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review 2015-07-17 07:21
Dean Amory's Young Love Series: A Unique set of Unconventional Love Stories

Are you done with romance stories that rely on princes, werewolves or dark secrets?  Here is a set of refreshing contemporary New Adult Romance Stories about ordinary people that deal with love, loss and growing up.


 

Imagine a romance novel with no billionaires or earls, no unexpected heritages, no criminal boyfriends with dark secrets, no vampires, werewolves or zombies, … in short: A novel about ordinary characters that deal with love, loss and growing up.  A novel that doesn’t rely on well-trodden stereotypes, but depicts all the uncertainties and overpowering emotions that come with true young love and describes the heroes psychological struggle in an honest, original and genuine way. 

 

Such is exactly what you will find in Dean Amory’s Young Love Novels Part 1, A Schoolyard Love Story and Part 2, First Love’s Shadow: Two refreshing high school romance novels set in Europe, Flanders, in the early seventies of the previous century, that have it all: they are witty, bittersweet, touching and rich in culture and history.

 

The “Young Love” novels are available in most quality webshops, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lulu, Kindle, Feedaread, Shopmybooks, Smashwords, etc….

At http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Jaimelavie the book is also available in a luxury hardcover boxset edition which includes both stories.

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url 2015-05-02 17:33
Reading Black Iris + April Book Haul + Giveaway

Hey, everyone! Since I already posted my March / half of April recap, I figured that I'd post a book haul covering what I received for the last half of April and discuss what I've been reading in this latter half. I've received a bunch of books, and I know that I won't be able to read them anytime soon, so I'm passing them onto anyone who's interested in this giveaway.

Oh, did I mention that I also read the first chapter of Black Iris by Leah Raeder in this video? ;)

 

So my book haul for the latter half of April!

The Orphan Queen - Jodi Meadows | Goodreads
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

 

  • Really enjoyed reading this! I see now why all the reviews mentioned an evil cliffhanger, though I figure the cliffhanger will be less evil than otherwise currently deemed. It's got a nice blend of adventure + spirited heroine + mysterious magic + love/hate romance. I like that they're doing that whole novella prior to sequel marketing thing (was this first introduced with Sarah J. Maas, or is it that I only remember the trend as far as Maas?). I'm interested in knowing more about the character highlighted in the novella, and Jodi Meadows plotted the book so that there's never a moment spent waiting. The very first chapter enables the plotline described in the summary and from there, it's all action. So, it doesn't surprise me that this book is super popular, though I may still like Incarnate more thanThe Orphan Queen because of the philosophical components of Meadows's debut.

 

City Love - Susane Colasanti | Goodreads
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen

Sadie, Darcy, and Rosanna are living together in New York City the summer before their freshman year of college begins. With no parents, no rules, and an entire city to explore, these three girls are on the verge of the best summer of their lives.

Sadie is a native New Yorker. She is hopeful, romantic, and an eternal optimist who is ready to find her soul mate. Then she meets her dream boy: cute, funny, and quirky in all the right ways. The chemistry between them is unreal. Could he be the one?

Darcy is a free spirit from SoCal with rebellious tendencies and unlimited financial resources. Moving to New York City is just another adventure for her. Darcy wants this summer to be all about boy adventures—nothing serious. But how much fun is too much?

Rosanna leaves Chicago for NYC so she can put her past behind her and reinvent herself. The only thing standing in her way is the grand total of seventy-three cents she has saved. Then she meets a guy who wants to show her the glamorous side of New York—a side that she would never get to experience on her own. If Rosanna doesn't resist, she may find herself in city love.

Told from alternating points of view, City Love captures the moments in each girl's life when everything is thrilling, amazing, and terrifying all at once . . . in a way it will never be again.


*Pretty sure I kept mispronouncing her name during this video. Whoops, sorry!

Etherworld - Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam | Goodreads
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen

In this sequel to Elusion, three teens fight a virtual reality program that threatens to destroy their minds. Dangerous secrets and lies add up to a thrilling futuristic fantasy with an Inception-inspired twist.

Elusion was hailed as an exciting leap in technology—until users began to disappear amid rumors of addiction. Regan’s search for the truth led her and her new love interest, Josh, to Etherworld. Etherworld is a dimension hidden deep beyond Elusion's firewall, where players can hide, and ultimately fight back. Regan's father and others are here working to destroy Etherworld, but the longer they stay the less likely they'll be able to return to the real world alive.

Escape means attacking Elusion from within the program. It's dangerous and it’s a puzzle. And even if they manage it, how will they be able to stop Orexis from distributing Elusion to the masses when the people who run it are corrupt?


Invincible - Amy Reed | Goodreads
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen

The Fault in Our Stars meets Go Ask Alice in this dramatic romance about a teenage girl who survives a terminal cancer diagnosis, only to get trapped in the deadly spiral of addiction. Fans of Gayle Forman and Sara Zarr will be swept away by this gritty romance, the first in a duology.

Evie is living on borrowed time. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer several months ago and told that by now she'd be dead. Evie is grateful for every extra day she gets, but she knows that soon this disease will kill her. Until, miraculously, she may have a second chance to live.

All Evie had wanted was her life back, but now that she has it, she feels like there's no place for her in it--at least, not for the girl she is now. Her friends and her parents still see her as Cancer Girl, and her boyfriend's constant, doting attention is suddenly nothing short of suffocating.

Then Evie meets Marcus. She knows that he's trouble, but she can't help falling for him. Being near him makes her feel truly, fully alive. It's better than a drug. His kiss makes her feel invincible--but she may be at the beginning of the biggest free fall of her life.


Wrong about the Guy - Claire LaZebnik | Goodreads
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Published by: Harper Teen

Claire LaZebnik's latest twist on a beloved classic asks the age old question: Could the girl who knows everything be wrong about the guy?

As the stepdaughter of a TV star, Ellie Withers has it all: an amazing house in LA, a devoted friend who loved her before she even knew who Ellie’s stepfather was, and a burgeoning romance with handsome Aaron Marquand. But Ellie isn't the kind of person who’s content with simply having it all—the people in her life have to be equally happy. And, of course, she knows exactly what they need.

When Ellie’s plans for her family, her friends, and even her love life don’t turn out the way she imagined, she begins to wonder if maybe she could stand to learn a thing or two after all. Most surprising, though, is that the perfect person to teach her is the last person she'd expect.

With her signature witty narration and swoon-worthy romance, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail, The Trouble with Flirting, and The Last Best Kiss) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story: Jane Austen’s Emma.


Everything That Makes You - Moriah McStay | Goodreads
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

Encore to an Empty Room - Kevin Emerson | Goodreads
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen

Summer always wanted Dangerheart—the band of talented exiles she manages—to find success. Now that they've become an overnight sensation, her hard work is really starting to pay off.

So how come her life seems to be snapping like an old guitar string?

Maybe it's because part of her knows that college applications are due soon, but another part of her can't imagine leaving her life behind—especially when the band is on the verge of a record deal and her relationship is becoming something more than she ever dreamed of. And especially when there's a chance of finding another missing song written by the famous dead rocker who is also Caleb's father.

But are Caleb, the band's future, and the lost songs more important than college? Summer will have to decide. It's time to choose who she wants to be, even if that might mean kissing Caleb good-bye.

Filled with infectious music, mystery, and romance, this electrifying sequel to Kevin Emerson's Exile doesn't miss a beat.


Drive Me Crazy - Terra Elan McVoy | Goodreads
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Published by: Katherine Tegen

Buckle up…

Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana’s Grandpa Howe and Cassie’s Grandma Tess two months ago. They didn’t exactly hit it off—in fact, depending on who you ask, that first meeting was either an embarrassment or a disaster—but they’re about to spend an entire week together, just the two of them and their honeymooning grandparents, road-tripping in Cassie’s grandmother’s Subaru.

Lana thinks a summer road trip sounds like fun, but the backseat is a crowded place for two tween girls with two huge secrets to hide, and this bumpy road to friendship is full of unexpected twists and turns. Like it or not, they’re in this together, full speed ahead on the adventure of a lifetime.


And I'm currently reading:

BLACK IRIS - Leah Raeder | Goodreads
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Published by: Atria

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She's going to show them all.

If you're at all interested in BLACK IRIS, you should definitely watch the above video! In it, I read the first chapter -- and hey maybe I'm not the best reader, but you can definitely see what a beautiful writer Leah Raeder is even within those first six pages. If you're not hooked, I don't know what to tell you. I'm about 80 pages in and generally very much in awe of Leah Raeder's talent.

But anyway, as to the HarperCollins books, I won't have that much time to read this month :(. Aside from Black Iris, and the other two books I've pre-ordered, I don't think that I can read and review those titles. Even if I could, I still feel that they should be in the hands of someone who's anticipating them more than I am... so giveaway time!

All the above titles -- except for Black Iris and The Orphan Queen -- are up for grabs. INT, ends 05/31. I think that this time, I'm going to only choose one winner and try and shove all those books into one box rather than individually selecting a winner per book. If I can't fit all the books in one box, then I'll do two winners and randomly put books in each box. Sounds fair? Cool!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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review 2015-01-22 18:45
Review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye - Cynthia Hand

Release Date: February 10, 2015
Source: Edelweiss
Published by: Harper Teen

The Last Time We Say Goodbye - Cynthia Hand | Goodreads

There's death all around us.
We just don't pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.

 

This is a hard review to write, just as I am sure that this was a hard book for the author to write. In a note at the end, Cynthia Hand talks about the suicide of her brother. Well, I'm inclined to believe that she successfully portrayed grieving her brother, as I, while reading, was also reminded me of my friend, who committed suicide last August. I don't really know how much help this review will be because I'm not sure how much of my experience of this book was because of the book or because of the memories it elicited regarding my friend's suicide.

The first sign I had of me probably not reacting the way a normal reader would is my annoyance with the main character (smart, rational, adept at math, and aspiring to attend MIT if she can find her peace with her grief/brother's suicide) at the beginning of the novel. In the beginning, the MC disdains the idea of her therapist actually helping her (and is afraid that he's going to put her on pills and then that would make things worse). She admits to closing herself off from her old friends, not doing as well in school but not wanting her friend's pity or concern on that end. I read this maybe 2-3 months after I had moved onto an "acceptable" place of grief. So, I was irritated with the MC: I thought, really? Isolating yourself from everyone because no one understands? How silly. Quite honestly, I was shocked with myself. Just because I had gone through a similar situation did not make my grief or grieving process any more superior than hers; nor did it make her pain any less palpable or real.

But here is the true magic of the novel: despite my less than ideal experience with the beginning, I grew to care for Alexis, and her character growth was rather fantastic. Cynthia Hand handled the reveal of what exactly happened to Tyler so, so well. Readers may well guess why Alexis feels so guilty, and what actually happened to Tyler, why she and her mother seem to be seeing/smelling him around the house, but guessing does not take at all away from the emotional impact. I was in a weird place while reading the emotional climax: somehow still remembering finding about my friend's suicide, thinking about my friend, missing him so, so much; and still reading and feeling Alexis's story. And in that place, I was *this* close to breaking down and sobbing. The emotional impact is probably so powerful because of Alexis's character growth, the plot element of her diary, and the new relationships that she forms.

I don't tend to like diary-like/journal elements, or when the MC addressees the reader specifically, but Alexis, per her therapist's orders, writing about her brother and her dreams and what happened, the firsts and the lasts -- it was powerful and moving. The side characters in this novel and the plot threads they bring with regard to Alexis's grieving process are trulyremarkable. At first I was not a fan of her mother because that involved a trope in which the daughter has to assume a lot of responsibility because the mother is unable of coping (and strangely, most of the time, it is the mother). No matter how much that might happen in real life, I always cringe a little when I see that happening in YA because it reoccurs so, so often and feels like a ploy to make me like the MC (rather than liking her for who she is, vs how certain situations show her); but this novel took the mother/daughter relationship to an unexpected level. How her mother reacts is so, so believable: the discussions she and Alexis have about the future also so poignant. Alexis's relationships with the other characters - friends and estranged/emotionally distant father - feel real and well developed (loved all the backstory for all her old (and new) friends! Think Lauren Oliver community-character-esque in Before I Fall). The romance was adorable -- so, maybe not much of it was occurring on the same timeline of the book because of Alexis's grief, but the memories, the potential. Adorable. Quite simply, there is a lot to like about this book. It tugs on your heartstrings in its depiction of grief without using a high concept like that in If I Stay. It feels like a Cynthia Hand book: she made paranormal romance feel authentic and original despite its abundance when Unearthly was published. Writing about grief and suicide is not new, but she's definitely made this feel authentic and emotionally poignant.

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review 2014-12-20 09:40
Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu
Prodigy - Marie Lu

I was surprised, when doing my 2014 prequels and sequels round-up, that I didn't have a review of "Prodigy" up. I thought I did. I definitely remembered reading it and having a minor crisis over the ending. I suspect I set writing the review aside, wanting to give it my full attention in exploring the themes of this deep, challenging book...

 

Or maybe I just didn't have much to write about?

 

Check out my review on the Lantern.

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review 2014-11-25 15:58
Choose Your Path Wisely!

You decide your middle school destiny in David McGrail’s new book, “Surviving Middle School: An Interactive Story for Girls”!

 

Middle school is full of many choices, some difficult and some seemingly trivial. This interactive, choose-your-own-adventure style book gives girls an opportunity to test out those different options and see where they lead. Full of wonderful illustrations, situations and endings, this book is a fantastic and educational read. 

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