Book Blog, Book Reviews

Excerpt + Giveaway: Summerlost by Ally Condie

March 29, 2016

Disclaimer: This is a promotional post. Promotion hosted by Word Spelunking and Penguin Kids. A free copy of Summerlost was provided in exchange for promotion and a review.

Summerlost CoverOriginal Title: Summerlost
Author: Ally Condie
Edition: Hardcover, 272 pages.
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Links: Excerpt, Goodreads, Penguin Random House, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound

Description: A tender and compelling contemporary novel for young readers about facing loss and finding friendship, from Ally Condie, international bestselling author of the Matched series.

“Kids are awesome. And they are diverse. There are children with different abilities and backgrounds and experiences, and every one of them deserves to find themselves in children’s literature and to know that they matter.” –Ally Condie, on Summerlost

Sometimes it takes a new friend to bring you home. It’s the first real summer since the accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching new novel from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.

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Book Blog, Bookish Tips & Lists

Top Ten Books I Don’t Gush About Enough!

March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week I present to you a list of ten books and series that I loved, but I don’t talk about nearly enough! Have you read any of these novels? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

10.) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye

“…the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

Rating: 5/5
Comment: I’m not a huge fan of classics, so I was a bit skeptical going into The Catcher in the Rye, but I absolutely fell in love with Holden Caulfield. He’s a poster boy for the misanthropic, angst ridden youth of the world, which means he’s a character I could fully relate to when I read it.

09.) Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Rating: 5/5
Comment: Shiver was the first novel that I read by Maggie Stiefvater and it instantly catapulted her onto the list of my favorite authors. The world of Mercy Falls is so beautiful, and the characters, whether in human or wolf form, inspire you to love them or hate them. One of Maggie Stiefavater’s gifts is writing completely intriguing novels that are merited completely on character development and little to no major action. Not to say that nothing happens in this series, because it does, but nothing really happens…if that makes sense. Shiver is the first in the trilogy, followed by Linger and Forever. Sinner, which features two characters from the series, is a companion novel.

08.) Prodigal Son (Frankenstein #1) by Dean Koontz
Prodigal Son

Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein — the author’s first literary series — is a nightmare-inspiring, modern-day retelling of Mary Shelley’s 1818 horror classic. Coauthored with Kevin J. Anderson, the first installment in this four-volume saga pits a reanimated giant and two tenacious police detectives against the demented scientist who created him.

It’s no surprise that Deucalion, at almost seven feet tall and with half his face a mangled ruin, spent time as a European carnie sideshow attraction nicknamed the Monster. After enjoying several peaceful years at a monastery in Tibet, the introspective and enigmatic giant receives dire news: The man who created him centuries earlier, Victor Frankenstein, is inexplicably alive and living in New Orleans under the name of Victor Helios, a wealthy business owner and philanthropist. When Deucalion vows to leave his Tibetan sanctuary and destroy the man who created him, he soon realizes the critical magnitude of his mission — Helios is in the process is secretly creating a new race of posthumans to take over the world!

As is par for the course in many fiction sagas, readers should be prepared for a cliff-hanger of monumental proportions at the conclusion of Prodigal Son. Koontz and Anderson, however, masterfully set the table for a virtual feast of hideous twists and turns, nightmarish monstrosities, and nonstop action in upcoming installments. Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, in which a man transforms himself into a monster and a monster learns what it’s like to be human, is an absolutely brilliant rendition of the Shelley classic — a horror tour de force.

Rating: 5/5
Comments: Dean Koontz’s take on Frankenstein is amazing! All three of the original novels in this series are thrilling and action-packed. I loved Decaulion, I loved the detectives, and I even was quite fond of Frankenstein himself and his grand delusions to take over the world. There are actually 5 novels in the entire series, but I wasn’t as big of a fan of the last 2 but they’re still worth reading if you decide to jump into this series.

07.) The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Pigman

When sophomores John and Lorraine played a practical joke a few months ago on a stranger named Angelo Pignati, they had no idea what they were starting. Virtually overnight, almost against their will, the two befriended the lonely old man; it wasn’t long before they were more comfortable in his house than their own. But now Mr. Pignati is dead. And for John and Lorraine, the only way to find peace is to write down their friend’s story – the story of the Pigman.

Rating: 4/5
Comment: “You don’t remember what people do, you remember how they make you felt.” That’s the best description I can give for this book. To be honest, I do need to read it again. This was a dreaded assigned reading in high school, but I remember being deeply engrossed and loving this novel back then, even though I don’t remember why or what happens.

06.)The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapri
The Complete Persepolis

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Rating: 5/5
Comment: The Complete Persepolis is actually a graphic novel and it’s an inspiring and entertaining autobiography of Marjane Satrapri’s life. It is a definite MUST READ. I love Satrapri’s voice and her strength.

05.) Pitch Dark by Steven Sidor
Pitch Dark

It’s Christmas Eve, and Vera Coffey is on the run. She doesn’t know the men who are after her. She has never seen them before, but she has seen the horrors they visit on people who don’t give them what they want. Vera has something they want badly. She’d give it up if it weren’t the only thing keeping her alive.

The Larkins have known the toll violence takes on a family ever since they were trapped in a madman’s shooting rampage. They’ve been coping with the trauma for nearly twenty years. Now, on a cold and lonely winter morning, Vera collapses at their roadside motel. And she’s brought something with her. Together they’ll have to make one last stand against an evil that has followed them further than anyone could’ve imagined.

With a thriller so fast-paced that it’s impossible to let go and an ominous sense that everything is destined to go wrong, Pitch Dark is an intense read from a master of suspense.

Rating: 4/5
Comment: Pitch Dark starts off at a slow pace, but it’s ridiculously intriguing and it begs you to keep turning the page to find out what happens. It’s very suspenseful and everything you can ask for in a good horror novel.

04.) My Blood Approves by Amanda Hocking
My Blood Approves

Teenager Alice Bonham’s life feels crazy after she meets Jack. With his fondness for pink Chuck Taylors and New Wave, he’s unlike anyone she knows. Then she meets his brother, Peter. Even though he can’t stand the sight of her, she’s drawn to him. Falling for two guys isn’t even the worst of her problems. Jack and Peter are vampires, and Alice finds herself caught between love and her own blood.

Comment: It’s no secret that I love Twilight, and if I had to recommend any series to another Twilight lover, it would be the My Blood Approves series. This is another series that I devoured in only a few days. Is it a masterpiece? Absolutely not. But as with Twilight, there’s just something about the characters and the story that sucks you in and won’t let you escape.

03.) The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
The Spectacular Now

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Rating: 4/5
Comment: Holy crap! I LOVED this book! I can’t even remember now why I didn’t give it 5 stars. I may need to adjust that rating. Anyway, I picked up The Spectacular Now because the movie was getting such rave reviews and I really, really wanted to watch it, but not before reading the novel. This thing broke me! It’s so beautiful and funny and heartbreaking. It’s worth mentioning, the movie was a huge disappointment after finishing this beautiful novel.

02.) Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1) by Dean Koontz
Odd Thomas

“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

Rating: 5/5
Comment: I could not recommend this series enough!!! Odd Thomas is one of my all-time favorite characters and my heart won’t even let me finish the series because I have a feeling it doesn’t end well for him. Odd is an extraordinary young man with a unique and hilarious voice in spite of all the danger and weirdness that he goes through on a daily basis. I love his adventures, the characters, and the villains and ghouls in all of these books. I would definitely recommend heading to your local thrift store or used book store and picking all of them up.

01.) I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver, #1) by Dan Wells
I Am Not A Serial Killer

John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.

He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.

He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.

Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.

Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.

Dan Wells’s debut novel is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

Rating: 5/5
Comment: I actually talk about this series a lot, but I still don’t talk about it enough! I LOVE JOHN CLEAVER! I’m super excited because the I Am Not A Serial Killer movie debuted at the 2016 SXSW to rave reviews which means that it will probably find a studio home sooner rather than later, and more people will finally find and read this amazing series. It’s refreshing to have a leading man who’s not perfect or saintly and defies all the norms of a typical young adult protagonist. John Cleaver isn’t the anti-hero that the world needs; he’s the anti-hero we deserve.

Book Blog, Book Reviews

Book Review: Kindred Spirits

March 13, 2016

Kindred Spirits

  • Original Title: Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
  • Edition: Mass Market Paperback, 96 pages
  • Published: February 25, 2016 by Macmillians Kids UK
  • Characters: Elena, Gabe, Troy
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Goodreads

Description: If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

Kindred Spirits was super, super short but a lot of emotion was packed in. I’m amazed at how much happened, and how these characters evolved, in such a short amount of time. Technically, no, nothing actually happened because our three main characters are just camped outside of a movie theater for four days, but the relationships that they build with each other and their dialogue is amazing. I love how Elena and Gabe’s friendship takes shape in just a few pages. Plus, it really gives insight into how we perceive others without really knowing them sometimes. I’m more than guilty of assuming how other people feel about me and what that, in turn, means about them. It’s a vicious reality.
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Book Blog, Bookish Things, Tags

Disney Book Tag • Rainbow Rowell Edition

March 11, 2016



In addition to being a nerd, I’m a Disney fangirl! When I saw the Disney Book Tag post that Alexa over at Alexa Loves Books did, I knew that me and this tag were a match made in heaven. Like Alexa, I’m also going to challenge myself using only books and characters by one author, and who else would I choose but the wonderful and amazing, Rainbow Rowell.

The Little Mermaid THE LITTLE MERMAID • A character who is out of their element.

In Carry On, Simon Snow is the main protagonist–The Chosen One. However, much like the fictional wizard he was based on, Simon grew up surrounded with humans and clueless about his past and destiny. He has absolutely no control of his magic and even less understanding of the world he gets thrust into when The Mage finds him in an orphanage and brings him to Watford School of Magicks.

CinderellaCINDERELLA • A character who goes through a major transformation.

Cather “Cath” Avery from Fangirl is one of my favorite characters because I think she’s a mirror of myself at that age. When we meet Cath, she’s very shy and introverted. She’s just went off to college, and she spends the majority of her days hiding in her dorm room; she is weary of even going to the cafeteria so she eats snack bars and other junk in her room. She obsesses over her chosen fandom (in this case, it’s our beloved Simon & Baz). She’s just a mess, really. As the year progresses, she becomes friends with her outspoken and no-f**ks-giving roommate and she falls for her roommate’s cute friend, Levi. The two of them help Cath come out of her shell (a little bit) and confront some of her demons.

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Book Blog, Book Reviews

ARC Review: Where You’ll Find Me

March 8, 2016

Where You'll Find

  • Original Title: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend
  • Edition: Advance Reader’s Edition Paperback, 266 pages
  • Published: March 8, 2016 by Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Characters: Anna Collette, Frances Collette, Marnie Collette, David Collette, Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker, Sarabeth the Irish Stepper
  • Rating: 4/5
  • Goodreads

Description: In this powerful and buoyant YA novel, a thirteen-year-old girl learns to navigate the shifting loyalties of friendships in middle school and deals with challenges at home.

The beginning of the eighth grade is not what Anna thought it would be. Her lifelong best friend has ditched her for the cool kids, and her mom is in the hospital after a suicide attempt. Anna finds herself where she least expects to: living with her dad, his young new wife, and their baby, and starting a new year at school without a best friend. With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna learns that sometimes you find what you need to pull you through in the most unlikely places.

I received this Advance Reader’s Edition as a prize from Alexa Loves Books.

Okay, I don’t typically enjoy middle grade books because the writing is usually too simplistic, so I wasn’t necessarily thrilled about this book when I read the synopsis and saw that Anna was only 13 years old, but surprisingly, I really, really enjoyed this story! The main protagonist, Anna Collette, is mature for her age but not unbelievably so. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age, a little more mature than the people around me, intelligent but unmotivated and distracted, and sarcastic as f**k (that last bit hasn’t changed much). Additionally, I was very close to Anna’s age when my mom was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so I have that personal text-to-self connection to Anna and I truly relate to her struggle. I think Natasha Friend did an excellent job representing what it feels like to be that age and process those emotions. There’s a few paragraphs in the advanced reader’s edition that compare her mother to a burner control knob. It sounds silly out of context, but I thought that the comparison was very powerful and accurate…

If my mother had a burner control knob, I could set her however I wanted. If, say, she started staying up too late, watching QVC and ordering a bunch of wine glass necklaces, I could turn her down to 6. If I found her in the bathtub with a washcloth over her face, listening to Anatevka on her boom box, I’d turn her up to 4. Talking too fast? Down a notch. Monotone voice? Up a notch.

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