Tuesday, July 30, 2013

TOUR STOP: CIPHER (CIPHER #1) BY CINDI MADSEN [Rockstar Book Tours]


FTC DISCLAIMER: This book was provided to me as an Advance Review Copy via Rockstar Blog Tours for an honest review.

CIPHER (CIPHER #1)
by Cindi Madsen

   Published: July 2, 2013 by HarperTeen
   Format: Hardcover and e-book
   Source: Advance Review Copy
   Genre: Young Adult
   Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Synopsis ... 
Summer Davis sees deaths before they happen. She attempts to live a normal life by focusing on the dance team and her quarterback boyfriend. But then the way-too-cheery Angel of Death shows up and tells her she’s a Cipher—a person chosen to help people who are going to die resolve problems with their loved ones. Ashlyn Moore, one of Summer’s classmates, is going to die, and she needs Summer’s help before that happens.

It’s nearly impossible to get through to Ashlyn, who surrounds herself with chess nerds and geeks and makes it clear she doesn’t want to be friends. Desperate to complete her Cipher task before it’s too late, Summer turns to Troy, the guy who’s always been there for her and one of the few people she can trust. With his help, she makes progress. In fact, the closer she gets to Ashlyn and her friends, the more she feels like she’s finally found where she belongs.

As the clock starts running down on Ashlyn’s life, Summer decides to change her objective. She’s going to save her new friend before it’s too late—even if it means messing with fate.
As a new blogger, I've made every effort I can to fully embrace the world of book blogging. Part of that is signing up with book touring companies and I couldn't be happier or more honored for Cipher to be the first be the first book that makes a tour stop here with Rockstar Book Tours. Cipher is a book I truly enjoyed reading and there were just so many things that I loved about it. In addition to this review, I've got an interview with author, Cindi Madsen, and a giveaway! Make sure you read this WHOLE post for all the goodies.

From the beginning to the end, I thoroughly enjoying Madsen's Cipher. The characters were engaging, the story was unique, and the pace was fast. It didn't take me long to plow through the book.

As a former dancer myself, I really appreciated the fact Summer was a dancer and that it was something so important to her and defining for her. I also really enjoyed the careful crafting of the individual characters.

For example, Summer's best friend at the beginning of the book is a girl named Kendall. Kendall is that friend that almost everyone has had -- the fair weather friend. The one who is the when times are good and never when they are bad. The friend that walks all over you to get to the top and smiles while she does it, saying sorry along the way, but never means it. She's the one who wants you around to validate her behavior and her life choices (good or bad), but doesn't want to have to call on her own conscience.

I also really, truly loved the development of Summer and Ashlyn's friendship. Even though Summer knows that Ashlyn is going to die, she eventually (after some prodding and some soul searching) commits herself fully to the friendship. Her bravery in loving Ashlyn and being her best friend and growing to need her and be needed by her shows a selfless side that you don't necessarily think Summer is capable of at the beginning of the book. Her character growth is so impressive and the story of their friendship is not at all contrived and is so authentic and real.

Another huge selling point for this book is that it carefully and realistically depicts some very big issues for teen. One of these issues is the topic of sex. At the beginning of the novel, Summer is in a relationship with Cody, the star quarterback, who is constantly pressing Summer towards something she isn't ready for. How Summer feels about it and the way that Madsen depicts this is so honest -- it's the way any teen or young adult who has been in this situation has felt. The thoughts that raced through Summer's mind, the issues that kept getting stuck in her mind, yet her deep desire to not want to let go of yet another person in her life -- it was all so accurate.

This is one of Madsen's gifts as an author: Writing the thoughts of her characters in a way that is so believable. They are consistent with the way any teen would feel. As an adult who is far enough separated from her high school experience to reflect honestly, but also someone close enough to still remember how these things felt, I can honestly say I feel like Madsen was in my head. 

It was hard for me to review this book because there were so many things that I loved and I think the premise is amazing and unique. I enjoyed the book thoroughly. But I did have a few things that I didn't love ...

I felt like some of Troy and Summer's arguments were unrealistic and unclear and I felt like they should've gotten together a little sooner. I also felt that there were some scenes that were kind of choppy and that didn't flow. 

However, those things in general didn't change the fact that I did really, really like this book and that I would recommend it to anyone! This book has so much character and heart and in reality, it deals with some of life's toughest questions. Everyone on earth dies. Yet we choose to establish relationships and love in the face of that, even once we've been burned death before and have felt that pain. This book will be successful and will really resonate not only with teens who are just starting to contemplate these things, but with people of all ages. Cipher will inspire readers to be brave and courageous, even when life is at its most difficult, and will possibly even change the way readers relate to those important people in their life in the face of uncertain futures.


My Rating:




In addition to being a proud tour host for Cipher today, I am also super lucky to have gotten to interview the amazing author, Cindi Madsen. Let's learn a little bit about her ...

About the author ...
Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music, dancing, and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children. She is the author of YA novels All the Broken Pieces and Demons of the Sun, adult contemporary romances Falling for Her FiancĂ© and Act Like You love Me, and the women's fiction novel Cinderella Screwed Me Over.

Heather Hearts Books: Dance plays a really important role in Summer's life. Were you a dancer? If so, what kinds? (I was a dancer, so I loved this element of the book!)
Cindi Madsen: I was on the dance team in high school. We competed in the state championship & performed at half-time of the basketball games. I've always loved to dance, whether it was on a team or free-style and can still be found rocking out in my house, music blaring. And it makes me so happy to know you're a fellow dancer. :) 

HHB: How did you come up with the idea for Cipher?
CM: There are quite a few stories about ghosts coming back to try to make amends, or get someone alive to make amends for them. I thought what if there was someone to help people do that before they died? What would that job be like? And instead of having a dark reaper to bring the news, I thought it'd be funny to have a glittery, slightly ditzy Angel of Death. 

HHB: Did anyone inspire any of your characters or part of their personalities?
CM: I once asked my best friend why we didn't hang out sooner. She was a grade younger and both of us had been needing a close friend for years. We knew of each other, but once we had classes together and started hanging out it was instant friendship. So the inspiration was more about finding that perfect friend, than so much their personalities. I did once see twins who resembled Darren and Aaron at a dance I chaperoned (just saying chaperoned makes me feel old). I thought, they're so interesting, I have to put them in a book. And there were a couple boys in my teenage years who provided inspiration for Cody. They weren't bad guys, just definitely wanted things I didn't & I think a lot of girls go through the same thing. 

HHB: How do you eat your Oreos? (Since we know how Summer prefers hers!)
CM: :) My husband thinks I'm a weirdo, but I prefer the regular Oreos over the doublestuf. I like to dip half of one in milk till it's slightly soggy then shove the whole thing in my mouth. When I have ice cream sundaes, I put Oreos in my min-chopper and then pour them over my ice cream. 

HHB: Why did you pick San Diego as the location for Cipher? 
CM: I lived there for 5 years and the beach is one of my favorite places. I knew I wanted it to be the backdrop and that it'd be one thing that brought Summer & Ashlyn together. I live in Colorado now & I love it, but I miss the beach. 

HHB: As a teen, what was your circle of friends like? 
CM: For a long time, I was a loner. No one was really mean to me, I was just alone, and it sucked. My junior year, I started hanging out with Amanda, the best friend I mentioned above. She's still one of my very best friends. When I saw she liked the real me, I felt more comfortable being the real me, not just around her, but all the time. Someone once asked her "What did you do to Cindi? She's so fun now." And Amanda said, "She's always been that fun, you were just too stupid to realize it." See why I love her? We hung out with a couple groups and we had a lot of guy friends, but we could be doing absolutely nothing & laughing our butts off. We went through boyfriend ups & downs together. When I wrote my first book, she was my first reader. To be a little mushy, mushy, she honestly changed my life, & it's why she's in the dedication to this book, along with the other awesome girlfriends I've had. 

HHB: Why did you want to be a writer?
CM: I always had stories going in my head & before I'd fall asleep at night, I needed to get them to a happily ever after ending. I never thought about writing them down until I'd had my first baby. Once I started, everything clicked into place. It made me happy and I knew it was what I wanted to do.

A special thanks goes out to Cindi Madsen and Rockstar Book Tours for making this interview possible! I'm so honored to have had her interview for this blog!

And finally, we have THE GIVEAWAY, furnished by Rockstar Tours!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 13


The topic for day 13 of the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) is under-appreciated books.

This is a very fun and difficult topic for me because there are so many books out there that I don't believe get enough attention!

Ultimately, though, I have to go with one entire series -- The Last Year by Trisha Leigh.

The Last Year is easily my favorite dystopian/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic series of the past few years and the books in the series are some of my favorite books ever.

The field of dystopian/post-apocalyptic YA literature is so crowded right now and so many of the books feel like they are just recycled pieces and parts of other popular books that went before them. The Last Year series is nothing like that.

Here's a peek at the first book ...

SUMMER RUINS (THE LAST YEAR #4)
by Trisha Leigh

   Published: July 24, 2012 by CreateSpace Independant
   Publishing Platform
   Format: Paperback and E-Book
   Genre: Young Adult
   Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis ... 
In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.

Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.

Then she meets Lucas, everything changes.

Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.

It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.

And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.
I've also reviewed the third and fourth book in the past (Betrayals in Spring and Summer Ruins). The e-books are SUPER affordable and they are really well paced, fast, and entertaining reads. They always keep your mind moving and one step ahead, trying to figure out what will happen next or to unravel a mystery the characters are facing.

This series is truly YA lit gold. And can we just briefly talk about the beautiful covers? They are all STUNNING. And if you put them all together in order, they make up one picture. The design is just stellar and so inviting. I'm not going to lie, I saw the pretty cover on the first book and thought to myself, 'Gorgeous cover, $3.99? Let's give it a shot.' And I'm SO glad I did because it opened me up to a whole new world, not just in reading the books but in how I think about YA books. This is the series that inspired me to start blogging and reviewing. Part of that is because the author, Trisha Leigh (follow her on Twitter) is so kind and inviting and has always been so nice to me.

Trisha Leigh also writes an NA series under the pen name Lyla Payne. The first two books in the Whitman University series are Broken at Love and By Referral Only (recommended for readers over 18). She has a new YA series in the works as well called The Historians.

So go check those books out -- they're awesome reads anytime and if you're looking for something new for your summer reading list and is exciting and all kinds of amazing, get The Last Year!

Tomorrow will be the second to last day of the challenge and the topic is: Tell us your deal breakers.

xoxo,
Heather 

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xoxo,
Heather

Saturday, July 27, 2013

15 Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 12


With only a few days left in the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine), we've reached the topic of blogger fatigue.

I can honestly say I haven't experienced a lot of blogger fatigue yet. Since I'm still newer, I haven't come up against a lot of it. However, when I was at camp with the team I coach, I did anticipate that I would post and that I would have plenty of time and energy at night and I was so, so wrong. I'm not sure why I thought I'd be able to manage it -- I've taken teams to this camp before and I know how mentally and physically draining it is.

I also experienced fatigue when I was at BEA 2013. I really wanted to blog throughout my experience and though I did start posts, I was so tired most nights, I just didn't have the energy. And once BEA was over, I was trying really hard to make the most of my time in NYC and not spend much time in the apartment or on the computer.

So in general, I'd say that traveling is when I've had the hardest time with it. However, the past three days I've been away and I have still managed to blog plenty. I think that part of it is because I'm doing a meme like this that gives me something to write about and keeps me active and gets my mind going, even if I feel it has stalled out. Usually, that gives me a boost of productivity. I've also started using a planner for the blog, just since I got back from camp, and since I have a set list of what to do for each day, that helps.

Tomorrow's topic: one under appreciated book everyone should read. I guarantee it'll be hard for me to pick just one!

xoxo,
Heather

Friday, July 26, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 11


I can't believe the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) is nearly over.

Today's topic: show off my five best blog posts.

Since I'm a newer blogger, I don't have a ton of posts to pick from, but I do have a few favorites ...

My first post ever: Betrayals in Spring (The Last Year #3) by Trisha Leigh
My review of The Last Year's final book -- it was my first ARC: Summer Ruins (The Last Year #4) by Trisha Leigh
I loved my review of this book: After Math (Off the Subject #1) by Denise Grover Swank
I also really enjoyed reviewing: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil
And I loved my first Waiting on Wednesday post: ARC Party Edition, 7.10.13

Up next: fighting blogger fatigue!

xoxo,
Heather

Friday Five -- 7.26.13 -- Weekend Reading Plans ...

My weekend technically began yesterday. My brother's best friend is getting married tomorrow and he is standing up in the wedding and we are all going, so we are a few hours north of our home and spending a lot of time relaxing. For me, relaxing means lots of reading.

Here are the books I'm working on this weekend ...

Cipher by Cindi Madsen

Sylo by D.J. MacHale
This book I was working on a few weekends ago, but some blog reviews and tours came up, so I had to set it aside. I'm hoping to finish it this weekend!

Forevermore by Cindi Miles

Ink by Amanda Sun
This is another returner -- I haven't gotten to finish it yet since I've been wrapped up in other books.

The Star Child by Stephanie Keyes

Make sure you check back here on Tuesday when I review Cipher and interview the author, Cindi Madsen. It's an awesome read you won't want to miss out on!

xoxo,
Heather

Thursday, July 25, 2013

15 Day Book Blogging Challenge -- Day 10 (belated)



I'm still trucking along with the 15 Day Book Blogging Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) even though I lost a few days there in the middle ...

Today's topic: how I choose what book to read next.

I have two storage containers in my room for my TBR (to be read) pile. One is a black bin that would hold easily four shoe boxes. The other is a huge shipping box that is currently holding about 50-60 books. And then of course there's my Nook, which is a cornucopia of books.

I also have a calendar. It's a little pink planner I keep in my purse and with me at all times that has me scheduled out as far as January 2014 with books that will be released that I own in one format or another OR the date that particular book is on tour with me and with which touring company (I'm part of many). I also mark down any book blitzes, cover reveals, or release day launches in that planner and keep a running list of book tours I've signed up for but not heard anything about and I check them off as I do.

What I choose to read is determined first by the calendar. This isn't a huge deal to me because I only choose to review books I'm generally interested in, so it doesn't really crimp my reading style. Also, I'm a super fast reader. I read Taken by Erin Bowman in less than 36 hours. I have finished more than one book in a day before. My all time high for reading in one week is 17.

Once a month, I go through and update my checklist and if I have paperback ARCs, I put them in order, too.

In my black bin, which is in front of my nightstand and near my bed there are two stacks. One is all my upcoming paperback ARCs in order. That's the stack closest to my bed. The other stack is books I've purchased myself for my own enjoyment, that were gifted to me, or that I received at BEA but have already been released. The stack closest to me or books on my Nook that I need to review always come first. But when I've got a day, I pick a book from other pile. I'm usually reading at least one from each.

Right now, I'm reading several books. Several are personal, two are coming up on my review calendar. I will review them all, of course, but the ones that are on my calendar take precedent. The books I'm reading today for review will change within 2-3 days, usually. Sometimes the ones I'm reading for my personal enjoyment take longer. The ARC/review pile in the black bin currently takes me through August and the first week of September.

In the big shipping box are ARCs and personal purchases. The paperback ARCs in that box are books that won't be released before the second week of September. I just went through the containers on Monday and circulated everything and update my list.

So it's not very exciting, but there it is -- that's how I choose my current read(s). And like I said, the calendar might seem restrictive, but it's the only way I'll stay on task and because I read so fast, I can get to whatever book I'm craving quickly.

xoxo,
Heather

TAKEN (TAKEN #1) BY ERIN BOWMAN

TAKEN (TAKEN #1)
by Erin Bowman

   Published: April 16, 2013 by HarperTeen
   Format: Hardcover and e-book
   Source: Self-purchased
   Genre: Young Adult
   My Rating:


Several months ago back, I was watching Tea Time and they mentioned this book. I attempted to get it when I was at BEA 2013 and meet the fabulous Erin Bowman herself, but by the time I got out of one line, there wasn't time to get into hers. Once BEA was over, I immediately made a trip down to Jackson McNally Books in NYC where I picked up this book. But it has been in my TBR pile for several weeks (not as long as some, though) while I read and reviewed other books.

This not the first time I've brought up Taken on this blog, either. In my first Waiting on Wednesday post, I mentioned it and the trilogy's second book, Frozen, which was shown during the Epic Reads/Tea Time ARC Party.

Finally, this past week I got to dive into Taken and I knew I was right about how amazing it would be. Bowman does an awesome job of world-building and setting the stage for Taken and the two novels that will follow it in the trilogy. 

In the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Gray and Blaine Weathersby, brothers living in the town of Claysoot, a community with a mysterious past. Claysoot finds itself enclosed by a wall. On the other side? No one knows. No one has lived to tell the tale. Climbers come back to Claysoot posthumously, their bodies charred to a crisp.

More mysteriously, every young man in Claysoot is taken from the community on his eighteenth birthday by a process they call "The Heist." Every young man without exception has been Heisted at the age of eighteen. The community's founders noticed the pattern after a few years of boys disappearing.

Even more mysteriously, none of the town's founders seem to remember how they got to Claysoot. They woke up as children, remembering only their siblings, many years prior to the beginning of this book.

It's the accepted standard of living in Claysoot. For this reason, boys begin something called "slatings" when they reach maturity at the age of 15. The town council assigns boys to girls in town on the premise that these girls will then sleep with them. This is the means by which they procreate.

Despite it being the accepted standard, it's by no means easy on the citizens of Claysoot. When we enter Claysoot, it's the eve of Blaine Weathersby's Heist and Gray, his younger brother is lamenting and dreading the evening. He's also living in fear -- his Heist will take place exactly one year from his brother's.

Once Blaine is Heisted, Gray finds a letter from his mother, one whose second page, ending, and possibly the solution to the problem of the Heists, is missing. With Emma, a girl Gray has been slated to whom he has always secretly loved, he begins to uncover the truth of his birth, the system of records in Claysoot, and believes he has found a loophole in the Heist, goes toe to toe with the wall, and survives the jump into the unknown.

Over the course of the novel, Emma and Gray's trust in people and in each other wavers and sometimes even shatters. The path they take is fascinating and riveting. I was clutching the book for dear life for the entire 36 hours it took me to finish it.

Now, I've read other reviews of this book. To me, this is a solid 4.5 hearts novel. Here's why: The pace was awesome, the world-building was superb, the plot was mostly fresh (which is difficult to find these days in the dystopian genre -- not every book can be like the Hunger Games. (In fact, those of us who love it loyally would prefer that not everything be just like it. Respect its originality, future writers! But I digress ...) To me, Bowman navigates the dystopian landscape well with her own spin on it. I felt like the novel made a bunch of unexpected, hairpin turns, which I crave. Did a few things remind me of other books? Sure. But there were so many other awesome things going on that it really wasn't that big of a deal to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and on the whole, it was distinctly its own entity.

Taken was so wonderfully paced and riveting, I was clutching the book for dear life for the entire 36 hours that it took me to devour it.

Bowman's second book in the trilogy, Frozen, will be released by HarperTeen on April 14, 2014 -- which is way, way too far away. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday -- 7.24.13

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

There are so many wonderful books that are coming out in the coming months that I just cannot wait for. Today, the standout on my list is Michelle Rowen's Countdown. I heard about it for the first time several weeks ago and I can't get it out of my mind. Here's the deal ...

COUNTDOWN by Michelle Rowen

Expected Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
3 seconds left to live. Once the countdown starts, it cannot be stopped.

2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.

Kira Jordan survived her family's murder and months on plague-devastated city streets with hard-won savvy and a low-level psi ability. She figures she can handle anything. Until she wakes up in a barren room, chained next to the notorious Rogan Ellis.

1 reason Kira will never, ever trust Rogan. Even though both their lives depend on it.

Their every move is controlled and televised for a vicious exclusive audience. And as Kira's psi skill unexpectedly grows and Rogan's secrets prove evermore deadly, Kira's only chance of survival is to risk trusting him as much as her instincts. Even if that means running head-on into the one trap she can't escape. 

Doesn't that sound awesome? It's right up my alley and it's a book I think a lot of readers will love, too. I've requested a galley of it on NetGalley and I've also volunteered to be part of a blog tour! Hopefully I'll be able to get my hands on it one way or another to review it ahead of time -- I have a feeling this book is going to be BIG and popular.

xoxo,
Heather 

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 9 (belated)


I'm still diligently working my way through the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine). 

Today's topic: Why I blog about books.

I love books, which I guess is the simplest answer and probably one most book bloggers will cite as their most important reason why. 

And for as much as I love to read books -- and it's a lot -- I love to talk about them almost as much. There are people out there who try to dumb down YA lit and are literary snobs, and that really bugs me. I used to be a literary snob. When I was in high school, I was known for loving books and writing and I was obsessed with Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Jane Austen, and many others. I didn't "read my age." I made an exception for Harry Potter, but that was it. 

In 2008, the cheerleaders I coached introduced me to The Twilight Saga just on the heels of Breaking Dawn's release. I was hooked immediately and that's when I began searching for other YA books. 

The truth about most YA books is that they AREN'T immature, poorly written, or anything of that sort. That's just the myth. These authors are writing to an audience that is well-read when it comes to the YA genre. They've read the staples and the old standbys. These readers might be teens, they might be 20-somethings (like me) or 30-somethings, they might even be someone's mom or grandma. The audience is diverse and expect the highest of quality, especially considering the success of the Harry Potter books -- all extremely well-written and appealing to all ages. Do they follow similar basic plot structures? Sure, sometimes. But there are no hard and fast rules, and just because the romance line of the plot may read similarly doesn't mean that each book/series isn't unique in its own way.

There are exceptions. There are some YA books that seriously undermine the intelligence of the audience, even if it was strictly teenagers. There are always a few bad apples, but literary fiction has that, too. Don't believe me? Read one of my favorite books, The Lovely Bones (teens, ask for your parents' permission ... it's a little creepy) by Alice Sebold, then go read her other book The Almost Moon. I could not make it to fifty pages in the latter book while I've read the former at least a dozen times. Bad books happen in every genre and sub-genre of literature.

But my point is that I loved to talk about all these literary books in class -- I still do, although if I never had to read The Scarlet Letter again, it'd be too soon. But there are so few means for talking about YA lit in person with other people. Goodreads is a great forum. But if you really want to spin a yarn about a YA book, blogging is the way to do it, and reading other blogs is just as rewarding.

So that's why I do it -- because I love books, and I really love to talk about them and I believe YA lit is deserving of being talked about all the time. 

Next up ... how I choose what book to read next.

xoxo,
Heather

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 8 (belated)

Despite being super busy, I am determined to follow through with my 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine).


Today's topic is 15 things of things that appeal to you on blogs ...

  • Clean design -- it doesn't have to be super fancy, just easy to read and find things.
  • Charismatic blogger. You know, seems friendly and helpful.
  • Blogs with tips for other bloggers. I love the sharing of ideas. We're all in this together and there's no harm in sharing knowledge.
  • A variety of posts -- not just reviews, but memes, blitzes, blog tours, etc.
  • Quality content! It's so much more important than design and it should always be priority one.
  • A variety of books -- I prefer mostly YA/NA blogs, but it's nice to see bloggers who review more than one genre within those.
  • Recaps of events where bloggers go. I'm a new blogger, so I've only been to BEA, so I love reading about other events like San Diego Comic Con or ALA. It gives me an idea of where I'm heading.
  • Blogs that offer blog tours. I've signed up for a bunch. I think it's a great way to really jump head first into blogging.
  • Blogs that occasionally have something non-book related. I did a post when Cory Monteith died. Some blogs review music occasionally or talk about trips. It's nice to see other sides of bloggers' personalities.
  • Blog rolls! If I love a particular blog, I love to see the others that they recommend. Odds are I'll love them, too!
  • Blogs with more than one author. I don't know that I would ever do it, but I love the idea of it and it's fun to see two bloggers (or more) collaborating.
  • Bloggers who don't just review the books that are upcoming and that have a release date, but books that they chose just for the sake of enjoyment.
  • New bloggers! Books are a wonderful source of enjoyment and in the digital age, it's really nice to see that there are still people who would rather pick up a book (or even an e-reader) and read.
  • Blogs with an easy to use mobile site. I know Blogger isn't great for that. But one blog that I LOVE that has an awesome mobile view is Nose Graze.
  • Blogs by people who clearly love to read and love to review and aren't just in it for the free books.
Up next on the challenge ... Why do I blog about books? 

xoxo,
Heather

Sunday, July 21, 2013

THIS STRANGE AND FAMILIAR PLACE (SO CLOSE TO YOU #2) BY RACHEL CARTER

This book was provided to me as an Advance Review Copy at BEA for an honest review.

THIS STRANGE AND FAMILIAR PLACE (SO CLOSE TO YOU #2)
by Rachel Carter

   Published: July 2, 2013 by HarperTeen
   Format: Hardcover and e-book
   Source: Advance Review Copy from author at BEA
   Genre: Young Adult
   My Rating:


This Strange and Familiar Place is a book that I received from Rachel Carter at a book signing at BEA 2013. I was so intrigued by the story that I got the second book even though I didn't own the first. I bought and tore through the first amazing installment in this series in a very short amount of time and was very grateful to have the ARC copy waiting on my night stand so I could dive right back into the amazing world that Carter has created.

The So Close to You series revolved around Lydia and her grandfather, who was obsessed with the rumored Montauk Project. In the first book, Lydia discovers that all her grandfathers "facts" -- that she'd mostly taken with a grain of salt -- were not only real, but even bigger than he imagined. After she descended into the Montauk Project's headquarters and found herself taken back to 1944, she struggled with whether or not to help her family, so save her grandfather from a fatherless childhood or to leave the timeline intact.

But when she reemerges from the Montauk Project and attempts to return to 2012, she realizes that the timeline had indeed been altered, and she finds herself in a life that is most certainly not her own. A life where her parents barely speak, where she is an emo and sullen teenager, with a boyfriend she would never have chosen in the life she once led.

When Wes, a member of the Montauk Project, finds her after a gruesome separation back in the 1944 timeline, she decides to leave with him, pose as a member of the Montauk Project, and return to the 1980s to help pinpoint where the timeline changes. Once again, she comes up against family members who are hers ... yet, not hers. And once again, she and Wes find their relationship to pulled in all directions and challenged by the fate that Wes knows is coming -- death, as a result of too much time traveling.

Carter's second installment is even more gripping than her first. I was unable to put the book down and it had to come with me wherever I went. In less than 48 hours, I'd devoured the whole thing ... and was left with a slight book hangover, because I'm dying for the third installment.

Carter's writing and the research that goes into each of her novels floors me. Her carefully crafted world and even more carefully crafted conspiracy theory blow me away. Watching her characters run across decades past is fascinating and thrilling. And she concludes the book with the perfect cliffhanger, leaving readers hopeful and excited for the final book. The third book, Wes and Lydia's final chapter, cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Book Haul (7.20.13)

Over the past couple weeks, I've accumulated a few new books to add to my collection. It's not like I NEED more books. My TBR pile has more than 60 new books in it and that doesn't count what's on my Nook. But when I need to relax and take my mind of things, I like to shop. I can't always afford it, but if I can, it's what I like to do.

I was particularly stressed on Thursday afternoon, so I did a little book shopping. Between that, some recent Nook purchases, and a gift from a fellow blogger, I have amassed some awesome new summer titles and a couple awesome ARCs.

SUDDENLY ROYAL
by Nichole Chase

Published on April 23, 2013 by HarperCollins (Avon)

I received this review copy from InkSlinger PR (check out their banner on my sidebar). I'm currently reading this and will be reviewing it and posting an exclusive interview with author Nichole Chase this week!
Samantha Rousseau is used to getting her hands dirty. Working toward a master’s degree in wildlife biology while helping take care of her sick father, she has no time for celebrity gossip, designer clothes, or lazy vacations. So when a duchess from the small country of Lilaria invites her to dinner, Samantha assumes it’s to discuss a donation for the program. The truth will change the course of her life in ways she never dreamed.

Alex D’Lynsal is trying to keep his name clean. As crown prince of Lilaria, he’s had his share of scandalous headlines, but the latest pictures have sent him packing to America and forced him to swear off women—especially women in the public eye. That is, until he meets Samantha Rousseau. She’s stubborn, feisty, and incredibly sexy. Not to mention heiress to an estate in his country, which makes her everyone’s front-page news.

While Sam tries to navigate the new world of politics and wealth, she will also have to dodge her growing feelings for Alex. Giving in to them means more than just falling in love; it would mean accepting the weight of an entire country on her shoulders.

TAKEN
by Erin Bowman

Published on April 16, 2013 by HarperCollins

I am also currently reading Taken. I had to buy it this week after last week's awesome ARC Party on Epic Reads and seeing the cover for the sequel, Frozen.
There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

PROXY
by Alex London

Published on June 18, 2013 by Philomel

When I went into B&N on Thursday, I had a list of books I was looking to get and this was not on the list, but I'd read about it and when I saw it, I had to have it.
Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

PULSE
by Patrick Carman

Published on February 26, 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books

Pulse is a book I saw featured on Tea Time several months ago and have been dying to read it. The second book in the series, Tremor, was featured on the ARC Party.
From New York Times bestselling author Patrick Carman, a teen fantasy-adventure of epic proportions. In 2051, some teens have a “pulse,” the power to move objects with their minds. Compulsively readable, with thrilling action scenes and a tender love story.

The year is 2051, and the world is still recognizable. With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and Dylan has the talent, too.

In riveting action scenes, Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters so powerful they will flatten their enemies by uprooting street lights, moving boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with great talent, the mind—and the heart—can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she’ll have to harness the power of both.

Patrick Carman’s Pulse trilogy is a stunning, action-filled triumph about the power of the mind—and the power of love.

LEGEND
by Marie Lu

Published on November 19, 2011 by Putnam Juvenile 

I've decided to finally jump on the Legend train. Marie Lu's comments about books that I read and love are often featured on the cover or the jacket somewhere, and I've heard wonderful things about the series. I was able to get the first book in paperback and save a little money, too.
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

PRODIGY
by Marie Lu

Published on January 29, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile 

Since I purchased Legend, it only makes sense that I also bought Prodigy as well ...
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.

TEARDROP
by Lauren Kate

To be published on October 22, 2013 by Delacorte Press

I liked Lauren Kate's series, Fallen. I had some fundamental problems with it, but I did finish the series. Teardrop seems beautiful and it's getting good reviews.

This copy was provided to me by my blogger friend Sarah (bluereadergal on Twitter and owner of Every Day Books of Gems blog), who was able to go to ALA and get two copies when I was not able to. This was a book I missed out on at BEA and it was the one book I missed out on that I was seriously depressed about. So a BIG thanks goes out to Sarah -- and make sure you check out her blog!
Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux's mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn't, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.

But Ander doesn't know Eureka's darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance—a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined. From Lauren Kate comes an epic saga of heart-stopping romance, devastating secrets, and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away.

ONE
by Leigh Ann Kopans

Self-published on July 11, 2013

I've had my eye on this book for awhile. My author friend, Trisha Leigh, posted a picture of the ARC when she received it. When I looked it up, I just knew I had to have it. I have this book on my Nook.
When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY
by Susan Dennard

Published on July 24, 2012 by HarperTeen

While I was at BEA, the second book in this series, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, was being signed by author Susan Dennard. I was in another line at the time, so I wasn't able to get over to get the second book, but I made a note of the series. Luckily, I'd only been home a couple weeks when it went on sale for Nook.
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia…

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

PIVOT POINT
by Kasie West

Published on February 12, 2012 by HarperTeen

I've been wanting to get my hands on this book since this past winter and recently, it went on sale on Epic Deals (part of HarperTeen's Epic Reads) for only a $1.99 for the Nook version. Naturally, I had to have it.
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

MIND GAMES
by Kiersten White

Published on February 19, 2012 by HarperTeen

I got Mind Games on the same Epic Deals sale that I got Pivot Point on. I've almost bought this book several times in the store, so I was really happy to see it on Epic Deals.
Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.

Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways…or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

So that's my haul for the past few weeks -- I'll do another one in a week or two! Make sure to check out Epic Reads and their Epic Deals section for some awesome discounted titles!

xoxo,
Heather 

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 7 (belated)


I'm still working my way through the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine). I've fallen behind since I was out of town for a few days.

The first topic today is blogging quirks.

I don't have many quirks when it comes to blogging. I do have more quirks when it comes to reading books in general. For example, I don't dog ear books. Ever. It just does not happen. I'm also a lover a good quotes, so I flag anything in the books I read with post-it flags.

I know that's kind of a boring post ... But the next one will be more interesting! Fifteen things that appeal to you on blogs, coming right up. :)

xoxo,
Heather

Thursday, July 18, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 6 (belated)

I apologize for being behind on the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge. I've been at cheerleading camp with the girls I coach and have had literally no time to myself ..



Today's topic on the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) is how I shop for books ... 

Well, I guess I should say that I'm always shopping for books. I can't go to Target or Meijer or Walmart without looking for a possible book to buy. However, I do try to keep most of my book shopping to Barnes and Noble, and here's why. I don't want brick and mortar, actual, physical book stores to go away. Technology is fabulous (hello, book blogging), but my quality of life would be seriously diminished if I couldn't go into a bookstore and smell that fabulous new book smell and enjoy the process of picking out books. 

That's not to say I don't order online -- I do. I do order on Amazon, especially if I have a gift card. I make a habit of selling my school books back to Amazon that way so that I can reward myself for a semester of hard work with books for pleasure. And I do own a Nook, so I do buy books digitally. I've had to be careful about that though because when you're not entering a card number, I've noticed you go through money pretty fast. It's easy to lose track!

I do have a list that I keep updated of books to be released and I try to keep a priority list going between that and books that are already released that I want to read. I try to stick to it, but it's not a foolproof system. I always find something not on my list that I absolutely have to have.

Near my birthday and Christmas (which are close to each other), I do go into B&N and make a huge list of all the books I want and update it for my parents when they shop for me, because that's usually what I want. I do get other things, but the majority of my gifts are books or something book related. 


Up next as I catch up on the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge ... Blogging Quirks

xoxo,
Heather

Sunday, July 14, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 5

Today's topic for the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (from Good Books and Good Wine) is to recommend a book that is a tearjerker.

As a rule, I stay away from books that are super sad or downers.

I'd say the books that made me tear up the most were probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- it was the end of an era and it was so beautifully written. It was a series that spanned my childhood and into young adulthood. For sentimental reasons, it made me cry.

A book that did make me cry that was wonderful was Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares. It's the final installment of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book. But it is literally heart wrenching. Read my first day post of the 15 Day Book Blogger challenge if you need to to prepare yourself.

Beyond that, I'm not going to add anymore tearjerker stuff because I'm very sad over the news about Cory Monteith. :(

xoxo,
Heather

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 4 (belated)

Hi everyone!

Yesterday I was super busy getting the team I coach ready for our upcoming trip to camp and inadvertently missed day four of the Book Blogger Challenge, so here it is ...


Yesterday's topic on the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) was the last time I threw a book across the room.

My answer here is pretty boring ... Never. As I shared in my confessions post, I am OCD about the care of my book. I don't throw or abuse them. I keep them in the best condition possible. However, I guess the sentiment here is that I was angry or frustrated by something, so I can share one story of that.

When I started reading Breaking Dawn way back when, when I got to the Jacob-narrated section, I had to stop reading. And I put it down for like three weeks before I came back to it. I was just so annoyed with him. I eventually came back to it since all my friends had finished it and I wad tired of trying to not be spoiled. 

I'll be posting the day 5 topic -- which is the number I'm actually supposed to be on -- momentarily. The subject? Tear jerkers.  

xoxo,
Heather

Dear Lea Michele ...

I know that the devastating Glee news of the day is not technically literary. I but I would be willing to bet that a lot of people who read this blog and who read Young Adult Lit are Glee fans. I felt compelled to right this ... It may seem silly or trivial, but I just needed to. It's also on my Tumblr.

Dear Lea,

I don't know you. I'm just a fan.

But for so many other fans like me -- and there are more of us than can be counted -- you are an inspiration. For every little girl who has ever dreamed of being on Broadway or moving to New York City when she "grows up." For every person who has Broadway show tunes on their iTunes play list instead of Top 40 -- or, even better, for every fan who chooses to listen Glee covers by you and Cory Monteith on repeat.

I (and all your fans) don't know you and we can't even begin to imagine what you're going through. But I know that I personally am heartbroken -- and not just that we lost a phenomenal talent who was too young, the male star of our favorite show, or a character won't be explored -- but for you. My first thought was about you.

I relate to you. I also relate to your character. I've always wanted to find the kind of man you found.

Please know that whatever struggles he faced and whatever the reason for this tragedy ends up being, true fans remember him for being a good man, a courageous actor who played a role that gave other young adults and teenagers confidence, and for all the wonderful things he was, not whatever afflicted him. He is remembered for being an amazing person -- nothing less.

I know I'm not the only fan, either, who wishes I knew you, not to prod and poke at you like the paparazzi are no doubt going to do, but to give you a hug and tell you in person I'm praying for you. Know that as you grieve, you have hundreds of thousands of fans praying for you, pouring love and tears out for you, and who will always support whatever you do and will do whatever we can to help make you feel strong.

We are behind you. We love you. We love Cory. We will never forget the good he did and we will never stop believin' in you.

Love,
Heather (and presumably the Glee/Finchel/Monchele Fandom)

Friday, July 12, 2013

SO CLOSE TO YOU (SO CLOSE TO YOU #1) BY RACHEL CARTER

SO CLOSE TO YOU (SO CLOSE TO YOU #1)
by Rachel Carter

   Published: July 10, 2012 by HarperTeen
   Format: Paperback and e-book
   Source: Self-purchased
   Genre: Young Adult
   My Rating:


When I was at BEA 2013, I developed a set of rules for myself on the second and third day, after I drove myself insane by running around trying to get to every single solitary YA signing that interested me. (Impossible. All YA signings interested me.) One of my rules was not to get in line for a second or third book in a series if I didn't already own the first book(s).

I only broke this rule a few times. One of these times was getting in line for Rachel Carter's This Strange and Familiar Place, the second book in this trilogy.

After reading about the series in the program and online, I couldn't help myself. I'm a big fan of conspiracy theory stories and also of books that involve time travel. I felt like this series had something to offer that I hadn't seen elsewhere.

My gut was right.

As soon as I got home, I went out and bought So Close You -- and I loved every second of it. If I hadn't been crazy busy while I was reading it, I probably could've finished it in one sitting. It was one of those books where you clear through a ton of pages and don't notice it until you've finished 130 pages.

So Close to You is the story of Lydia Bentley, a 17 year old from Montauk. Lydia lives with her parents and also, with her grandfather, Peter, who is troubled by a childhood spent without his father. His father, a member of the army who was stationed in Montauk, went missing when he was only a small child and Peter is sure that he was taken from them by The Montauk Project. The Montauk Project was a set of so-called experiment performed at the Camp Hero Air Force Base -- but because they were supposed to be "top secret," no proof exists.

Lydia and her grandfather have long been frequent visitors at the now defunct base. For the most part, Lydia doesn't believe in the conspiracy theory that Peter believes to be true, but she continues to go with him to explore and try to find some proof. When Lydia and her grandfather are getting ready to leave Camp Hero after another fruitless search, she realizes she left her sweater behind near one of the barracks. When she goes back to get it, she finds that the previously sealed door is now open. She sneaks down into the building and finds herself on a machine that transports her in time back to 1944, just days before her great-grandfather's disappearance. Over the course of the book, Lydia struggles to figure out what is right -- to save her family and her grandfather from a lifetime without his father and risk changing the course of history forever (to the point where she may not exist) or to simply gather information to return to the present with to her grandfather.

I read several reviews on Goodreads and while some reviewers weren't thrilled with the book, I'm glad I didn't listen to them because I was enthralled by it! I think that the plot is really brilliant. I love books with a historical aspect to them and So Close to You definitely satisfies that. You can tell that Carter really put a lot of time and energy into researching this project and making her novel feel authentic and accurate. You can really appreciate the love that she put into this book.

When I first saw the cover of So Close to You my initial thought was that it reminded me of the Wizard of Oz, which happens to be one of my favorite stories. I wasn't altogether wrong. While this particular story didn't involve traveling over any rainbows, it certainly had that sort of feel to it, which it one of the highest compliments I can give, given my Oz obsession. So Close to You is a great novel that teens and adults can appreciate and enjoy. It's an incredibly smart book that engages the audience and proves that occasionally, there is more to life than what meets the eye.

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 3


Today's Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) topic: all about your book blogging BFFs.

Because I'm new to the book blogging world, I haven't gotten to know a lot of other bloggers yet. However, I was so lucky at BEA 2013 to be sitting behind Eileen (Singing and Reading in the Rain) and Ashley (Nose Graze). They are super sweet girls and I'm already looking forward to seeing them next year at BEA 2013. They were so sweet and kind to me and I didn't feel at all like a brand new blogger in a big scary world of experts! Here we are together, waiting in line for 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil.

Eileen, Ashley, and me -- please excuse the awful hair day I was having. :)
I'm always looking to make new friends and I think the great thing about book bloggers is that it's hard to find someone you don't have something in common with.

That's it for today's topic. Tomorrow, I get to recommend a tear jerker!

xoxo,
Heather

Thursday, July 11, 2013

15 Day Book Blogger Challenge -- Day 2


Today's topic for the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge (started by April at Good Books and Good Wine) is bedtime reading rituals.

I do read every night before I go to bed and I have for most of my life. When I don't, I really notice a difference in my stress levels and anxiety at night and in the morning. I usually read from two different books at bedtime, one print book, one e-book. I always try to give myself a time limit, but it's rare that I stick to it. Usually, I just read 'til I get tired or until I get to a point where I can stop without staying up, wondering what will happen next.

I have two Golden Retrievers and my parents have one. Juliette is two and a half and she loves bedtime reading or anytime I'm reading, because she loves to put her head in my lap and she knows it means I'm staying put and I won't go anywhere. My youngest, Mira, is just seven months old and she has not yet learned to appreciate this -- in fact, she will rip a book a part if she thinks it's getting too much attention from me.

In a perfect world, I would get to read before I go to sleep, and read when I first wake up in the morning. When I lived on my own and in my own apartment, I did. But since I'm living at my parents in an effort to save some money so I can eventually move to New York, that's not always feasible. Our house is like Grand Central Station in the morning.

So that's it for my bedtime reading ritual. Tomorrow, we're onto Blogging BFFs. :)

xoxo,
Heather

Waiting on Wednesday 7.10.2013: ARC Party Edition

One thing I've looked forward to doing most with this blog is a Waiting on Wednesday post. There are always so many books that I am looking forward to and I love to talk about them!

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

I couldn't have picked a better Wednesday to start. Epic Read hosted an online ARC Party today during their regularly scheduled Tea Time. They opened boxes upon boxes of ARCs for upcoming books. Here are the titles I'm looking most forward to ...

INFINITE (NEWSOUL #3) by Jodi Meadows

Expected Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
DESTRUCTION The Year of Souls begins with an earthquake—an alarming rumble from deep within the earth—and it’s only the first of greater dangers to come. The Range caldera is preparing to erupt. Ana knows that as Soul Night approaches, everything near Heart will be at risk.

FLIGHT 
Ana’s exile is frightening, but it may also be fortuitous, especially if she can convince her friends to flee Heart and Range with her. They’ll go north, seeking answers and allies to stop Janan’s ascension. And with any luck, the newsouls will be safe from harm’s reach.

CHOICE 
The oldsouls might have forgotten the choice they made to give themselves limitless lifetimes, but Ana knows the true cost of reincarnation. What she doesn’t know is whether she’ll have the chance to finish this one sweet life with Sam, especially if she returns to Heart to stop Janan once and for all.

With gorgeous romance and thrilling action, the final book in the Incarnate trilogy offers a brilliant conclusion to the compelling questions of this fascinating world, where one new girl is the key to the lives of millions.
Incarnate was one of my favorite reads of 2012 and I was eagerly awaiting January 2013 for its follow-up, Asunder, both of which I finished in one sitting. Check out my reviews (Incarnate and Asunder) of both if you need convincing, but the Newsoul series is unlike anything else out there.

GREAT by Sara Benincasa

Expected Release Date: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
This young adult novel, the author’s first, is inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby, a novel still read by just about every American student in middle school or high school. In this novel, there are parallel stories of deceit and tragedy—one between the narrator and her celebrity, nouveau riche mother; the other concerning one mysterious young woman’s campaign to insinuate herself into the life of a beautiful ingĂ©nue. Set in the Hamptons over the course of one tragic summer, the novel’s narrator witnesses and becomes fascinated by the efforts of the mysterious young woman, and becomes partly implicated in a tragedy that shakes the summer community and probably punctuates the end of her adolescence and the beginning of her adulthood.

Two upcoming books that were featured on the ARC Party were Romily Bernard's Find Me and Katie Cotugno's How to Love, both of which I acquired at BEA. I'll be reading and reviewing them soon.

FIND ME by Romily Bernard

Expected Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Harper Teen
"Find Me." These are the words written on Tessa Waye's diary. The diary that ends up with Wick Tate. But Tessa's just been found...dead.

Wick has the right computer-hacking skills for the job, but little interest in this perverse game of hide-and-seek. Until her sister Lily is the next target. Then Griff, trailer-park boy next door and fellow hacker, shows up, intent on helping Wick.

Is a happy ending possible with the threat of Wick's deadbeat dad returning, the detective hunting him sniffing around Wick instead, and a killer taunting her at every step?

Foster child. Daughter of a felon. Loner hacker girl. Wick has a bad attitude and sarcasm to spare.

But she's going to find this killer no matter what.

Because it just got personal.

HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno

Expected Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Before: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

ELUSION by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam

Expected Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications—or consequences—of real life.

Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.

Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion—accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous— Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty…a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

Suspense, thrills, and romance fuel this near-future story about the seductive nature of a perfect virtual world, and how far one girl will go to uncover the truth behind the illusions.

AVALON by Mindee Arnett

Expected Release Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light years from First Earth—and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy

Expected Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
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.

Harvey laughed to himself in a sad way and rubbed his eyes. “You want me to help you with a list of things you won’t disclose to me.” He leaned forward and bit the skin around his thumb. “Classic.”
“You won’t regret it.”
“But—”
“Harvey,” I said, my voice low. “Trust me.”
I knew what this looked like. It looked like I was using Harvey. But here was the reality of the situation: the minute my life went from semi-permanent to most likely temporary, I decided to latch on to everything in my world that had always been permanent, and for me, Harvey was so permanent he was concrete.

CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge
Expected Release Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom—all because of a reckless bargain her father struck. And since birth, she has been training to kill him.

Betrayed by her family yet bound to obey, Nyx rails against her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, she abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, disarm him, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her. As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. But even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, could she refuse her duty to kill him?

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

THE BROKENHEARTED by Amelia Kahaney
Expected Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Prima ballerina Anthem Fleet is closely guarded by her parents in their penthouse apartment. But when she meets the handsome Gavin at a party on the wrong side of town, she is immediately drawn into his dangerous world. Then, in a tragic accident, Anthem falls to her death. She awakes in an underground lab, with a bionic heart ticking in her chest. As she navigates her new life, she uncovers the sinister truth behind those she trusted the most, and the chilling secret of her family lineage…and her duty to uphold it.

The Dark Knight meets Cinder in this gripping and cinematic story of heartbreak and revenge. From Alloy Entertainment, this inventive new superhero story is sure to captivate any reader.

In addition to these titles, there are several sequels coming out for books that I currently own or plan to read, so I'm SURE I'll be wanting to get my hands on these ...


 Perfect Lines by Kiersten White (Mind Games #2), Tremor by Patrick Carman (Pulse #2)
Frozen by Erin Bowman (Taken #2), Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter #2)