Star? What did you think of it?

Happy reading,
Leslie

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up + New Books

Sunday, March 2, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
We hope you're all having a wonderful weekend with awesome reads. Here are our post in the past week.
All About The Junction of Sunshine & Lucky by Holly Schindler (incl. review and Q+A with characters Auggie and Gus)

Also, there's only 5 more days left to enter to win a copy of one of my favorite contemporary reads of 2014, Something Real by Heather Demetrios. You gotta read this book!


We had a great week when it came to new books too. We haven't gotten this many physical books in a while so there was a lot of happy dancing going on.

What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (ARC for review)
If you stop by this blog enough you know how much I love Huntley's debut My Life Next Door. I got rejected on Edelweiss when I requested for an e-galley of What I Thought Was True so imagine my happy surprise when a physical ARC showed up.
 The Body in the Woods by April Henry (ARC for review)

Wicked Little Secrets by Kara Taylor (ARC for review)
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule (finished copy for review)
We featured both books as a "book I covet" a while back so we're so excited to get early copies.

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (ARC)
Red by Alison Cherry (ARC)
The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee (ARC)
The Dark Between by Sonia Gensler (ARC)
Revenge of a Not-So-Pretty Girl by Carolita Blythe (ARC)
I got a curious package from Random House with the five ARCs. I think it's back order from RandomBuzzers because I used my last "buzz bucks" before RB merged with Figment but never got anything. These were not the books I "ordered" (except for Being Sloane Jacobs) but oh well. They look interesting.
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (ARC; won from Shelf Awareness/Scholastic)


E-galleys & E-books
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
The Here and Now by Ann Brashares
These were "Read Now" titles at Netgalley so I pounced!

If Only by A.J. Pine (via Netgalley)
The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian (Read Now title via Netgalley)
Lady Windermere's Lover by Miranda Neville (via Edelweiss)

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle (& Leslie)

*Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews