6/30/2014

ReReadathon & Shelf Sweeper 2014


Shae's ReReadathon is back for another year, and this time it's paired with a Shelf Sweeper hosted by Rachel! Get all the details and sign up here if you're interested!

I tried to take part in the ReReadathon last year, but let's just say it went quite poorly... as in I barely got any re-reading in. But not this time! This time I am committing to getting some rereads and some shelf-sweeping books read!

Here's my game plan for this year:

ReReads:

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I said I was going to reread the trilogy last year before the Catching Fire movie came out. Yeah, that never happened. So it is definitely happening this time before Mockingjay Part I!


Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore. I read and loved these two years ago but then never picked up Bitterblue until it was out in paperback (to match the first two on my shelf). Since the Bitterblue paperback came out while I was blogging, I haven't had time to read it yet. So I'm going to try to reread these two so I can finish the trilogy.


Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers. Now that I have my hands on Mortal Heart (I adore you, Emilie!), I'm going to binge the whole series! That must, of course, start with a reread of Grave Mercy.

Shelf Sweeping:


Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Like I said above, I have to finish the trilogy!


Dark Triumph by Robin Lafevers. I know, I know. I haven't read this one yet. I've been meaning to and now I swear I will get to it!


The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. It has been sitting pretty on my shelf for a while now so I figured this was a good excuse to finally pick it up.

That's nine books there and since I do have some review copies to get through too, I shouldn't set the bar way too high for myself. So I'll give this a shot! Wish me luck! Are you taking part? What's on your list?

6/26/2014

Blog Tour Review: Dollhouse by Anya Allyn


Dollhouse by Anya Allyn.

Published: May 20, 2014.
Published by: The Studio, a Paper Lantern Lit imprint.
Source: Received an e-copy of the book from PLL for the blog tour. Thanks, PLL!

Synopsis:
It isn’t nice to play games.
Cassie knows coveting her best friend’s boyfriend is practically a cardinal sin. So when Aisha disappears, Cassie fears it’s her fault for even thinking of Ethan that way.
As the chemistry between them escalates, Cassie and Ethan discover a secret they never would have imagined: a hidden mansion in the mist-enshrouded mountains, where Aisha and several other girls are being held as dolls by a handsome young man who they call The Provider.
Torn between her forbidden feelings for Ethan, and her intense, unexpected attraction to The Provider, Cassie must overcome temptation. Because it turns out that even good girls can be drawn to dark things… and the game between Cassie and The Provider has only just begun, in this tantalizing start to an incredible series.
Check out the creepy as heck book trailer!



My Review:

If you're looking for a creepy read, you're going to want to pick up Dollhouse. While I found it a little over the top at times, it is definitely a book that keeps you curious and honestly a little mind boggled throughout. Allyn's strength really lies in creating a creep factor that only serves to get weirder and darker as the story goes on, so if that's what you're in the mood for, this is a great read.

Our poor main character Cassie is only trying to find her missing friend Aisha when she, along with another friend and Aisha's boyfriend, gets trapped in an old mansion and forced to confront some absolutely wild situations that may or may not have haunted the nightmares of various children after being emotionally scarred by dolls or circuses. The setting and atmosphere is described and woven through the story so well that I was constantly looking up from my e-reader to shake off a chill or check that it was still light outside. When Allyn sets the tone, she really sets the tone and I couldn't get rid of the creeped-out feeling in my stomach for the rest of the book. I was very impressed by how thoroughly she worked that in. I think Allyn made a very strong choice in keeping me as a reader as much in the dark as the characters were. Sometimes I like knowing what's going on around the main character's immediate range of attention but in this case being stuck basically in Cassie's head only served to improve on her already strong sense of mystery.

I do have to say that sometimes I was pulled out of the story a bit by how ridiculous some of the elements were. I don't want to spoil anything because the build up makes it so much better, but occasionally I felt like the weird was too much. There is suspending disbelief and then there are some parts of this book. However, I thought the strange historical connection that comes up was very interesting (though I want more explanation about how that is possible), so maybe I'm not the best judge because I could see that coming off as extra strange as well, but I liked it.

The character relationships were interesting and fairly well developed for the time that they were shown together. Cassie and Ethan I really liked together, especially as the book went on. Ethan is Aisha's boyfriend, though, so I kind of felt bad about rooting for them, but Allyn deals with this rather well too, so clearly the almost-triangle issue was well thought out. That being said, I never felt like I really knew the characters all that well or saw them grow much. I think so much attention was devoted to the darker elements of the book that, while it definitely made them stronger, it took away from the characters for me. I do have to mention, though, that I loved the surprise twist concerning one of the side characters... again, no spoilers, but I definitely didn't see that coming and it was an interesting turn of events.

Since the synopsis has reassured me that this is indeed the first in a series (thank goodness... that ending is a crazy cliffhanger!), I can see a lot of potential for the future books. I only hope that we get to know the characters more and that maybe the weirdness is toned down just a little. But I'm most definitely looking forward to getting some answers!

About the author:

Anya Allyn grew up in Sydney, Australia, and now lives by the beach on The Central Coast. She spends her days with five incredibly cool males - four of whom are her kids. As a child, she could be found reading, sketching comic strips or fainting during choir practice in her school convent. She has worked in entertainment, web content, and most recently as a Features' Editor for Fairfax Media in Australia. Dollhouse is her first novel. Photo © Tim Carter



Purchase links: AmazoniBooksGoodreads
Social Media Info: WebsiteTwitter

6/25/2014

Cover Reveal: Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes + Giveaway

I am very, very excited about this post. You might know that the lovely Paula Stokes is both an author whose work I very much enjoy (her new contemp The Art of Lainey and her historical books as Fiona Paul) and someone I consider an author friend. Well, today is a wonderful day because she asked me to help reveal the cover for her February 2015 release, LIARS, INC.!

Here’s some more info about the book from Goodreads:
It all starts with one little lie…

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell lies to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts a business providing forged permission slips and cover stories for the students of Vista Palisades High. Liars, Inc. they call it. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for—THE COVER!


Ta-dah!!!

Here’s a little more info from Paula:

OMG, I’ve been flailing about the awesomeness of this cover since April. I saw it and was basically like HOLY COVER LOTTERY!! :D
I’ve talked about how LIARS, INC. is very different from THE ART OF LAINEY, and this cover really highlights that. LIARS has first-person narration, a bit of romance, and similar fast-paced dialogue to LAINEY, but that’s where the major similarities end. This book is a dark mystery for fans of I HUNT KILLERS, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (the TV show, because I’ve never read the books), or old-school Christopher Pike novels. I hope you love it, because if it does well I might get to write a companion novel, and I’m seriously not ready to let go of these characters. Max is a little aloof and slackerish so it might take you time to warm up to him, but his girlfriend Parvati is totally badass and fun, and both of them really grow and change over the course of the novel. (You know how I love me some character development!) And no worries, this is a total standalone book, plotted and written as a solo novel.

What do you think? Do you like this cover? I think it's going to be such a great fit for the book and I'm so excited to see it all fancy on bookshelves! 

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a signed, personalized ARC of LIARS, INC. Open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Waiting on Wednesday #70: The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond.

Expected Publication: September 30, 2014.
by: Scholastic Press.

Goodreads Synopsis:
In a stunning reimagining of history, debut author Caroline Tung Richmond weaves an incredible story of secrets and honor in a world where Hitler won World War II.

It's been nearly 80 years since the Allies lost WWII in a crushing defeat against Hitler's genetically engineered super soldiers. America has been carved up by the victors, and 16-year-old Zara lives a life of oppression in the Eastern America Territories. Under the iron rule of the Nazis, the government strives to maintain a master race, controlling everything from jobs to genetics. Despite her mixed heritage and hopeless social standing, Zara dreams of the free America she's only read about in banned books. A revolution is growing, and a rogue rebel group is plotting a deadly coup. Zara might hold the key to taking down the F├╝hrer for good, but it also might be the very thing that destroys her. Because what she has to offer the rebels is something she's spent her entire life hiding, under threat of immediate execution by the Nazis. 

In this action-packed, heart-stopping novel of a terrifying reality that could have been, Zara must decide just how far she'll go for freedom.


Why I'm excited:
An imagination of a near-present world in which the Nazis won WWII and are still in control? Whaaaaat? WWII and the Third Reich are such interesting times in history and ones which I love to study, so to see someone's idea of what could have happened if the Allies hadn't won... you know I am all over this.

What are you waiting on this week?

6/24/2014

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch.

Published: March 26, 2013.
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin.
Source: Received a finished copy from the publisher for review. Thank you, St. Martin's!

Goodreads Synopsis:
There are some things you can’t leave behind…A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.

Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.


My Review:

If You Find Me is a heart-wrenching story about the bonds between sisters and between family, and one that shows how family is not all about who you're related to by blood. While it isn't a book that I completely fell in love with, it is one that I am impressed by and appreciate because it's a compelling and dark but ultimately hopeful read and is wonderfully well written.

I really loved reading about these characters Murdoch has created and watching them interact, and yet there were times I wished that the characters and their relationships with one another had been explored in more depth. Carey I felt was expressed very well as a character, and I very much enjoyed seeing her relationship with her new step-mother, Melissa, and step-sister, Delaney, evolve. The struggle to build these relationships as well as both their tensions and their bright spots felt very realistic and gave them a real weight. However, I wanted more from younger sister Jenessa as a character. Because she does not speak due to a traumatic incident, nearly everything about her is communicated through Carey. What she wants and needs, what she is used to, a lot of what her body language means, all told by Carey. It made for an interesting dynamic between the two -- their relationship was so strong and a very emotional aspect of the book -- and it was very effective in showing the lengths of Nessa's trauma, but I still wish she could have been developed on her own a bit more.

If You Find Me is a rather dark book that holds some serious secrets. There were parts of the plot that felt predictable and I felt like I knew where the story was headed for a while, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it anyway. I feel like I still felt all the emotions at the reveals of the secrets even if I wasn't totally taken aback by them, and that's what I truly wanted. Carey and Nessa's trauma is slowly unraveled as the story goes on, interwoven with their attempts to fit into a new life with a new family, and I found this was done strongly. Murdoch managed to keep the mystery there and the curiosity high while bringing me to care deeply about these sisters. It is definitely a book that pulled me in and got me very invested in these two sisters and what happens to them. While it isn't a fast-paced book, it still has good pacing to allow development to happen in a rather short number of pages.

Murdoch's prose is wonderful. It was clearly influenced by the snippets of poetry that are scattered throughout the narrative, so it has that figurative and visual language quality that makes it interesting and beautiful. It also fits so well with the character she has created in Carey. It feels very authentic coming from this lost and confused but incredibly mature and self-sufficient young woman and it only serves to make her character stronger. The writing also creates an excellent atmosphere for the story and Murdoch is strong at giving scenes a lightness when they deserve them and weight when it matters most. She is already excellent at this balance and in that, this is a strong debut.

All in all, If You Find Me is, from a writing perspective, a beautiful and lyrical novel and, from a story perspective, both gripping and hopeful. While I wish it had been a little longer so to develop some of the characters and relationships a bit more, it is still a very strong, authentic, and emotionally powerful book.

6/20/2014

Review: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal.

Published: June 10, 2014.
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Source: Won from Goodreads' First Reads program. (Supplied by the publisher - thanks Macmillan!)

Goodreads Synopsis:
What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. 

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.

Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.


My Review:

My Last Kiss started off very rough for me. I actually almost DNF-ed it, but my curiosity is too great for my own good so I couldn't bring myself do it. While the story did get a little better, this one just didn't impress me like I had hoped it would.

With the opening of the book Cassidy discovers right away that she is dead but still lingering in the world. This opening section where she is trying to figure out how that is possible and if anyone can see or hear her was not a great beginning. It felt quite confused and almost as if the author was just as unsure of the rules of ghost-hood as Cassidy was. This is the point that almost had me put the book down because it just felt muddled and almost a little bit without purpose. It didn't bring me to care at all about Cassidy or her situation because I was left either confused or frustrated by the lack of clarity I found throughout the beginning.

Luckily for me, My Last Kiss did improve after its rocky start. The whole ghost situation straightened itself out after a bit and seemed to follow the rules it set up for itself, and this managed to become an interesting perspective. As Cassidy is unable to remember a lot of the time leading up to her death, I enjoyed getting the information and learning the back story just as she was. Setting the narrative up that way definitely helped to get me interested in finding out what played out and how she died, which is really why I kept reading the book. This aspect of the book played out quite well. I was intrigued by the possibilities and mostly satisfied by the big reveal and the ending.

The characters are a bit of a mixed bunch. There is a small group of high school students who are central to the story and some I found well written while others felt, frankly, pretty uninteresting. For example, Cassidy's two best friends were a good element, especially as their friendship is explored under the surface. But on the other hand, the boy that Cassidy is concerned she cheated on her boyfriend with didn't do much for me. I really wanted to care about him and his relationship with Cassidy, but he seemed a little unoriginal and I wasn't feeling their fling. Their situation also didn't do anything to make me more sympathetic to Cassidy, which I think it was meant to. Maybe it will work for other readers, but it didn't do much for me. Ethan, Cassidy's boyfriend, was even mixed for me. I definitely felt for him and I appreciated him as a character, but I was sometimes left bored by his scenes with Cassidy. So when it comes to characters, I found some of them a little predictable, but with some of the others I enjoyed that there was more to them than it first seemed.

Overall, this book was very mixed for me. A rough start almost made me stop reading altogether and while some of the characters didn't feel complex enough, there were some relationships that I enjoyed exploring and it came from a perspective that had me not necessarily invested, but at least interested in the mystery.

6/18/2014

Waiting on Wednesday #69: Winterspell by Claire Legrand



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Winterspell by Claire Legrand.

Expected Publication: September 30, 2014.
by: Simon & Schuster BYR.

Goodreads Synopsis:
The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly nothuman. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The NutcrackerWinterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.


Why I'm excited:
Go read that synopsis again. That + Nutcracker + the wondrous Claire Legrand = need like nothing else. 'Nuff said.

What are you waiting on this week?

6/17/2014

Top Books I've Read So Far This Year


I totally missed last week's TTT topic (from The Broke and the Bookish), which was Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year. But I wanted to share my top reads of the year (so far) with you anyway, so here it is. Better late than never!

Now, because of school and vacation, I'm kind of behind on my reading this year, so there's a smaller pool of books to choose from. That doesn't mean, though, that I haven't read some fantastic books. So here goes: my ten favourites of the year so far!

Historical Fiction (/Historical Fantasy)



(Does it shock ANYONE at all that half my faves are from this genre? Didn't think so).

Fantasy


Sci-fi



Contemporary



Magical Realism



And some shoutouts to 2014 releases that I actually read in 2013 (and looooved)



6/13/2014

Review: This One Summer by Jillian & Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki.

Published: May 6, 2014.
Published by: First Second.
Source: Received a finished copy of the book from the publisher. Thank you, First Second!

Goodreads Synopsis:
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.


My Review:

This was my first experience in a very long time with a graphic novel. While the story didn't totally hit it out of the park for me, I'm very glad I read it because I did enjoy it and it has me planning to work graphic novels into my reading more often.

Something I think this story captured perfectly is the feeling of being young and uncertain, not totally comprehending everything that is going on around you. Rose is almost a teenager and this summer is her awkward transition phase where she is still a kid to the teens and tries to emulate them without really understanding what she's doing and saying, where she tries to act mature and scoff at her friend Windy for being immature, and where she really doesn't know how to deal with the tension surrounding her as her mother and father are in what feels like a cold war. The balance that is captured within Rose and reflected on either side by Windy and by Awago Beach's teens is expertly crafted and presented to show how confusing it can be to find yourself in that middle stage between kid and teen. If there is anything that this book absolutely nails on the head, it is this aspect of Rose's characterization. 

While I definitely appreciated the tone of the novel and the authenticity of the characters, I wish more had happened plot-wise. Since it felt largely driven by the characters and how they relate to the changes Rose is experiencing in her life and the growing up she is in the middle of, there wasn't a lot of excitement in the plot. The plotline itself felt fairly stagnant and I was surprised when summer was over because it felt like not enough had actually happened for it to have spanned that length of time. I definitely appreciate that it's about the pretty basic vacation that isn't supposed to be overly exciting but instead a growing experience, but it made the plot feel a little dull. Luckily, because of the format, it read very quickly so it didn't actually drag too much. 

One of the elements of the story that I wasn't crazy about was the "slut" plot point. The girls hear teenagers using the word and then begin to use it themselves without really understanding what it means. While I appreciate that this is absolutely something that tweens especially are prone to doing, I wish it had been addressed better. The girls' mothers hear them using it and sternly tell them not to, but there's never really a talk about what they're really saying with the word and why they shouldn't be using it. I think for adults who understand why we shouldn't call each other "sluts," it's not such a big deal, but younger readers - who this novel is aimed at - will likely just see a parent telling a kid not to say that word without any good reason. I think there was potential for a good discussion to be opened here but that it wasn't followed through on. I'm not one to say that a book has to teach kids anything, but if there's no life lesson prompt in that "slut" plot point, then why bother including it at all? That's just something I wish had been considered a little more.

I can't review this book without touching on the artwork. Despite being exclusively in shades of blue/purple, it still seemed vibrant. It was a perfect art style for the style of the story - a summer tale but with a deeper underside. I am always impressed by talented artists and the drawings were so appealing to look at that it helped the slower plot seem like less of a bother. The art is definitely one of my favourite aspects of the novel and I'm looking forward to another graphic novel from the Tamaki team largely for that reason.

All in all, not a book that blew me away but one with some really strong points, including the fantastic artwork that is so important to a graphic novel. Without a doubt, this one will certainly have me picking up more like it in the future. 

6/12/2014

Tudor Thursday - The Tower of London


I'm so excited today to have the wonderful Katherine Longshore on the blog for the final Tudor Thursday in celebration of the release of Brazen. Happy release day!

First, a bit about the book:
Brazen by Katherine Longshore:

Published: June 12, 2014 (today!)
Published by: Viking Juvenile

Goodreads Synopsis:
Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?



Now welcome Katherine!

The Tower of London

Image Copyright Katherine Longshore

This is me and my sister at the Tower when I was…probably four?  My parents bought me an Anne Boleyn doll.  Prophetic?

The Tudors are inextricably linked with the Tower—Anne Boleyn stayed here before her coronation and before her execution.  Catherine Howard and Jane Boleyn were executed on the green not six years later.  Henry imprisoned traitors real and perceived within its walls—including characters featured in BRAZEN (Anne Boleyn, Margaret Douglas, Thomas Howard, and, eventually, my narrator, Mary’s father and brother, Hal).  Lady Jane Grey spent her last days in a room overlooking the green, and you can still see her name carved in the wall.  Elizabeth I was held here before she became queen.  And other famous Tudors—Walter Raleigh, anyone?—did their time in these rooms.
Why do I love the Tower?  For its bloody history, obviously, but also because it spans centuries of history.  From the years of William the Conqueror to the World Wars, the Tower has seen it all.  Not to mention the Crown Jewels…
Mary (who has a phobia of crowds) visits the Tower once during the course of the novel:

“This is no place for a girl,” Hal says.
I turn and stride ahead of them. I am like Margaret walking the halls of Greenwich. I do not dodge around the knots of people. I do not slow my pace. I walk steadily, and a path clears. Each gap I see is there for me and me alone. I’m meant to be here.
I walk through the alley beneath the Bell Tower and into the belly of the Bloody Tower gate, vaulted like a crypt. The throng is packed more tightly here, and my progress slows almost to a standstill. I am shoulder to shoulder with merchants. Courtiers. City men.
Tower Green is even more crowded, and the sky presses down as heavily as the vault of the gate. Stinking bodies are packed up against one another, everyone striving for a better view. There must be a thousand people here. Just to watch someone die.
My breath comes in fugitive gasps and I suddenly—frantically—want to get away.
But the crowd pushes me forward and eddies up near the scaffold. Cromwell is there, close enough to catch the blood when it spills. He turns and sees me and I stop, the mob pulsing around me, my lungs utterly frozen in my chest. I feel Fitz’s hand close around my upper arm, but I cannot look away from the king’s master secretary. Not until Cromwell smiles.
Thanks, Katherine!

Be sure to enter the giveaways.

US/Canada:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
International:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

6/11/2014

Waiting on Wednesday #68: Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

Expected Publication: July 15, 2014.
by: Little, Brown BYR.

Goodreads Synopsis:
The X-Men meets Ocean's Eleven in this edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure about a band of "super" criminals.

When the MK virus swept across the planet, a vaccine was created to stop the epidemic, but it came with some unexpected side effects. A small percentage of the population developed superhero-like powers. Seventeen-year-old Ciere Giba has the handy ability to change her appearance at will. She's what's known as an illusionist...She's also a thief.

After a robbery goes awry, Ciere must team up with a group of fellow super-powered criminals on another job that most would consider too reckless. The formula for the vaccine that gave them their abilities was supposedly destroyed years ago. But what if it wasn't?

The lines between good and bad, us and them, and freedom and entrapment are blurred as Ciere and the rest of her crew become embroiled in a deadly race against the government that could cost them their lives.


Why I'm excited:
Not only does that synopsis sound so cool (super-criminals that blur the lines between good and bad? Love it), I've also heard some really great stuff about this one so I'm definitely excited to get my hands on it!

What are you waiting on this week?

6/09/2014

Guest Post: Travel in My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter

I'm really excited today to welcome Caela Carter to the blog today for an awesome guest post about setting her new novel, My Best Friend, Maybe in Greece. She even has some gorgeous pictures to share. So sit back, relax, welcome Caela to the blog, and enjoy a preview of the trip to Greece you could experience with My Best Friend, Maybe!

In my newest book, MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE ex-besties Colette and Sadie go on vacation together and attempt to re-kindle their friendship.

Their vacation is to the Greek Islands.

Why?

Because I went there and it was my favorite vacation ever! Here are my top five 
moments from the real vacation that inspired Coley’s and Sadie’s fictional one!



1) This is the beautiful island of Santorini from our balcony, the most stunning view I’ve ever seen.


2) This was our hotel room. It’s carved into the side of the island like a cave. It was incredibly cool. And of course Colette stays in a fictional version of the same room! (That’s my husband peeking through the window!)



3) This is a Santorini sunset. It’s too awesome and complicated for just one picture! See the sun on our skin? It’ll play on Colette’s skin too...and someone special just might notice.


People line up all over the island to watch the sunset. Here’s a view of the hushed crowed from our balcony table. The one where Colette and her crush also eat!


4) That pile of black rocks in this picture? It’s a volcano. I swam into it. It was probably the most adventurous moment of my life. Colette will swim into there, too. And what happens inside that volcano will change her forever.


5) This is the Tree of Life on Crete where Zeus was said to have conducted his first extra-marital affair. Colette will dance beneath its leaves before the story is over. The question is: with whom?

Thank you, Caela! If I didn't already want to go to Greece before, I definitely do now! I'm so looking forward to watching Colette and Sadie's reunion play out there!

A little about My Best Friend, Maybe:
My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter.

Published: June 3, 2014.
Published by: Bloomsbury Children's.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Colette has been bored and lonely ever since her best friend, Sadie, dumped her the summer before they stared high school. She tries to be perfect for everyone left in her life: her parents, her younger brothers, her church youth group, even her boyfriend, Mark. But Colette is restless. And she misses Sadie.

When Sadie tells Colette that she needs her old friend to join her on a family vacation to the Greek Islands, one that leaves in only a few days, Colette is shocked to hear their old magic word: need. And she finds herself agreeing.

Colette tries to relax and enjoy her Grecian surroundings but it’s not easy to go on vacation with the person who hurt you most in the world. When the reason for the trip finally surfaces, Colette finds out this is not only a fun vacation. Sadie has kept an enormous secret from Colette for years...forever. It’s a summer full of surprises, but that might be what Colette needs.

6/04/2014

Waiting on Wednesday #67: Just Like the Movies



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This is where you showcase an upcoming release you're anxiously awaiting!

This week, I'm waiting on:
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore.

Expected Publication: June 15, 2014.
by: Bloomsbury USA Childrens.

Goodreads Synopsis:
Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 

Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. 

While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?

Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.


Why I'm excited:
This one just sounds like so much fun and I love the idea of two girls getting together to try and create movie-worthy romantic situations... and all the craziness that could ensue!

What are you waiting on this week?

6/03/2014

Top Ten Books in My Beach Bag This Summer


This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt (from The Broke and the Bookish) is a perfect one to start off the summer with: Top Ten Books That Will be in My Beach Bag This Summer! I'm not always a big contemporary person but I'm definitely going to have some on this list because if there was a ever a great time to read contemp, it's during the summer!




My Last Kiss
by Bethany Neal



by Chris Weitz




Behind the Scenes
by Dahlia Adler



by Morgan Matson




#scandal
by Sarah Ockler



by Jennifer Mathieu




The Kiss of Deception
by Mary E. Pearson



by Michelle Krys




My Best Friend, Maybe
by Caela Carter



by E. Lockhart





Are any of these books on your summer to-read list and going into your beach bags? Anything I'm sorely missing that needs to be in my bag this summer?