Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review-Stealing Parker

Earlier this year I read Miranda's debut novel, Catching Jordan, and I really enjoyed it so when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for this book I was really pleased.  I have to admit I was a little hesitant about this book on one account (no, it wasn't the baseball, that's the sport I know the most about), it was the fact that the love interest in this book was 6 years older than the main character, but in I-loved-the-first-book-so-I'll-read-this-one fashion I dove in and ended up really enjoying it as well.  Full disclosure I was irked a little by the main character, Parker, and I'm not exactly sure what it was, but it wasn't a huge thing and I was able to get past it and thoroughly enjoy the book.  If you've read Miranda's first book you'll recognize her sporty main female characters, the real-life version of teenage boys (yes, they DO act like they do in the book, trust me, I'm living it right now), and like every contemporary novel there is that hitch in the road that makes the main character's life difficult.  I also enjoyed the fact that she mixed a faith in God along with gay and lesbian characters and that she didn't bash them in any way, and had the main character accept who they were.  This is really important to me, because despite the fact I'm not gay it's important to realize that there are gay people out there and that they are just like us.  The whole book was just so much fun, and I loved all of the little "cameos" that popped up in the book (characters that were in Catching Jordan).  I read the book in one day (which with all of my homework and school is something that doesn't happen as often as it used to) so that should tell you how much I enjoyed it, and how much fun it was.  If you've read Catching Jordan you should definitely pick this book up, and even if you haven't you should give this one a shot (although there are some minor spoilers for Catching Jordan in the little tidbits where we see characters from it).  I can't wait to read the next book that Miranda comes out with, and I do hope that we'll see more of the characters from both novels in the "next" volume.

4.5/5 dust spirits

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Review-The Diviners

First let's make it clear that I generally don't read books that are set in an time era later than the early 90's and seeing as this book took place in the 20's I was a little hesitant.  With that being said I have to admit that I was REALLY pleased with the whole book.  The story, the characters, the writing, the setting, it was all fresh and new and engrossed me fully.  Now you all know how much I love a good serial killer book, as well as anything that is a little spooky/scary, and after reading the first chapter my interest had been piqued.  Yes, it did take me a little while to finish the book, but it was over 500 pages and with school and everything my life has been a little hectic.  Again Libba has written a book that pushes some boundaries and actually had me guessing until almost the last minute.  In this book Libba explores things such as sexuality (yup, there's a gay character), race (it's set in the 20's), and to my great amusement there was also some great philosophical questions along with the occult and a few other odds and ends.  I read the book mainly because Libba was coming to do a signing and after hearing her talk and then reading the rest of the book I was amazed to see how much real history she incorporated into the novel.  Not everything was tied up in the end, so there will defiantly be at least one more book in the series, and as long as the second one is just as good as the first I would be glad to read a third.  Somehow Libba manages to mix humor with the occult, a strong female protagonist, some romance, and a few gruesome scenes here and there into one book that will appeal to both boys and girls alike.  I do have to warn you that there are some parts in the book that might upset some people due to semi-graphic nature, but all of Libba's books have something that could upset someone at any time, which isn't any reason not to read a book.

4.5/5 dust spirits

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review-Live Through This

First, can we take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this cover is?  This is Mindi's second novel (although the first that I've read) and I bought it because Mindi is one of my author friends (she lives in my city and so I see her a lot) and her launch party is today!  So I thought, I should probably read the book, or at least start it before I go.  So I started it yesterday, and I found that despite being about a tough subject (sexual abuse, so reader discretion IS advised) it wasn't over the top with pushing it down your throat.  I think that despite being about sexual abuse it also talks about secrets, keeping them and letting them out.  It also dealt with the problems you could have if you're being abused by someone you KNOW, and if you love them do you turn them in, along with some other things that might muddle up you decision to tell someone.  I have never been in Coley's position, but I understood, through the writing, what she was going through and why she didn't tell anyone.  The novel had heart, and despite being about a topic that can be hard to read about Mindi managed to make it romantic and funny, not just tragic and sad.  Today there are so many complaints when it comes to what we see in young adult literature, and I think this is one of those books that could very well be challenged somewhere down the road because of the content, but it's not one of those books that leaves you feeling empty and hopeless. It shows you that there is hope no matter what has happened to you, and that regardless of who it is or what you feel sexual abuse IS wrong, which is something that people have trouble with, even to this day.  If you like books that deal with real life situations, or if you're a fan of Ellen Hopkins (although this book is not in verse) I think you might enjoy this book.  I really enjoyed it, and while pleased with the ending I could see Mindi writing a sequel to it, to show what happens next, and I would gladly read that book as well.  Based on this book, I'll have to read Mindi's first book soon, and I highly recommend you read this book, because it's just beautifully written and it deals with things that everyone should really know about, whether it applies to you or not.

4.5/5 dust spirits

Kiss & Tell Blog Tour + Giveaway

Today I have the honor of hosting Janet Gurtler.  She debuted just last year, and she already has three books out!  Her books are more intense than Miranda's, and although I've yet to read them I am so excited to dig into them.  Her next book will come out next year from the same publisher.  Now, let's look at the pretty covers shall we? I just love the fact that despite not being part of a series all the covers match up (as in, the titles in the bubbles).

Media Crazy: In the book, Samantha is troubled with guilt and watching the news is not helping.  Janet Gurtler explores the effect media can have on teens in tough situations.

In the book, Who I Kissed, when a boy dies from kissing a girl who ate peanut butter, it’s a sensational death and all forms of media cover the tragedy. A peanut butter kiss and Alex is gone. It sounds almost comical, except it’s not.  It’s a story that the papers and the online community want to talk about.  Samantha is the girl who kissed a boy and made him die.  Not only does she have to deal with her own guilt and horror, she has to deal with the worlds. All she has to do is turn on the television to see highlights and updates about what happened.
Sam is compelled to watch and almost treats the news as her just punishment, watching and seeing snippets about the boy and his life and knowing she’s the cause of the person he’ll never become.  When I wrote the book, I consulted some journalism friends to see if in a case like this whether or not the traditional forms of news coverage would name the girl who caused the death. The unanimous opinion was that, no, they wouldn’t because the death was accidental and a tragedy.
The flip side of this world we live in today though is social media. There aren’t any hard and fast rules in place. In Sam’s world her name and the story is very much public knowledge. The teens even use social media to bully Sam. She’s taunted on Facebook and because of her overwhelming guilt, she doesn't even try to report it or fight back.  Online bullying is a problem that is becoming larger and is often difficult to manage.  Sam is hurt but unable to answer to or unwilling to report or respond to it except internally.
Our society is so inundated with information coming from so many different forms of media. It seems like we expect to know the details when there’s a tragedy like a teen’s accidental death. As a public we want or the juicy behind the scenes. We’re a society growing up with reality television where we know intimate details about stranger’s lives.  Teens post pictures of themselves on-line or their parents post their pictures online for the whole world to see.
I’m sure television reporters and shows feel tremendous pressure to get something different to show a different angle of a story.  The media seems much more intrusive and the public seems to support and expect it.  In many ways, it’s an unhealthy sense of entitlement and a willingness to peer inside people’s windows and see things we’re not always entitled inside to see.
We want to know everything but what is the price for the people who have to deal not only with the tragedy but also with the consequences of being so exposed in the media?
Where are ethics, and social responsibilities going when our traditional media outlets are competing against media not governed or concerned with the same moralities?

Many teens today grow up with their lives completely connected to technology which usually includes being online.  Media really does take on a much broader scope and sometimes it’s hard not to have the lines blurred between social media and news. 

Fascinating!  Now, Sourcebooks has provided a copy of Janet's new book, Who I Kissed, for me to give away to one of YOU!  So, to keep this simple all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me about either a run in with the media you've had, or an allergy you are stuck with (if you don't have an allergy and have never had any run in with the media then let me know what you think about the post!).  To start it off I'll do both. The only brush with the media I've ever had was those forms you have to fill out at school, so if you end up on TV for some wild reason because the class is filmed you won't be blured out. As for allergies, the only one I'm aware of is the fact that I'm lactose intolerant (no milk-based products for me).  This giveaway is for US/Canada ONLY, but if enough people enter I might give away another one of Janet's books.  So if you want to leave a comment and you're from a different country please feel free to do so, and I'll see how it turns out.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Home Run Blog Tour+Giveaway

Today I have the honor of hosting an author who appeared on the scene last year, and now has two books out.  Miranda Kenneally burst into the YA world with her debut novel Catching Jordan which I read and reviewed.  It's one of those books that has a great mix of romance and semi-manly things (in Jordan's case it's football) in it, so it's not all just mush.  Her newest novel, Sealing Parker has to do with baseball, which is something I can totally get on board with (because I'm a baseball girl myself) and has characters that were in Jordan but weren't main characters!  Her next novel will be titled Things I Can't Forget and is scheduled to come out next year!  Now, you want to see the covers right? Cause the covers are awesome.

Aren't those covers just great!? I love them so much, They're just SO fun!
Now, Miranda has answered one question for us (you'll have to go find the other blog tour stops for more questions) and Sourcebooks has provided a copy of Stealing Parker for me to give away!  So, here's the interview question.

Peanut Gallery:  Where does Miranda get her inspiration?  Find out as Miranda speaks about her idea origins. As a bonus, Miranda shares the best advice that she ever got about being a writer.

Geez, this is a pretty hard question. I get my inspiration from all over the place. From conversations I have with friends and people at work. From inside jokes with my husband. I read lots of books, and see how my favorite authors write plot arcs and characterization, and then I set out to do that too, but with my own edge. I often look through my junior and high school yearbooks to remind myself of how I felt when I was younger. I also like to read my old diaries. One time I got a book idea from a true fact under a Snapple lid. Another time I got a book idea because somebody had broken into my car!

I got the idea for the “Jerry Rice fake baby home ec” project in Catching Jordan because I remembered this time I was out on the football field in junior high, and a football player was pushing another player around in a stroller.

The best advice I ever got as a writer?
- An editor told me my strongest skill as an author is writing groups of teens goofing off and talking about nothing, so now I try to have my characters bantering while doing lots of wild and wacky things while trying to move the plot forward. And I have a great time doing it! I try to write silly scenes that I hope people will enjoy reading.

Now that we've gotten a little look into Miranda's mind I'm sure you'll all want to get a peek into her BOOK, so I have a copy of Catching Jordan from way back when, and the publisher has said they will give away a copy of Stealing Parker.  So, seeing as the publisher's giveaway is US/Canada only I'll give my copy of Catching Jordan to ANYONE (international).  I am really bad at using rafflecopter and actually picking a winner, so to make this easy for me just email me ( with your name and FULL MAILING ADDRESS. In the subject line put "Miranda Kenneally Giveaway" and state if you want to be entered for only one giveaway, or both.  And just so you know Stealing Parker is a COMPANION to Catching Jordan so you can read it without having read the first one.  And please do note that if you win the copy of Stealing Parker I will be sharing your mailing address with the publisher so they can send you your book.

That's it! Thanks Miranda for taking the time to answer that question, and good luck to all of you in the giveaway! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review-Keeper of the Lost Cities

I'm pretty sure I first stumbled upon Shannon when she was still writing her novels, and they had yet to be sold, so when they were I was so happy for her.  Her first novel, this one, is a middle grade novel but because I love to support authors (and come on, the book sounded good anyways) I decided that I had to read it.  For some reason it took me FOREVER to get to this one, but now that I've finished I am SO glad I decided to read it.  You know that feeling when you finish a really good book and you realize you have to wait about a year to read the next one?  I finished Keeper and I immediately had that feeling.  Now, when I read a book something I generally enjoy reading about is romance (and that may be because I have no romantic aspects to my life at all) but seeing as this is a middle grade book the only real romance you get is a few butterflies in character's tummies and the blush.  But you want to know something? I didn't care!  I loved this book so much I completely forgot that there was almost no romance at all.  A few of the other things I loved were the plot and the characters.  The plot was SO fresh and SO new.  Literally, I don't think I've read another book that has this plot line, well, I guess a lot of books have the same basic underlying plot, but the details were totally new.  The other thing I loved were the characters. Yes, in the book Sophie is 12-almost-13, but I really connected with her.  No, I'm not 12 or 13 any more, but she was so mature I kept forgetting how old she was!  There were those dorky characters and the attractive ones, the lovable ones and the rather blunt and abrasive ones we can't help but love.  There was also the resident small fuzzy thing to snuggle/coo over, which I think is something every book should have.  I really feel that this is the start of a series that could turn into something AMAZING (don't get me wrong, it is totally amazing already, but I talked to the author and she said she would love to take it past three books, and I would LOVE that too!) but because it's middle grade I'm afraid it might not get enough attention.  So here's what I suggest. You want something you can read to your younger kid? This is that book.  You want something your elementary/middle school kid can read? This is that book.  You want a book high schoolers and adults will enjoy? THIS IS THAT BOOK!  It has SO much potential and could turn into an epic series that might even rival Harry Potter, but only if it gets out there. So GO BUY THIS BOOK NOW!  I promise you won't regret it!

5/5 dust spirits