Thursday, April 30, 2015

A to Z April: Z Reviews: Zach's Lie by Roland Smith/Zombie Blondes by Brian James

Can you believe it?  April is over!  And I completed the A to Z Challenge with this post!  And believe it or not, I found two books I read that started with the letter Z that I hadn't reviewed yet.  The other Z book I had already reviewed.  One of these is more middle grade, then the other is definitely a teen read.

First is Zach's Lie by Roland Smith.  It's the first in a two book series, that concludes with Jack's Run, about a boy whose family has to go into the witness protection program.  The main character is Jack, who becomes Zach in the program.  And of course as boys that age might be likely to do, he does something that gets his family in danger again.  I'm a huge fan of Roland Smith, he is probably one of the first authors I really got to meet when I started on my current quest of meeting all my favorite authors/rock stars.  Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
Jack Osborne's life changes forever the night men in masks break into his house, threaten Jack and his family, and ransack their home. Jack then discovers the reason these men have come into their lives-his father has been arrested for drug trafficking.

Jack, his mother, and his sister are then forced to enter Witness Security Program. Jack becomes "Zach" and moves to Elko, Nevada, a town in the middle of nowhere. There he meets Sam, the strangest school custodian he has ever encountered, and Catalin, a girl who might make Zach's uprooting worth the trouble. But just as Zach finally begins to piece together a new life, he finds himself in danger again-and this time his actions could determine the fates of everyone he cares about.

The second book I'm talking about today is called Zombie Blondes by Brian James.  I think this was one of the first YA zombie books I remember reading and really liking.  I think I also posted a review somewhere and even got a thank you from the author!  I just can't remember where.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
From the moment Hannah Sanders arrived in town, she felt there was something wrong.
     A lot of houses were for sale, and the town seemed infected by an unearthly quiet. And then, on Hannah’s first day of classes, she ran into a group of cheerleaders—the most popular girls in school.
     The odd thing was that they were nearly identical in appearance: blonde, beautiful, and deathly pale.
     But Hannah wants desperately to fit in—regardless of what her friend Lukas is telling her: if she doesn’t watch her back, she’s going to be blonde and popular and dead—just like all the other zombies in this town. . . .

Have you read any books by Roland Smith?  Are you a fan of zombie stories?  Will you try to read this one?  And while you're here, it's the very last day to enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Undertow by Michael Buckley

First, thanks to Netgalley and HMH Books for Young Readers for approving me to read the egalley, then of course I was able to grab an ARC at the bookstore where I work, and so I ended up reading that.  I have to say I was hooked pretty quickly.  And while it had some similarities to other things, it also had a lot of new things that I really liked. 

The main character is Lyric.  She has grown up on Coney Island with her mom and dad.  Three years ago though, everything changed.  Strange, some terrifying, creatures came out of the sea and swarmed the beach.  They took over the beach, and those living in what is now called the Zone, were left with no beach to go to.  Hatred for these new creatures, called Alpha has caused many issues.  Families who were able to moved away.  Unfortunately Lyric's family wasn't able to.  Which she's okay with because she gets to be there with her best friend Bex, not only with her, but she is able to be there for her, as Bex has an abusive stepfather.  Lyric's dad is a cop.  Her mother is a very new agey type of person.  With a secret.  One that Lyric and her father must keep their heads down and do anything they can to protect, in order to not only save their own lives as well as her mother.  The book begins with a new law that makes the high school here starting the first program to try to let the Alpha children in for school.  As you can guess, the hatred of the new "people" causes many problems.  It starts out just like back when we first integrated blacks and whites into school together. The National Guard and other police there to make sure the new students were allowed in.  But there is the Governor who is there to fight it, in fact she vows to be there every day, and protest every day, and get arrested every day to make her point.  And she does as much as she can.  One of the new administrators for the school is named Mr. or Agent, don't know for sure, Doyle.  He decides that he will use Lyric as a help for the Prince of the Alpha, Fathom.  She will meet with him one class period every day to help him assimilate, teach him to read, whatever it takes.  This is hard at first as Fathom is pretty violent, and takes almost everything literally.  Like all the other Alpha tend to do.  But eventually Lyric will get past this, and find him as more of a friend, and want to work with him. But she has to do it as secretly as possible, because she knows that if it is found out, the gang out there will cause problems for her and her family.  It even turns out that the Alphas may not be the people who live there's only problem.  It seems there are other creatures that are out to attack and destroy the Alphas, and they will stop at nothing, including the humans around them.

This is going to have a 2nd books, thank goodness, because the ending leaves too much up in the air.  Of course the schooling experiment with the Alphas totally reminded me of the very short lived TV series, Star-Crossed, which was about aliens being assimilated into human high schools.  I really liked the tv show, was sad when it didn't make it to another season.  I thought maybe by the title it was based on the book by Josephine Angelini, which I hadn't read, but wondered, but no, not that either.  Other than how similar it was to that tv series, these were different creatures.  Not aliens, but creatures that had lived below the sea for who knows how long.  In fact, in one part one of the Alphas alludes to there actually being a Kraken alive deep in the ocean.  A great story, one that kept me turning the pages and hating any time I had to put it down.  Now to wait till 2016 for book 2!!

A to Z April: Y Reviews - The Year of Yes by Dahvana Headley/Yes Man by Danny Wallace

At first I only had one book I thought I could talk about, but then I went back and realized that one of the two I'm talking about today I read before I started this blog.  So I can share it.  And the common theme? Both actually have to do with saying "yes".

First is a memoir book that in a way is a chick lit type of story.  It's about a girl who was looking for her true love, and decided that for a year she would say yes to anyone who asked her out.  Whether they were creepy, not her type, etc.  That way she would be giving everyone a chance, and maybe she'd meet the right person that otherwise she might not have given a chance.  It was a very interesting read.  Not sure that I'm brave enough to try it to meet my Mr. Right, as I'm pretty socially awkward and introverted, and so the thought of going out with someone alone that makes me uncomfortable is just terror-inducing.  Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
"Why not go out on a date with everyone who asks you? Plenty of reasons. They might be crazy. They might be creepy. They might be something other than what you're looking for. But then again, how would you know? Isn't love supposed to be blind? Isn't it supposed to be about who the person really is, not about what they look like?"

The Year of Yes is an account of one woman's quest to find a man she can stand (for longer than a couple of hours). Frustrated by her own pitiful taste, writer Maria Headley decided to leave her love life up to fate, going out with everyone who asked her: homeless men, taxi drivers and yes, even a couple of women. Opening her heart and mind to the possibility that her perfect match might be the person she least expected, she spent twelve months dating most of New York City.

Second is a book, another memoir actually, about a man who decided to say "yes" to everything.  Part of it was for romance, but another part was just to meet more people.  Now they did make a movie from this, and there are some of the same things as in the book.  But honestly, some of the stuff he does in the book is way more hilarious, maybe because it is so real!  I had a good laugh as I read this book.  You should check it out as well.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
Recently single, Danny Wallace was falling into loneliness and isolation. When a stranger on a bus advises, "Say yes more," Wallace vows to say yes to every offer, invitation, challenge, and chance.

In Yes Man, Wallace recounts his months-long commitment to complete openness with profound insight and humbling honesty. Saying yes takes Wallace into a new plane of existence: a place where money comes as easily as it goes, nodding a lot can lead to a long weekend overseas with new friends, and romance isn't as complicated as it seems. Yes eventually leads to the biggest question of all: "Do you, Danny Wallace, take this woman . . ."

Yes Man is inspiring proof that a little willingness can take anyone to the most wonderful of places.

Have you read either of these?  Have you seen the movie, Yes Man with Jim Carrey?  Do you think you could try the "yes" for a year in order to do something like this?  And don't forget, only one more day after today to enter my giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cover Reveal: Implanted (Ascension #2) by Heather Letto


Implanted by Heather Letto
(Ascension #2)
Publication date: June 2015
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

After a narrow escape from the city of Impervious, Fran’s heart aches for the ones she left behind. Will her brother ever connect the dots? And, what about Pete? Could he, along with the remaining Rebels, have survived the Council’s violent oppression?

As Fran ponders the fate of her friends, an even more disturbing revelation drops into her world—the knowledge that she, along with anyone who had lived underground remains implanted with the sinister presence of the Council. A fate rendering her powerless to save.

Yet one with pure blood, untouched by the Council’s defiling, lives among them. Could he be the new lifeline of hope? Is salvation of the city worth risking the life of this one-and-only?


Purchase book 1: In keeping with the spirit of celebration--for reveal day only--all IMPERVIOUS (Ascension Series Book 1) Kindle downloads will be .99! This new edition of Impervious includes a Glossary of Terms and thought-provoking Discussion Questions.

I’m a book-writing, selfie-taking, latte-drinking, social media gal. I’m living a good life on the road as a full-fledged Bedouin (Well, except, my tent is actually a fully-equipped RV.) Me and my partner-in-crime (Benj) tend to hunker down wherever the skies are clear and the temps stay in the 70’s. We call ourselves Gypsy Nerds because we aimlessly wander the U.S. with glasses perched upon our noses and faces jammed into computer screens (for the first half the day... The second half of the day is typically devoted to playing because we’re also somewhat immature.)

Like most authors, the characters I create are my extended family.  And like most readers, when the story ends, I get a little sad. In real life, I have two handsome, hardworking, grown-up boys who know how to make their Mama proud! *Waves to Joey and Mike!*

The Ascension Series is my debut into the world of YA fiction.

I’m living what I love and loving what I live!

Author links:

A to Z April: X Reviews - The Xander Years by Keith R.A. DeCandido/The X-Files: Book of the Unexplained by Jane Goldman

As you might have guessed, finding books for the X reviews was one of the hardest for the whole challenge.  I had about 6 to choose from and 3 were ones I had already posted reviews here on the blog, so I didn't want to do them again.  So the ones I've chosen are the other ones I hadn't reviewed for the blog.  And they are actually companion books to two of my favorite TV series.

First is The Xander Years Vol. 1 by Keith R.A. Candido.  If they did a volume 2 to this, I didn't ever get ahold of it, not from lack of trying I'm sure.  As when I started working at a bookstore, I began trying to order every last Buffy  book I could.  Unfortunately many were out of print, and I didn't want to order from used at the time and pay ahead of time.  I became a huge fan of the name Xander because of this show, and if I'd ever had a son, I would have wanted to name him that.  Here is the somwhat long blurb for this book from Goodreads:
TONIGHT, PART 1The argument started when Cordelia saw what Xander was wearing.

He had only just walked into the Bronze when Cordy started in on him. "My "God, " what is that outfit?"

"It's called 'clothes.'"

"No, "I'm" wearing clothes. "You" are wearing rags. Xander, do you even know what it means to accessorize?"

Shaking his head and rolling his eyes at the same time, Xander replied, "Yeah. "To accessorize." A verb deriving from the noun "accessory." Loosely defined as, 'Caring way more about what you're wearing than necessary for simple human interpersonal contact.'"

Gesturing as if she were pleading with Xander to not jump off a high ledge, Cordelia said, "Xander, clothes are what define who you are to the world. They put out a message that says, 'I'm cool' or 'I'm a jock' or 'I'm a computer geek" or in your case, 'I'm a loser with no redeeming social value.'"

It went downhill from there, at least up to the part where they made up by necking near the restrooms.

Xander returned home and fell more than sat on his bed, not even bothering to clear a space for himself -- he just collapsed onto the dirty laundry festooned on the sheets and stared at the ceiling. All in all, it had been a typical date: arguing for an hour, necking for an hour. "Not exactly how I pictured dating, he thought. Certainly not how all those fantasy dates with Buffy went in my head."

He turned toward the bedside table to stare at the photograph next to his clock radio. Willow's mom had taken that picture of Buffy, Willow, and Xander sophomore year. Buffy's hair was longer then -- so, if it came to that, was Xander's.

"Things were simpler then, hionship had been set.

Except, of course,for the necking part. That took another twelve years to develop.

The funny thing was, while Willow and Xander had gleefully formed the We Hate Cordelia Chase Fan Club -- they even held semiregular meetings -- Jesse had always had the hots for her, right up until the moment he died. And now Xander was dating her.

"Well, it could be worse, he thought. At least dating Cordelia isn't an immediate threat to my life. My sanity maybe, but not my life."

Shivering with a chill that had nothing to do with the typically warm Sunnydale night, he remembered a certain substitute biology teacher....

The 2nd book is from a TV series that I watched with  my mom, one that we loved and are excited to hear that there may be a reboot!  I was a huge X-Files fan.  Especially what they called the "monster of the week" episodes more than the mythology episodes.  These books, and I had two of them, were more about the true stories behind the UFO sightings and other wild stories that made up the TV series.  Here is a blurb from Goodreads:
At the beginning of its fourth incredibly popular season. The X-Files Fall 1996 season premiere had the highest rating Fox Television has ever achieved for a dramatic series. The show won five 1996 Emmy awards for special effects, outstanding writing, and best guest spots, and continues to garner new fans with each episode. HarperPrism is the only official publisher of The X-Files, and this season, we present three brand-new additions to satisfy the voracious appetite of the millions of fans.The facts behind the fiction are even more disturbing than the menace and mystery depicted in The X-Files episodes. Here are the actual accounts of UFO sightings, alien encounters, government cover-ups, psychic crime solving, faith healing, spontaneous combustion, reincarnation, and hauntings from which the show's writers draw their material for story lines. This in-depth, photo-tilled guide--complete with interviews from the show's cast, crew, and writers, as well as astonishing revelations from the world's leading investigations, scientists and officials--tells the terrifying stories behind our real life encounters with The X-Files.

Were you a fan of either of these shows?  If so, did you ever read any of the books that went with them?  Or did you even know they had books to go with them?  And while you're here, make sure you enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 27, 2015

A to Z April: W Reviews - Watchers by Dean Koontz/Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon/Why Girls Are Weird by Pamela Ribon

There were a lot of books that begin with the letter W, and there were 3 that I just couldn't give up when I tried to narrow it down.  So today you get three mini-reviews!

First is Watchers by Dean Koontz.  I know that I've already talked about one book by Dean Koontz, Strangers, but I couldn't leave out my very favorite one of his books, one that I read over and over, and still remember so many things about.  They did make a movie out of it, and it starred one of the actors I'd had a crush on, Corey Haim. But the problem is that the characters weren't supposed to be young, so he was definitely not the right actor.  Well, that's not the only problem, the movie really just sucked.  But I still remember the dog, Einstein, a golden retriever of course since that is the kind of dog Dean Koontz owns and loves.  And so much about the dog that made me sad, and happy as well.  Here's the very short blurb from Goodreads:
When Travis Cornell and Nora Devon meet "Einstein", they are touched by the dog's intelligence. Einstein is one of two altered life forms escaped from a top-secret lab. The other--The Outsider--is a deadly hybrid. To protect themselves, Travis and Nora must learn to be deadly as well.

Second is Wolf's Hour  by Robert McCammon.  It's another one of the books I used to read over and over.  It contains as you might guess from the title, a werewolf.  But it also takes place during World War II with the Nazis, and so it is a time period that I read a lot from.   Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
D-Day is threatened, but one man could rip the heart of the Nazis -- with his bare claws....

He is Michael Gallatin, master spy, lover -- and werewolf. Able to change shape with lightning speed, to kill silently or with savage, snarling fury, he proved his talents against Rommel in Africa. Now he faces his most delicate, dangerous mission: to unravel the secret Nazi plan known as Iron Fist. From a parachute jump into occupied France to the lush corruption of Berlin, from the arms of a beautiful spy to the cold embrace of a madman's death machine, Gallatin draws ever closer to the ghastly truth about Iron Fist. But with only hours to D-Day, he is trapped in the Nazis' web of destruction....

The third book is kind of a chick lit type of story, although maybe a bit deeper than some of the others that I've shared.  It's called Why Girls Are Weird. Something I liked was that it had a companion book titled Why Moms Are Weird that was also good.  Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
She was just writing a story.
When Anna Koval decides to creatively kill time at her library job in Austin by teaching herself HTML and posting partially fabricated stories about her life on the Internet, she hardly imagines anyone besides her friend Dale is going to read them. He's been bugging her to start writing again since her breakup with Ian over a year ago. And so what if the "Anna K" persona in Anna's online journal has a fabulous boyfriend named Ian? It's not like the real Ian will ever find out about it.
The story started writing itself. 

Almost instantly Anna K starts getting e-mail from adoring fans that read her daily postings religiously. One devotee, Tess, seems intent on becoming Anna K's real-life best friend and another, a male admirer who goes by the name of "Ldobler," sounds like he'd want to date Anna K if she didn't already have a boyfriend. Meanwhile, the real Anna can't help but wonder if her newfound fans like her or the alter ego she's created. It's only a matter of time before fact and fiction collide and force Anna to decide not only who she wants to be with, but who she wants to be.

Have you read any of these books?  Do any sound good to you?  Will you add any to your TBR list?  And while you're here, don't forget to enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

First, thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer and Bray/HarperTeen for allowing me to read an egalley of this book.  I actually have an ARC of the book before, Cruel Beauty, and for some reason I hadn't gotten around to reading it yet.  But after reading this one, I'm really looking forward to getting it out and reading it as soon as I can.  This is another fairy tale retelling, although it is a combination of two according to the author, one that I haven't read.  The two she lists are Red Riding Hood and The Girl With No Hands, which the second one I haven't actually read, although I've heard of it more lately, so I should probably find the original tale and read it.

The main character is Rachelle.  The Red Riding Hood part is that she apprentices for her aunt, and when she goes to visit her she is stopped by what is called a forestborn.  She thinks that she has to give into him in order to save her aunt or her family, but instead it doesn't work.  Once you are marked by a forestborn you must kill within three days or you will die.  She gets back to her aunt's place to see that she has already been almost killed by the forestborn, and so she chooses to put her aunt out of her misery, and that in turn saves her own life.  But she must leave now, as a bloodbound she is a threat, and most people will kill her, especially once they know she killed her own aunt.  She leaves and is taken into the army that serves the King, they are all bloodbound, but their job is to search out and kill the monsters, and the other bloodbound that refuse to serve the king and keep the people safe.  Rachelle hates this.  All she can do is try to make up for the horrible thing she's done.  And she feels working for the king will do this.  Or is the closest thing to it that she can do.  She works with her captain, Erec, who also seems to want her more than just as one of his soldiers.  But she doesn't want to be just another girl on his long list.  And then comes Armand.  Armand is an illegitimate son of the King.  He claims to have been attacked by the forestborn, been marked, but refused to kill anyone.  And so they took his arms, but somehow he survived. Because of this the people think he is a saint, that he was able to escape death.  And the King seems to want him around, possibly as the future heir to the throne.  Somehow Rachelle ends up having to guard him.  When she learns of a a sword that might be able to end the Devourer, the evil master of all forestborn, she decides to go ahead and try to find it and kill him.  Unfortunately it seems the King and Erec, are set on having her guard Armand.  Fortunately, she soon learns Armand may have some knowledge that will help her find the sword.  And it may even be at the place they are traveling.

Rachelle must fight her disbelief of Armand's story, along with the feelings that are growing the more time she spends with him.  And then there is Erec, always there trying to wile his way into her life as more than a friend.  In the end she will have to decide who she can really trust, and it may not be who she thinks.

I loved the mythology of the story, and I grew to really like the characters.  I don't feel there was insta-love, so that is a bonus for some I know.  The love developed more likely, even though there is a point when they feel it may have just to do with the danger of the situation.  And it is such a neat setting and a neat way to wrap up the story.  A great fairy tale, or two, retelling once again. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Gatherers (Harvesting #0.5) by Ashley Ehlers

The Gatherers
by Ashley Ehlers
(Harvesting #0.5)
Publication date: April 25th 2015
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Ashley and Jason weren't the only ones to have an encounter with The Harvesters that day....

Coleen hasn’t been the happiest with her father remarrying, especially to the mother that gave birth to her enemy, Virginia. Bleach blonde bimbo as Coleen thought the moment they started high school. But since they’ve graduated, their parents married for a year now, Coleen has seen a whole new side of Virginia and the girls have gotten closer than ever. However the parents don’t see it, as the girls put up a front, so they plan a getaway to the family’s cabin before the girls go off to college.

Being away from the city is exactly what the girls wanted. Virginia even has something special planned for Coleen on this holiday and being out in the woods is the perfect setting for it. Though things get put on hold when their family dog Trudy runs away and Coleen’s step mother insists she goes out and find her. So as Coleen walks into the woods she gets a chilling sign from her step mother, Tori, which starts a domino effect of bloody unforgettable events.


Purchase book 1:

Newly married Ashley Ehlers now resides in San Diego with her husband who is currently stationed there. There in their cozy two bedroom apartment she finds the peace she’s been looking for. As they settle into the new chapters of their lives Ashley’s Muses are growing stronger than ever as inspiration is around every corner in her latest adventure.

Author links:

A to Z April: V Reviews - Vanished by T.J. MacGregor/Vitals by Greg Bear

I must admit I was surprised that I didn't have more books that started with V.  But most of the ones I've read actually have been since I've started reviewing.  And some I'd kind of already mentioned with other books by the same author.  A couple I thought about talking about were ones that I feel are already popular and so didn't really need any extra help from me.  So I picked two adult science fiction titles to share today.

First is Vanished by T.J. MacGregor.  I'm guessing I picked the book up because it compared the author to Dean Koontz, who I have mentioned many times before as one of my favorite authors.  I gave it 4 of 5 starts on Goodreads, and here is the blurb from Goodreads:
Hundreds of birds lined his maple trees. In his eighteen years as a country veterinarian, Max Thorn had never seen anything like them. They were watching, waiting until Max's wife, Ellen, left on her morning run. At the edge of their property, she turned to wave and began to fade before his eyes. One minute she was there, the next she had vanished, leaving no trace but a circle of dead foliage and birds.

Presumed guilty of Ellen's murder, Max finds himself on the run, desperate to prove his innocence. But as he soon discovers, his wife's chilling disappearance is not an isolated incident. Across the nation, other strange vanishings have been reported, other mentions of the mysterious birds and scorched earth, and it's clear that nothing will ever be the same again. Now, it will take a man, a woman, and a child to discover the chilling truth, before all hope vanishes. 

Second I chose a book by a more well known author, Greg Bear, and that book is Vitals.  I enjoyed Darwin's Radio by the author, and this title was probably one I got as a stripped cover at the bookstore where I work.  It has to do with living forever and the scientific search to find a way to do that.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
Hal Cousins is one of a handful of scientists nearing the most sought after discovery in human history: the key to short-circuiting the aging process. Fueled by a wealth of research, an overdose of self-confidence, and the money of influential patrons to whom he makes outrageous promises, Hal experiments with organisms living in the hot thermal plumes in the ocean depths. But as he journeys beneath the sea, his other world is falling apart.

Across the country, scientists are being inexplicably murdered–including Hal’s identical twin brother, who is also working to unlock the key to immortality. Hal himself barely eludes a cold-blooded attack at sea, and when he returns home to Seattle, he finds himself walking into an eerie realm where voices speak to him from the dead . . . where a once-brilliant historian turned crackpot is leading him on a deadly game of hide-and-seek . . . and where the beautiful, rich widow of his twin is more than willing to pick up the pieces of Hal’s life–and take him places he’s never been before.

Suddenly Hal is trapped inside an ever-twisting maze of shocking revelations. For he is not the first person to come close to ending aging forever–and those who came before him will stop at nothing to keep the secret to themselves. Now every person on earth is at risk of being made an unsuspecting player in one man’s spectacular and horrifying master plan.

From the bottom of Russia’s Lake Baikal to a billionaire’s bionic house built into the cliffs of the Washington seashore, from the darkest days of World War II and the reign of Josef Stalin to the capitalist free-for-all that is the United States, Vitals tells an astounding tale of the most unimaginable scientific secret of all–exposed by the quest for immortality itself . . .

Have you read either of these books?  Or either of these authors?  Are you a science fiction fan?  And don't forget to enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 24, 2015

A to Z April: U Reviews - Uglies by Scott Westerfeld/Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman

My two book choices today couldn't be farther apart in what type of story they are. The first is a YA Science Fiction/Dystopian story, a series that I LOVE!  The second is a classic realistic fiction story about an inner city school and what a teacher who works there deals with while trying to do her best to educate according to her ideals.

First is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.  I love, love, love this series.  The first book was what sounded like an idea world.  You go through your adolescence dealing with all the things everyone does now, awkwardness, acne, growing into your features, etc.  But then at a certain age everyone has surgery and becomes what is called a Pretty, which is the second book in the series.  It's kind of the way kids feel about when they finally become an adult, how all those problems are supposed to magically disappear, like having surgery.  Of course there is more to the story than just a surgery to fix your looks, as you'll find as you read it!  Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license - for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all.

The choice Tally makes changes her world forever...

I also got to meet the author a year or so ago, here I am with him:

My second book is a classic called Up the Down Staircase.  I don't remember how I got ahold of this one, but it was an eye opener for me as someone who wanted to be a teacher.  I grew up going to a private school until 8th grade, then I went to a suburban school for high school.  So the way the students were in this book were not at all like I was used to as a student myself.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
Bel Kaufman's Up the Down Staircase is one of the best-loved novels of our time. It has been translated into sixteen languages, made into a prize-winning motion picture, and staged as a play at high schools all over the United States; its very title has become part of the American idiom.

Never before has a novel so compellingly laid bare the inner workings of a metropolitan high school. Up the Down Staircase is the funny and touching story of a committed, idealistic teacher whose dash with school bureaucracy is a timeless lesson for students, teachers, parents--anyone concerned about public education. Bel Kaufman lets her characters speak for themselves through memos, letters, directives from the principal, comments by students, notes between teachers, and papers from desk drawers and wastebaskets, evoking a vivid picture of teachers fighting the good fight against all that stands in the way of good teaching.

So, have you read either of these books?  If not, do you think you might want to now?   And while you're here, don't forget to enter my contest below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Be Not Afraid by Celilia Galante

First, thanks to Random House Books for Young Readers and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  Obviously the cover is pretty creepy looking.  This is a great horror story, much better than I was expecting, which I know is horrible to say, but I'd never heard of the author, so wasn't sure.  I was definitely pleasantly surprised.  I could totally see this as a movie, in fact I'd be very excited to go see it.  If you know someone who can get it turned into a movie, get it to them!

The main character is Marin.  Her mother committed suicide about a year or so ago, and right at that time she started seeing colors and shapes inside of people.  She soon figured out she was seeing their pain.  No one believed her though, even after she went and saw many therapists and even regular medical doctors.  Her father moved the two of them to live with his mother.  She's got one friend, Lucy.  She thought maybe she'd have another, when one of the really popular girls invited her over shortly after she started the new school.  Instead that visit ended up in Marin being locked in the closet by the girl, Cassie, and screaming and yelling to be let out until Cassie's older brother Dominic heard her and let her out. 

All the different pain colors that Marin sees are so bright sometimes that she has to wear sunglasses, or in chapel she tries to read a book, until one of the nuns takes it away.  It is while they are in this mass that all of a sudden Cassie stands up and starts yelling that the communion wafer is hurting her and screaming and having almost a seizure. And as she goes down the aisle she stops right in front of Marin's row and points at Marin and says something about "It's You!"  Then she does fall on the floor and have a major seizure.  Everyone is freaked out of course, including Marin, who gets sent home early because of being traumatized.  When Marin decides to go see her friend Lucy, who has been calling and texting constantly, she is waylaid along the way when Dominic shows up.  He says that Cassie has been asking for Marin, and he's hoping that maybe if she sees her, it will help her feel better or at least calm her down.

For some reason having Marin around helps Cassie, when it's not sending her into major fits.  There seems to be something inside Cassie though.  Marin sees a black shadow inside her, something she's never seen before.  And this black thing moves around, and hides at times.  Soon Dominic and Marin will begin to think that Cassie is possessed by a demon.  And Dominic will feel it is up to him to try to save his sister.  He and Marin will grow close in their trials with this.  In the end there will be evidence to where the demon came from, and Marin and Dominic will even ask the priest from their school to help with an exorcism. 

A great story.  All the normal things you expect with possessions, and even a lot of the tings for exorcisms.  I really liked it.  I really mean that I could see it as a horror movie.  It definitely reads perfectly like many that I've seen.  If you like stories of exorcisms and demon possession, this is a good one!  

A to Z April: T Reviews - Total Constant Order by Crissa-Jean Chappell/Tales of the Slayers/ Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth

Again the letter T has a lot of titles, so I narrowed it down to 3.  One of them is from the Buffyverse but each one in the series is by different authors, so I can't list that for sure in the title of this post.  And the other is the first book I read by an author that I think deserves more attention for her amazing teen novels.

First is Total Constant Order by Crissa-Jean Chappell.  Ms. Chappell is an author that I feel deserves so much more attention.  Her books all have a great theme to them.  Some kind of hard hitting subject that you may not often see in stories, or at least they are not done as well as this author does.  This book I think was one of my first e-galleys, and I loved it.  I also got to meet the author the first year I went to BEA.

Here's the blurb for the book I'm spotlighting today from Goodreads:
Fin can't stop counting. She's always heard a voice inside her head, ordering her to listen, but ever since she's moved to the Sunshine State and her parents split up, numbers thump like a metronome, rhythmically keeping things in control. When a new doctor introduces terms such as "clinical depression" and "OCD" and offers a prescription for medication, the chemical effects make Fin feel even more messed up. Until she meets Thayer, a doodling, rule-bending skater who buzzes to his own beat—and who might just understand Fin's hunger to belong, and her struggle for total constant order.

Crissa-Jean Chappell's candid and vividly told debut novel shares the story of a young teen's experience with obsessive compulsive disorder and her remarkable resolve to find her own inner strength.

The second book is kind of a series.  If you watched the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series you know that there have been slayers all throughout history.  And we also know that there are those in training up until the current chosen one dies, and then one of them is called into service. This fascinating side series goes into the stories about the other slayers.  There are some great authors that wrote the different books in this series, included Nancy Holder, Christopher Golden, Yvonne Navarro, Mel Odom, just to name a few.  Here is the blurb for the first one from Goodreads:
A collection of original short stories based on the hit TV series created by Joss Whedon

Into every generation, a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, to find the vampires where they gather, and to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. In our time, that girl is Buffy Summers. But Buffy is merely one Slayer in an eternal continuum of warriors for the Powers That Be.

We've known of others; The Primal Slayer, who stalked the earth and the forces of darkness in fierce solitude... Nikki, the funky hipster whose demise at Spike's hands lent an urban edge to his wardrobe and a bigger bounce to his swagger. Slayers by nature have a limited life expectancy; for each one who falls, another rises to take her place.

Tales of the Slayer, Vol. 1, chronicles Slayers past who have influenced -- and are influenced by -- the traditions and mythologies of yore. From ancient Greece, to aristocratic Slayers holding court in revolution-era France, to the legend of the Bloody Countess Elizabeth Bathory, to 1920's Munich, each girl has a personal history, a shared moral code, and a commitment to conquer evil, regardless of the cost...

The last book I want to talk about today is the first in another series, it is called Through Violet Eyes by Stephen Woodworth.  One that I don't feel got the attention it should have either.  It was a science fiction type of story, about people who can communicate with the dead.  People born with violet colored eyes.  But their lives are not as easy, even though they have jobs just lined up for them.  Because now they have a serial killer after them.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
In a world where the dead can testify against the living, someone is getting away with murder. Because to every generation are born a select few souls with violet-colored eyes, and the ability to channel the dead. Both rare and precious—and rigidly controlled by a society that craves their services—these Violets perform a number of different duties. The most fortunate increase the world's cultural heritage by channeling the still-creative spirits of famous dead artists and musicians. The least fortunate aid the police and the law courts, catching criminals by interviewing the deceased victims of violent crime.

But now the Violets themselves have become the target of a brutal serial murderer—a murderer who had learned how to mask his or her identity even from the victims. Can the FBI, aided by a Violet so scared of death that she is afraid to live, uncover the criminal in time? Or must more of her race be dispatched to the realm that has haunted them all since childhood?

Have you heard of either of my authors I've talked about here that I feel need more attention?  Have you read their books?  How about the extra stories for the Buffyverse?  Do you think those sound like fun?

While you're here, make sure you enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: The Replaced (The Taking #2) by Kimberly Derting

First, thanks to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  I was happy to get this early since I got to read the first one, The Taking, as an e-galley as well.  If you haven't read the first one, this will definitely have some spoilers.  The last one left you hanging and waiting to know what would happen next!

We pick up shortly after the end of the first book.  When we left off, her new boyfriend, Tyler, her father, and the horrible Agent Truman had all disappeared when the fireflies and bright lights went away.  Kyra had to go live in the camps with the other "Returned" as they called themselves because she'd learned that her blood really was toxic to her friends and family. That is part of why she'd tried to get the aliens to take Tyler in the first place, so that they could save him.  But now she's waiting with them for any sign about where Tyler and her father went.  Normally people are returned in about 48 hours.  Kyra was different, being gone for five years.  And as we've learned, she even has some differences from the others.  Like she can heal much quicker.  However it seems there is no word from either her dad or Tyler.  But soon there is something out there, a cryptic message that seems to maybe be from her dad.  And then a message from the NSA about an unknown boy who has shown up.  So Kyra decides she has to go to where they are supposed to have found the boy.  Even if it is a trap, she has to know.  She feels it was her fault he got taken in the first place. 

Along the way they will stay at some other camps, ones where there is history between the leaders of the camps, between Simon, the camp she first was at, Thom, from the latest camp, and even one more, Griffin.  They will run into their nemesis on their search.  Griffin, not a guy, a beautiful girl actually.  And there will be some strange things going on when they find out if Kyra's dad or Tyler made it.  It seems maybe there is now not only the "Returned", but people like Kyra who are more what they call "Replaced".  You'll have to read the book yourself to find out out what that means, and if Tyler and Kyra will be reunited.  And will you want them to be?  Simon seems to have feelings for Kyra, whether she wants him to or not. And he will make her think about whether the strength of her connection to Tyler is real, or if it is just based on her guilty feeling for exposing him to her blood and having him need to be rescued by the aliens.  And it won't just be Agent Truman they have to deal with, but also there is a traitor within the Returned. 

As I've noticed, and I think mentioned in the past, the second book is often what seems to be an "on the road" or traveling story.  This one definitely has that feel.  But it was good. We got a lot of good information about the aliens, as well as their history here on Earth with this book.  And we got a look at what might be their next move with humans.  Enough so that I again am left hanging and waiting for the next book to come out, which has no release date set as of yet, but I'm hoping for this time next year!

I did get to meet the author last year shortly after I read the book, here is the picture of me with her!

While you're here, go check out my giveaway on one of my A to Z Challenge posts, like my R Post yesterday!

A to Z April: S Reviews - Strangers by Dean Koontz/Summer to Die by Lois Lowry/Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Since there were soooooo many books that started with the letter S, it was really hard to narrow it down to just two to review today. So I'm going to do three that are ones that I just couldn't give up on as I tried to decide.  The first is one of my all time favorite Dean Koontz books.  The next one is one of the books I read as a teen over and over.  And the last one is a sequel to Gone with the Wind, one of my favorite all time books ever since high school.

First is Strangers by Dean Koontz.  I read this book over and over, even at over 700 pages, I could read through it in a day or two because of what a good read it was.  It is a UFO type of story.  There are bits that make you think of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but all in all it is just one of Koontz's great earlier stories.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
A surgeon, a writer, a motel-keeper, a priest and a thief; they have nothing in common - nothing but one hot summer night at the Tranquillity Motel: a night filled with unending terror; a night when an awesome power stripped them of their memories.

Now the evil is creeping back into their minds. Slowly, tauntingly, maddeningly, they are recalling the unspeakable events of that fateful moonlit evening. And as the vision of evil grows clearer, the guests of the Tranquillity Motel seek each other out. Some of them will not live to face the power head on. But some will - in a terror-packed climax unlike anything ever experienced before...

Second is A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry.  It's one of her sad teen stories that she wrote so many of.  It's not at all a dystopian story like The Giver.  This is about a girl who gets leukemia and how her family deals with it.  I don't know if I can put my finger on all the little things that have influenced my life from this book, but there are many.  Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
Meg isn't thrilled when she gets stuck sharing a bedroom with her older sister Molly. The two of them couldn't be more different, and it's hard for Meg to hide her resentment of Molly's beauty and easy popularity. But now that the family has moved to a small house in the country, Meg has a lot to accept.

Just as the sisters begin to adjust to their new home, Meg feels that Molly is starting up again by being a real nuisance. But Molly's constant grouchiness, changing appearance, and other complaints are not just part of a new mood. And the day Molly is rushed to the hospital, Meg has to accept that there is something terribly wrong with her sister. That's the day Meg's world changes forever. Is it too late for Meg to show what she really feels?

The last book I want to talk about today is Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley.  When this book came out I devoured it.  Shortly after the book was out, they made a mini-series for tv of it.  And while it was okay, it skipped some of the parts I loved about the book. But isn't that how it always is?  This book picks up after Rhett left Scarlett.  It includes her taking a trip to Ireland to be with her father's side of the family.  She finds out that Rhett seems to be done with her when she went back to try to get him back.  Her mother's family demands she has nothing to do with her father's family, it all leads to her trip to Ireland, along with a new romance, one that soon turns into a murder, that Scarlett will be blamed for.  Here is the pretty nondescript blurb from Goodreads:
The timeless tale continues... The most popular and beloved American historical novel ever written, Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind is unparalleled in its portrayal of men and women at once larger than life but as real as ourselves. Now bestselling writer Alexandra Ripley brings us back to Tara and reintroduces us to the characters we remember so well: Rhett, Ashley, Mammy, Suellen, Aunt Pittypat, and, of course, Scarlett. As the classic story, first told over half a century ago, moves forward, the greatest love affair in all fiction is reignited; amidst heartbreak and joy, the endless, consuming passion between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler reaches its startling culmination. Rich with surprises at every turn and new emotional, breathtaking adventures, Scarlett satisfies our longing to reenter the world of Gone With the Wind, and like its predecessor, Scarlett will find an eternal place in our hearts.

Talking about all three of these has made me want to read them again!  So tell me, are you a Dean Koontz reader?  If so, have you read this one?  Did you read Lois Lowry as a teen?  And have you read this sequel to Gone With the Wind?

While you're here, be sure to enter the giveaway that is going along with my A to Z challenge!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 All Time Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is sponsored by The Broke and The Bookish.  Now, I try not to do too many extra posts when I'm doing the A to Z Challenge, but this is a topic I couldn't pass up.  I love to talk about my favorite authors!  As well as promote some that I think need some love.  The top this week is a hard one, how can I only pick 10?  The instructions for today say that you could narrow it down to maybe just one genre, or make a list of 20 if you had to.  I'm going to do my best to stay at 10, so just know that there will definitely be authors left off that are really, really awesome.  These authors I'm going to share are ones that I either will pretty much auto-buy their books, or ones that not only have I loved one of their books, but they are really awesome to meet or talk to on social media.  This is so hard!!!

1.  Stephen King 

This past year I got to be in the same room at the same time as Stephen King.  Didn't get to meet him personally, but still this was pretty exciting.  For the most part I love all of his books.  I'm not that into his Dark Tower series, I read all the ones up before he took that little break, and now I just need to read the others.  I'm just not sure if I'll be able to remember enough to get back into them without going back and re-reading the others, and I know that I'm not going to do that.  

2.  Dean Koontz

I would do almost anything to get to meet him.  His love of dogs, and how he writes about them just makes him one of my favorite authors.  While I'm a few books behind in his Odd Thomas series, and there was a recent book of his that was almost too "dense" for me, I still will pretty much buy and read all his books at some point.  Well, I take that back.  I don't know that I'll read his Frankenstein series.

3.  Robert McCammon

I have almost all of his books.  There was a time when his books were auto-buy for me.  In doing this blog post I just saw that he has a new book coming out that they say is more like the way his book Swan Song was, which is one of my favorite books!  So just added that on Goodreads!

4.  Cara Lynn Schultz

Cara, and I call her Cara because we've met and hung out in person, like you see in this picture, was one of the first authors who I read their book from Netgalley.  I read it, you see it in the picture there, Spellbound, loved it, and immediately found her on social media.  We tweeted back and forth, etc.  Then when I went to visit my sister in NYC for the first time, I kind of hinted asking if she might be willing to meet up some where so that I could meet her and get an autograph.  And you know what?  She did!  We met over close to Bryant Park by the library where Carrie almost gets married in the Sex and the City movie.  We went and had a drink at a little bar by the ice skating rink and talked and hung out for a long time!  I will always be pushing her books, as I love the characters in them.  They are totally people that I want to hang out with, they make me laugh when I read their conversations, and the stories are really unique as well.  Plus I love all the NYC stuff she throws in, especially now that I've visited and can picture those places in my mind.  (Please go buy her books if you haven't read them yet!!)

5.  Maggie Stiefvater

So yeah, I've met her like 5 times.  And, one of the times, the first year I got to go to BEA, a publishing company found one of my pictures, the last one you see in above, and wanted to put it in a biography about her.  I love her books.  Again, it is the wonderful characters that I fall in love with.  I feel like I used to get to talk more to her on social media as well. There was a point when a very small side character in The Raven Boys might have shared my last name.  But alas, that character got cut.  I think she recognizes me now whenever I go see her. But I feel like maybe she thinks I'm stalking her?  Guess I might need to cut back on going to events to see her.  But I do need all of my books to be autographed if I get the chance, right?  Sorry Maggie, I'm not trying to be a creepy stalker!  I promise!  

6.  Heather Brewer

 Another awesome author I've been lucky enough to meet more than once.  I not only love her writing, but as an online presence she is wonderful.  She is really there for all her fans, or minions as she calls them (us).  She speaks out about bullying, as someone who endured it in her past.  She is very open about her own depression and feelings, and I love that about her.  I think she is such a  neat person.   Her latest book, The Cemetery Boys, was one I really enjoyed and am currently featuring as one of my staff recommendations at the Barnes and Noble where I work part time.

7.  Jonathan Maberry

This is another author I've had several opportunities to meet.  I love his Rot and Ruin series.  He is also a great social media presence.  From interacting with him online I won a contest to get to name his next book in that series.  It is a collection of short stories from the world, and it has been available as an e-book, but will come out in hard copies later this year.  The title I helped come up with is Tooth and Nail.  Can't wait to own a copy of it!

8.  A.G. Howard

I love, love, love the Splintered series and was so excited to get to meet the author last summer at BEA.

OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!!!!  I only have two more spots and I can't decide who else to include!!!  If I don't include you, just know it's not because I don't love you!!!!  I think I'll post the  next two on authors that I've read a ton of their books.

9.  William Sleator
This author has passed away not too long ago, but I loved all of his books.  The Boy Who Couldn't Die, House of Stairs, you name it, I devoured it if I could get ahold of it.

10.  Margaret Peterson Haddix
I have loved all of her books I've read, I believe the first of which was The Shadow Children series.  I got to meet her last year, which was very exciting.  I am behind in her Missing series right now, but need to catch up! 

Oh my gosh, so many more I want to talk about:  Michelle Madow, Tessa Gratton, Brenna Yovanoff, James Rollins, Steve Alten, Douglas Preston, Michael Grant, CJ Omololu, Jackie Morse Kessler, Kiera Cass, Kimberly Derting, Jennifer Brown, the list goes on and on. 

If you were going to do this, who would you pick?  Could you easily narrow down to only 10 favorite authors?  I know I didn't really do very well, but tried!

If you have time, you should stop by and enter into my A to Z Challenge giveaway on any of the letter posts, like my R Post today.