Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Review/Interview: Flicker and Burn by T.M. Goeglein


Flicker and Burn by T. M. Goeglein

Guest Review by Kari

copy sent for review, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary: Sara Jane Rispoli is still searching for her missing family, but instead of fighting off a turncoat uncle and crooked cops, this time she finds herself on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and pale white skin chasing her through the streets in ice cream trucks; they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They're terrifying and hell bent on killing her, but they're also a link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. While she battles these new pursuers, she's also discovering more about her own cold fury and more about the Chicago Outfit, how the past misdeeds--old murders and vendettas--might just be connected to her present and the disappearance of her family. But connecting the dots is tough and time-consuming and may finally be the undoing of her relationship with the handsome Max--who's now her boyfriend. But for his own safety, Sara Jane may have to end this relationship before it even really starts. Her pursuers who've shown her her mother's amputated finger and the head of the Chicago Outfit who's just whistled her in for a sit-down make a romance unthinkable. The only thing that matters is finding her family and keeping everyone she loves alive.

Review: Flicker and Burn, the second novel of the Cold Fury series, starts off a few months after we last saw Sara Jane Rispoli. Sara Jane knows her family is still alive, but it’s been four months since she has last seen them. She still has the notebook and now that her friend, Doug, knows about what happened, she feels like she has a better chance at finding her family. Sara Jane may have someone to help her with clues, but she is still substituting for her father as Counselor-at-Large for the Chicago Outfit (Chicago’s mob) and things get more complicated when the leader of the Outfit wants to speak to her. She now has to get information for the boss and still deal with everything else in her life.

To make matters worse, she’s being chased by ice cream trucks driven by creatures with red eyes and white skin. They want to capture her and gather blood from her brain (the source of her cold fury power). Sara Jane knows they may have something to do with her family missing and is trying to find out what she can about them. So now, she has to keep her family missing a secret, make sure the Outfit doesn’t know her father isn’t sick, and try to stay away from the ice cream creatures.
T. M. Goeglein doesn’t disappoint in the second novel. It is filled with action throughout the entire book. He introduces more obstacles for Sara Jane to face when her cold fury starts to develop. When she is fighting for her life against the ice cream creatures, she starts to have the urge to kill. It doesn’t help that she seems to give off an electric shock when she gets angry. The stakes seem to be higher in this book because Sara Jane’s personality starts to change. She starts to make sacrifices that she might otherwise not have taken a few months ago. One of which is Doug’s own safety.
Readers also start to learn more about Sara Jane’s family. She starts to realize that her family did not just help the Outfit solve disputes, but they may have been a part of some horrible murders. Another surprise that she learns about her family is that she has a great uncle, aunt, and cousin that live in California. Things get tricky for Sara Jane when they show up in Chicago. She now has to try to keep them unaware of her situation too. After she meets her cousin, Heather, she discovers that she is not the only girl in the family to have cold fury, but Heather’s version is very different, which causes some very interesting events to happen.
This novel is filled with secrets, action, fights, murder, and a very interesting ice cream club. Readers of Cold Fury will not be disappointed. They will fly through this book and enjoy every minute of it. More background is revealed in this novel and once you get to the end you’ll be wanting more.


Interview by Kari


1) How did you come up with the idea of cold fury and the powers associated with it?

 There once was a very bad guy associated with Chicago organized crime named Johnny Roselli whose job was, as the Godfather once said, to make offers that people couldn’t refuse. To do this, he developed something he called ‘the look.’ He’d intimidate his victims by staring at them with his cold, unblinking blue eyes and threaten them in a way that made them obey. The fact that he was carrying a gun and backed up by huge thugs ready to break someone’s knees probably didn’t hurt.

2) What made you interested in writing a book about the Chicago mob?

Living in Chicago, you can’t get away from our mob, called the Outfit. It’s ingrained in everything – the city’s history, government, businesses, you name it. Everyone seems to someone who knows someone in the Outfit.

3) Why did you choose a female as the main character?

One reason – because the Chicago Outfit is, and has always been, male-centric. No women allowed. And I thought it would be cool to see what happened when a super strong, kick-ass young woman infiltrated the ranks and started telling them what to do.

4) Did you get any backlash when readers realized there seemed to be a supernatural element to the story?

Ah ha – you said the magic words – ‘seemed to be.’ The truth is revealed in FLICKER & BURN. But to answer the question, nope, not really. Readers went with it in the same way, I think, that they go with a Stephen King novel when he incorporates all kind of elements into one fast moving, creepy tale.

5) Are you working on any new books?

I am. It’s a rough idea set in Chicago again, with crime elements involved. Very secretive. That’s all I can say.

6) What types of books do you like to read?

I read a lot of everything. Looking at my desk right now, there’s a book about the history of Venice, Every Day by David Levithan, something about the Spanish Inquisition called God’s Jury, Joe Torre’s autobiography, and a workbook, halfway filled in, called the Easy Italian Reader. I’m exhausted just listing all of that stuff.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Behind the Cover: The Silent Deal by Levi Stack

How are book covers created?

By Levi Stack

While skimming over book covers on shelves or scrolling through them online, have you ever wondered how these works of art are created? How illustrators collaborate authors? How artists reinvent the heart and life of a story – only in a different medium? I’m writing to give you an inside look at that unique process. I was lucky enough to work side-by-side with my illustrator, Owen William Weber, so you’ll get to see firsthand what went into the artwork of my award-winning novel, The Silent Deal.

Here’s a summary to give you a feel for the story:

When Viktor and Romulus, two peasant boys in the Russian Empire, dig too deep into their town’s strange past, they awaken the wrath of a mysterious overlord. On a quest for answers (and survival), the blood brothers navigate gambling parlors, Gyspy camps, and dark forests full of wild animals and men alike. But can they escape the deathly experiments their foe is creating in Staryi Castle?

So you get the idea – this is an Old World story, stuffed with thieves and beggars all the way to the fortune-tellers and fire-jugglers of the Romani Gypsies. This is important to recognize because it’s essential to match the time period of the story to the appearance of the cover. If I had written a flashy modern story, I might have a pop art style cover, but because I wrote historical fiction, I wanted an older medium, and an oil painting seemed like the perfect choice.

This is where Owen William Weber came in. He’s an excellent painter, and after viewing his gallery, I immediately wanted him to do the cover art. Because the book deals so much with gambling, I requested the book’s cover resemble a king of spades playing card, with Viktor and Romulus, the two main characters, displayed as the king figures. Owen read my descriptions of the characters, and came back with several potential designs.



We agreed the fourth design was the most balanced, so Owen did a more detailed sketch, including attributes of both the characters. Romulus keeps a wolf as a pet, and carries blades throughout the story. Viktor is the son of a miner, and has to dig for buried items in certain scenes, hence the shovel. Both boys experiment with explosive weapons, as their enemy has banned firearms in their town.



I loved the sketch, but we both agreed that because Viktor and Romulus are serfs, their clothing needed to be rougher and less detailed. They also needed to look a bit younger. Owen carried out one more sketch, and this time it was perfect, save for the fact that we favored Romulus’ face from the first sketch.



The last step was for Owen to actually complete the oil painting. We agreed that rich reds and greens would give the book an older feel, so he handled the color scheme, and finished the work. After the typography was carried out, the cover art was finalized. 



I hope you enjoyed the inside look at how a book cover is created! I would love if you read The Silent Deal. It’s available on Amazon. Or if you want to learn more about me, check out my website, www.levistack.com. Happy reading.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top FOUR Tuesday: Songs that Remind Me of Books

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is actually a freebie-- so I decided to go with ---

Top Four Songs that Remind Me Of Books!

I love finding songs that make me think of novels, and it's something I try and add to my reviews when I can. I wish I could figure out songs for more novels than I do, but sometimes it's a bit difficult. However, today, I'm going to share some songs that remind me of books (some of these have been on the blog before - in the book review- while others are songs I have yet to share).

Yeah, I know, it's Top Ten Tuesday...but I'm running late and I could only get four songs posted, so enjoy my random Top Four Post!

1. Chasing Windmills by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Song: "Weird" by Hanson



2. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Song: "Dear Friend" by Stacie Orrico


3. The Suicide Shop by Jean Teulé

Song: "Worst Case Scenario" by The Hoosiers


4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Song: "Don't Speak" by No Doubt (to explain, I see this as Ginny's song, in regards to Harry, at the end of the novel)


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Who Says You Can't Theme Your Parties?

do not own any photos in this post

Who Says?

Who Says that you can't theme your parties when you're no longer a child?

I'm currently 22- I'll be 23 this coming Thursday actually- but about a year or so ago, I started to really love theming things. This mostly comes out in parties, which are a lot of fun to host. I'll have them for any reason I can - though normally a birthday or a holiday. I had one last summer for a friend's Welcome Home from Spain (it was Wicked themed). You may have seen some of my parties, which I post over at All Grown Up Parties. There hasn't been anything since November, but that will change this summer...since I have two parties coming up with themes!

Party No. 1

The first will be on Sunday, June 2, so in a week --- that theme is a Ladies' Literary Luncheon. It will take place in the afternoon and I've invited all my (local) girlfriends to join, where we will eat food that I have connected to various books. I even have a game and a prize figured out! I don't want to say too much, as I will post about this on my other blog (with photos!).

Party No. 2

My next party will take place sometime in July, so I still have awhile to plan. Don't worry - I've already started. However, the photo on the top of the page now makes sense. My July party is for my graduation and the theme will be the 90's!!

I'm going to find 90's snacks, or relate other food to the 90's...there will be games and prizes...lots of 90's music (I hope!) and more.



I'd love to know your ideas though in the comments! What MUST I include in a 90's party?

Also, since this is a Who Says? post, I'd love to know your thoughts about themed parties in general. We always have them for kids- baby showers, birthday parties, etc. but they tend to fizzle out as we get older unless someone themes a bachelorette party or something. I think games are fun- and who doesn't like the chance of winning a fun prize? Dressing up can be enjoyable (a few of my friends did for the Hunger Games party I threw last year) and some people are more than willing to give it a shot! I think themes add a little something to a party; makes it more unique for yourself and your guests.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready


Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary: TURN ON. TUNE IN. DROP DEAD. Welcome to WVMP, "The Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll," where con artist-turned-station-owner Ciara Griffin manages an on-air staff of off-the-wall DJs--including new boyfriend Shane McAllister--who really sink their teeth into the music of their "Life Time" (the era in which they became vampires). Ciara keeps the undead rocking, the ratings rolling, and the fan base alive--without missing a beat. For Halloween, WVMP is throwing a bash. With cool tunes, hot costumes, killer cocktails--what could go wrong? To start, a religious firebrand ranting against the evils of the occult preempts the station's midnight broadcast. Then, when Ciara tracks down the transmission, the broadcast tower is guarded by what appears to be . . . a canine vampire? Behind it all is a group of self-righteous radicals who think vampires suck (and are willing to stake their lives on it). Ciara must protect the station hile struggling with her own complicated relationship, her best friend's romance with a fledgling vampire, and the nature of her mysterious anti-holy powers. To make it to New Year's in one piece, she'll need to learn a few new tricks. . . .

Review: Bad to the Bone is the second novel in the WVMP series, after Wicked Game. If you enjoyed the first book, you're sure to love this one as well. I love that this book doesn't trying to build things back up again. The action and mystery starts fairly quick, but also making sure to include some refreshers for those that haven't just recently finished Wicked Game.

Ciara is one heroine that does not take things lying down. She's determined to have the relationship she wants, one where she's the girlfriend and not the donor, but she also has to deal with the idea of moving forward with someone stuck in the past. Bad to the Bone shows how domesticity can and cannot work for a former con artist and a vampire. I love that the vampires are so unique in terms of being stuck in the time period they were turned in, which makes them great DJ's, but difficult to teach new things too. Shane is a relatively new vampire, so he has more leeway in learning new things and trying to adjust to the changing world...but can Ciara and him make it work? This is definitely a vampire romance quite unlike most I've seen, and I love it!

There is certainly more danger in this one, which makes the story suspenseful. Not everyone will leave without scars. Shane must deal with the past he left behind when becoming a vampire, Ciara's friend Lori falls for a newly made vampire, and Ciara finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to exterminate vampires. Ciara might not love all vampires, but she at least sees the humanity in many of the them and that puts herself in danger when there are people out there with strong, opposite beliefs.

By the last half of the novel, Ciara and company are certainly in danger, but you know things will somehow work out...for most of them.

Bad to the Bone was another enjoyable read by Smith-Ready and I'm currently reading and enjoying the third novel, Bring on the Night. There are four books in the series, and all have been released, so no reason not to start this series soon!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger



The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger

Book Two in the Russel Middlebrook Series - book one review here

Review by Lauren

Copy sent for review, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary: "Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen."

Russel Middlebrook is back, in a stand-alone sequel to the 2003 teen classic Geography Club (now a feature film co-starring Scott Bakula), and he's off to work as a summer camp counselor with his best friends Min and Gunnar.  He's sick and tired of being openly gay in high school, and a peaceful summer at Camp Serenity is just what he needs to relieve the stress that comes from being an "out" teenager.

But he doesn't count on sudden new rivalries with Min and Gunnar, or having to chase after a cabin full of unruly campers. And he especially doesn't count on a fellow counselor as hunky as Web Bastion.

Things do happen at Camp Serenity, especially at night. Brent Hartinger's third novel is a story about Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and the mysteries of a secret society called the Order of the Poison Oak. But more than anything, this witty page-turner is about bravery in the face of unexpected danger, the passion of a sizzling summer romance, and, most of all, the courage to be yourself.


Review: I have to start this review by saying that I posted my thoughts on the first book in this series on April 21, and here it is, May 21...and I'm back to post about the second novel! I'm pretty sure this won't keep happening with the other two books in the series, but it was something I noticed and had to share.

Regardless of posting this exactly a month later, The Order of the Poison Oak is actually a pretty quick read. It's also perfect for the summer since that's the season it takes place in...when Russel, along with his friends Min and Gunnar, become camp counselors. For some reason, Russel thinks this will be a nice, relaxing getaway...until he meets his first group of children. They are (mostly) all burn survivors - along with the rest of the kids at this first, two-week session- which is a great idea. However, they are also ten year old boys who like being away from home and don't want to be treated with kid gloves, based on their age or their injuries. It takes a little time, but eventually Russel figures it out and things start to go a bit better.

Of course, the problems with the kids don't include his arguments and misunderstandings with Min and Gunnar...or the issues in the romance department. Russel is certainly having a crazy summer, but it's enjoyable to read about and Russel is a narrator I do enjoy! I liked that he's telling the story from the future, so while you see him do and say stupid and crazy things...you also get his present self acknowledging the wrongs he did in the past.

I suppose my one complaint about the novel would be the fact that people didn't necessarily sound realistic at times. I'd read something and be "would someone that age really think that way? or say those things?" I can't think of specifics right now; I just know it was a thought I had at times through the book. It didn't hurt my enjoyment by any means and I'm still a fan of these characters and can't wait to read more! I'm hoping we'll get to see some of the characters from Geography Club back again in the future!

Question: Did you ever go to summer camp? I did day camp in Girl Scouts when I was young, and I slept over night once with them as an older Girl Scout (I was helping out). Also, in eighth grade, my whole class spent two days and one night at a camp that was pretty enjoyable. I was too shy and insecure around the age most people go to sleep away camp, so I never really did that. But what about you? Any fun experiences?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Star Trek- Into Darkness

do not own - promo use only
 
 
Star Trek: Into Darkness

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: After the crew of the Enterprise find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction.

Review: First off, I linked to IMDB above because that's where I take the mini summary from when reviewing movies; however, I will warn you that you might not want to visit the website until after you see the movie or things could be ruined for you (at least one thing is obviously on the front page, which I personally think is a bit dumb). Beyond that, I have to say that I loved Star Trek: Into Darkness. I'm not a big Star Trek fan...I know basic facts about it, and I actually saw the first Star Trek on Friday right before going to see the sequel. While I did enjoy the first film, I think Into Darkness far surpasses it.

The main reason I found Into Darkness more enjoyable is the villain. I'm already a Benedict Cumberbatch fan (he plays Sherlock in the BBC Sherlock, by the way) so I was excited to see him in something different...but he does an amazing job. It's easy to believe that he is a evil master-mind, hell-bent on getting what he wants with no care for who he hurts in the process. It's some wonderful acting, I must say!

not mine


For those that enjoy a bit of humor in their non-comedy films (like myself), don't worry. Chris Pine (as Captain Kirk) brings most of the laughs, especially with dealing with Spock (Zachary Quinto). You also get some more girl-power in this one with Zoe Saldana back as Uhura, but also a new character named Carol (Alice Eve). It's always nice to see the ladies kicking butt and sticking up for themselves. The Star Trek crew work together; there are no weak links in this bunch. They are all needed for their respective jobs in order to be victorious.

In the end, this was a fun film that doesn't leave out character development, so it's sure to please many. Definitely a nice way to start the Summer Blockbuster Season!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane


Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane

Review by Lauren

copy for review, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of the world's most popular novelists, a sharp and witty writer whose stories enchant on their own and in numerous film and TV adaptations. Jane Austen's World takes a look at the woman behind the literature, revealing her private life and examining the world she inhabited—a time when England was developing into a colonial power, the Napoleonic Wars raged, and the Regency took hold. No other book truly captures Austen's spirit as well.
Review: To be honest, I've only read one book by Jane Austen and that was Persuasion. However, I did enjoy it and my sister owns all her novels, so I'd be willing to check out more. When I was offered to review this book, though, I was eager to check it out and possibly learn more about Austen and the world she inhabited when writing her novels.

This book doesn't focus on Austen and her life alone. Rather, there are sections where Austen will be mentioned in the beginning or even given an anecdote in the middle, but the rest simply describes the subject in her time period. This includes things like Travel, where they talk about the perils of it. Austen, however, did travel...and always with her portable writing desk! How writer-esque is that?

I did learn a bit about Austen in this novel, like the fact that when she was first publishing her novels, she didn't use her name. She published to be paid (like a job) instead of fame. Her identity was eventually revealed, though.

The Introduction was written by Brian Southam, Vice-President and former Chairman of The Jane Austen Society, and the following quote is one I wanted to share-
 
"Some will want to work through the book systematically from the earliest years of Jane Austen's life to the present day and 'Jane Austen and Ourselves.' Other readers will want to look up a specific topic or area. However we use this book, its greatest service will be to turn us to the novels themselves with greater insight, understanding and affection."

I liked this quote because it acknowledges different readers, and I fall into the second category. I went in order through the book, yet I didn't read everything. I skimmed and focused on the parts that were most interesting to me at the time. I love that this is a book you can enjoy on various levels. If you're a hard-core Austen fan and know a lot about the time period, this might be full of old news for you...but for someone like me, or someone who loves the books but wants to know more, I think this could be a useful resource.

The book has glossy pages and is full of photos (many in color) and it's a good price for a 'gift book': Amazon is selling it for $18.47 at the moment.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Guest Review: The Bro-Magnet by Lauren Baratz- Logsted


The Bro-Magnet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Guest Review by Chris

copy sent for review, but all opinions are our own

Official Summary: Women have been known to lament, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." For Johnny Smith, the problem is, "Always a Best Man, never a groom." At age 33, housepainter Johnny has been Best Man eight times. The ultimate man's man, Johnny loves the Mets, the Jets, his weekly poker game, and the hula girl lamp that hangs over his basement pool table. Johnny has the instant affection of nearly every man he meets, but one thing he doesn't have is a woman to share his life with, and he wants that desperately. When Johnny meets District Attorney Helen Troy, he decides to renounce his bro-magnet ways in order to impress her. With the aid and advice of his friends and family, soon he's transforming his wardrobe, buying throw pillows, ditching the hula girl lamp, getting a cat and even changing his name to the more mature-sounding John. And through it all, he's pretending to have no interest in sports, which Helen claims to abhor. As things heat up with Helen, the questions arise: Will Johnny finally get the girl? And, if he's successful in that pursuit, who will he be now that he's no longer really himself?

Review -we're trying a new set up for some reviews, where we simply ask ourselves questions about the book and answer them instead of writing out a 'regular' review. This won't be all the time, of course, but let us know in the comments what you think of the idea!

What did you like about the novel?

I enjoyed the humor and the friendships.

What did you not like about the novel?

I felt like at times the story ran slow.

Who was your favorite character?

Johnny's neighbor, Sam. She knows Johnny so well and is always trying to help him with girls. Sam adds a lot of the humor.

Did you like the romance?

Yes, but it was frustrating waiting for them to be honest with each other.

Did you like the writing style?

Yes, it was easy to follow.

What did you think of Johnny?

He is a great friend. He was a nice guy, but too eager to please when it came to dating.

Were the characters well-developed?

Yes, I understood who they were. They felt realistic.

What do you take away from this book?

You should be who you are. If you aren't honest, then you cannot expect your partner to be honest.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Dealing With Tough Subjects


I love The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday posts, but I've never taken part in one. I figured I should try and change that, because it's one meme that's fun to read on any blog and the topic changes every week! Plus, who doesn't like making lists?!
 
Today's Topic: Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects (abuse, suicide, grief etc.)

The following books are in no particular order- that would be way too difficult. I'm one of those crazy readers that likes to "torture" themselves with books about tough topics. I just find them fascinating, emotional, and often times beautifully written books.

-Lauren


1. Willow by Julia Hoban

-death of parents, cutting


2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

-physical and sexual abuse, abortion, drug use, sexuality, suicide, grief.




3. Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert

-drug use, cutting, etc.



4. The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule

-suicide, etc.

-this French novel (I read the English translation) revolves around a family that sells means to kill yourself (hence the suicide shop), but they have one son who is just too happy!

-I also just realized that this book was made into a French animation film and it's one I hope to be able to see here in the U.S. sometime soon! It really is a great book, and not too long either!



5. No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine by Brooks Brown and Rob Merritt

-school shootings, bullying, etc.

-this is a non-fiction book about the Columbine shootings. Brooks Brown was childhood friends with one of the shooters, Dylan, so it's a fascinating perspective.




6. Where You Are by J.H. Trumble

-student/teacher relationship, illness/death



7.  Looking for Alaska by John Green

-I don't want to tag this with anything for fear of spoiling the book, so just read it!



8. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

-suicide, bullying, etc.



9. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

-car accident, deaths, etc.


10. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

-eating disorders, death, guilt, cutting

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Graduated College!

 
 
I finally graduated college!! I meant to schedule this post for Saturday, during my actual graduation at 9 in the morning (fun fun) but I ended up not having enough time on Friday. So here it is!

I had a great Saturday- glad the walking part of graduation part is over, but it wasn't too bad. Always worth doing it in the end. However, I will be walking again in the future...I'm done with undergrad but not graduate school. That will begin this fall. I'm going to enjoy the summer free of homework for now though!

I hope all the mom's out there had a lovely Mother's Day yesterday too! I finally gave my mom her gifts and I'm happy that she loved them as much as I thought she would.

Anyway, don't forget to check out Geoff Herbach's blog tour here. He had some awesome guest posts, full of some great humor, so you don't want to miss it! Be sure to check out Five Stupid Things Geoff did in his life! You can also win one of the books in the trilogy (your choice) at the last stop!

Now that it's my summer break, I hope to have more time to read my own books (including review copies) so hopefully book reviews will become more common around here - along with some other fun posts of course!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Make it a Gift with Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen


When I review a book, I often like to find a product that I feel fits the book in some way...and I call that feature Make it a Gift, so you can buy the book and the product and give them to someone together! Sometimes, though, I come across a book I have NOT read, but it still makes me think of a product and I feel like I should share it with you anyway...in case you have read this book or want to buy a copy for someone.

Another Make it a Gift post where I hadn't read the novel yet: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen

Smart, uber-careful, ordinary Samantha – that’s me. But I just couldn’t pass up a surprise kiss from my number-one unattainable crush. A kiss that did something to me – something strange. Now I feel hungry all the time, but not for food. It’s like part of me is missing – and I don’t know if I can get it back.

Then there’s Bishop. At first I thought he was just a street kid, but the secrets he’s keeping are as intense as his unearthly blue eyes. If he’s what I think he is, he may be the only one who can help me. But something terrifying is closing in, and the one chance Bishop and I have to stop it means losing everything I ever wanted and embracing the darkness inside me.

Now...Make it a Gift



Bath and Body Works has a whole line of products titled Dark Kiss. I've been meaning to share this post for awhile now, ever since I saw Dark Kiss in the store and remembered the above novel. I don't own any of the products, but I believe they smelt good in the store. I think any item from this line would make a wonderful gift along with the book.

Online, they are currently selling the shower gel and fragrance mist for $6 each! Great deal, so don't wait!
 
The Book Depository is selling Dark Kiss for $9.99 and that's free shipping!!

That's around 16 bucks (plus Bath and Body works shipping, unless in-store has a deal) for a wonderful gift. I'm sure many of you have gift giving opportunities coming up, like I do, so hopefully someone will take advantage of this. I know it's something I wouldn't mind getting, since I really do want to read the novel!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, Felton Reinstein!



Happy Birthday, Felton Reinstein! Your last book has finally been released to the world!

To read what Geoff had to say, and see Felton's birthday video, head over here.

Also, keep an eye out on the blog tour (some stops are already up with a lot of fun guest posts from Geoff)!

Buy your copy today!

Amazon- $8.99

The Book Depository- $9.99 (but free shipping)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Review: Just Little Things by Nancy Vu


Just Little Things: A Celebration of Life's Simple Pleasures by Nancy Vu

Released Today, May 7th

Vu is the creator of JustLittleThings.net

Review by Lauren

Copy sent for review, but all opinions are our own

Review: I'm very grateful to have been offered a copy of this little book for review. It's the perfect size to stuff in a purse or even put in a stocking (if you're already planning Christmas gifts like I am!) Each page is one color and in bold black on top is a "little thing" that can make someone's day.

Most of us are quite busy people and it's nice to remember that everyday can be filled with some little moments that make you smile. Let them be recognized and enjoy them for what they are, even if the rest of your day is stressful, etc.

I like the simplistic nature of the book. Each page is what Nancy posts on her website, in terms of style, and it keeps it easy to read, which is always nice. I read this book all in one day, as each page only takes a few minutes to read. However, I think it could be a fun thing to keep out for visiting friends and family...or even make a deal with yourself that you'll only read one (or two) pages a day so it lasts longer. You could even give yourself a challenge: try and notice how many of these little things happen in your day-to-day life and which ones mean the most to you, in terms of putting a smile on your face or making you feel relaxed, etc.


The above page is from Vu's website, where she shared some pages from the book. I wanted to show you the size, set up of the pages, and even some of the "little things" you can expect to find in the book.

I found myself agreeing with almost all of these "little things" but some of my favorites were Having something to look forward too, Accents, Free stuff, and When a baby falls asleep in your arms.

Are any of the above "little things" you enjoy? Share your own "little things" in the comments too!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Movie Review: Iron Man 3


do not own

Movie: Iron Man 3

Review by Lauren

IMDB Summary: When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

Review: To be honest, I think this was the first Iron Man film I actually saw in theaters. It's definitely a great one to see on the big screen, though. It might be the third addition to the Iron Man series, but I think it's my favorite. If you haven't seen The Avengers, you might want to do so first, as they do reference the big battle in in that film. After what happened, Tony Stark starts experiencing anxiety issues and it makes him more human and relatable, which I really appreciated.

Don't worry, though, the classic Tony Stark humor is still there and on high gear. Iron Man 3 is just a nice mixture of humor, heart, and action. Perfect blend for a superhero film, if you ask me.

One of my favorite actors in this film has to be Ben Kingsley, who plays The Mandarin, a terrorist that Iron Man is obviously obsessed with taking down. Kingsley plays The Mandarin extremely well, but I can't go into too much detail because there are some great surprises involving him. You definitely don't want to be the last one to know, or have it spoiled for you, so make sure you see the movie soon!!

Overall, I highly enjoyed this one and I already can't wait for more Tony Stark/Iron Man. I guess I'll just have to see this one again...and impatiently wait for Avengers 2.

Friday, May 3, 2013

NetGalley Notables (2 YA/ 2 Adult)

 
 
NetGalley Notables by Lauren


I don't currently have any type of e-reader, so I don't often read e-books. It's difficult to find enough time to read on my computer and it just starts to drive me nuts...however, I think NetGalley is still an awesome place to find new and upcoming titles that I hadn't heard of before.

Now, here is a brief list of some titles that I would love to read at some point, plus a link to their NetGalley pages in case you do request e-books for review.

 
Believe by Sarah Aronson
 
 
Out: Sept. 1, 2013
 
Book Level: YA

Summary: When Janine Collins was six years old, she was the only survivor of a suicide bombing that killed her parents and dozens of others. Media coverage instantly turned her into a symbol of hope, peace, faith—of whatever anyone wanted her to be. Now, on the ten-year anniversary of the bombing, reporters are camped outside her house, eager to revisit the story of the "Soul Survivor."

Janine doesn't want the fame—or the pressure—of being a walking miracle. But the news cycle isn't the only thing standing between her and a normal life. Everyone wants something from her, expects something of her. Even her closest friends are urging her to use her name-recognition for a "worthy cause." But that's nothing compared to the hopes of Dave Armstrong—the man who, a decade ago, pulled Janine from the rubble. Now he's a religious leader whose followers believe Janine has healing powers.

The scariest part? They might be right.

If she's the Soul Survivor, what does she owe the people who believe in her? If she's not the Soul Survivor, who is she?

 
Lola Bensky by Lily Brett
 
 
Out: Sept. 10, 2013
 
Level: Adult

Summary: Lola Bensky is a nineteen-year-old rock journalist who irons her hair straight and asks a lot of questions. A high-school dropout, she's not sure how she got the job – but she's been sent by her Australian newspaper right to the heart of the London music scene at the most exciting time in music history: 1967.

Lola spends her days planning diets and interviewing rock stars. In London, Mick Jagger makes her a cup of tea, Jimi Hendrix (possibly) propositions her and Cher borrows her false eyelashes. At the Monterey International Pop Festival, Lola props up Brian Jones and talks to Janis Joplin about sex. In Los Angeles, she discusses being overweight with Mama Cass and tries to pluck up the courage to ask Cher to return those false eyelashes.

Lola has an irrepressible curiosity, but she begins to wonder whether the questions she asks these extraordinary young musicians are really a substitute for questions about her parents' calamitous past that can't be asked or answered. As Lola moves on through marriage, motherhood, psychoanalysis and a close relationship with an unexpected pair of detectives, she discovers the question of what it means to be human is the hardest one for anyone—including herself—to answer.


Creeps by Darren Hynes
 
 
Out: July 30, 2013
 
Level: YA

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Wayne Pumphrey wishes he were courageous enough to actually send the heartfelt letters he writes to friends and family. He also wishes his father would drive on the right side of the street, his mother would stop packing her suitcase to leave, and his sister would stop listening to Nickelback. But most of all, he wishes that Pete “The Meat” would let him walk to school in peace. After all, how many times can one person eat yellow snow?

Then one morning, while facing Pete and his posse, Wayne is rescued by Marjorie, the girl with a dead father and a mother who might as well be. Together, the two of them escape Pete’s relentless bullying by rehearsing for the school play, and an unlikely friendship is formed. As they grow ever closer to one another, they begin to dream of escape from their small town and restricted lives. But Pete now has plans for both of them—and after a moment of sudden violence, nothing will ever be the same again for Wayne, Marjorie, or Pete himself.


The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke
 
 
Out: Aug. 13, 2013
 
Level: Adult

Summary: The Boy Who Could See Demons follows a child psychologist who comes up against a career-defining case—one that threatens to unravel her own painful past and jeopardizes the life of a boy who can see the impossible.

Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.

But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.