Friday, July 29, 2016

Cover Reveal: Beneath the Void by Elisa Dane

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Hello Readers!
Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Beneath the Void by Elisa Dane
presented by Swoon Romance!
Be on the look out for this upcoming book, and be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
 
Beneath the Void (2)
 
Sadie Reynolds is drowning.
Months have passed since Ian Daniels and Newton Daily opened fire at Atwood High school, killing dozens of students before turning the guns on themselves.
Determined to pay tribute to her fallen classmates and teachers, Sadie’s thrown herself into the memorial project at the newly rebuilt school. But it’s not enough. Horrific dreams of the shooting intertwined with memories of the night her mother was murdered keep her up at night and haunt her during the day.
The constant stream of hate raining down on her from faceless social media trolls only make matters worse. Her boyfriend, Hayden brings the only source of relief when he sneaks in to sleep next to her on nights her dad is at work.
Desperate for normalcy, Sadie fills every waking moment of her day with anything to take her mind off her pain. If she’s exhausted, she’ll be too tired to acknowledge the new threat gunning for her.
BENEATH the VOID is book 2 in Elisa Dane's Fighting Chance series, a hard-hitting and unapologetically raw look at teen violence in schools and the aftermath of learning to pick up the pieces and heal.
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Beneath the Void (Fighting Chance #2) by Elisa Dane Publication Date: August 15, 2016 Publisher: Swoon Romance
 
About-the-Author2
Elisa Dane
 
Elisa Dane loves books, chocolate, reality television, her family, and All Star Cheerleading. Not necessarily in that order! She writes contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. She writes what she knows, and it's her hope that her stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you'll find a new respect for the sport of All Star Cheerleading you may not have had before. She's represented by Brittany Booker of the Booker/Albert Agency, and has published a NA paranormal series under her real name, Lisa Sanchez.
 
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Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
 
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Review: Two Summers


ONE SUMMER in the French countryside, among sun-kissed fields of lavender . . .

ANOTHER SUMMER in upstate New York, along familiar roads that lead to surprises . . .

When Summer Everett makes a split-second decision, her summer divides into two parallel worlds. In one, she travels to France, where she’s dreamed of going: a land of chocolate croissants, handsome boys, and art museums. In the other, she remains home, in her ordinary suburb, where she expects her ordinary life to continue — but nothing is as it seems.

In both summers, she will fall in love and discover new sides of herself. What may break her, though, is a terrible family secret, one she can't hide from anywhere. In the end, it may just be the truth she needs the most.

From New York Times bestselling author Aimee Friedman comes an irresistible, inventive novel that takes readers around the world and back again, and asks us what matters more: the journey or the destination.


Rating: 4 Stars

Book Title: Two Summers

Author: Aimee Friedman

Release Date: April 26th 2016

Pages: 368

Publisher: Point

 

 

            Admittedly when I sat down to write this review I was still wavering between giving it a 3 star rating or 4.  This book took me WEEKS to get through and I think it’s honestly what slowed down my reading this past month, because I forced myself to keep reading it before picking up anything else.  And yet, it’s not a horrible book, so don’t stop reading my review just yet! I actually liked this book and I thought there were a lot of great things about it. In fact, there are really not too many negative things I can say about Two Summers by Aimee Friedman.  But if you are expecting a fast read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night, this one is not for you.

            “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” 

          Two Summers was INSIGHTFUL to the core.  Growing up in Hudsonville with her mother as a teenager, Summer always thought she came from a broken family.  Her parents divorced when she was about 10 years old and ever since, she grouped her family situation into the broken category.  Her friendship with her best friend Ruby even felt stronger by this theme of brokenness, which Ruby reminded them of on more than one occasion.  Her own parents were divorced as well, and it only served to strengthen their bond and give them more things in common as they got older. 
            Even though Summer always harbored some bad feelings towards her father, who left them for a glorious life as an artist in France, she also missed being with him.  In one of her decisions, the decision to go to France and be with her father for the summer, Summer sees her break from school as being the ultimate dream-come-true.  She envisions posting pictures of herself at cute French coffee shops on Instagram and spending her days browsing adorable boutiques or art galleries.  She can’t wait to leave Hudsonville behind for at least a few months.
            And then there’s her other decision: the decision to stay in Hudsonville after she answers a phone call from her father at the airport, right before she’s supposed to take off on her flight to France.  He calls to tell her at the last minute that he doesn’t think she should come after all, that the timing isn’t right.  For someone who’s been dreaming about this trip for months, Summer is crushed and she sees her summer go up in flames.  After she returns to Hudsonville, Summer signs up for a photography course that her aunt teaches at a local college.
            This idea of parallel universes, where one decision can lead you to an entirely new course of events, was interesting to read about in Two Summers.  The book is split into separate parts, with each part being about her summer in France or in Hudsonville. By switching back and forth between Hudsonville and France, Friedman wrote this book in such a way that you can see what Summer’s life would have looked like had she gone on the trip or not.  If there was ever a book to make you think twice about every decision you make, it’s this one.
            What REALLY got me thinking when reading this book though, was how different Summer’s life was in each universe from making just one split second decision, but how her decisions ultimately led her to some of the same results in the end in both universes.  I don’t want to yammer on about the whole concept of fate and destiny, but reading Two Summers makes me wonder if our choices really are our own, or if our destiny is predetermined for us.  The ending of Two Summers in both universes led to some of the same factors for Summer herself, so it’s hard to see destiny not playing a role in our lives.
            So what do you think? Are you a believer in destiny? And what about decisions? Do you really think one decision from another can lead to such vastly different outcomes? Or do you think it’s just a matter of perspective?  I finished this book and I can’t stop thinking about all of this, which is why I think there’s something to be said about Two Summers by Aimee Friedman.  It’s been a long time since I’ve pondered elements of my own life after finishing a YA novel!  As a result, I couldn’t not bump my 3 star rating up to 4 for this one.
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Review: This Savage Song





 
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.


Rating: 3.5 Stars

Book Title: This Savage Song

Author: Victoria Schwab

Release Date: July 5th 2016

Pages: 464

Publisher: Greenwillow Books


            A city full of monsters and humans trying to live peacefully amongst one another is tricky.  Some people, like Kate Harker’s father, believe they can control the worst of these monsters, promising safety to any of the city’s denizens who buy a talisman from him.  Followers of Harker wearing these necklaces are bought with this promise of protection from the monsters, knowing Harker will take down any monster who does not abide by these rules.  For others, like those following August Flynn’s father, Henry, they believe the worst of the monsters should be eradicated.  August Flynn and his two siblings help with that.  As one of the Sunai, who feed on the souls of the sinners, August helps when it is necessary to get rid of the worst of these perpetrators.  Unlike his brother Leo though, August fights the nature of his being.  He hates what he is and would do anything not to be a monster. Then there’s Kate…
            Kate had the too-tough girl act from the get go, and I wasn’t so sure I was going to like reading from her POV throughout the rest of the book as a result.  Once I got to know her character a little better though, it became more tolerable when I realized it was all just an act.  In order to come back to the city and get away from boarding schools, Kate has to rebel at each and every school her father sends her too. I felt sorry for her on numerous occasions, because unlike August who has the love of Henry who isn’t even his actual biological father, Kate is unable to get her father’s attention despite her best attempts. Whether it’s burning down the chapel in her Catholic school or picking fights with other students, he just keeps sending her to new boarding schools. Eventually she wins out and gets to come back to the city and live with him.
            I was REALLY excited about This Savage Song after going to the book signing for it last week at Anderson’s Bookstore in Naperville. Although I have yet to read anything by Victoria Schwab before I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Shades of Magic Series she’s written.  Then when she described the premise of This Savage Song and how dark it was, I knew I wanted to put a pause on the book I’m currently reading in exchange for starting this once I got home.
            I will say though, I was a little disappointed at the outcome. While I do think her writing closely resembles that of Holly Black (I’m thinking of the Curse Workers Series and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown) who I am a big fan of, I don’t think it worked out as well in her favor. I almost felt like Schwab was trying too hard to write like Black in this book and the execution wasn’t what I hoped for.  Yes, I liked the idea of the plot and August and Kate were relatively good main characters, but I wanted to read more about the city and what was going on around them.  The book is dark, but for YA I didn’t think it was actually that bad.
            I don’t want to end on a low note, because I did enjoy reading this book a bit and I was happy that it was told from both a male and female’s POV.  Although I was originally intending to give this book a rating of 3 stars, the last two pages of the book threw a curveball that I was not expecting and that made me decide to give book 2 of this series a shot.  All in all, This Savage Song is a rather quick and easy read, but I am a little disappointed this was one of the first books I’ve read by Schwab as I didn’t get on with it as much as I’d hoped.
 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (14)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Books Set Outside the US
Unfortunately I couldn't think of ten of my favorite books that were set outside of the US, but I managed to come up with a few! I might have overlooked some though that I've read, so if you have any favorites, feel free to share below and let me know!
1.  Stolen by Lucy Christopher (Set in Australia)
2. Death Wish (Ceruleans #1) by Megan Tayte (Set on an English cove)
3. Harry Potter (OBVIOUSLY) by J.K. Rowling
-It goes without saying that I had to include this on my list this week, because who would I be if I didn't?! :)
4. Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins (Set mostly in France so I'm counting this one:) 
5. If You're Lucky by Yvonne Prinz (Australia)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: Saint Anything


Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans.


Rating: 4 Stars

Book Title: Saint Anything

Author: Sarah Dessen

Release Date: May 5th 2015

Pages: 417

Publisher:Viking

 

            I haven’t picked up a Sarah Dessen book in years, and I am so bummed it took me this long to get back into her writing. Saint Anything is another Dessen hit, full of those life lessons she always manages to squeeze into each of her books. Main character Sydney is dealing with the overwhelming guilt she feels on behalf of her brother.  Just a few years ago her older brother, Peyton, drove drunk and hit a teenage boy on his bike.  The accident left the boy in a wheelchair and paralyzed him for life, while Peyton was thrown behind bars to serve time. Although the accident was a result of Peyton’s poor choices, which had only been increasingly worse as his high school years progressed, the rest of his family is left to suffer the repercussions. While Peyton is in jail, his younger sister Sydney has to deal with the pity looks at school and in town.  Her identity changes from simply “Sydney” to “that boy’s sister.” Peyton’s parents are left scrambling for lawyers and paying hefty bills for court and the accident.
            When I first started to learn about the accident while reading Saint Anything, my initial reaction was disgust.  I know that’s a terrible thing to say because Peyton made a mistake and things like that happen, but I have zero patience for drunk driving or reckless driving in general. That being said I couldn’t believe the situation at home that Sydney has to deal with.  While some parents might choose to write off their child completely for committing such a horrible act or put the blame on their child and make them serve their time as punishment for what they’ve done, Sydney’s parents see it differently.  In their eyes, Peyton is the one suffering and they do everything they can to help Peyton.  Specifically, Sydney’s mom is the leading force in getting him help behind bars and trying to shorten his time as much as possible. 
            As a result though, Sydney’s guilt is so huge, it’s as if she’s taken on all of the guilt for her family.  Her mother is so worried about Peyton that Sydney can’t help but think her mom doesn’t feel guilty for the boy injured at all, and since Peyton refuses to see Sydney she can’t talk about any of this with him either.  Sydney spends so much time harboring this guilt that anytime the accident is brought up or Peyton’s name is mentioned, she feels sick. I couldn’t imagine carrying around that type of guilt with me and I give Sydney so much credit for putting up with her parents and not standing up to them for as long as she did.  In an attempt to be the good child, she follows orders and pretends like the lack of attention they pay towards her (since it is all spent on Peyton) doesn’t bother her.

Favorite Bits:
o   Layla: She’s completely eccentric and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. When I first started typing up my review for Saint Anything I just wanted to insert pizza and french fry emojis.  Having met Layla and the rest of her family at their pizza shop, Sydney is around pizza constantly! I am actually quite proud of myself for getting through this entire book over the course of a week and NOT succumbing to the peer pressures of a really big and cheesy pizza. I was severely tempted though! And then there’s Layla, who has a penchant for french fries and spends their entire lunch break telling Sydney the perfect way to prep a bag of french fries and dipping sauce. It’s a whole process with Layla and extremely odd, but it’s what made me love Layla so much! That and I can totally side with her tendency of falling for the wrong boys.  I knew from the start that Layla’s new boy was trouble, and I think she did too, but she couldn’t help but give him a chance anyways.  I admire other people’s faith in love and their willingness to give something a shot even if they know it’s going to break their heart in the long run.
o   The metaphors: Specifically I am referring to the introduction of the carousal at the start of the book and how it played into Sydney’s life and how the course of events she was dealing with resembled that lost beauty in the woods. It was definitely a Dessen metaphor and I thought it was perfect for Sydney’s situation.  If you’ve seen the book cover you’ll know how gorgeous the carousal on it is as well. 
 
o   Mac: I don’t want to spoil the fun, but if you know Dessen at all, you know there’s always a love interest in her books. Mac was wonderful and the dream “boy next door” that every girl is secretly crossing her fingers for.


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