Friday, August 30, 2013

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Title: Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2)
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Release Date: May 28, 2013
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
Ryan lowers his lips to my ear. "Dance with me, Beth."

"No." I whisper the replays. I hate him and I hate myself for wanting him to touch me again…

"I dare you…"

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does…

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock--with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dar becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams--and his life--for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all…

Seeing as I am a lover of all things contemporary, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I love Katie McGarry and her books. I absolutely loved Pushing the Limits last year, and this year I fell completely in love with Dare You To. These stories are the reason why I love contemporary as much as I do.

Beth hasn't had anyone in her corner for a long time. It's always just been her and Isaiah against the world. But things are changing, especially now that her uncle Scott is back in town. For Beth that means leaving everything she knows and everyone she loves behind. And that's when she meets Ryan, the golden boy with the perfect life and all the opportunities. Ryan couldn't annoy Beth more. But sometimes, the ones that get under your skin are the one who are worth keeping. Even if it all started as one big dare.

Katie McGarry writes addicting stories, there's no doubt about it. Even if I knew that when I sat down to read Dare You To, it still took me by surprise when I didn't get up again until I had finished the book. Right from the start, the story grabbed my attention. I wanted to see how far Ryan and his friends would take the whole dare thing. I wanted to know why Beth was so angry at her uncle. And more importantly, I wanted to see where the story would take Beth and Ryan. Because, if anything, I loved Beth and Ryan's story even more than I loved Echo and Noah's story. There was just something about Dare You To that captured my heart and I think that had a lot to do with Beth and Ryan themselves.

When I read Pushing the Limits Beth was the girl with Isaiah, and to me they just seemed to belong together. But when I got to know her more in Dare You To, I realized that Isaiah wasn't what was best for Beth. Even though seeing that play out broke my heart a little because I could see how much it all hurt Isaiah, I knew it was for the best. But Ryan really brought out the best in Beth, no matter how cliché that sounds. And the reverse is also true. Beth challenged Ryan in a way no one else could. And the more Ryan moved away from being who everyone wanted him to be and towards who he really was, the more I loved him. But more than anything, I loved who Beth and Ryan became when they were together, for reasons I can't really seem to put into words.

Once again, Katie McGarry wrote an amazing story. Dare You To was even more than I hoped it would be. I said this after reading Pushing the Limits and I'll say it again now: broken characters are the ones who make for the best stories. 

 photo signature.png

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend by Allyson Valentine

Title: How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend
Author: Allyson Valentine
Publisher: Philomel
Release Date: June 13, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
A funny and smart romantic comedy about getting the guy…and finding yourself.

Sophomore Nora Fullbright is the most talented and popular new cheerleader on the Riverbend High cheer squad. never mind that she used to be queen of the nerds--a chess prodigy who answered every question first, aced every test and repelled friends at every turn--because this year, Nora is determined to fully transition from  social pupa to full blown butterfly, even if it means dumbing down her entire schedule. But when funny, sweet and very cute Adam moves to town and steals Nora's heart with his ultra-smarts and illegally cute dimple, Nora has a problem. How can she prove to her way into Adam's classes that involves her classmates, friends--and her older brother Phil's award-winning AP history paper. But soon, Nora can barely keep track of her trades, and struggles to stay in control of her image. 

In the end, the only thing that can save Nora is a chess tournament--that she has to compete in wearing her cheerleading uniform. Can she prove to everyone that she can be both a butterfly and a nerd?

Allyson Valentine has created a story so full of enamoring characters, pitch-perfect humor, and delightfully frustrating romance that it will leave you cheering. Great for fans of Stephanie Perkin's Anna and the French Kiss, Susanne Colasanti and Sarah Dessen.

Anyone who knows me, knows just how much I love anything contemporary. In fact, it's almost become a bit of a running joke with my friends. All that to say that I'll read, and most likely enjoy, just about any contemporary story. And that's just how I felt about Allyson Valentine's How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend.

Nora Fullbright is smart. Like the kind of smart that can recite facts about pretty much anything. But Nora also happens to be one of the most talented cheerleader on her high school's cheerleading squad. The question though, is how can Nora be both girls? She thought she could get away with hiding just how smart she was, but when Adam shows up in town, the game changes. Because if Nora wants to win Adam's heart, she's going to have to prove she's more than just a cheerleader.

When I first read the synopsis of How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend I thought it sounded like a fun story. After having read the book, I can say that that's exactly what I got. The story Allyson Valentine wrote in this book was exactly what I needed at the time I read it. The story grabbed my attention and it didn't take long before I was pulled into the story filled with cheers and chess strategy. I really enjoyed the way the story was presented, like the plot was a chess match and Nora had to calculate her every more. In a sense, it added a layer to the story. Not that this was a very deep story, but it was still nice to get more out of the story than I originally thought I would.

Here's the thing about Nora, I liked her well enough but the way she hid so much about herself bugged me. She was super smart but she wanted to be part of the popular crowd and she wanted to fit in with the rest of the cheerleaders. As much s there were moments where I could relate to Nora, it annoyed me a little that she had to dumb herself down for her friends to accept her. Until Adam shows up and complicated things. But at least she went for the boy who would appreciated her intelligence. Because, to be honest, Jake didn't do anything for me. Adam was made more interesting by the fact that he had something to offer beyond good looks and athletic ability. And he made it so Nora stopped hiding her intelligence.

Though I may not have been super impressed by the characters, I still really enjoyed How (Not) to Find a Boyfriend. Allyson Valentine wrote a fun story. If you're looking for a "pick-me-up," then I suggest giving this book a try.

 photo signature.png

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Authors ARE Rockstars: Lesley Livingston

Authors Are Rockstars

Today I have the immense pleasure of being a part of the second annual Authors Are Rockstars blog tour hosted by FiktshunTwo Chicks on Books and Magical Urban Fantasy Reads. What makes this even better is that I get to host one of my favorite authors of recent years, Lesley Livingston. If you don't know who Lesley Livingsont is, she is the author of the amazing Wondrous Strange trilogy, the Starling trilogy as well as Once Every Never and Every Never After. If you haven't already read any of those books then you are seriously missing out.

So why is Lesley Livingston a rockstar?

It should go without saying that Lesley Livingston is a fantastic writer. Her stories are always so imaginative. Every character she has written has felt completely real to the point where I start thinking about some of them as friends. And not only do they feel real, each one is completely unique. I mean, Lesley has even managed to make me consider Druid princes at this point. But beyond being a fantastic writer, Lesley is a fantastic person. I've had the opportunity to meet her on more than one occasion and every time, she takes the time to talk to you, sharing stories about the stories she writes. And as an added bonus, Lesley doesn't worry too much when she sees you show up at her signing, making it the third time you see her in as many weeks. So all that to say, Lesley is more than just a fantastic author, she's also a fantastic person and that's what makes her a rockstar in my eyes.

What also makes Lesley a rockstar? She wrote this awesome scene about what would happen if Kelley from Wondrous Strange and Mason from Starling were to randomly run into each other.

Flights of Fantasy

Every now and then I daydream about main characters from my different series meeting up with each other by chance. Not an entirely far-fetched idea in the case of the WONDROUS STRANGE books and the STARLINGS books. Both series are set in the same universe and even share a few characters (like, oh, that Fennrys Wolf guy!)…So, how would an encounter like that go? Well, assuming they didn't manage to rip open some kind of mystical portal, something that—quite frankly?—both Kelley Winslow and Mason Starling are remarkably adept at doing, I imagine the two girls stumbling across each other at a place of intersecting paths. A way station. A crossroads. An airport, maybe. No explosions, no looming apocalypses (apocalypsi…?) either Faerie or Norse. Just two ordinary, extraordinary girls, striking up a conversation and a fleeting moment of friendships.

A Coffee Shop in LaGuardia Airport:

Kelley Winslow check her watch. Her flight is delayed. Again. "This is stupid," she mutters. "I mean, I have wings for crying out loud."

Sure she does. Except the last time she'd gone cross-border shopping in Canada (there's a boutique up there that sells really adorable wooly winter jackets—and, hey, it gets super cold in the Faerie Kingdom of Winter) she'd decided to "fly solo." And she'd almost been taken out by a passing 767. There was a lot of traffic in the skies over New York and Sonny Flannery, still full of protective urges, had made her to get ON a place. Not get HIT by one…

"Now here is a situation where a mystical rainbow bridge would actually come in handy," Mason Starling grumbles under her breath as she clutches a double espresso and looks around the airport coffee shop. Of course, the last time she'd crossed that sort of bridge hadn't gone so well for her. Maybe she should have taken the train—oh, wait. Same thing.

She groans as she looks around. Her leg muscles ache from hours and hours of lunges in fencing practice and she could really use a seat. But with all of the flight delays due to weather, every table is occupied. She spots an empty seat at one—the one with the redheaded girl about her age—so Mason hitches up the duffel bag on her shoulder and walks over.

"Hi. Is this seat taken?" she asks.

"No. Go ahead. I'm just killing time. Stupid flight delay…"

"I hear you." Mason slumps gratefully down and shakes her dark hair back from her face. "Sometimes I wish I could just open up a mystical portal and travel that way, you know?"

The red-haired girl laughs. "Oh sure! But that's really never such a good idea, you know."

"No kidding!" Mason grins. "All those Otherworldly nasties just waiting to pounce on poor hapless mortals."

"Not to mention the overzealous, heavily-armed guardians waiting on the other side!"

"And the trolls—don't forget the trolls…"

"Are they anything like ogres?"


The girls blink at each other…and then laugh nervously.

"Right. So." Mason decides a change of subject might be in order." Where are you headed?"

"Canada. Shopping. I need a new winter coat."

"It's the middle of summer."

"Not where I'm going," Kelley murmurs enigmatically. "Um. How about you?"

"Canada. Fighting. I need a new trophy." Mason smiles brightly.

"I see…"

Mason reaches into the bag, drawing out a wire-mesh fencing mask. "Competitive sabre."

"Oh! Cool!" Kelley nods appreciatively. "I have a few friends who are actually pretty handy with swords. You'd probably like them. Especially…well…There's this one guy in particular."

"Nice. What's his name?" Mason asks, wondering if he might be a fellow fencer. 

"It's…well actually…" Kelley suddenly decides that it might not be such good idea to name-drop. Especially when the name is pretty strange. "He's not…around anymore. But, damn, he loved a good, fierce fight."

"Oh." Mason understands instantly, just by the tone of Kelley's voice and the look in her eyes, what she means by "not around". And she also understands that it's something of a painful subject for the other girl. "I'm sorry to hear that," she says. "But I totally get what you mean—I have a friend who kind of fits that bill to a tee."

From the look on Mason's face, Kelley knows that the other girl thinks of the guy as more than just a friend.

She grins. "What's his name?"

Mason blushes. It's not really a name. "Oh…uh…it's foreign," she stammers. "Hard to pronounce—"

A sudden, deafening crack of lightning flares outside the window, interrupting Mason, and both girls turn to stare at the dark clouds as if they are taking the bad weather personally.

"Stupid Storm Hags," Kelley mutters under her breath as Mason mutters, "Stupid storm zombies," at the same time. They both stand and grab their bags and say, "I've gotta go."

They smile and shake hands. Tell each other to have a fantastic journey…

"Nice necklace," Mason says, nodding at the green-amber four-leaf clover hanging around Kelley's neck, before she turns and disappears into the crowd of weary travellers.

"Thanks," Kelley murmurs, reaching up to clutch the Faerie charm at her throat. "You, too…"

And it's only in that moment that Kelley realizes she's spent the entire conversation staring at the iron medallion, strung on a leather cord, that the dark-haired girl was wearing around her neck. The one with the distinctive, knotted pattern.

"Fennrys…?" she murmurs.

Then she shakes her head. No, she thinks, as she goes to find a quiet place where she can have a word or two with a trio of weather goddesses. It's only your imagination.

The Fennrys Wolf had gone to Valhalla.

And that was the end of that.

Wasn't it?


Haven't had the chance to read Starling yet? Then today is your lucky today! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win of one two signed and personalized copies of Starling. Giveaway open to US/CANADA ONLY.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 photo signature.png

Friday, August 9, 2013

Flicker & Burn Blog Tour - Character Interview + Giveaway!

Today I have the pleasure of being part of the blog tour for Flicker & Burn by T.M. Geoglein. I loved Cold Fury when I read it last year so I'm excited to see where Sara Jane goes in this story. In the meantime, I have Sara Jane here on the blog today to answer a few questions, so be sure to keep reading.

Sara Jane, you recently discovered that your family is deeply involved with the Chicago Mob. What was your initial reaction?

Shock is too small of a word. Flabbergasted, I guess, which became disbelief, than acceptance, and then betrayal. I love my parents, okay? Let’s be perfectly clear about that. But they lied to me for a long, long time and it has caused irreparable harm to them, my brother, and me.

After making that kind of discovery, how you deal with it all? Was there anyone you could talk to about all this information?

I haven’t had time to deal with it, to be honest. Almost from the moment I figured it out, someone – masked freaks, cops, now these red-eyed creatures – have been out to get me. Without my best friend, Doug, to talk to, I’d lose my mind. Ah, who am I kidding? I am losing my mind, piece by piece… 

From what was in the journal you found, you seem to have something in you that makes you different. Have you been able to find out more about what that is?

Cold fury – ghiaccio furioso, as it’s called in Italian – allows me to channel the deepest fear of an adversary and turn it back on himself until he’s so terrified, he’ll do my bidding. But there are other components to it, as well – things I’m just learning about that are much more powerful and dangerous.

You were recently able to see your little brother. Do you have any more information you can share on what happened to your family on that night?

I wish I did. You have no idea how hard I wish I knew more. But trust me – I’ll find out, no matter how many bones I have to break.

Would you have any tips to give to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation?

Channel your inner animal. Fight when you have to, run when you have to, and if you pause to take a breath or fail to watch your back, you’re dead. Not too cheery, but true.


Here is your chance to win one of three signed copies of Flicker & Burn or special art bookmarks. All you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author: 
T.M. Goeglein began his career as a writer of print and television ads for a host of advertising and media companies. As a screenwriter, he created both original scripts and worked as a script doctor for several production companies in Los Angeles. He was an original contributor to the Huffington Post "Living" section, and continues to write for both the national edition and Huffington Post Chicago. Read T.M. Goeglein's stories on the Huffington Post.

His debut novel, COLD FURY, will be published by Penguin/Putnam in 2012 and is the first in a trilogy; he's currently working on the second book. He lives in Chicago with his wife, Laura, and two young children.

About the book:
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.

 photo signature.png

Monday, August 5, 2013

In Too Deep by Coert Voorhees

Title: In Too Deep
Author: Coert Voorhees
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository
Annie Fleet, master scuba diver and history buff, knows she can't fight her nerd status as a freshman at her Los Angeles private school. And she doesn't care--except for the fact that her crush, Josh, thinks she's more adorable than desirable. Annie is determined to set him straight on their school trip to Mexico. But her teacher has other plans: he needs Annie to help him find Cortez's long-lost treasure. 

Suddenly, Annie finds herself scuba diving in pitch-black waters, jetting to Hawaii with Josh, and hunting for the priceless Golden Jaguar. But Annie and Josh aren't the only ones lured by the possibility of finding the greatest treasure ever lost at sea. Someone else wants the gold--and needs Annie dead. In deeper danger than she ever imagined, can Annie get the boy and find the Jaguar, or is she in over her head?

Critically-acclaimed author Coert Voorhees delivers breathtaking romance and non-stop action in his newest novel, the spirited and captivating In Too Deep.

I really enjoyed Coert Voorhess' Lucky Fools last summer, so I was really looking forward to reading his newest novel, In Too Deep. I was definitely not disappointed and In Too Deep ended up being exactly what I needed at the time.

Annie loves nothing more than exploring the underwater world, and the idea of long lost treasures only add to her excitement. On a class trip to Mexico Annie gets to do jus that and as and added bonus, her long time crush, Josh, is along for the ride. But the treasure hunting business is a dangerous one. Before long, Annie and Josh have people following them and threatening their lives. But when there's a treasure waiting to be found, Annie won't give up. And who knows, she may also get Josh in the process. That is if she's isn't in completely over her head.

Like I said, Coert Voorhees' In Too Deep was exactly what I needed when I read it. Adventure with just the right dose of romance made for one seriously fun story. I'm not going to lie, there were moments when parts of the story felt a little far-fetched, but in a way those moments are what made the story so fun. Right from the outset, I was taken on a bit of a crazy adventure. ANd form there it just got crazier, going from California to Mexico to California to Hawaii and back again. What I especially loved is that while there was romance in the story, it wasn't the central part of it. Instead, the story was more focused on the treasure hunting and history behind the lost treasure. It was all really interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was reading.

Annie was an awesome character. I loved that she was more concerned with figuring out the clues that led to the treasure than what to do or wear in order to impress Josh. The focus was on her brain instead of her appearance. It was so refreshing to read a story like that. Not that I didn't appreciate Josh, because I totally did. I loved the fact that he was so enthusiastic about the treasure hunting and helping Annie with it. The other characters in the book who were helping out Annie and Josh with the treasure hunting were all really fund and made the story that much more enjoyable. Each one brought something to the story and they were all so fun, some of them even a little crazy.

Overall, Coert Voorhees' In Too Deep was an awesome and fun read. If you're looking for a fun contemporary packed with action and adventure, then I strongly recommend In Too Deep.

 photo signature.png
Related Posts with Thumbnails