Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: The Boy I Love by Nina de Gramont

The Boy I LoveRelease date: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Wren has been content to stay in her best friend Allie’s shadow. It doesn’t bother her that Ally gets the cutest guys, the cutest clothes, and even a modeling gig—Wren is happy hanging with the horses on her family’s farm and avoiding the jealousy of other girls. But when Tim, the most intriguing guy in school, starts hanging out with Ally and Wren, jealousy is unavoidable, but not the kind Wren expects. Because even though Ally is wayyy into him and Wren hasn’t flirted, not one little bit, it becomes increasingly clear that Tim prefers Wren’s company above anyone else’s.

Tim’s unexpected devotion comes at the exact time Wren’s home life is about to be turned upside down. Her parents have just found out that the family horse farm is on land that was once a slave plantation and are struggling with whether to sell it. Wren aches at the thought of losing her horses and leaving town, but at least there is Tim...always a gentleman on their dates. Such a gentleman. Too much of a gentleman, even, and Wren begins to wish he’d be a wee bit less gentlemanly. And as Tim’s church becomes actively homophobic, his pressuring parents don’t understand why he won’t help “spread the word,” and he’s now a wreck. Then he tells Wren his biggest secret, and Wren must decide what she’ll really do for love.

*Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange of an honest review.




Intriguing, thought-provoking, and heartfelt. I must say The Boy I Love turned out to be one heck of a surprise. Initially, I didn't know how I'd feel about the story because in the first two chapters I was iffy, and I suspected one of the themes right off so I feared it'd be too predictable and I wouldn't enjoy it. But I was wrong. I'm also happy to not have read the synopsis beforehand because yeah, dead giveaway. 

So, aside from the issue of two friends having a childish fallout over a guy with his own problems, I liked the other aspects of the story that brought up racial discrimination, as well as how the author worked in the effects of owning a land that played its part in a horrific period in history. Not only that, but the main character and her family were going through a great deal throughout the story and I truly felt for them. Their situation was quite relatable for many as its true to the state of the economy. Their emotions were real, and the impact of their struggle was real. 

Another thing I liked was how discrimination wasn't only about race, but the author showed how it applied to sexual orientation as well, and what many individuals have to face because of who they are and who they love. I was deeply moved by the main character's beliefs in that sense and her drive to wanting to do something, regardless of how she feels about Tim. I think she was a strong character and you don't find that often in young adult books, so that was another positive in this story.

Speaking of characters, let me tell you I did not like Wren's best friend from beginning to end. Allie just came off snotty and conceited to me. Like I get being shy, because I am, and not having the courage to talk to someone you have a crush on. But come on, you can't get mad if he likes someone else. You have no claims over him whatsoever. So the fact that she got mad at her best friend because Tim had established a relationship with Wren was just stupid to me. And I wanted to slap her when she didn't seem to care that Wren was going through so much and needed a friend. No wonder Wren couldn't tell her about Tim, regardless if he made her promise not to tell anyone. She just came off too self-centered. Basically, she was a bitch and I could see why she wasn't getting what she wanted. Her personality sucked.

Moving on, I liked Wren's family life and the dynamics of her home. Her parents were really great, realistic people and I liked how involved they were. Not only in her life but in the story. Their characters were equally strong throughout and I liked how she could talk to them. That's another thing that's rare in books (parents, fathers in particular, aren't very present). But I really enjoyed that part of the story.

In conclusion, The Boy I Love was an enjoyable read. It's fast-paced, fluid writing style that was easy to fly through in no time. The descriptions were good. I felt like I was living every scene. And my interest was held throughout. I must admit, there were one or two parts that had me saying huh? but for the most part, I liked this one and definitely will check out the author's other books.


About the Author
Nina de GramontNina de Gramont is the author of the acclaimed Meet Me at the River and Every Little Thing in the World as well as the story collection Of Cats and Men and the adult novel The Gossip of Starlings. Her work has appeared in Redbook, Harvard Review, Nerve, and Seventeen. Nina lives with her husband and daughter in coastal North Carolina. You can visit her at NinadeGramont.com

Release Day Blast: Bound To You by Stormy Smith

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Series: Bound Series #1
Release date: July 24th 2014
Publisher: Perfect Storm Publishing, LLC
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Amelia grew up in a world of half-truths. She knows she's an Elder but has no idea what that means. Her father reminds her daily that she must maintain control but he refuses to explain why. Even worse, she's betrothed to the prince of the Immortals and she doesn't even know his name. 

Finally breaking free to live a few normal years at a community college, the last thing Amelia expects is to find her best friend in a cheeky Southern girl and to fall for a self-assured human who sees her for who she is and not what she'll be.

As she learns more about herself, Amelia realizes the line between love and duty is a thin one. As her power continues to increase exponentially and her questions are slowly answered, Amelia must make the ultimate choice. The question is, will her head or her heart win the battle?

Stormy SmithAbout the Author
Stormy Smith calls Iowa’s capital home now, but was raised in a tiny town in the Southeast corner of the state. She grew to love books honestly, having a mom that read voraciously and instilled that same love in her. She knew quickly that stories of fantasy were her favorite, and even as an adult gravitates toward paranormal stories in any form. 
Writing a book had never been an aspiration, but suddenly the story was there and couldn’t be stopped. When she isn’t working on, or thinking about, her books, Stormy’s favorite places include bar patios, live music shows, her yoga mat or anywhere she can relax with her husband or girlfriends.
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


Bound by Duty - Prologue

Her stark white hair fell down around her face. For the first time in one hundred years it wasn’t pulled back in a waist-length braid. Her crimson robes were torn and stained. She bit back a groan, her lips a tight line as the pain ripped through her once again. The invisible knife raked its way up her back as wounds no one could see flayed her skin and weakened her resolve. It had been days of this and she wasn’t sure if she could continue. As she looked up and met the queen’s eyes, Lavignia pushed the anger down and forced compassion to rise yet again.

“What is it you hope to learn, Julia? What is it you think you have to gain from all of this?” she asked weakly as she tugged on the restraints that kept her tethered to the heavy wooden chair. Her power was already weak when the Hunters had found her, and the enchanted chamber had dampened what remained to a tiny flame.

The room was dark, but the sun was slowly rising. An orange and pink glow filtered through the small window above Julia’s head. The colorful rays that should have resembled hope of a new day only shed light on the reality that Lavignia would never leave this room alive.

Julia stepped from the shadows and walked slowly toward Lavignia. She stopped and crouched down, putting herself at eye level.

“Oh, Livvy, dear. Don’t do that,” she said, her tone patronizing as her ice crystal eyes narrowed. “Don’t pretend you can still look down on me from your Elder tower. Don’t pretend you can utter your polite words and suddenly I’ll remember who you are versus who I am. I know exactly who I am. I am the one who rules them all. I am the one they will bow down to and worship. I am the Queen. Not you. Or your sisters. Your time is done.”

She looked back over her shoulder to the Hunter who stood in the still dark corner of the room and nodded. The Hunter’s eyes burned bright orange as Lavignia’s screams echoed off the walls. Julia raised her hand and the screams dropped to whimpers. With that same hand, she reached out and took Lavignia’s.

“Livvy, look at me,” she commanded. Dazed, dim violet eyes struggled to focus and find hers. Julia tightened her grip, digging her scarlet nails into Lavignia’s already tender flesh, making her yelp and their eyes connect.

“Livvy, you need to tell me,” she said.  “I know you see it. You knew this day would come and you know I won’t stop until you tell me. I scoured the lands for you. I know there are others left, but they can be saved. You can save them, old friend. You just have to tell me.” Her tone was persuasive and gentle, but the frantic look that passed through her eyes told Lavignia the truth the queen couldn’t hide — she was scared.

“You won’t harm the others? You will let them live out their lives hidden and free? You will swear an oath?” Her words trailed off and Lavignia’s eyes closed, the torture of the last few days taking its toll. She could only hope the oath would keep her people safe.

She didn’t see the triumph that straightened Julia’s posture or the sneer that twisted her thin, painted lips. “Of course, my dear. I swear to you that I will not seek out and harm the remaining Elders. I swear that I will not take their freedom.”

“Your blood,” Lavignia said, her words barely audible.

Julia removed a small dirk from the folds of her skirts and repeated the words as she slid the blade down her palm. As the deep red drop hit the floor, she sent a small wave of power through to heal the wound, reveling in the knowledge that she had won.

“Now, Livvy, darling, you must tell me.” When Lavignia didn’t respond, Julia whipped back around to the still silent Hunter. “Help her. Give her what she needs. NOW!” she commanded, panic finally breaking through her controlled facade.

The Hunter flicked a wrist at Lavignia and she suddenly straightened, her eyes luminescent and shining at the welcome invasion of power that flooded her system, giving her renewed life for a few precious seconds.

With sudden clarity, she saw the future that had eluded her. She looked down on Julia with authority and pity as the words that would cement the queen’s fate fell from her lips.

“You will have your time, but it will end. She will be born to the one who got away. Inside her, the five families will merge and only a man who is both king and companion will tame the wild and set her free. She will be your undoing. She will lead them all.”

Julia reared back, Lavignia’s words not the ones she expected. Seconds later, her dirk was buried deep in Lavignia’s chest. Lavignia collapsed back against the chair, a content smile mocking the queen from her lifeless face.

Julia’s breath heaved in and out in short bursts as she turned to the Hunter. “I made an oath. You did not. Find them. Kill them all.”


Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: Rumors by Erica Kiefer

Rumors (A Lingering Echoes Prequel)Series: Lingering Echoes 0.5
Release date: December 21st 2013
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Allie Collins would rather hide behind rumors than face the truth—her life will never be the same as it was before the accident. As a star athlete grieving in the shadows, she hopes to find normalcy in boys and basketball. When her best friend sets her up with the popular Shane Moretti, Allie drags her feet, reluctant for added complications. Then she decides that dating Shane would be the perfect shield from last summer’s tragedy. However, what starts as a mere distraction proves much more complex. As Shane leads Allie into questionable situations, gossip continues to swirl.

Battling for her own identity while barricading painful emotions, Allie won’t escape her senior year without new wounds. After all, tragedy is no stranger to her. The events that unfold will draw readers deep into a well of emotion in Rumors, a Lingering Echoes Prequel.

*Purchased ecopy from Amazon Kindle




I liked this story. It was fast-paced, well-written, intriguing, and very relatable. Here we have this teen girl who's coping with the death of her cousin. Throughout the story you're given the sense of the guilt Allie feels. At first I thought it was going to be too depressing and overwhelming to read, but I was kept interested from start to finish. I'm glad I read Rumors before picking up Lingering Echoes because the prequel gives a clear understanding of what happened and it transitions into the next book with Allie trying to deal with the tragedy. 

Character-wise, she was understandable, her behavior was justifiable, and in spite of closing off from everyone and holding on to so much pain, Allie was a likable character to me. I might not have experienced such an event, much less know what she's going through, but I know other people have and they can definitely attest to the fact that Rumors is quite a realistic novel. 

I hated how her so-called friends wanted her to snap back into her old ways (sports, hanging out, etc.) Like, how could they not understand that she was dealing with a lot? I was kind of happy when that falling out happened and she stepped away from something she used to be so passionate about. Like her teacher said, you can't go back to your previous life, you have to learn to move on, even if it means changing certain things. It's so sad what happened to him just as someone was getting through to Allie, but I'm glad she took his words into consideration and in a way started to work on the pain.

Aside from what's going on with Allie, I liked how she got to experience a bit of dating, no matter how that turned out. Shane was a nice enough guy, just needed to shake off some people in his crowd, I guess. I also enjoyed the mom's character along with her sisters. I'm glad the author brought us into Allie's family life so we could see how they felt seeing her like that and how much they wanted to help. The mom is one tough cookie. I like her. 

Again, it was a great story with a very interesting plot. The feels are definitely there, in my opinion. I suggest giving this one a read before starting Lingering Echoes, and if you've already read that one, then still come back to Rumors because it clarifies some things and provides an understanding of why Allie is so detached. I highly recommend this one.



BOOK BLITZ~Strange & Ever After by Susan Dennard


IFB is hosting the promo tour for the third and final book in Susan Dennard's steampunk, zombie trilogy. Continue below for a sample and a cool giveaway.

17902141Series: Something Strange & Deadly #3
Release date: July 22nd 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

Susan Dennard will leave readers breathless and forever changed in the concluding pages of this riveting ride.

Susan DennardAbout the Author
Susan Dennard is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. Strange and Ever After is the conclusion to her trilogy, which includes A Darkness Strange and Lovely and Something Strange and Deadly. Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.




The Complete Series
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a-dawn-most-wicked-a-something-strange-and-deadly-novella something-strange-and-deadly a-darkness-strange-and-lovely strange-and-ever-after

 




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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #78

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This is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, where you showcase all the books you've received in the past week. 

I haven't been doing a book haul because I haven't been requesting much. I wanted to get through my TBR. But I received some surprises in the mail over the past from a super awesome lady at Simon & Schuster. 



I am over the top to have received an ARC of Ashes to Ashes because I really enjoyed the first two books. As for Chasing Before, I'd have to read the first book in that series, and I'm not really familiar with The Boy I Love. Seems interesting though.


Special thanks again to Katy at Simon & Schuster books for young readers :)


What's in your haul? Leave the link below so I can stop by.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Shameless by Nina Lemay


Welcome to Nina Lemay's Shameless cover reveal. This is a NA Contemporary Romance. Continue for the giveaway:



Release date: August 18th 2014

Synopsis via Goodreads:
~New Adult Contemporary Romance -- recommended for mature readers~

Girls like me don’t get happy endings.

I know what I am. At worst a cliché, at best a cautionary tale. I put an international border between me and my past, only to wind up working in a low-end titty bar. Even my excuse is as lame as it gets: I’m paying for college, getting my art degree from Montreal’s most prestigious school. Although some days it becomes confusing: am I just a student who moonlights as a stripper, or a stripper who masquerades as a student?

But the inevitable happens and my two lives collide. And now there’s one other person who knows both the quiet, antisocial Hannah and the sensual, shameless Alicia. One person who keeps my secret.

He’s beautiful, he’s sophisticated. He comes from the other side of life, the one where I’m not wanted or accepted. But he calls me la petite Américaine, and his hot, hot hands on my skin promise me things I long ago gave up on.

The problem? He teaches my Classic Photography class.

This is a standalone novel, no series, no cliffhanger.

Nina LemayAbout the Author
Nina Lemay is a YA writer by day and author of sinfully twisted New Adult…well, also by day. She loves all things dark and edgy and never tires of tormenting her characters. While Nina is a fan of all things scary, Gothic, and fantastic, she doesn’t shy away from a gritty contemporary romance when the muse strikes. She lives in Montreal, a city that never fails to inspire, with her partner and her dog.



EXCERPT
--------------------------


His hand slides, hesitant, across the edge of his seat as he leans closer. The black ink of the letters on his knuckles is stark against his skin.

“Show me,” I say.

And he kisses me. Our lips don’t meet smooth and choreographed like in movies. The stubble on his cheek grazes the corner of my mouth, leaving behind a burning trail, and then his lips cover mine. Nothing hesitant about them. Assertive, self-assured like I thought his kiss would be, the promise of those strong hands and broad shoulders and arrogant posture made real. But he’s anything but arrogant. He gently nips on my lower lip and his hands caress my neck, my jaw, cup my face. He’s holding me like I’m something fragile and precious.

I’m afraid to close my eyes.

He has that lavender scent, sharp and clean, with a note of wild muskiness lurking underneath when you get close enough—that note that’s just him. I don’t know what to do with my hands so I slip them under his jacket and put them on his waist, right above his belt. I finally start to sketch out what his body looks like under his shirt: sinewy and fit and hard.

His hands finally move on, mirroring mine, down to my bare belly exposed by my cropped top. The little hairs along my spine stand on end. An involuntary shudder courses through me, making my abs tighten and quiver. His hand finds the small of my back and settles there, guiding me forward with smooth confidence, pulling me toward him. The heat of his palm melts through my skin into my bones and up my spine, softening my muscles until my entire body feels like hot wax held together by a membrane of skin. I tuck my hand under his belt, just the fingertips—past the hem of his shirt where the pads of my fingers find hot, smooth skin over taut muscle.

He groans softly into my mouth. I lean in and slide onto his lap, barely aware that I’m clambering over a car seat. It’s just so smooth and natural, the grooves of our bodies clicking together like a jigsaw puzzle. His hands on my waist, spreading goosebumps all over my belly, up my back and down my arms; then they move up, up, under my top, stopping when they find my bra. Pausing, hesitant.

I kiss my way along his jaw and his neck, peel away the collar of his shirt to continue down his clavicle. His hand settles over my bra and I can feel its heat through the fabric, a tiny little jolt of sensation that lights up my nerve endings like a Christmas tree.

My mind floats up, under the closed sunroof of the Audi, and watches me from there, impassive. I’m aware of everything I’m doing, too aware, but I don’t stop. My body continues like an automaton, the lips, the hands, performing the motions. Like I’m a car on cruise control, easing into the familiar mode. I know what happens next.

A part of me, very deep down, hopes I don’t.

Only one way to find out.

I go for his belt buckle, find it, tug on it. It yields with a soft clink.

And just as I’m about to stick my hand down his pants, he pulls away.

“’Annah,” he pants. His hand slips out from under my shirt and dives down to catch my wrist. His fingers wrap around my wrist bone, strong and firm.

Maybe it’s the touch that zaps me back into my body, disrupts my functioning. The false step that throws off the whole routine, the bad note that ruins the aria.

“What?” I whisper. My body’s nerves settle into normal mode one by one.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“This isn’t right. This is… overstepping.”

I sit back. I’m still balancing with my shins on his legs—kind of like at work when I lean in, my hair brushing over a customer’s face, and ask in a seductive whisper if he wants another dance.

I blink at him in utter dismay. Thrown off. Tossed overboard into unfamiliar territory and I don’t know what to do.

But I want to be doing this, I start to say. We aren’t doing anything wrong. “I’m attracted to you,” he says. His voice still holds a hint of breathlessness. “But then again, you already knew that.”

“But I’m—” I’m attracted to you too. This much should be obvious.
“I know,” he says softly. He lets go of my wrist and instead takes my hand between his hot, hot palms. He brings it to his lips. “But this isn’t right.”



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