April 30, 2015

DNF Review: The Friendship Riddle

The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Grade: DNF
Release date: May 5, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Bloomsbury USA Children's and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Ruth Mudd-O’Flaherty has been a lone wolf at Frontenac Consolidated Middle School ever since her best friend, Charlotte, ditched her for “cooler” friends. Who needs friends when you have fantasy novels? Roaming the stacks of her town’s library is enough for Ruth. Until she finds a note in an old book . . . and in that note is a riddle, one that Ruth can’t solve alone. With an epic quest before her, Ruth admits she needs help, the kind that usually comes from friends. Lena and Coco, two kids in her class could be an option, but allowing them in will require courage. Ruth must decide: Is solving this riddle worth opening herself up again?

In this surprising and emotionally satisfying journey through the ups and downs of middle school, Ruth finds that even the bravest heroes need true friends by their side.

When did I stop reading?: 33% into my e-galley (right after chapter ten)
Why didn't I finish?: The plot felt a bit unfocused, the friendships between Ruth and several characters didn't fit right, and there were random info-drops about Ruth's family, Charlotte's family, needing a bra, and so forth.

The Long(er) Review: I read Chasing Vermeer as a preteen, a book that The Friendship Riddle was said to be for fans of. This was no Chasing Vermeer. It was much more lighthearted (which isn't always a bad thing) with less of a focused plot. This book seemed to focus more on Ruth's day-to-day life and the spelling bee than the riddles she was finding in library books. That was the plot I was interested in, but I got very little of it. Also, Charlotte and Ruth are said to no longer be friends but they interact an awful lot for that to be true. 

The Verdict: Middle grade is often hit-or-miss for me, and unfortunately, this was very much a miss.

April 29, 2015

Taylor Swift and Storytelling

I love to find books that have such lyrical, flowing prose. I'm not talking books told in verse (I don't really like those at all); I mean books whose authors wrote them so fluidly that the words move almost like music or poetry but still in prose.
I love stories. I mean, I'm sure y'all could guess that since I'm addicted to books and I'm a writer. But stories aren't only found in books; they're also found in well-written song. And I'm here today to state that Taylor Swift is a master storyteller.

For starters, the secret messages in the 1989 album lyric book tell a story (one that I actually used in a "telling a story" exercise in my communications class) which says straight off that, if you listen to 1989 the whole way through, you hear a story.

Then there are songs like "Mary's Song (Oh My My My)" and "Starlight" which touch on the love stories of older couples that Taylor has known. The former is about her next door neighbors, and the latter is about Bobby and Ethel Kennedy.

"The Lucky One" tells the story of a starlet who realizes that Hollywood and fame aren't all they're cut out to be. "All Too Well" and "Out Of The Woods" tells pretty much the whole story of two relationships and how they fell apart. "The Moment I Knew" is all about Taylor's 21st birthday when her boyfriend at the time stood her up. "Never Grow Up" and "The Best Day" touch on Taylor's childhood.

There are many other Taylor Swift songs that I feel tell a story (I counted 22 in total), and I think that's part of her appeal for me. 

April 28, 2015

Interview with Tara Dairman, Author of The Stars of Summer

I'm honored to be part of The Stars of Summer blog tour. Although I didn't formally review All Four Stars, I'm pretty sure I've raved enough about it that y'all can guess how exciting this is for me. So before we get into this interview, here's some info about both of Ms. Dairman's books and the author herself.

Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.

But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City—all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

It’s not easy being an undercover restaurant critic—especially when you’re only twelve years old!

After successfully completing her first restaurant review for the New York Standard newspaper, Gladys Gatsby is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and eating. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley.

As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy; she struggles to pass her swim test, can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches, and cannot seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper. The worst part is she’s not able to find a moment to sneak away for her latest reviewing assignment: finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when Gladys learns that her hot dog assignment might actually be a dirty trick made up by a jealous fellow critic, she fears her reviewing career could be over forever.

This perfectly plotted sequel brings readers on a rollicking summertime adventure through New York City with all of the charm of All Four Stars—and even more foodie flavor!

Tara Dairman is the author of ALL FOUR STARS, which was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Mighty Girl Top Book of 2014 for Teens and Tweens. She is also a playwright and recovering world traveler. She grew up in New York and received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College. After surviving the world's longest honeymoon (two years, seventy-four countries!), she now lives in Colorado with her husband and their trusty waffle iron.

Emma: All Four Stars is a book infused with food and recipes. Have you made any of the dishes that Gladys does?
Tara: I’ve made a lot of them—and I share recipes for my favorites (and the stories behind them) on my website athttp://taradairman.com/extras/recipes/. There are also recipes in the back of the paperback version of ALL FOUR STARS, which released on April 7!

Emma: Did you have to do any research for All Four Stars or The Stars of Summer?
Tara: Thankfully, most of the research I had to do for these books involved cooking and eating. :) For THE STARS OF SUMMER, I also relied heavily on my experiences backpacking around the world from 2009-2011. That was how I discovered many of the international variations on the hot dog that Gladys ends up finding around New York City in the book.

Emma: Do you have a character you absolutely loved writing? If so, who and why?
Tara: I always enjoy spending time with Gladys, but in THE STARS OF SUMMER, I had a great time writing Hamilton Herbertson, the self-obsessed celebrity kid author. Writing characters who behave badly is an awful lot of fun, and seeing if they can redeem themselves a bit at the end is even better. I like writing Charissa, too, because she has a lot of layers, and her actions on the outside don’t always match what’s going on internally for her.

Emma: I know it was recently announced that there will be a third book about Gladys. Can you give us any spoilers...maybe about the food?
Tara: I don’t want to spoil too much, but in my current draft, I do have Gladys visiting a bunch of different Latin American restaurants—and also getting sucked into the world of middle-school fundraising bake sales. :)

Emma: When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Tara: Perhaps not surprisingly, I enjoy cooking. I also love to travel to new places, to see them and to eat the local food. On a non-foodie note, my husband and I are big board game players. As a novelist, I spend a lot of time on my own trying to be creative, so sometimes it’s fun to let my more calculating and competitive side come out.

Emma: Have you read any YA and/or MG titles recently that you'd like to recommend?
Tara: Oh, where to begin! I’m always reading. Some of my favorite recent YAs are STRANGE SWEET SONG by Adi Rule (a gorgeously-written Gothic mystery set at a music conservatory with a prickly heroine and an unexpected romance) and AUDACITY by Melanie Crowder (a brilliant historical verse novel bringing labor rights activist Clara Lemlich to life). In MG, I adored Nikki Loftin’s latest, WISH GIRL, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s new novel FISH IN A TREE. The characters in both of those books are unforgettable.

Emma: Finally, my standard question - what's your favorite fairytale?
Tara: You know, no one’s ever asked me that before! Can I cheat and say Into the Woods, since that encompasses a lot of them—and, as a bonus, mixes them up?

Tara: Thank you, Emma! I had a lot of fun answering your questions!
Emma: Thanks so much for stopping by!

The Stars of Summer releases in just one week. You can find it and Ms. Dairman at the links below. 
Tara's website: http://taradairman.com/
SUMMER at Read Between the Lynes: http://www.readbetweenthelynes.com/book/9780399170690

April 26, 2015

Rewind to 2014: Favorite Blog Posts

I've really loved looking back at 2014 these last few months. I'm moving forward but there were so many things I didn't get to talk about. So far, I've been able to cover my favorite debut authors, my reading stats, and all the books I acquired. This time, I'm going to talk about my favorite blog posts - both those that I wrote and those that other bloggers posted.

My Blog Posts

January: "Girly" Books for Manly Guys (a topic near and dear to my heart)
February: Fifteen 2015 Reads (the first in a series that has led to a Sixteen 2016 Reads series as well)
April: Random Friday: Bookstores (Kate and I filmed a trip to Barnes & Noble)
May: Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Want to Hang Out With (this list has probably doubled in the last 11 months)
June: Fifteen More 2015 Reads (the second post in the series)
July: Interview with Sara Raasch (I hadn't done an author interview in quite awhile, and this one was so much fun)
August: Review: Heir of Fire (I wasn't really going to include any reviews, but I love my use of my tweets in this one)
October: When Life Plans Change (a more personal post)
A Bookish Swiftie's Recommendations (the first of a series and so fun to write)
You Might Be a Book Blogger (I had so much fun putting together this post)
November: 1989 ~ Thoughts on Taylor's New Album (I reviewed something other than a book!)
December: Merry Christmas to the Book Characters - a Sequel (I love "gifting" books to characters)
If You Take Me to a Bookstore (it's quite the adventure)

Others' Posts

The Seven Stages of ARCs on On Starships and Dragonwings (lots of fun and definitely the truth)
Diverse Books - What Can You Do? on Shae Has Left the Room (a very important post)
Review: Like No Other on Queen Ella Bee Reads (Gaby has a new blog now, but this was such a great review about a great, important book)
I Got the Message Loud & Clear: Reading Isn't Cool on The Perpetual Page-Turner (LOVED this post)
My Bookshelf Calms Me Down When I'm Emotional on Lili's Reflection (I love more personal posts like this)

There were several more blog posts by other bloggers that I enjoyed last year so there's no way this list is comprehensive. What blog posts of mine did you enjoy in 2014? And what posts by other bloggers did you like?

April 25, 2015

Review: Wild Hearts

Wild Hearts by Jessica Burkhart
Grade: C-
Release date: May 5, 2015
This ARC was provided by Bloomsbury USA Childrens in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Brie Carter's father's land development business has taken her family all over the world, 
but as soon as they arrive at their new home in Lost Spring, Wyoming, the town turns out to protest. They don't want a new hotel if the resident mustang population will be displaced or hurt as part of the deal. Then Brie meets Logan, a gorgeous local who has a special connection to the mustangs, and she is immediately drawn to him . . . and the horses. However, with Logan's father leading the protests and Brie's father refusing to budge, it's clear that their parents are heading towards an all-out war. Can Brie and Logan find a way to save the mustangs and be together? Or is their love doomed from the start? 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: I'm going to preface the rest of this review by saying that the two If Only... books that I've read for review prior to this one were solid 4-star reads. Additionally, I've read Jessica Burkhart's Canterwood Crest series that's aimed at preteens. So I was very excited to see that she was writing the next If Only... title. Unfortunately, it didn't meet any of my expectations. It was distinctively Jessica's writing style, and that isn't the best thing. All of her characters seem to be obsessed with makeup (particularly lip gloss) and clothes, especially when it comes to describing them and dropping brand names. It takes you out of the story if appearances are constantly being described and things like a water bottle brand or a sunglasses brand is being mentioned every chapter. I felt no chemistry between Brie and Logan, and the romance was happening much too quickly, especially when the l-word (love) was said. I'm sorry to say but, when Brie was arguing with her dad during that scene, all I could think about was Ariel, the Little Mermaid, claiming she loved Eric when she didn't even know him. Brie's relationship with her dad felt weird and cliche. She said she sided with him and loved him but sure didn't show it. There's a big part towards the end when she lies to him a lot and she seemed to expect no fall-out. Brie turned into a brat during that and her dad was being ridiculous and so over the top. This is the type of YA romance novel I don't like. 
I did enjoy the parts with the horses and what Brie and Logan ended up doing with them. However, those parts were overshadowed so much by all the negative.
Mild language, making out, and talk of sleeping together is as bad as it gets.

The Verdict: Unfortunately, this If Only... novel didn't work for me. 

Will I be adding this book to my library?: No.

April 24, 2015

Random Friday: Let's Talk About Writing

Want to participate in Random Fridays? Just do the following: 
  • Include the above image in your post and link back to my post.
  • Blog about this week's topic.
  • Add the link to your Random Friday at the bottom of this post.
I've been working on one specific project since last September, and my goal was to have it done by March. But of course all my schoolwork and my job and other things got in the way. So it's still unfinished.

I'm writing a YA superhero story influenced heavily by my orientation group at my university. Pretty much all of the characters are based on real people and the setting is based on my campus (with many modifications). 

One of the pictures that I took that gave me inspiration early on for the book.

It's tricky, writing a book with real people playing such a big role in it. I have to decide if the characters would do something authentic to their real life counterpart or if they'd do something more authentic to the story. Many of their actions reflect their personalities, but many are also part of the book character instead. For example, many characters may be traitors when they are nothing like that in real life. Some may see things in shades of gray instead of how they see things as more black and white in real life. Some may be shyer or braver. 

Our campus is fairly small (as is the student population). I add a few buildings and expand the size for the sake of the story. In one of the final scenes, I need there to be a bigger distance between many of the buildings and the green, and the chapel and the old student center. The book is very centered around the campus, though, with just a few journeys into Lexington.

I'll be honest - I'm already planning book two even though book one has a long way to go. I had several ideas that definitely wouldn't fit into the story of book one but I knew they'd be great in the sequel. It doesn't hurt that I definitely want this to be a series.

 As of writing this post, my WIP is at 32,000 words. However, I'm certain that, despite how busy April is, by the time this post goes live, it'll have at least another 5,000 words. I'm really excited that it already has so many because I know it's nowhere close to done and my goal is 65,000-75,000 words.

I've mainly written this book by hand and then typed up the scenes. Some scenes have had large chunks written completely on my laptop. But I kind of like being able to write this book by hand because it means I can take my notebook wherever and be able to get at least a few hundred words in at random times.

So enough about my writing. I want to hear your thoughts. There were several different related topics under today on the Random Friday page, so I'm excited to see what people talk about.

April 23, 2015

What's In a Name?

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

My name is derived from a German word meaning 'whole' or 'universal.' For at least 2002-2013, it was in the top five names for baby girls. When my parents named me, it was a bit old-fashioned and not very popular. I was named after a paternal great-grandmother and my parents didn't anticipate the major increase in popularity of my name.

I could find only 5 characters who shared my name. Incidentally, they're all in books I liked.

One of the first literary Emmas I discovered is from Heather Vogel Frederick's The Mother-Daughter Book Club series. Her name is incidentally one of the things that first drew me to the series. Unlike me, this Emma is named after Jane Austen's Emma. (I'm, in part, named after Emma Thompson, who starred as Elinor in 1995's Sense and Sensibility movie adaptation.)

Jane Austen's Emma is another favorite of mine. I've seen the Gwyneth Paltrow movie adaptation (not a big fan), loved the Emma Approved web-series, enjoyed Clueless, and still need to see the 2008 mini-series adaptation.

I got to read this book last summer for review, and I got very excited when I learned the female protagonist's name. Not in the Script by Amy Finnegan has an Emma!

A more recent read with an Emma is You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith. I've finally read all of her YA titles and this one is one of my favorites. 

And then there's a book I read almost 2 years ago. The main character isn't an Emma, but her best friend is. 
Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

So do you know of any other YA books featuring Emmas? I'd love to read them! Or what books have you read with main characters/secondary characters with your name? Isn't it fun to find books where characters share your name?

April 22, 2015

Review: Flirty Dancing

Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan
Grade: C
Release date: April 28, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Full of humor and heart, this story of finding your confidence (and your jive!) is the first in a four-book series, The Ladybirds, by debut author Jenny McLachlan!

Bea Hogg is bullied regularly by her former best friend Pearl, so going to school isn't the best or favorite part of her day. As Bea leaves home each day, happy and light, she turns inward and becomes quiet, shy Bea for school. 

When it’s announced that a prominent dance competition show is coming to their school, Bea is dying to compete. However, Bea’s best friend Kat ditches her for Pearl’s dance crew the Pink Ladies, and oddly enough, Bea finds herself paired with Ollie—the cutest guy in school (and the object of Pearl’s affections). Bea’s life is transformed as she finally gets her time in the spotlight. She overcomes her shyness, learns how to jive, and gets her first kiss!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Flirty Dancing was cute and fluffy, but ultimately, I had too many problems with the narrative and characters. For a story that had a fairly young voice, there was a fair bit of foul language - nothing more than PG, but it was still surprising. This was also a very short book, so I don't think I got to know the characters as well as I wanted to. The narrative was very plot-focused. I didn't connect with the story as much as I would've liked to, and the more I think about it, I just wasn't a big fan. I'm pretty darn sure Flirty Dancing is set in England, yet the book mixes British and American slang and terms (Bea's year is called freshman, when I'm fairly certain Brits don't use that term...). I kind of liked Ollie and Bea, but at the same time, I found their relationship to be very cliche. I wish I had more to say, but I don't.

The Verdict: Perhaps give this one a try through your local library, but otherwise, it's probably not worth your time.

Will I be adding this book to my collection?: Most likely not.

April 20, 2015

Interview with Anne Blankman, Author of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Last spring, I had the honor of interviewing debut author, Anne Blankman, in conjunction with my review of the phenomenal Prisoner of Night and Fog. And now I get to interview her once again, in anticipation of Prisoner's sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. Warning: spoilers abound for Prisoner, so proceed with caution!


The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.
After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

And now for the interview.

Emma: From the synopsis of CONSPIRACY OF BLOOD AND SMOKE, we know Gretchen and Daniel are returning to Germany. What led you to the plot of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG's sequel?
Anne: Oooh, I’d better be careful how I answer this so I don’t give too much away! I knew I wanted to set the first book in Munich, the second in Berlin, and for the mysteries in each story to reflect the personalities of the cities in which they take place. I wanted CONSPIRACY’s plot to feel as labyrinthine as 1930s Berlin itself and for the story to revolve around certain real-life events--which would be too spoilery to reveal here. With that in mind, I started researching Berlin and stumbled across an account of a still-unsolved homicide.

On the last night of 1932, a young woman got off a bus and started walking home. Maybe she didn’t even see the man riding a bicycle toward her. He was dressed in a brown SA uniform, one of the divisions with the Nazi Party, and his outfit would have been a common sight in those days. When he got closer to her, he whipped out a pistol, shouted, “Heil, Hitler!” and shot her in the head. While horrified bystanders watched, he rode away and she dropped to the ground, already dead.

Hmm, I thought as I perused the story, wouldn’t it be interesting if this hadn’t been a stranger-on-stranger crime but had been disguised to look like one? All at once, I knew I had the beginnings of my murder mystery.
Emma: I'm sure a lot of research went into both PRISONER and CONSPIRACY. You told me last time that Hitler sported a tiny mustache because he was self-conscious about his nostrils. What was your favorite bit of research you found while writing CONSPIRACY?
Anne: Anything to do with the Ringvereine! They were Germany’s organized criminal underworld, somewhat akin to the American Mafia. I found Rings absolutely fascinating. The more I learned about them, the more I realized they were utterly unlike what I had expected.  

Ringverein men weren’t violent, as a rule, and they wouldn’t permit murderers or rapists to join their gangs. My favorite tidbit about them, though, is the fact that they would fine their members if they were drunk in public!

Emma: If you could travel back in time to any place or event, what would you choose
Anne: I’m a huge history nerd, so this is actually something I think about a lot! My answer changes depending on my mood, but today I’m going to pick Renaissance-era Florence. Can you imagine how sumptuous and decadent and intellectually invigorating Italy must have been back then?

Emma: Which of your book covers is your favorite?
Anne: Nope, can’t do it. This is like being asked which of my parents I love more. J Fortunately, so far I’ve loved all of my covers! I adore how different the foreign editions look from the US ones, too.
Emma: It was worth a try, haha. Personally, I think I like CONSPIRACY's just a teeny bit better.

Emma: Please tell me you plan to write more historical fiction!
Anne: Yes! My next book, which comes out in April 2016, is a historical adventure set in seventeenth century England! And right now I’m working on two other manuscripts that take place in different eras. I find history endlessly inspiring!
Emma: *loses all chill*

Emma: When you're not writing, do you watch any TV shows or movies? If so, which are your favorites?
Anne: Currently I’m obsessed with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and BLUE BLOODS. I’m really behind on both series, so I’m very grateful for Netflix!  

Emma: What's a recent read you recommend?
Anne: Lately I’ve been learning more about my Puerto Rican roots, so I decided to read Julia de Burgos’s poetry. She’s considered one of Puerto Rico’s finest poets, and she was born in the same town where my ancestors lived. I started Amor y Soledad last night, and I couldn’t put it down. Her poetry is so raw and bleakly beautiful—I can’t get enough of it.

Thanks so much, Anne! 
Thanks so much for having me, Emma!

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke releases tomorrow, so add it to your TBR and preorder it now or head to the bookstore tomorrow to buy it!
You can find Anne and her books at these links:
PRISONER at Read Between the Lynes: http://www.readbetweenthelynes.com/book/9780062278814
CONSPIRACY at Read Between the Lynes: http://www.readbetweenthelynes.com/book/9780062278845

April 19, 2015

Rewind & Review #36

Rewind & Review

I'm actually surprised I've had time to read so many books in the past two weeks. Homework and work and the Legacy Games have kept me crazy busy. But look! I finally managed to make a haul video!

Books I Received for Review
The Icing on the Cake by Deborah A. Levine and JillEllyn Riley
In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks
Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty (via Simon & Schuster/Edelweiss)
Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout (via St. Martin's Griffin/NetGalley)

Books I Traded for/was Gifted/Won
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge (traded with Kristen from My Friends Are Fiction)
Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn (gifted by Angie from Disquietus Reads)

Books I Bought
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Books I Read
Endangered by Lamar Giles (3 stars)
Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham
The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (4 stars)
Dead to Me by Mary McCoy (3 stars)
Tangled Webs by Lee Bross
A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas (4 stars)
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (reread)
Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel (DNF)
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (reread)
Immaculate by Katelyn Detweiler
The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (3 stars)
The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace (3.5 stars)
17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (4 stars)

Blog Posts You Might've Missed
   (From 4/6-4/11)
   (From 4/12-4/18)
  • Interview with Anne Blankman, Author of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke
  • Review: Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan
  • What's in a Name?
  • Random Friday: Let's Talk About Writing
  • Review: Wild Hearts by Jessica Burkhart
  • Rewind to 2014: Favorite Blog Posts
  • Interview with Tara Dairman, Author of The Stars of Summer
  • Taylor Swift and Storytelling
  • DNF Review: The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
  • Review: Galgorithm by Aaron Karo

April 18, 2015

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Grade: B-
Release date: May 5, 2015
This ARC was provided by Read Between the Lynes in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: You know those books that when you're reading them, you lose all track of time? That was A Court of Thorns and Roses (hereafter referred to as ACOTAR) for me. It was like some faerie was casting their magic on me. I wasn't expecting to love ACOTAR - and I didn't. But holy wow, was it good. I loved catching little reminders of Disney's Beauty and the Beast along with elements of the original. Feyre is no Belle. She's stubborn, and fierce, and only cares for her family because of a promise to her mother. Her father is no bumbling, kind, creative Maurice. And Tamlin is much gentler than Disney's Beast. He's more like the original in that aspect. Lucien is such a fun character. Sarah did a great job at bringing all the important characters to life, and she gave Feyre's seemingly bratty sisters such life and humanity. I really hope Elain and Nesta make it out of this series alive. Speaking of series...to be honest, I felt like ACOTAR wrapped things up very well (there's still questions, but I felt like I could see the characters living happily ever after), so it's going to be interesting to see why more books are needed. Is there going to be a love triangle? Because I hope not. Tamlin is the only love interest for Feyre in my opinion. Another note I have is that ACOTAR is definitely straddling that YA/NA (New Adult) border. It's much sexier and darker (and more violent) than the Throne of Glass books. 

The Verdict: Overall, I did enjoy discovering a new world. Maas is very good at creating epics. I'm still not a big fan of fae and what-not, so the plot of this one was more fascinating to me than most of the little details.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: I'm still deciding.

April 17, 2015

Ophelia London Guest Post: Famous Young Heartthrobs

So I've never really been the girl who went all swoony over cute young male celebrities. I've never liked Justin Bieber, and the Jonas Brothers were just okay, and I'm not a Directioner. But I think fame love stories can be really cute and fun, so that's why I agreed to this guest post.

He never noticed her before, but now she’s all he can see…

Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister―and off-limits―but won’t even give him the time of day…

As a kid, Aimee Bingham had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails. the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.

But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…

OL author soft

USA Today bestselling author Ophelia London was born and raised among the redwood trees in beautiful northern California. Once she was fully educated, she decided to settle in Florida, but her car broke down in Texas and she’s lived in Dallas ever since. A cupcake and treadmill aficionado (obviously those things are connected), she spends her time watching arthouse movies and impossibly trashy TV, while living vicariously through the characters in the books she writes.

Famous Young Heartthrobs

I’m the 5th of 6 kids, and mindless TV watching was very big in my house growing up. The Brady Bunch had already stopped being filmed a million years before, but it was still played like 5 times a day, right after I got home from school, and my older siblings loved it. I remembering being completely smitten with Greg Brady and his super-groovy 70’s clothes, dreamy blue eyes and curly dark hair. Hey, I was like 6, okay! But the crush never went away, and apparently I wasn’t the only one.
When The Brady Bunch was in its hay day, every girl on the planet was in love with groovy Greg. He was the Harry Styles of the mid-seventies. And yeah, he SANG, too. Maybe 5 episodes featured a singing Greg, but those were always my favorites, even though he was a pretty horrible lip syncer, he was still a total babe.
Years later, Barry Williams (the actor who played Greg Brady) wrote a book called Growing Up Brady, and went on a book tour. He happened to come to my town and I scored a ticket to his sold-out event. Okay, yeah, so he was like way old, but dude, I was in heartthrob heaven! At one point, he dressed up in one of his groovy outfits, sang a song and even invited a few lucky fans on stage to do the infamous “Keep On, Keep On” dance. Yes, I was one of them. And I was pretty much wetting my pants with joy. But that wasn’t even the best part. He stayed for hours so each of us could meet him, shake his hand and score an autograph. I did all of the above, plus, I asked if I could kiss him. Which I did. Aaaaaand, my friend snuck a picture of it.
Anyway, my point is, I’ll probably always love Greg Brady and meeting my first childhood heartthrob crush was better than I could’ve hoped. So, dream big, guys! And while you’re at it, grab Aimee and the Heartthrob, and then watch this clip of Greg Brady singing. It might be just me, but he’s still hot. 

You can find Ophelia London and her books at the following links. And thank you to Entangled Publishing for inviting me to host Ms. London!
Ophelia's website: http://ophelialondon.com/