Monday, September 29, 2014

Hello everyone,
Sorry for the lack of posts last week. Work was super busy and when I got home all I wanted to do was some aimless net surfing and then sleep. But fall break is coming up and that means I have a week off from work. Yay! And all I'm planning to do is catch up on my reading.

Anywho, my thoughts about A Blind Spot for Boys...

Format: Hardcover
Publisher: LBYR
Pages: 392 pages
Release Date: August 12, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher/BookSparks
Series: n/a
Synopsis
Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?
Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.
Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously... Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.



A Blind Spot for Boys had a lot of my buzz words: it's contemporary YA, it involves a cute boy and, hence, a romance, and traveling to a difference country. I'm happy to say that I enjoyed it and I give it

Then-sophomore Shana Wilde was secretly dating 22-year old Dom. The relationship ended badly and she quickly went through a whole slew of guys before she finally put herself in a Boy Moratorium. Shana was a photographer, a passion she shared with her dad. She met Quattro when he literally ran into her just as she was about to take the perfect shot of Seattle's Gum Wall (read the excerpt of this scene). Quattro was cute and smart, and normally Shana would be all over him but she knew it was smarter to stay away. Then, her dad received devastating news: he's going blind and have about six months until he loses his sight. Her parents decided that, while there's still time, they're going to travel and at the top of their list is Machu Picchu. And, who does Shana ran into in Peru but Quattro... Just when Shana realized she's ready to drop her boy moratorium, Quattro pulls away.

First of all, I love that Shana and her family travel to Machu Picchu. I wish Machu Picchu was on A Blind Spot for Boys' cover because it's such a big part of the story. We were with Shana, her parents and their group as they hiked the Inca trail. It was great living vicariously through Shana. It's been a while since I did a hike and after reading about it, I really wanted to do another one. Their hike (their whole trip, actually) was crazy, though, because the worst things that could happen, did. I don't know how I would have dealt with the situation if it was me but it was great reading to see how they got out of it and how the whole experience changed Shana.

I also really liked that both of her parents were very much in the novel. It was awesome that there was as much a focus on Shana's relationship with her parents as her growing relationship with Quattro. Shana saw the strain her dad's diagnosis had put on her parents but she also saw how strong their love was that they were able to weather though it as a unit because their relationship was solid. You don't often see parents of YA characters having that big a role in YA novels, and the parents being an inspiration for the kind of relationship a YA character would want for his or her own.

There was a scene towards between Shana and her dad towards the end of the novel that moved me to tears. It was just so wonderful to watch Shana's character grow and see her gain a new perspective on love, friendship, family and her talent.

My one [minor] issue with this book was that we're told (rather than shown) that Shana was a flirtatious, attractive and fashion forward girl (she runs a very successful and popular urban fashion blog) and boys come to her like flies. There was mention of her blog throughout the novel and that her closet was filled with trendy clothes at the end of the book, but there wasn't really anything about her style of dress (you know, like in Lola and the Boy Next Door where we really got a feel for Lola's unique style). As for being super attractive, even though she was swearing off guys, you'd think there'd be some tourists boys giving her the eye while she was in Peru. I don't know... I never really got any of that flirtatious, fashionable vibe from her character.

This isn't an issue, but I would have liked more Shana and Quattro happy times. I liked Quattro even though he was a bit hot and cold. I understood why. He's dealing with his own heavy issues. Both Shana and Quattro were intelligent people and I wanted them to have more banter. We kind of got some of that in a couple of scenes early on in the story and I would have liked more. I love intelligent banter between characters.

Overall, I enjoyed A Blind Spot for Boys. I really liked Shana's character and her growth, the older women in their trekking group who added to the humor of the story, her mom and dad, Quattro (who was pretty dreamy) and the Machu Picchu setting. It kind of reminded me of Kirsten Hubbard's Wanderlove (my review) because of the South American setting but A Blind Spot for Boys had more funny moments, which I really appreciated. Live vicariously through Shana and travel to Machu Picchu by reading A Blind Spot for Boys this fall season.



Happy reading,
Michelle

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book I Covet: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 with
I confess this was mostly a cover pick. It's just so pretty! The synopsis sounds really interesting too, though. As someone who goes to church every week, I've always been fascinated with extremes in religion and I'm looking forward to seeing how this novel will explore that.

Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.


Devoted will be released on June 2, 2015. 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. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two Weeks In a Nutshell + New Books

Saturday, September 20, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
This is two weeks worth of posts and books.














Michelle: I'm currently reading Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen.



Review Books
Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen
Every Breath by Ellie Marney
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (ARC)
Come Dancing by Leslie Wells

Books I Bought
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines
The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines
Waiting On You by Kristan Higgins
A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

I also got the following E-ARC via Netgalley.
Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

What new books did you guys get? I wanna see! Leave your STS* link so I can come gush over them. And if you guys read any of the books I mentioned above, let me know your thoughts.

Happy reading,
Michelle


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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen Excerpt

Friday, September 19, 2014 with
Labels:
Hi everyone,
Happy Friday! I'm so happy the weekend is coming up because this week was exhausting at work. And to make it worst, it's been so hot lately that I'm pouring sweet at 7:30 in the morning as soon as I get to my classroom. Hawaii has no true fall season but some nice cool breeze would be nice.

But speaking of fall, I am part of BookSparks' Fall Reading Challenge and my first book is Blind Spot for Boys.

And check out my spiffy FRC badge!

For more info about the Fall Reading Challenge, check out their Facebook page and join in on the fun. They have fantastic giveaways too.

I am actually scheduled to review Blind Spot today but unfortunately I only got my copy of Blind Spot on Monday so I didn't have time to finish it. But I am LOVING it so much. It's just the kind of contemporary YA I love to read: light-hearted at times but the story has meat in it, there's strong emotions, has a sweet romance and a main character with a great voice.

Blind Spot for Boys is already out in stores but just in case you didn't come across Blind Spot for Boys yet, here's the description.

Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously... Love and loss, humor and heartbreak collide in this new novel from acclaimed author Justina Chen.

You know how the description mentioned that one morning Shana and Quattro slammed into one another? Well, here's part of how that scene played out in the novel, in which Shana and Quattro first met.

Or get it from Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Google Play | Powell's


If you read Blind Spot for Boys already, let me know your thoughts about it. Look for my review of Blind Spot for Boys next week.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Format: ARC
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 432 pages
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Vault of Dreamers #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.
The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.



When I first started reading The Vault of Dreamers I didn't know what the heck was going on. I mean, I know because I read the book's description but you're kind of just thrown into the action. It took me quite a bit of chapters until I was able to get the set up of the world and Forge School.

Basically, it's a mash up of a prestigious art school (think Juilliard) and the reality TV show Big Brother. Rosie, a budding filmmaker, was one of 100 students that were accepted into Forge School and be featured in the very popular Forge Show. But the 100 students have to work hard to raise their blip rank (the show's popularity meter) because half of the student with the lowest blip rank will be cut after the first ten days they're in school. Rosie was at the very bottom, but with the help of Linus and some of the students she was able to make the cut. But Rosie's relief was short-lived because she started to get suspicious of the strange rules and goings on at Forge School, especially after she stopped taking the sleeping pill the school required all of their students to take.

The Vault of Dreamers had a very interesting concept and I liked it. I was surprised to learn about 150 pages in that it's set in the not so distant future--I want to say about 40 years from now. I didn't really get a sense of that until it was explicitly said during a conversation between Rosie and Linus that an earthquake that happened in 2045 and it caused the abandonment of the trains in the town where Rosie lived. The train's boxcars became the townspeople's shelter. This information was significant because the whole futuristic aspect didn't click for me--I mean, the world wouldn't be significantly different anyway since it's only a few decades into the future. But I thought the story was set in the present until this information came up and it changed my perspective of the story a bit.

As for characters, I liked Rosie. She's a teenager so she's not going to have all her stuff figured out. She had her moments where I was like, duh, Rosie, you're kinda slow on the uptake. I didn't mind her naïveté and I'm looking forward to seeing her grow in the series (well, maybe... because of the ending, I don't know how where the next book will take us...). I also liked Linus. He was a mystery man. We know some info about him but you get the sense that there's something more about him. Is he trustworthy? I guess we'll find out. The other secondary characters were an interesting bunch too. I really like when Burnham confronted her about her using her friends and the other students to up her blip rank--I liked him and hope we see him again in the next book.

The Vault of Dreamers would've been a sold 4-star read for me if it weren't for the ending. It was really confusing and weird. I had to read it again just to make sure it really happened... it kind of came out nowhere. But I am excited for the next book in the series. I really like the unique premise of the series--it's very imaginative, twisty and I enjoyed unraveling the mystery along with Rosie. I don't really know what to expect next and I am really looking forward to finding out what the author has in store for us. I'm giving this book


**We have a Q+A with author Caragh O'Brien here. Check it out for some Linus goodness.**

Hi everyone,
Yep, we're bringing you another blog tour goodness and this time it's The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien. We have an awesome Q+A with Ms. O'Brien today. I'll be sharing what I thought of the novel on a separate post--read it here.

But, first, here's what The Vault of Dreamers is all about.

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.



Author Caragh O'Brien
via her website

Hi Caragh! Welcome to our blog! We're all about the romance in our YA reads and our questions will mostly be about Linus, Rosie's love interest in The Vault of Dreamers. But to start off, what are your three current favorite YA novels and which of the love interests in those books would you kiss, marry and kill? 

Hello to you, Michelle and Leslie! Thank you so much for having me by for the Vault of Dreamers Blog Tour. It’s great to be here and I’m psyched to talk a bit about the main guy in my novel. To answer your question, I’ve been reading a lot of stand-out YA novels lately, so limiting myself to three favorites is not easy, plus my heart is already taken for the kissing and such, so I’ll have to improvise there. A true favorite of mine these days is Mary Pearson’s The Kiss of Deception, and I would risk taking an evening walk in the woods with Rafe. I also devoured Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse, and for that one, I would play cards alone with Arin. Finally, I was completely engaged by Cammie McGovern’s Say What You Will, and for that one, I would willingly hire Matthew to carry my books.

Did you name Linus after Linus van Pelt from Peanuts? Do you have a model or celebrity visual for him? If you do, who? If you don't which celeb or model does he come close to in terms of looks? 

Naturally, I have a fondness for Schulz’s Linus, but I didn’t name my Linus after him. I just thought the name worked for an interesting, unusual character. Certain photos of actor Johnny Pacar when he was young fit well with how I imagine Linus. My character’s features reflect that he’s smart, perceptive, and a bit wary of others.

How did Linus' character come out when you were plotting the story and how is he different from Leon in your Birthmarked trilogy?

Linus evolved a lot over a dozen drafts. At one point I imagined him as a convict, and then he became another student on The Forge Show with Rosie. Finally he settled into his job in the kitchen where he works incredibly hard, essentially dulling himself to any dreams. Both Linus and Leon have lonely streaks, I’d say, but where Leon has a certain cool polish, Linus is more gritty and frank.

What was the biggest challenge about writing Linus' character? Did he "behave" the way you planned him to or did he take you into unexpected turns as you wrote The Vault of Dreamers?

Linus kept surprising me. Even after I worked out his backstory and wove his role tightly into the main plot, I still had to figure out when he was trustworthy and when he wasn’t. His relationship with Rosie has an element of pretend, because of the cameras, and that complicates the truth between them.

If you, Rosie and Linus were to hang out for a day... would you want to hang out with Rosie and Linus for a day and be totally third-wheeling it?... where will you all go and what will you likely talk about?

Ha! I can’t quite imagine going with them as a third wheel, but if I could give them a day off from the book, I would send them on a walk with Linus’s dog, Molly. They could head into Forgetown for some ice cream at the dairy bar, and my guess is they’d climb the water tower, which is off limits, so Rosie could film from the top.

Again, thanks Leslie and Michelle. I very much appreciate your thoughtful questions. Happy reading!

Thank you so much, Caragh, for answering all of our questions about Linus and also a big thank you to Macmillan and Mary for making this interview possible. We love getting a bit more insight on the creation of Linus' character. And I love your answer for question number one because I'm also a HUGE fan of The Winner's Curse and dying to read the other two books you mentioned.


*******

Caragh O’Brien Bio
Caragh M. O’Brien is the author of the Birthmarked trilogy and The Vault of Dreamers, both from Macmillan/Roaring Brook Press. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Ms. O’Brien was educated at Williams College and earned her MA from Johns Hopkins University. She recently resigned from teaching high school English in order to write young adult novels.

For more info about Caragh O'BrienThe Vault of Dreamers and Caragh's other novels, visit her website, chat with her on Twitter and on Facebook. And if you haven't already
Add The Vault of Dreamers by clicking on the button above.
The Vault of Dreamers came out on September 16th so you can now pick it up at your favorite brick and mortar bookstore, library or on your favorite e-retailer


Oh, and if you live in the mainland (sadly, not us), the Fierce Reads tour is currently happening. Here's Caragh's schedule via Macmillan's Instagram page. For complete info on the tour, you can go here.


Happy reading,
Michelle

P.S. If you missed my non-spoiler review of The Vault of Dreamers, you can find it here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book I Covet: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 with
I'm a sucker for these kinds of fun, fluffy contemporary YA and the ones I've read by Kasie West (The Distance Between Us and On the Fence) have always been fun, awesome reads for me.  I'm very sure I am going to like The Fill-In Boyfriend too.

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.


The Fill-In Boyfriend will be released on March 5, 2015. 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, September 16, 2014

Hi everyone,
This is part two for the Haze blog tour where I share with you my thoughts about the novel. You can find my interview with Gaby here.

Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Tundra Books
Pages: 448 pages
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Rephaim #2
Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Gaby Winters' life used to be pretty normal. She lived with her best friend. She worked in a library. She was slowly getting over the death of her twin brother, Jude. And then Rafa came looking for her. With him, her blood-soaked nightmares stopped. But now they are reality. She is one of the Rephaim - a wingless half angel, descended from the Fallen. Demons exist and they are hunting her. She knows she's alive when she's meant to be dead. And that means maybe Jude is too. So why isn't she out there looking for him?

Because I really enjoyed the first book of Paula Weston's Rephaim series Shadows, I was eager to read the second book Haze. Now that I finally have, I am happy to say that Haze was, if not better than, just as good as Shadows with its addicting, thrilling, and interesting plot and awesome characters.

I really liked the plot of Haze more so than I did Shadows' plot mainly because the world-building was did and done in Shadows, and so in Haze, the story line was much more focused on the characters' interactions and dramas. I was glad to finally get to "hang out" with the characters of the Rephaim series again. I really learned more about them from reading Haze. In my mind, they became more than Fallen angels' half-offsprings and gradually grew into real, albeit superhuman, beings who were as emotional and scared as any other person and were struggling to find their place and purpose on Earth.

I also really liked the romance that continued on from Shadows and into Haze. Again, it was not a huge focus in the plotline; save for a few short, steamy-ish moments and some heart-to-heart moments--all of which I enjoyed reading--the story was nonetheless mainly about Gaby continuing her search for her twin brother Jude as well as her lost memories. I rooted for the couple all throughout Haze as much as I did in Shadows. Haze also included the start of and the continuation of other romances between the other, secondary characters, however, I, personally, was not fully convinced by those couples' love, maybe because I didn't pay much attention to them or didn't know enough about the characters themselves yet to really agree and root for them as well. Nonetheless, Weston once again did a great job of balancing her novel between the actual, thrilling conflict and the romances amongst her characters.

I'm super excited to read the next book Shimmer of the Rephaim series; Haze ended just as unexpectedly (yet nicely) as Shadows, making me turn to the next page and immediately exclaim "What?!" out loud when I found it was the last page of the book. I need to know what happens next!

If you haven't yet read Shadows, I recommend that you do, especially if you like paranormal YA or just want a change of pace like I did when I began the Rephaim series. Paula Weston's writing flows so nicely and her stories have a great and interesting balance between suspense, romance, action, and insight. If you have read Shadows but haven't yet picked up Haze, I recommend that you do as soon as possible because you need it in your life. Seriously. It is just as suspenseful and action-packed as Shadows and you won't be disappointed.


Happy reading everyone,
Leslie



P.S. And, once more, if you missed my interview with Gaby, you can find it here. We talked about her current favorites, her celebrity doppelganger and her bucket list.


Hi everyone,
I am so excited to be part of the Haze blog tour. If you had a chance to catch my review of Shadows a year ago, you know how much I LOVED it. I am so happy that I got a chance to be part of the blog tour again with Tundra Books (thank you! thank you!) for Haze.

I decided to split my post in two so it wouldn't be too long. This one, part 1, will have my interview with one of the characters in the Rephaim series, Gaby! Part 2 will be my thoughts about Haze (spoiler alert: there's much gushing).

First, though, here's what Haze is all about.

"But what if we can’t find Jude?"

He leans closer. His breath is warm on my ear. "We will."

"How can you be so sure?" I want to believe him so badly, but this is Rafa. The guy who’s all action and no plan. His smile is tired, knowing. An echo of a shared past I don’t remember.

"Because I’m not smart enough to give up, and you don’t know how to."


Gaby Winters’ nightmares have stopped but she still can’t remember her old life. Still can’t quite believe she is one of the Rephaim—the wingless half-angels who can shift from place to place, country to country, in the blink of an eye. That she was once the Rephaim’s best fighter. That demons exist. That Rafa has stayed.

But most of all, she can’t quite believe that her twin brother, Jude, might be alive.

And Gaby can’t explain the hesitancy that sidetracks the search for him, infuriates Rafa, and sends them, again, into the darkest danger.

Author Paula Weston
via Celia Southcombe, Flow Photography

Hi Gaby! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with me. Thanks for asking. Most people aren’t that keen to strike up a conversation with me. I must be mellowing.

What is your current favorite song in your iPod? 
I keep humming Foo Fighter songs ("Long Road to Ruin" is stuck on a loop at the moment), but on my iPod, it’s a track by Dan Sultan called "Under Your Skin" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpjhjKw-LMg). It’s got attitude and a great hook. I’ve been listening to a lot of Australian music in the past year: The John Butler Trio, Stonefield and Birds of Tokyo also get a thrashing on the iPod.

What is your current favorite movie? 
I haven’t been to the movies in ages (no cinema in Pan Beach and Maggie and I can’t afford cable), but a few weekends ago we were hanging out at Simon’s and watched Divergent. I liked it: faithful to the book, well cast and a budget to do the setting justice.

And who is your favorite author and why? 
I'd have to go with Marcus Zusak. The Book Thief was the first thing I read after the accident (or whatever it was that happened last year) and I got totally lost in the story to the point I forgot about everything else for a while. It took a pretty special book to do that. Of course, it made me cry at the end… But then I found his earlier books in the library and read them too. Australians made a bit more sense after reading The Messenger and the Wolf Brothers books.

Mila Kunis via Vogue UK
Do you have a celebrity doppelganger? 
Maggie says I look like Mila Kunis but I’m at least a foot taller, and I’ve got a lot more scars.

With your current, confounded knowledge of your actual past, name one characteristic or event that you admire most about your past self?
Given it’s saved my life more than once, I’d have to say fighting skills. I still wish I knew what I was doing, but I’m starting to trust that if I get in trouble, those old instincts will kick in. Or at least I’m more optimistic I can hold my own in a fair fight.

What are you top five places to visit (or re-visit)?
It’s hard to think about travelling without thinking about Jude, so maybe it’s easier to tell you the five places we had the most fun together (or, at least, the places I remember us having fun together):
- Peru: hiking up to Machu Picchu. Huge moment for both of us when we caught our first sight of the ruins at dawn.
- Switzerland: bungee jumping from a cable car (even though it scared the crap out of me).
- Cinque Terra, Italy: we ate so much food in those five fishing villages, but we walked or ran most of it off.
- Istanbul, Turkey: Jude loved the noise and bustle of the Grand Bazaar (and the hookah pipes) and I loved the breathtaking beauty of the Blue Mosque.
- Santorini, Greece: So much sun and sea, and wine and seafood. And galaktoboureko, a sweet Greek pastry that one of my favourite foods in the world.

Name one thing from your bucket list.
Honestly, there’s nothing I can imagine doing on that list with Jude.

*******

I hope you all enjoyed my interview of Gaby! A huge thank you goes to author Paula Weston for making this interview with Gaby possible. For more info, Paula Weston and the Rephaim series visit Paula's website, chat with Paula on Twitter and the Rephaim on Facebook. And if you haven't already
Add the Rephaim series by click on the button above.

Oh, and another fun thing I did as a participant of this blog tour was take a quiz to see which character I am most like in the Rephaim series and...

Yep! I'm Ez. Wanna know who Ez is? You gotta read the book! Trust me, you need to pick this series up even if you think you're over paranormal YA. The Rephaim series is sooooo good!

Happy reading,
Leslie

P.S. If you missed my non-spoiler review of Haze, you can find it here.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Hello everyone,
I am excited to be part of the Holly Schindler's Feral blog tour. I asked Holly her top 3 creepiest places in Missouri--not only because she's from Missouri but because Feral is set in Peculiar, Missouri. Here's what she had to say:
Author Holly Schindler
I’m a lifelong Missouri girl—actually, I’m a sixth generation Missouri girl. I live in the SW corner of the state, in an area my hometown likes to refer to as a “city.” Sure, we’ve got the universities and hotels and hospitals and five o’clock traffic to support that theory. I think, though, that plenty of newcomers to the town might beg to differ with that classification. For instance, my own neighborhood butts up against an open field surrounded by barbed wire—a field that’s often dotted with hay bales. When I was growing up, my house was a block away from a small farm, complete with horses and a barn. Today, I don’t have to be in the car more than two, three minutes, tops, before seeing various farm animals: cows, mules, horses, etc.

The rural touches to my landscape can be incredibly beautiful: the wildflowers popping up beside the roads, the thick green grass, the clear blue skies...But there’s something about a rural area (maybe it’s the “untamed” quality of undeveloped lots) that can also have a scary feel, too.

That’s why my top 3 creepiest locations in Missouri are all rural features:

1. Wooded areas—Little pockets of woods pop up all through my hometown. I can think of a few thick sections of trees right off, all of which are walking distance from my house. Those areas aren’t large, but when you step into a wooded patch, you definitely get the hair rising on the back of your neck, and you get that worried twist in your gut. It always feels like you’re exposed, and anyone—or any creature—could be hiding right there behind a tree, ready to pounce...

2. Caves—Missouri is completely loaded with caves. I’ve been in a few—complete with stalactites and stalagmites and bats...There’s something about being underground, in a large, open, relatively empty space that’s really off-putting as well. It’s got kind of a “burial” feel, actually.

3. Heights—I’ll admit I’m not big on heights anyway. I have really awful eyesight—my vision’s 20/700! Just looking at something tall can make me dizzy. But the Missouri landscape is also riddled with hills—the Ozark Mountains. The rugged, rocky, rough hills in the Ozarks can also give me goose bumps—especially in the winter, when the trees on those hills are bare, and the rocky landscape is completely exposed...It just has a such a stark, brutal appearance...Even more so when those hills drop off into a winter lake covered in a dangerously thin sheet of ice...

Format: E-ARC
Pages: n/a
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Source of my copy: Edelweiss/HarperTeen
Series: standalone
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley….

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.



Minor spoilers.

Before I get into my review, I'd like to give my rating first. I'm giving Feral 
I read Feral in two days and after reading late into the night, I even dreamed about it--nothing scary, just from the point I stopped reading my subconscious kinda filled in the next scene. I've read three books by Holly Schindler so far, including Feral, and I gotta say this one is really different from her previous novels--Playing Hurt was an emotional summer romance about two injured athletes (my review) and The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky was about a very special little girl and folk art that made me smile all the way through (my review), but Feral was weird and dark.

The novel opened up with two very violent scenes. In the first scene, set in Peculiar, Missouri, the murder was dragging the body of Serena Sims through the woods to hide it, but somehow the spirit of the dead girl could still feel everything--the pain of being dragged on the ground, the agony when thick branches of tree fell on her, the feral cats feasting on her body... **shudders** And then, we were taken to Chicago and a different girl, Claire Cain, who was brutally assaulted by a group of young men. Those two scenes were very graphic and hard to read and they went on way too long, in my opinion.

Then, things calmed down. Claire Cain's father was on sabbatical to study a cave in Peculiar and Claire was relieved to not have to go back to her school and face all the stares and pitying looks of her classmates. She tried to put a brave face for her father and physically she might have been okay (you know, except for the all the horrendous scars beneath her clothes), but you know she's not fully recovered mentally. She's having horrible nightmares and strange noises and people sent her into a panic. When she stumbled on the body of Serena Sims, things became worse. She became obsessed with finding out exactly what happened to Serena and Claire started having freaky hallucinations about Serena, the town's feral cats and a strange fog.

Feral is part psychological thriller (were Claire hallucinations real--was she really being haunted by Serena's ghost?), part mystery (who killed Serena Sims?) as well as part paranormal (we see through Serena's spirit's eyes a few times throughout the novel). I was able to figure out the mystery of who Serena's killer was very early on and the secret the killer was trying to hide, as well as whether the hallucinations were real or not. Really, once you start reading, it's not hard to put the pieces together.

But I wanted to know Claire's fate by the end of the novel--will she eventually join Serena's spirit? Yet, I never fully connected with Claire or any of the characters in Feral, despite being invested in wanting to know what will happen to her. It was hard to connect with Claire. In the small glimpse we had of her before she was assaulted, she seemed very full of herself. I was horrified with what she went through, but even after I never really warmed up to her.

My favorite thing about the novel was the setting. The ice storm, the creaking trees, the cold, wet ground, the grotesque feral cats, the fog... all of these make the novel very atmospheric and I was able to picture Peculiar in my mind so clearly.

Oh, and if you're curious if whether there's a romance or not, well, there's really wasn't. There were hints of maybe something more between Claire and her neighbor Rich a bit down the road, but there was really none during the novel. The focus was more on the suspense and the mystery, which I actually appreciated--there's really no room for a true romance in this story.

My thoughts about Feral is all over the place. It's one of those books where I didn't love it but I didn't hate it. I liked it and I read it fairly quickly but I had issues with it. Some parts of the novel dragged and other parts I was riveted. I gotta say, though, it was a fascinating look at a victim in the aftermath of a horrible crime. If you like psychological thrillers, I do think Feral is worth picking up. It was dark, it was freaky at times, especially the scenes with the cats (I'm a cat person but in this book they were EEEWWWW!!) and it did take some strange turns.


*******
About the Author
Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A Blue So Dark (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medalrecipient) as well as Playing Hurt (both YAs).

Her debut MG, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called The Junction “...a heartwarming and uplifting story...[that] shines...with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”

Feral is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave Feral a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A Blue So Dark...This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking...This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Schindler encourages readers to get in touch. Booksellers, teen librarians, and teachers can also contact her directly regarding Skype visits. She can be reached at hollyschindlerbooks (at) gmail (dot) com, and can also be found at hollyschindler.com, hollyschindler.blogspot.com, @holly_schindler, Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor, and hollyschindler.tumblr.com


This blog tour does have an awesome giveaway. Enter here >>> a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Happy reading,
Michelle

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Format: ARC
Publisher: Forever
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: The Artist Trilogy #1
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
There's a Fine Line Between Sin and Salvation... 
Ellie Watt is a woman on the run. Raised by a pair of thieves who taught her the art of the grift-and pursued by a mobster who fell for her con-she hopes to find refuge at her uncle's farm in quiet Palm Valley, California. Ellie swears she's through with her life of crime. But before she knows it, she's right back in the game when she meets an easy mark who's too good-and too hot-to be true. His name is Camden McQueen. A master tattoo artist and a total inked stud, Camden is nothing like the awkward kid who crushed on Ellie back in high school. Now, as owner of the wildly successful Sins & Needles, he's got tats to kill for, muscles to die for, and money to burn. Ellie can't believe the transformation-and can't resist pulling off one last con. But when Camden catches Ellie red-handed, the tables are turned. The mark becomes the master. And when the ultimate player gets played, you never know who's going to end up on top...


Sins & Needles was one of those books where after the first chapter, I knew I was going to like it. Well, I really liked the author's voice--I wasn't sure yet about Ellie Watts. After just one chapter, I knew I was in for a good story and I was right. I am giving this book

I did not really read any reviews about this book prior to reading it. From the cover and the description, I knew it's going to be a dark read but I thought it was going to be your typical romance novel of Ellie and Camden falling in love throughout the novel and we get a happily ever after in the end. Nope.

There was romance--dark and sexy and dirty--but I gotta warn you now that it ends in a cliffhanger. So many things happened in this book. There was so much action and I didn't know where the heck the story was going to take me and I was glued to my book. I couldn't stop reading!

Now, about Ellie Watts. She's one of most complex characters I've read in romance in a while. She has both physical and emotional scars. Most of the books was told in first person through Ellie, but we also get flashbacks told in third person. I wasn't sure I was going to like Ellie. She was a rough, selfish and self-centered character, but as I kept reading and learned more about her and her history (while couldn't completely like her) I warmed up to her and even cared for her.

She's a grifter and when we first met her, she was running away again. She just screwed over the wrong man (again) and she decided to go back to her hometown for the first time since she was nineteen. She goes to her Uncle Jim, who was reluctant to help her, but let's he her stay for a few nights. By chance she meets someone she knew from high school, Camden McQueen. They don't have a great history and, of course, Ellie couldn't resist pulling a con on Camden after she saw his cash register in his tattoo parlor. And, then, the story took a different turn and... O.M.G!! Read it!!

Of course, I have to mention the hot, sexy, delicious (yep, delicious--I don't use the word lightly) tattooed man, Camden McQueen. Like Ellie, he's also complex. He had his sweet moments, but he could also turn dark and you don't really know what he's going to do or how he was going to react.

If you want an atypical romance, you need to read Sins & Needles. But you're going to want to start reading it when you have a big chunk of time because once you start, it's kind of hard to put down. I enjoyed the characters, all the action, all the twists and turns, and all the steaminess. Sins & Needles is a wild roller-coaster kind of read told in a fantastic way and it was freaking fantastic. And that ending... ARGH!! I need book two now!


**We featured Sins & Needles last week--get a taste of it by reading an excerpt here.**

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cover Reveal: Rock Courtship by Nalini Singh

Friday, September 12, 2014 with
Hello everyone,
Today, I'm doing a cover reveal.* Now, we don't often participate in a lot of cover reveals here but when we do, it's usually for an author whose books we love and basically auto-buy.


If you didn't know already, Nalini Singh (author of the excellent Psy-Changeling series and Guild Hunter series) is writing a contemporary romance featuring rock stars! The first in the series is called Rock Addiction, which is already out--you can read my review here. The next in the series is a novella called Rock Courtship and it will feature characters we've already met in Rock Addiction. I'm really looking forward to reading this couple's story.

Without further ado, here is the cover of Rock Courtship.

What happens when the Gentleman of Rock decides to play dirty?

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man...and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.
Rock Courtship will be out on September 30th!

For more info about Rock Courtship  the best place to go is Nalini's website/blog. She's also pretty active on Twitter.

Have a great weekend everyone and happy reading,
Michelle



*Thank you to The Rock Stars of Romance for the opportunity to be part of this cover reveal.