Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Untethered by Katie Hayoz

Untethered by Katie Hayoz
Age Group: Pre-teen/YA
Pages: 352
Publication Date: May 14, 2015

Sylvie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it. But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.

Sixteen-year-old Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever. But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.

I was drawn to this book because of the uniqueness of the plot.  It seems that most young adult fiction lately is about paranormal creatures, dystopian worlds, or high school drama, so the fact that it was about something as unique as astral projecting made me excited to read the novel. The book itself is an easy read, even at three hundred and fifty pages I never felt that I was forcing myself to continue.  The book had an easy reading level that I think preteen and teens can enjoy.  

That being said, those who do not have the patients to read from a young teen girls point of view may get easily annoyed with the character.  Sylvie, as a character, can be self-centered and obnoxious at times.  She is often preoccupied and
obsessed with things that are very trivial, which some readers could find frustrating.  For me, however, I felt that Sylvie was a typical teenaged girl (give or take a few bad choices).  I think the author did a great job of portraying teen girls as they really are; dramatic, preoccupied with trivial things, and sometimes short-sighted.

Overall, I think that the author did a great job of creating a story that many ages can read and enjoy.  The book has such a unique plot that I would definitely recommend giving  the book a chance even if it is not your normal genre of book.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Below by Jason Chabot

Below by Jason Chabot
Age Group: YA
Pages: 312
Publisher: Turner Publishing company
Publication Date: July 6, 2016

No one but the dead dare venture Below . . .

The first volume in this thrilling trilogy opens on the barren plains of Below, where Hokk and his fox sidekick, Nym, live in exile amid the remnants of our modern age.

Overhead, on the floating islands of Above, Elia is trapped in a life of endless toil and drudgery as a laundress for the Mirrored Palace. To Elia, the islands’ edges are borders that no one dares cross until the ancient ritual that delivers the dead to Below. But a series of natural disasters rumbling through Above sends Elia’s world crashing into Hokk’s—and she falls Below.

Their journey together will propel them across endless plains and through shattered cities in a centuries-old battle for the very earth and sky around them . . .

I absolutely loved this novel. This was exactly the kind of novel that I find myself unable to put down.  From the setting, to the characterization and the plot, I loved every minute of it.  The author, Jason Chabot, created a beautiful debut novel that has left me wanting more. 

The world that Jason Chabot creates in complex, unique, and fantastical. The author has a way of giving the reader just enough information about this futuristic world to keep them hooked and wanting more.   I found myself often comparing the setting of this novel to the real world.  Many of the modifications that he describes are very possible, some on the other hand are not, but it all comes together into an intriguing futuristic world. 

The plot of the novel was as unique as the world he created.  Every page was filled with trials and tribulations for both of the characters, that the reader is immediately drawn in.  I found myself waiting patiently as I read trying to put pieces of the puzzle together and figure out what was going to happen, each time I failed to anticipate the authors next move.  I am still waiting to try and piece together some of the mysteries surrounding the characters and the world they live in. 

By far my favorite part of the entire novel is the characters themselves.  They both come from such strikingly different environments, but both face very difficult lives.  I found them both to be very interesting and complex characters.  Elia seems very quiet and mousy at first, but as the reader continues into the novel they learn just what strength she truly possesses.  With Hokk, we start off with a very stoic warrior architype, but the reader soon learns there is far more to him that what meets the eye.  The two could not be more different, but they complement each other beautifully.

Chabot’s novel is written from both Elia and Hokk’s points of view.  In so doing we get to see two very different angles for the story.  Both of the characters have different motives, different mind sets, and different reactions to everything.  This technique really allows the reader to see both sides of the world, and gives them more perspective than if the book was just written from one perspective.  I tend not to like novels that have multiple perspectives, but in this case Chabot pulled it off beautifully. 

In total Chabot created a novel with an amazing story line, great characters, and a very imaginative setting.  The book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  I am absolutely hooked; I cannot wait for the next book.  

Friday, June 17, 2016

It Started With a Whisper Tour

It Started with a Whisper by Shannon McCrimmon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: June 1st 2016
 Summary: Five simple words: That's all it takes to change the course of 18-year-old Josie Graham's life inthe summer of 1989. Josie is a musical prodigy: She can sing, play guitar and is a natural on the piano. Instead ofspending her last summer before college traveling the country with her rock star father, she's made a last minute decision to spend it working at her Aunt Bernie's inn, in Ambler's Fork, North Carolina. But what could have turned her life-long passion for music into a hatred for an industry she's worked so hard to get into? Her aunt's inn seems like the perfect place to escape, to clear her head and figure things out, but on her first day there, she almost drowns before Chic Hobbs saves her. Chic wants nothing more in life than to leave Ambler's Fork and his sordid past behind—at least not until that day Josie Graham swims into his life. The problem is, Chic's got a secret. It's a secret he's keeping from Josie, and he's worried ifit gets out, it'll ruin everything, and she'll judge him for his past mistakes the way everyone else in town has. Josie is carrying a burden of her own. One that made her run to Ambler's Fork - away from her family and everything she's ever known. Chic saved Josie once. Can he save her again? Or will Josie rescue him this time?Add to GoodreadsBuy Links:Amazon It Started with a Whisper video: About the AuthorShannon McCrimmon was born and raised in Central Florida. She attended Rollins College and earned a Master's Degree in Counseling. In 2008, she moved to the upstate of South Carolina. Itwas the move that inspired her to write her first novel. She currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina with her husband and toy poodle. She'd love to hear from you! Connect with her atshannonmccrimmon.comAuthor Links: Website│Twitter│Facebook│Goodreads│PinterestGIVEAWAY: a Rafflecopter giveaway Blog Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

 Excerpt 1:           I feel like I'm in a prison cell. Iron bars cover the door and windows. There's a putrid, moldy scent, like dirty socks and a boy's sweaty locker room. The overweight, hairy Sasquatch working behind the counter looks like the type my mother warned me about. Yet here I am, standing inside Donny's Pawn Shop, handing over my precious guitar Dad gifted me years ago.            Part of me wants to snatch it back from him. Tell him I'm not selling it after all. Getting rid of it this way feels wrong somehow, like I'm cutting ties with a former part of myself. Still, I don't think I can ever allow myself to play it again. Not now anyway.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #4)

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
Age Group: YA
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 5 2011

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

I have been a longtime fan of the Mortal Instruments series.  I believe that the series was originally meant to be a trilogy, and the third book ended quite nicely so I was surprised to see the fourth book hit the shelves.  I will not lie it took me a while to muster up the courage to read this book, I think mostly because of how nicely Clare had tied up the third book, and to be honest it was a little of a letdown for me. 

This book felt forced and a little unnecessary to me.  It for me did not have the face paced and action filled plot that I felt the first three books contained.  This book is very much a filler-type-novel.  There was a lot of buildup and not much action until the very end.  However, I can see why Cassandra Clare did this it is a good set up for the next two novels, hopefully, they will have a faster more action filled plot. 

This book was by no means bad however, I did enjoy that fact that is was smaller than the other books in the series and was a pretty fast read as well it brought back the characters that I have come to know and love throughout the series.  I do hope, though, that they bring back the snarky Jace that we saw in the first books.  This book also gives me high hopes for the fifth and sixth books.  I think that overall that even though this was not my favorite book in the series it was still by most standards a decent book, and will be a good lead up to the next books in the series.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Shining Sea
Mimi Cross
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and their father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, songwriting is Arion’s only solace, her solid ground.

Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?

Goodreads / Amazon



Tuneless humming is coming from the bedroom next to mine. I’ve always been the better singer, no secret. Even before I could talk, I sang. To me, singing feels like . . . flying.

As a little kid I sang in the church choir, later on in the choruses at school, and about six months ago I started writing songs—not that I’d call myself a songwriter yet. My first gig was last week, down in the Mission District. Standing on the spotlit stage of the black box performance space, I played one long set—twelve tunes total—while hipsters watched with crossed arms.

Performing in front of an audience is a good way to tell if your songs are finished.

Or not.

The song I’m trying to capture now definitely falls into the not category.

I give the guitar a soft strum—a ghost of a chord slips out. Playing the haunting notes a little louder, I listen for the melody. It’ll come, eventually, but we’re leaving any minute.

Not just leaving . . . moving.

“Do you know,” I whisper sing, “where lost things go?”

In the next room Lilah falls silent. The lyrics tangle in my throat.

My fingers fumble, then jerk—playing a rhythmic pattern atop a single minor chord: one and two, one and two. Words tumble out of me. “Saint Anthony, can you come around? There’s something lost, and it can’t be found.”

Saint Anthony—is he the one?

A quick Google search on the laptop perched at the end of my bed tells me he is. Saint Anthony is invoked as the finder of lost things. Pulling my guitar closer, I play the line over and over.

“Arion? You up there?”

Dad. After shoving the laptop into my backpack, I shut the guitar in its case and head into the hall. Hands full, I stand in my sister’s doorway.

She doesn’t see me.

Even as thin as she is, even with the ever-present dark shadows beneath her eyes, Lilah is beautiful. Her features are regular and in proportion. Mine . . . are slightly exaggerated. Nose longer, lips fuller. Now, without music to distract me, the tears I’d vowed not to cry fill my eyes. Brown eyes. On a good day, they’re hazel. Maybe.

There’s no mistaking the color of my sister’s eyes. Bright blue. Her hair is black and shiny, cut straight across her forehead and blunt at her shoulders in a way that has always made me think of Cleopatra, but especially since the accident, when she became a mystery to me. Lilah no longer tells me her every thought. She can’t.

My sister blinks her bellflower eyes now, and for a split second— seems to focus on me.

But the illusion vanishes just as quickly. I swallow around the lump in my throat, wondering for the millionth time if she has any idea what’s going on.

Her bed is up against the window. In the distance—over a nearly invisible San Francisco Bay—the Golden Gate Bridge hovers in fog. Sitting down beside her on the bed, I lay a hand on one of her legs—feel bones, atrophied muscles. A raw feeling spreads through me, like a dull blade is scraping the underside of my skin.

“So . . . guess it’s time for goodbye.” I take a deep breath in, let it out slowly—which doesn’t help at all. “I’ll see you in Rock Hook Harbor. Dad’s one-horse hometown . . . Sounds happening, huh?” My attempt at lightheartedness fails completely. The words drop like bricks.

Leaning in, I kiss her cheek.

She turns away, as if looking toward the ghostly water. Or, is she looking at the water? Or just staring blankly?

I so want it to be the former. The doctors say it’s the latter.

In my chest, a hairline fissure I’ve fused together with lyrics and chords pops open.

“I love you,” I choke out.

She doesn’t answer. Of course she doesn’t.

Biting down hard on my lip, I stand up, trying not to feel like I’m leaving my best friend stranded. But I am. She is. Stranded. She’s been stranded, for a year.

Swiping at my eyes, I take a few steps down the hall—then turn suddenly into my parents’ room, which is mostly Mom’s room now. Dad spends the nights he’s here on the living room couch, where, after dinner—usually something complicated he’s cooked up involving lots of pots and pans—he falls asleep with the TV on. Blue screen to white noise; maybe the sound helps him. Music works better for me. Or, it used to. I used to lie in bed at night and sing. Lately, all I want to do is sleep.

Like the rest of the house, my parents’ bedroom is crowded with canvases. Filled with slashes of color and geometric shapes, each paint- ing has the name “Cici” scrawled in large letters down in the right-hand corner. Mom’s pictures pulse with unfamiliar energy, and my nostrils flare at the scent of paint fumes as I move a half-finished piece—an abstract portrait of a girl, I think—that’s leaning up against the glass door. Slipping out onto the balcony, I clutch the cold railing and eye a moldering stack of Psychology Today magazines. Therapy is Mom’s religion.

A pair of paint-splattered jeans hangs off a chair. A handful of paintbrushes soak in a bucket. There’s no sign of Dad.

My parents are like a couple of unmoored boats. Drifting. One of the few things they agreed on this past year? The accident was Dad’s fault. A pretty stupid conclusion, really, considering he hadn’t even been on the boat. But he’s a ship’s captain. Lilah and I inherited our love of the water from him.

Water. I hate it now. Because of the water, I’m on this balcony almost every day, drawn out here as if for a long-standing appointment, some prearranged meeting between me and my broken heart. I cry here; sometimes I yell. Sometimes I write, and one day, I nearly threw my guitar over the railing.

Splintered wood, snapped strings, I’m interested in broken things. The circling song lyrics fade at the sound of Mom’s strained voice. “Arion, have you finished saying goodbye to Delilah? Your dad’s ready to go.”

I stay another second, then scoop up a stray guitar pick from the terracotta tiles and head inside, not paying any attention to the paint- ings now, just intent on leaving before I get any more upset.

But then I’m passing Lilah’s room—and I see it.

The slim black notebook I’ve searched for probably a hundred times over the past year.

Oh, I’ve seen the palm-size Moleskine with its curled cover, seen it clutched in Lilah’s fist, watched as she whisked the small black book beneath her quilt, or shoved it between her sheets. I just haven’t been able to get my hands on it, and I’ve wanted to, desperately.

So many times I’ve seen her slip the notebook between the over- size pages of the art books that Mom insists on bringing home from the library. She’ll hug the book close then—her treasure safe inside— but she’ll never actually look at the glossy pages. Not like she looks at that notebook. She looks at that black book like it’s the only thing she recognizes.

It’s definitely some kind of diary. Not that I ever see her writing in it, not since before. But she’s always got it on her.

Only, she doesn’t have it on her now.

Now, there it is, on the floor next to her bed. And Lilah, there she is, still looking but not looking out the window. Transfixed, it would seem, by the gray bay. As I watch, she lifts one hand, bringing her fingertips to the glass—as if there’s something out there she wants to touch.

It’s kind of amazing how I do it, how I steal her most precious pos- session without breaking my stride. How I silently sweep into the room and, bending low, snatch it up—then keep on walking like nothing’s happened. Like I’m ten-year-old Lilah herself, that time at the rock and gem shop down near the beach, trying on one sterling silver ring, then another. I’ll never forget it, how she smiled at the shopkeeper—maybe even said thank you—then practically skipped out the door, still wear- ing at least one of the rings. Once outside, she tossed a half-dozen more rings onto the pebbles that served as the shop’s front yard, so that she could retrieve them that night when the gem shop was closed, so that we could retrieve them.

Eight-year-old me, I’d held the flashlight for her. She’d given me one of the rings as my reward, but only one.

I feel bad taking the book; if I could read it and leave it, I would. But there’s no time. Through the hall window I can see Dad standing down in the driveway by the old green Jeep Cherokee, the car that will be mine once we get to Maine.

So I slide the notebook into the pocket of my backpack where it burns a hole so big I think it will surely fall out—pages fluttering like fiery wings—and slap the floor with a sound so sharp, Lilah will shud- der to life. She’ll spring up and shout at me, her old self at last.

But nothing like this happens.

Leaving Lilah. Taking the notebook. My skin ripples with guilt. But we have to go on ahead. School’s starting in a few weeks, plus Dad’s new job—they won’t hold it any longer.

And really, I have to take the book. I need to know what happened.

Out in the driveway, I crane my neck, trying to see if Lilah’s still at the window.

“Hold on,” Mom shouts from the house, “I almost forgot!”

Time seems suspended as Dad and I wait by the car, the limbo of the long ride already upon us . . .

Mom reappears holding a square box wrapped in gold paper and a purple ribbon. Balanced on top is a fat cupcake with pink frosting.

“Happy birthday, Arion.” Her flinty blue eyes soften. She hands me the awkward duo and gives me an equally awkward hug. “From both of us.”

Dad smiles, shakes his head. “Seventeen.” He’s always been a man of few words.

“Thanks, Mom. Dad.” Swallowing hard, I climb into the car with the gifts on my lap. Mom pecks Dad on the cheek, and he gets behind the wheel. As we pull away, she blows me a kiss.

Twisting in my seat, I wave—then look up at the second story. No Lilah.

My chest hurts so much—I actually glance down. But there’s nothing except a smear of pink icing on my shirt, where I’d leaned into the cupcake.

We’ll fly back close to Thanksgiving, when Lilah is scheduled for the operation that my parents have finally decided is her best bet: a surgical procedure to implant a device in her brain.

It’s not as sci-fi as it sounds. The battery-operated device is kind of like a pacemaker, only for your brain instead of your heart. This kind of surgery is used to treat a variety of disabling neurological symptoms, although I think whoever came up with DBS—deep brain stimulation—was thinking of people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, not, well, whatever’s wrong with Lilah. Her case is—entirely different. I’m not going to pretend: I’m scared. But the plan is, we’ll all be together in Maine by Christmas, so that’s what I’m trying to focus on. I’ll miss Lilah. Mom too. But I’m glad to be leaving San Francisco.

My life here . . . is on hold—except for my music. The rest is a waiting game.

We’ve all been waiting for Lilah to find what she lost. As if she can look for it.

Author Bio:

Mimi Cross was born in Toronto, Canada. She received a master's degree from New York University and a bachelor's degree in music from Ithaca College. She has been a performer, a music educator, and a yoga instructor. During the course of her musical career, she's shared the bill with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Sting. She resides in New Jersey.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

What is is a book subscription box that is perfect for any book lover.  Each month two books are hand picked and sent to you via mail.  There are six choices of boxes to choose from; Young Adult, Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller, Romance, Children Litterature, or two Paranormal Romance books.  The box is ten dollars a month and has a five dollar shipping fee, meaning it is only a total of fifteen dollars a month.

I recently received a box for review.  It came in a nice sturdy box with no dings or dents that could have damaged the books.  I visually enjoyed the box they sent it in.  Having the company logo was a nice touch.

 I opened the box to find the books very nicely laid out, they fit quite snug and had tissue paper so the books were not being jostled around.  It came with a pamphlet describing the books that were sent this month and even had a small hand written note which I felt was a nice personal touch.

When all is said and done, I was very pleased with this box, I got two hardcover novels for less than the price of one.  This is one of the only subscription boxes that I feel is actually worth the money. I also liked that I did not know what book I was going to get.  It was like getting a surprise gift in the mail.  I think that this is a great gift for any book lover, or any child you want to get into reading.