January 31, 2013

A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan-Miles

Release Date: December 5, 2012
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Pages: 374
Series: Part of the Thompson Sisters series
Review Source: eBook from AToMR Tours for review

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Everyone should have something to rebel against.

Crank Wilson left his South Boston home at sixteen to start a punk band and burn out his rage at the world. Six years later, he’s still at odds with his father, a Boston cop, and doesn’t ever speak to his mother. The only relationship that really matters is with his younger brother, but watching out for Sean can be a full-time job. The one thing Crank wants in life is to be left the hell alone to write his music and drive his band to success.

Julia Thompson left a secret behind in Beijing that exploded into scandal in Washington, DC, threatening her father's career and dominating her family's life. Now, in her senior year at Harvard, she's haunted by a voice from her past and refuses to ever lose control of her emotions again, especially when it comes to a guy.

When Julia and Crank meet at an anti-war protest in Washington in the fall of 2002, the connection between them is so powerful it threatens to tear everything apart.

My Thoughts:
‘A Song For Julia’ is a really great new adult story of two people finding each other. On the outside Crank and Julia don’t seem like a good match, but their personalities click right away, and the attraction is there too. What I loved about this story is how even when Julia was wary of a relationship with Crank she still embraced her growing relationships with his family. Likewise it was so touching how Jack quickly saw her as a daughter, and how Julia saw Crank’s brother Sean as a “normal” person, when he was so used to being treated badly because of his Asperger's.

While I didn’t really identify with Julia I still connected with her, in that I could understand where her emotions were coming from. I loved how against all odds Crank was the one pursuing a serious relationship between them. He wanted to experience love with Julia, while she was the one wary because of her past. It was a nice switch up from the usual 'damaged bad boy running from love' tale.

‘A Song For Julia’ is a very emotional story with romance and family issues; it’s a story about letting go of your past and learning from it. The book is about growing into the person you want to be and choosing your own path. I loved being on this journey with Crank and Julia, and I would gladly pick up another book by this author.

The Cover:
Very pretty, I like it a lot.


Find A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan-Miles on Goodreads. Check Charles' site for all purchase options.

January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (8)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature upcoming book releases that they're looking forward to.

This week I'm eagerly anticipating...

This is What Happy Looks Like
by Jennifer E. Smith

Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: April 2, 2013

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

Add it on Goodreads.

This just sounds so cute... I love stories involving celebrities, and the idea of starting a relationship by accident through email is very cool.

January 28, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Release Date: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 336
Series: The Archived
Review Source: Finished copy for review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn't just dangerous-it's a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da's death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

My Thoughts:
“Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.” Could there be a crazier or cooler tagline? The concept of this book is what drew me in, and I can honestly say that Victoria Schwab did an amazing job of world building. The construction of the whole concept was amazing and mysterious. The Archive of histories (copies of people’s bodies!!) was such an intriguing labyrinth. Then there were the creepy Narrows, which are basically dark alleys that Keepers use to access the Archive, and where they also track down rogue histories. I also loved how (and where!) the doors to the Narrows could be found.

Mackenzie, or Mac, is our main character, and I definitely empathized with her and liked her. She was dealing with the death of her brother as well as having to keep huge secrets from her family. While this led her to make some less than stellar decisions, I always understood where she was coming from. Wesley is an amazing character as well. He was such a perfect mixture of mockingly self-deprecating and egotistical. I loved that he was such a good guy, and his role in the story was a very interesting one.

At the heart of this book is a mystery plot line, and that’s what I enjoyed the most. I loved seeing Mac discover clues and trying to figure things out. I loved how there was another secret about the Archive at every turn, and that even as we learn so much about it there is still so much to find out. I also loved how there were two cute boys in the book and yet there was no love triangle. In fact there was little to no actual romance (despite Wesley’s noted adorableness), but I didn’t miss it at all.

Overall I was deeply fascinated with the world that Victoria Schwab has created in ‘The Archived’, and was equally as impressed with the characters. I also enjoyed thinking about the idea behind the Archive -- preserving all the history of the world in the form of individual stories. It’s a really beautiful concept in a lot of ways, and it was interesting to see it played out in this way. 'The Archived' was a great read, and I look forward to checking out the sequel once it is released.

The Cover:
Love!! Such a perfect representation of the book.


Find The Archived by Victoria Schwab on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

January 25, 2013

Exposure by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes

Release Date: January 18, 2013
Publisher: Merit Press
Pages: 223
Series: Standalone, but part of Twisted Lit (
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Double, double, toil and trouble. Sometimes, the quest for high school royalty can be deadly! In this emotionally-charged twist on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a self-conscious shutterbug named Skye Kingston navigates a treacherous school year in Alaska fraught with unspoken secrets and tragic twists of fate. Along the way she encounters three strangely prophetic BFFs; one social-climbing, sociopathic cheerleader; and a heart-stopping hottie named Craig McKenzie: the man who would be Prom King. Can Skye save the boy she loves — and herself — before they get caught in the crosshairs?

My Thoughts:
Exposure is another Twisted Lit book, this time based on Macbeth, which is absolutely one of my favourites. I enjoyed how the book had the same dark somber quality of the play, and I loved examining the similarities between the book and the play. I kept wondering how the “prophecies” would come to life in modern day Alaska. This setting was just amazing -- it made the book atmospheric, and it was so cold and sparse at times that it matched the mood so well.

I liked the main character, Skye, a lot for the most part. She’s a shy shutterbug hiding behind her camera, and the book is a real journey of her opening up. I was frustrated by her at times, though, because I wanted her to do the “right thing” instead of just protecting her long-time friend and crush. Craig is an interesting character: we see his appeal from Skye’s POV and he has his great moments, but as the reader we also see his weaknesses and wonder why he doesn’t own up to the situation (besides the fact that it’s mirroring the play, of course).

Overall I didn’t connect with this one quite as much as I would have liked, but I still definitely enjoyed the retelling of Macbeth and seeing it brought into a modern setting. I really commend the authors for what they’re doing with this series, and I would definitely read future installments.

The Cover:
Again, I really like the image, but I'm not sure it works that well as a book cover.


Find Exposure by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

January 24, 2013

Return To Me by Justina Chen

Release Date: January 15, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Series: n/a
Review Source: ARC for review from Hachette Book Group Canada (@HBGCanada)

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She's weeks away from starting college--at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad's last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there's the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.

And if that isn't enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb's dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her "perfect" boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?

Justina Chen, the acclaimed author of North of Beautiful, has created a moving and powerful novel about the struggles that arise from betrayal, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the joy that ultimately comes from discovering what's truly in your heart.

My Thoughts:
‘Return To Me’ is a borderline new adult story, as it deals with life after high school and is about figuring out your dreams and bringing those dreams into reality. If you’re looking for a book that is action-heavy then ‘Return To Me’ might not be the book for you. Justina Chen’s novels are very character based, and this is no exception. It’s really based on Reb’s emotional struggles as she tries to figure out who she is and what her place in life is. The book is very emotionally honest dealing with growing up, having your family fall apart, and learning how to trust both others and yourself. One aspect of the book I found especially interesting was examining the people that you know and/or love, and seeing whether they actually are the person you think they are.

I loved how Reb had a fascination with treehouses: it was a cool and unique detail, and I enjoyed looking through her eyes to see how she viewed things, and how she imagined the spaces she wanted to create for people. I was also intrigued by the bit of magical realism where the women in Reb’s family had types of visions or premonitions that came true. It gave the book a bit of whimsy that you could either take as an exaggeration or accept as a bit of fantasy added in.

The book ties up with an epilogue that I initially debated over whether I thought it was necessary. I liked it, though, because it didn’t tie everything neatly into a bow but it did bring things together and leave me with a sense of hope. Justina Chen is a gorgeous writer who knows how to bring readers on an emotional journey along with her characters. Overall I really enjoyed this examination of family and of self.

The Cover:
It's so simple but pretty -- I really like it.


Find Return To Me by Justina Chen on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (7)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where bloggers feature upcoming book releases that they're looking forward to.

This week I'm eagerly anticipating...

Also Known As
by Robin Benway

Release Date: February 26, 2013

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations. Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She'll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school's security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.

Add it on Goodreads.

I'm a big fan of "Audrey, Wait!", so I was really excited to see another Robin Benway title coming out this year. I love the whole spies angle; sounds so fun!

January 21, 2013

Hooked by Liz Fichera

Release Date: January 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 368
Series: Hooked
Review Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done.

But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred.

But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile...


My Thoughts:
The concept of ‘Hooked’ -- a girl taking a spot on her school’s all-male golf team and having an antagonistic relationship with her teammate -- was simple, but it really did hook me (oh look, a pun). Unfortunately the book itself left a bit to be desired.

What the book really focuses on that the short synopsis doesn’t really mention is that a huge part of the book focuses on racism, because Fred is only one of several Natives to attend the local high school. While I understand that there is still a huge divide between the Native population and those off of reserves/reservations the huge amount of racism really did shock me. I guess what I thought was the worst part of this portrayal is that there’s never any real message that this racism is wrong. Even the worst offender ends up being someone to be pitied because of a tragic past, and his blatant racism (which is taken to a dangerous degree) is almost shoved under the table. It never feels like this issue is dealt with, which was really unfortunate.

I expected the romance to be the best part of this book, but I never really felt the chemistry between the two characters. Ryan is so incredibly passive, letting everyone walk all over him and make decisions for him. He never really owns up to the fact that he grows to care about Fred, and he never truly defends her or tries to be with her until the very end. Fred was definitely a determined character, and I respected her drive for success when it came to golf and school, but I was frustrated that she never tried to defend herself to her classmates, whether about her race or about her golf abilities.

I wish I could have enjoyed this one more, but ‘Hooked’ suffers from some pretty lacklustre characters, an underdeveloped romance, and a very strange treatment on racism. I wish I could have liked it more, but it’s ultimately forgettable.

The Cover:
There's something interesting about it, but I'm not a huge fan overall.


Find Hooked by Liz Fichera on Goodreads, Book Depository, & Amazon.

January 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (15)

"Stacking the Shelves" is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers can share the latest books they've received and discover new titles while visiting other blogs.

It seems to be an ongoing theme... a month between Stacking the Shelves posts!! I got a lot of books for Christmas (like all the Women of the Otherworld books I was missing, to mention a few), but I really don't feel like listing all of those. Instead I want to feature the ones I've kindly been sent for review:

For Review:

From HBG Canada:
- The Archived by Victoria Schwab
- Altered by Jennifer Rush (Review Here)

From Spencer Hill Press:
- Apollyon (Covenant #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

For Tour Review:
- Recalled by Cambria Hebert
- A Song for Julia by Charles Sheehan-Miles

- The Holders by Julia Scott
- The Rules by Stacey Kade
- Every Never After by Lesley Livingston
- School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins

- Mind Games by Kiersten White

Sorry for no eBook pictures... I figure you can still click the links to Goodreads to see the pretty covers, and I'd rather spend my time writing up more reviews for you to check out than spend my time editing pics.

Can't wait to see what everyone has received this week. =)

January 17, 2013

Provex City excerpt & giveaway

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.

Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?

Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom.
Excerpt from Provex City:

Mr. Gordon rolled up the sleeves of his dress shirt to just below his elbows. He picked up a pair of scissors from a stained mug on his desk that read What came first, the coffee or the bean?, and opened the blades. He presented me his left forearm, which looked perfectly fine.

Slowly bringing one of the scissor blades down to his forearm, I watched in horror as he pushed it into his skin. The blade easily dug into the flesh near his wrist and cut all the way up his forearm. Blood gushed from the wound and poured around his arm. I gasped at the self-inflicted mutilation. The back two legs of my desk hit the floor with a thud as I slid back in my chair. Mr. Gordon seemed to be in no pain at all.

He quickly grabbed some tissues from atop his desk and wiped the underside of his forearm before the blood began to pour like a waterfall onto the carpet. He threw the blood soaked tissues in the cylindrical trash can beside his desk and grabbed another wad of clean ones. By the time he had soaked up all the blood there was no cut underneath! None at all! Not even a shiny scar in its place!

I tried to say something, but I could barely breathe, let alone speak.

Mr. Gordon finished wiping his arm and threw the second wad of tissues in the trash. He held out his forearm again for me to examine, making a fist and flexing his fingers so I could see all the muscles and tendons working harmoniously.

How could this be...?

“Take a deep breath,” Mr. Gordon said. He waited patiently for me to recover.
I needed more than a moment. I needed a long vacation, and even that might not be enough.

“That gives you some insight into my experience, into my plane of consciousness. On the first day of class, my first question was: Do you believe anything is possible? What did you think about that question?”

“I—I wanted to believe it,” I stuttered.

“But you didn’t.”

“There are so many rules, laws of nature, restrictions. Some things simply aren’t possible.”

“Like instantaneous healing through the power of thought?”

“I may have to rethink that one,” I said, still staring at Mr. Gordon’s forearm.

He chuckled and sat down at the desk next to me. “Well, I said it before and I’ll say it again: Anything is possible. This is the point where we come to a fork in the road; we can only go one in of two directions. One, you can walk out the door and go home, putting this out of your mind completely. Go on living your ordinary life. I understand how overwhelming this may seem and would think no less of you if that is the road you choose.”

“What if I take the other road?” I asked apprehensively.

“Ahh, road number two—If you choose road number two, I will show you more. I will show you what is really possible, allowing you to see in a way you have never seen before, seeing things which until now have remained hidden from you. I will show you what opportunity really is! And, like I said on the first day of school, this is the kind of opportunity that feels like magic.”

Michael Pierce lives in Southern California with his wife, daughter, and two ultra-protective Chiweenies. Provex City is his debut novel and the first book in the young adult fantasy Lorne Family Vault Series.

Blog - http://www.michaelpiercebooks.blogspot.com
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/MrPierceBooks
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/lornefamilyvault
Goodreads - http://www.goodreads.com/michaelpiercebooks
Website - http://www.michaelpiercebooks.com

Book Trailer:

You can find the full tour HERE - it runs until January 25.



Three (3) winners will receive a paperback of Provex City and a $15 Amazon Gift Card.
Five (5) other winners will receive paperback copies of Provex City.

See Rafflecopter for full details.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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