Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Come Dancing (Jack and Julia #1) by Leslie Wells

22459712Release date: June 8th 2014
Publisher: Allium Press
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
It’s 1981. Twenty-four-year-old Julia Nash has recently arrived in Manhattan, where she works as a publisher’s assistant. She dreams of becoming an editor with her own stable of bestselling authors—but it is hard to get promoted in the recession-clobbered book biz. 

Julia blows off steam by going dancing downtown with her best friend, Vicky. One night, a hot British guitarist invites them into his VIP section. Despite an entourage of models and groupies, Jack chooses Julia as his girl for the evening—and when Jack Kipling picks you, you go with it. The trouble is … he’s never met a girl like her before. And she resists being just one in a long line. 

Jack exposes her to new experiences, from exclusive nightclubs in SoHo to the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood; from mind-bending recording sessions to wild backstage parties. Yet Julia is afraid to fall for him. Past relationships have left her fragile; one more betrayal just might break her. 

As she fends off her grabby boss and tries to move up the corporate ladder, Julia’s torrid relationship with Jack takes her to heights she’s never known—and plunges her into depths she’s never imagined. 

With a fascinating inside look at publishing, this entertaining story of a bookish young woman’s adventures with a rock superstar is witty, moving, and toe-curlingly steamy.


*I was gifted the ebook by the author in exchange of an honest review.





I read Come Dancing a few weeks ago but wanted to let it soak in before writing a review. Let me just say, the story was quite enjoyable. Loved the 80s setting and how the main character worked in the publishing industry. I found her likable and her daily life to be quite interesting. Her relationship with Jack, a rock star, is one that doesn't happen often and seemed unlikely, but I'm happy they pulled through. Although, there were times I wanted to snap at them both.

Julia was trying to step up as an agent in her company, and not without facing problems with a sleazy boss. She already had a lot on her plate and then when Jack came along, more was added because she wasn't used to being apart of his lifestyle. I liked that she was hard to get and made him realize that just because he's a musician doesn't mean every woman will fall at his feet. Julia gave him quite the work, and the process of him trying to win her over was quite funny and sweet. 

However, there were times that Jack's unflattering musician ways would pop up and Julia would deliberate these things, but she never said anything. She'd started to develop strong feelings for him but still wouldn't speak out against certain things that would upset her. She'd often use his status as an excuse and say he didn't owe her any loyalty. Now, if this was some fling on her part and she wasn't as emotionally invested, I would understand what she was saying and ignore it. But no, she liked him. A lot. So I wish she had spoken out more in the beginning, then maybe when it all had built up towards the end, they wouldn't have ended up in that situation that caused a problem between them. Just saying. 

Still, the story was interesting from start to finish. I loved the writing and how vivid the descriptions were. I felt like I was tossed to the 80s with how Wells described the setting and how things as important today weren't back then, some not even released yet. That was a big plus in the story. I also liked Julia's best friend, Vicky, and how carefree she was. I feel like her role in the story was to keep Julia relaxed when she'd get too high-strong on something. 

Other aspects of the story included Julia's relationship with her mother and how something that happened in the past between her parents sort of made Julia distant. She'd blamed her mother for a lot of things, but I'm happy that they'd managed to resolve their issues and were able to move on. 

There were other things well constructed in the story, from the activities of rock stars--lavish parties, tours, women, and other unappealing stuff--to the workings of the publishing industry. But the strongest thing about Come Dancing was the blossoming relationship between Julia and Jack, and how deeply they felt for each other. I feel the characters and overall plot was greatly developed and I look forward to reading the sequel. Good job Leslie!



Leslie   WellsAbout the Author
Leslie Wells has edited forty-eight New York Times bestsellers in her over thirty-year career, including thirteen number one New York Times bestsellers. She has worked with numerous internationally known authors, musicians, actors, actresses, television and radio personalities, athletes, and coaches. She lives on Long Island, New York.






Wednesday, April 15, 2015

CAN'T WAIT TO READ: Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

21414439Release date: January 5th 2016
Publisher: Tor
Pre-order: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Susan DennardAbout the Author
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.



*Okay, first of all,  I absolutely adore Susan Dennard. Her writing is beyond spectacular. Her debut trilogy blew my mind away and I expect nothing less from this new series. Love the coverart and blurb, and the fact that it has a magical concept. 
One thing is guaranteed when it comes to Ms. Dennard, expect the unexpected and prepare to be intrigued. Can't wait to read Truthwitch!!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: The Truth About Us by Janet Gurtler

Release date: April 7th 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
The truth is that Jess knows she screwed up.
She's made mistakes, betrayed her best friend, and now she's paying for it. Her dad is making her spend the whole summer volunteering at the local soup kitchen.

The truth is she wishes she was the care-free party-girl everyone thinks she is.
She pretends it's all fine. That her "perfect" family is fine. But it's not. And no one notices the lie...until she meets Flynn. He's the only one who really sees her. The only one who listens.

The truth is that Jess is falling apart – and no one seems to care.
But Flynn is the definition of "the wrong side of the tracks." When Jess's parents look at him they only see the differences-not how much they need each other. They don't get that the person who shouldn't fit in your world... might just be the one to make you feel like you belong.

*Publisher approved via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.





The Truth About Us was quiet an interesting read. I could understand and relate to the main character, Jess, from start. Her family was the epitome of dysfunctional, and no one seemed to be addressing any issues. Of course she'd try to release her pent up problems in ways she shouldn't. In my opinion, she was releasing her pent up sorrow the best way she could, even if it wasn't really her, and she was only looking for a way to avoid what was happening in her home. 

I liked the message in this story; not everything is perfect because you have money and live in a nice house with fancy cars. Rich people have problems too. In Jess' case, she was often pre-judged based on where she lived and what she came from. No one really knew what was happening behind closed doors. It's for that main reason why I didn't warm up to Flynn at first. I get that he was in the opposite situation and was probably envious that she had so much, but his attitude when they first met was quite a turn off and made him seem like a jerk. 

Speaking of Flynn, I liked that he worked so hard for his mom and little brother, and the fact that he was diverse. But there were times I wished he'd try harder for his relationship with Jess. She seemed to be the only one fighting most of the time, while he'd give up because it was easier to. There's no excuse to give up on love. None. But honestly, I wasn't really convinced by their feelings for each other. The one aspect of the story that grabbed my attention and held it was the issues Jess was dealing with and I wanted to know what happened to her mom to make her shut away like that. The reason was disturbing. I felt the emotions of the family and sympathized with them. And I was glad that in the end, some things were addressed and they were working to move on from it.

Overall, I liked the writing and pacing of the story. It might have been a little slowish in the beginning, but I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about Jess. I even smiled when she reconnected with an old friend. But that thing with Flynn towards the end, my gosh. It is the only reason why I didn't give the story five stars because I hated what he did and his excuse just didn't work on me. Still, kudos to them, and I'm happy that Jess finally felt like she was enough and could be happy for once.


Janet Gurtler


About the Author
A Rita Award Finalist and Crystal Kite Award Finalist, Janet Gurtler's young adult books have been chosen for the JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION and as BEST BOOKS FOR TEENS from the Canadian Children’s Book Center. Janet lives in Okotoks Alberta, Canada with her husband, son, and a chubby black Chihuahua named Bruce.




Friday, April 10, 2015

Guest Post & Giveaway: When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriquez


Welcome to IFB stop on Cindy Rodriquez' blog tour. I've already read and reviewed When Reason Breaks and I enjoyed the story. See my review hereCheck out Cindy's guest post below and enter to win a awesome prize!

Release date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis via Goodreads:
13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.




~GUEST POST~

Hi, Shane, and thank you so much for having me on your site! You asked me to elaborate on how I incorporated Emily Dickinson’s poetry into When Reason Breaks and how I tied the poems to the main characters’ emotions and/or the plot. Here goes… 

While there are lots of references to Emily Dickinson poems in the novel, including first lines used as chapter titles, only three poems are used in their entirety. 

The first is the poem that begins “I dwell in Possibility –,” and it’s used in Chapter 10 as a back to school activity by Ms. Diaz. I used this poem because I thought it fit the feelings that come with the first days of school. It’s a new year—a fresh start full of possibilities. In taking a closer look at the poem, the students see that Dickinson links “Possibility” with poetry. She lives in and through poetry, which leads Ms. Diaz to ask her students where they dwell and what helps them to understand the world. While Ms. Diaz leads her students through the analysis, Elizabeth notes Abby flirting with Tommy, and Emily notes an exchange between Kevin and Sarah. Ah, the possibilities, indeed. Three chapters later, this poem is referenced in the first anonymous letter left for Ms. Diaz, in which one of the girls begins to express her confusion with events in her life. She writes, “I have vehicles to help me navigate the world, but I can’t make sense of it.” The use of this poem helps to capture the contradictory meanings of the word “possibilities,” and how the girls feel. Having possibilities can leave us feeling optimistic—The possibilities are endless!—or it can leave us feeling confused, as we churn the possibilities over in our minds and not come to any resolutions. 

The next full poem is the one that begins “I was the slightest in the House –,” and it’s used in Chapter 19 when Emily and Elizabeth are matched for an assignment. They have to read and analyze the poem together and then respond to it in writing and visually. This poem works in this scene because, while analyzing the poem, Emily and Elizabeth discover that they both connect to the poem’s narrator. They both feel like the slightest in the house—insignificant even to those closest to them. They both feel like no one truly understands them. When Elizabeth suggests the poem’s narrator may be suicidal, the girls stare at each other for a few uncomfortable moments, silently connecting over their own questions about pain, life, and death. Later in this chapter, when Emily says to Elizabeth, “I see you,” she’s letting Elizabeth know that she understands how she feels because she feels the same way. Emily knows that Elizabeth is in pain and that she’s vulnerable under her badass exterior. 

This chapter is one of my favorites because while the girls are analyzing the poem, they’re also gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and each other. The poem also includes the idea of being afraid to speak, not being able to “live aloud,” which is exactly what both girls need to do if they want to begin the healing process and be understood—really seen and heard—by their friends and family. 

The final poem used fully is the one that begins “All but Death, can be Adjusted –” This poem is recited aloud by Ms. Diaz from memory in Chapter 39 as she faces her class for the first time after a student’s attempted suicide. She tells them that she cares about them as people, not just students, and she encourages anyone who is feeling hopeless to seek help. The poem states that anything can be repaired and made beautiful again, except for death. I chose this poem for this moment because I remembered a high school counselor saying that suicide was a permanent solution to temporary problems. Anything going wrong in our lives can be adjusted, can be repaired and made beautiful again, but severe depression doesn’t allow people to see that. The poem helps Ms. Diaz to make this point with her students. With the proper treatment and support, anything, no matter how insurmountable it may seem, can be reversed, handled differently, altered, or adjusted—except for death. 

Emily Dickinson wrote close to 2,000 poems in her lifetime, so choosing lines to lace into the novel wasn’t always easy. I flipped through my copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson so much while writing and revising the novel that I broke the spine! These three poems in particular, though, were easy choices because they perfectly complemented what was happening and how the characters were feeling in those chapters.

Cindy L.  Rodriguez
Author Bio:
Cindy L. Rodriguez is a former newspaper reporter turned public school teacher. She now teaches as a reading specialist at a Connecticut middle school but previously worked for the Hartford Courant and the Boston Globe. She and her young daughter live in Plainville, Connecticut. This is her debut novel.  










Wednesday, April 8, 2015

BOOK BLITZ~Alice in Wonderland High by Rachel Shane


The promo event for Rachel Shane's YA Contemporary Retelling has ended.

23111784Release date: April 18th 2015
Publisher: Merit Press

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Alice suppresses her need for rebellion after a petition to start a farmer’s market receives more snickers than signatures. That is until Whitney Lapin, a girl who speaks in cryptic riddles and spends her free time turning abandoned warehouses into beautiful gardens, leads her on a rabbit trail into the underground–aka secret society–of Wonderland High. Curiouser and curiouser.

Even though Whitney’s group of teenage environmental vigilantes operates on the wrong side of the law, Alice has never felt more free to be herself. Soon she stomps on her good girl image by completing a series of environmental pranks to impress them: flooding the school and disguising a pig as a baby in order to smuggle it out of a testing facility. But the group refuses to help with the farmer’s market or reveal their hidden agenda. She wants to trust them, and she especially wants to trust (or maybe kiss) Chester Katz, a boy with a killer smile, a penchant for disappearing, and a secret that will really turn Alice‘s world backwards. When one group member tries to frame Alice for all the pranks, she must figure out their secret before she ends up in front of a jury that’s screaming, “Off with her head!”


~EXCERPT~


The plan had seemed utterly attractive while lying in bed. Foolproof, even. Take the keys. Go inside. Find the information to link someone to the crime. Sole the case. What I hadn't factored into everything was guts, which happened to be something I lacked.



I paced in front of Town Hall, my heart pounding as if it was ready to escape my chest and ditch me completely. I paused in front of the rows of white rosebushes lining the entrance and took a deep breath.



You're not breaking and entering, I liked to myself. You have a key.



I counted to three and yanked the keys out of my pocket, but my hands were too clammy. The keys leapt out of my fingers and hit the ground with a metallic clink. 

I should go home and forget about Kingston's stupid-as-hell plan. I tried to move, but my feet wouldn't budge, weighed down by cemented desire. As scared as I was, I wanted to do this. I fumbled for my phone. 3:10 blinked back at me on the LED screen. If I had Chess's phone number, I would call him. Accomplices equaled encouragement.

But it wouldn't have mattered; Chess had refuted Kingston's idea. So had Whitney. If I called her, she'd try to talk me out of this. I knew what a bad idea it was. I'd broken up with my sense of reason when I first followed Whitney through the woods. Might as well descend even farther down the path of wrong and stupid. I let out a crazy laugh that echoed in the silent darkness.

Morality bites.

Before I could stop myself, I flipped through my cell phone until I found Kingston's number. It was absurd that Whitney had made me add my least favorite person's number when I still didn't have my own boyfriend's. Tonight, though, it came in handy.

"What?" he said when he picked up. He didn't sound tired, more like…prepared.

"Hey, it's Alice. I have a weird question."

"Wow. Didn't strike me as the booty-call type."

My nerves erupted out of my mouth in a laugh that sounded almost flirty. I covered it up with a cough. He was calling me crazy, and this was the first time he made sense. "I'm outside Town Hall."

"Keys?"

"Yeah." The word came out all choked.

"Be right there."

"As soon as I hung up, the gravity of what I'd done hit my stomach like a cartoon anvil. I'd just committed to committing a felony. With my enemy.



Rachel ShaneABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Shane studied Creative Writing at Syracuse University and now works in digital publishing at in New York City. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, young daughter, and a basement full of books. ALICE IN WONDERLAND HIGH is her first novel.

www.rachelshane.com | twitter.com/rachshane

instagram.com/shanasilver



~TOUR SCHEDULE~

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~GIVEAWAY~






Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review: Beloved (Belonging #1) by Corinne Michaels

22366853Release date: May 27th 2014
Purchase: Amazon


Synopsis via Goodreads:

Not enough.

Catherine Pope has never been enough. Every man she has ever loved abandoned her—from her father to her fiancé. She finally accepted the fact she would never be enough to hold any man’s heart and soul. 

Then Catherine met Jackson Cole.

When her world literally collided with the sexy former Navy SEAL, everything she always believed is turned upside down and left scattered. He made her feel alive and desirable, consumed her with fierceness and loyalty—which completely unnerved her. Jackson got her in a way no one ever had, giving him the power to destroy her. 

If she breaks down and gives him what’s left of her battered heart—will he protect it? Or will Catherine become an irrelevant part of yet another man’s life? 

Will she get the one thing that has always evaded her – to finally be someone’s beloved?


*Downloaded the Kindle Book





What an emotional roller-coaster. I swear this book had my head all over the place. I must admit that at first I was having trouble with Cat, but then once the story progressed I connected more and understood her feelings. She still frustrated me for the most part though. Like there were times when I wanted to shake her for some of the things she'd do or say. 

Jackson was great until his mood would switch abruptly for reasons I just couldn't figure out. Then towards the end of the story, he really threw me when he made such a decision, basically contradicting everything he'd told Catherine before.

Both characters were deeply hurt and flawed. So if you're looking for perfect these two will probably rub you the wrong way. I liked that they were different than most characters I read about. It made their stories more interesting; more gritty. Like most women, Cat had some insecurities she struggled with. She'd been through a lot of crap with the opposite sex and I was happy when she'd started opening up to Jackson. Him on the other hand, I felt like he should have come clean about his past. I mean, I didn't really see it as that major. 

Overall, Beloved was an enjoyable and emotional read. The writing is great, very easy and quick. I liked that the entire book wasn't drenched in sorrow and that there were sweet and humorous moments. I liked Catherine's roommate too. Her character was significant to the story and truly knew how to snap some sense into Cat. To conclude, I'm looking forward to reading the second book, especially after that heart-wrenching ending. Good job, Corinne. You've made a fan out of me with your raw writing.


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