Blind Spot Blog Tour (Review + Giveaway)

"It's a story about how sometimes we fail to see things that are right in front of us."

Since You've Been Gone (Review)

"fabulous, wonderful, endearing, amazing story"

Dissected by Megan Bostic (Blog Tour)

"Powerful & Thought Provoking"

In Honor by Jessi Kirby (Review)

"This is going on my favorites shelf and I will probably reread it again in the future."

Blog Tour: Hungry by H.A. Swain (Review + Giveaway)

"Hungry is a captivating and thought-provoking story set in a fascinating world."

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Review))

"All-in-all, a perfect summer read and you should totally pick up these books, if you haven't already!"

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle (Review)

"The Edge of Falling is a beautifully told story, both in plot and writing."

Hexed by Michelle Krys (Review)

"Hexed was just the thing that I needed to get back into the reading world."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Always, Forever by Nancy Ohlin (Review)


Series:
Standalone
Genre:
Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghost, Romance, Mystery
Publication.Date:May 7, 2013 (as Thorn Abbey)
Pages:336 (paperback)
Published By:  Simon Pulse
Website:Nancy Ohlin 

Always, Forever on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:



Nothing is as it seems in this darkly romantic tale of infatuation and possession, inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca.Becca was the perfect girlfriend: smart, gorgeous, and loved by everyone at New England’s premier boarding school, Thorn Abbey. But Becca’s dead. And her boyfriend, Max, can’t get over his loss.

Then Tess transfers to Thorn Abbey. She’s shy, insecure, and ordinary—everything that Becca wasn’t. And despite her roommate’s warnings, she falls for brooding Max.

Now Max finally has a reason to move on. Except it won’t be easy. Because Becca may be gone, but she’s not quite ready to let him go… (Goodreads)



Inspired by Nikki @ There Were Books Involved, instead of reviewing a book I have chosen to DNF, I will do something more along the lines of a DNF Discussion. Nikki's feature, DNF Q&A, "answers to a few pertinent questions in order to explain what made me ultimately set the book aside." I love how Nikki approached this rare occurrence with a Q&A rather than a full out review and, with her blessing, adopted it as my go-to method for DNFs.

So, you added Always, Forever to your DNF pile. How much of it did you read - did you really give it a chance?
I did. I read 180 pages, 54%. There were numerous times before I gave that I wanted to DNF and I didn't. Always, Forever was an easy enough read and slightly intriguing, but I couldn't connect with Tess, the MC, in anyway. Also, her friends were horrible and I found myself rolling my eyes at every encounter with Max.

What made you pick up it in the first place? Were you looking forward to it or did it just pop up by chance?
I love ghost stories. Love, love, love them. I'm also a fan of the novel it is inspired by, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I was looking forward to it, despite the negative reviews - I'm never one to judge a book based on it's reviews. 

Did you have certain expectations for the book before starting it? Have you read anything else by this author or in this genre?
I didn't have any expectations. I haven't read anything by this author before so I wasn't sure what to expect.

What ultimately made you stop reading after 180 pages? Was there anything you liked about the book?
I get any teenage girl not being happy with her body, but it was all the time. She wasn't good enough in any sense for anything. Of course, her "friends" didn't help. These mean girls puts Mean Girls to shame. Always on her about her weight (apparently she should only being eating lettuce) and saying she wasn't pretty enough: "She's practically a plus size . . . you look like a hobbit" (142) and then they went on to say they could safety pin this other girl's skirt bigger, wear a shirt that's too baggy on someone else, and use the hairdryer trick to stretch out another's shoes. They frequent/unnecessary jabbing comments got old fast, as did Tess's self-deprecating ones.

She immediately likes Max, even after only exchanging two words with him. Then, when he shows interest back, she tries to convince him she isn't good enough? Makes zero sense. Also, every time she thought or was with Max, she was constantly thinking about Becca. I bet he went here with Becca. Does this remind him of Becca? I bet Becca would have been able to do this. I wonder if Becca . . . You get the idea. I didn't understand why she was so obsessed with her.

After 180 pages of this going on, along with a so-so romance and dragging plot, I just couldn't read anymore. I wanted so much to like Always, Forever but it just wasn't going to work out.

Would you still recommend it to anyone?
Hard to say. I never tell people "No, do not read!" Despite the dragging plot, it didn't take me too long to get the 180 pages in. Something kept me reading through the moments of wanting to DNF. Who knows? Maybe it got better in the second half, maybe the mystery really picked up and Tess told those girls where they could stick their "suggestions."



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Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog Tour: The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black (Excerpt & Giveaway)





Paperback, 410 pages
Expected publication: September 23rd 2014 by Aardwolf Press
Goodreads

Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows.

Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power.
Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.
What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.

Excerpt:

[Excerpt 10—Lynda Powell scene 2]

Saint-Malo, France

It was dark by the time Lynda’s driver pulled up to the front of the quaint little hotel she had chosen in the medieval walled city of Saint-Malo. It was a beautiful place, steeped in well-preserved history, with its walls still intact and many of the buildings hundreds of years old. She felt a pang of mild regret that she wouldn’t get to see it during the daytime.
She tipped her driver generously and checked in, though she had no intention of staying. The more normal she could act before she struck, the better her chances of success. And it was nice to have a chance to freshen up after the long drive.
Lynda fixed her makeup and her hair, then changed from her comfortable traveling pants into a somber black dress and a pair of low-heeled pumps that she hoped wouldn’t hurt her feet too much. She had some walking to do tonight, and she should have thought to bring flats in deference to the cobblestones that had rattled her teeth as soon as her car had passed through the gates of the city.
She could have taken a cab from her hotel to the Abbey, but she chose to walk instead. Now that she was actually here, her nerves were beginning to buzz and her heart to race. She even swayed dizzily a couple of times when she was getting dressed and wondered if she was really up to the challenge.
But she was sixty-three years old, and this was only the second time in her life the Anima had set her on a Quest. She was not going to let fear stop her. Though perhaps it wasn’t fair of her to think of it as “only” the second time; most of the Gifted received no further Gifts aside from their spirit guides and their inborn connection with the Anima. To be chosen to perform a Quest, to have a chance to receive a Gift, was a rare honor, and it was a thrill to think that she was worthy of a second such honor.
The cool night air calmed the worst of Lynda’s nerves as she walked to the Abbey, and she found herself almost at peace as the moment of reckoning drew near. She had lost her Harry forever, and her son was a spoiled, selfish power-monger who would happily walk over his family and friends in his fierce attempt to claw his way to the top. There were no ties to hold her back, no matter what the end results of this night might be.
Lynda entered via the tourists’ entrance just in time for the last tour of the evening, paying the admission fee and stepping aside to wait for a tour guide as instructed. She had studied maps of the Abbey carefully before coming, and further research into the life of the current Patriarch had revealed a pattern she could easily exploit. Every night at nine o’clock when he was in residence at the Abbey, the Patriarch dined with twenty or thirty members of the Council of Elders in the refectory. Apparently, there was fierce competition among the Elders for invitations to that dinner table, and one could gauge who was in favor and who was not by how often they were invited.
The tour group, naturally, went nowhere near the refectory or the Patriarch’s residential apartments, but when Lynda was as close as she was likely to get, she invoked her Gift, letting the tour group go on ahead of her while she slipped down a forbidden hallway. She tripped some kind of alarm, and her pulse started thundering in her ears, but her Gift held true and the alarm was ignored. It had been more than thirty years since she had earned her Gift, and she couldn’t help wondering if the Anima had known way back then what it would one day ask her to do with it.
There were guards everywhere, armed with mortal weapons and, no doubt, deadly Gifts, but none sensed Lynda’s presence. She had it on good authority that there were those whose Gifts included neutralizing the Gifts of others, but they couldn’t use that Gift it they didn’t know Lynda was there.
Thus Lynda made her way through the heavily guarded halls of the Abbey and into the refectory, a task that on its surface seemed impossible. How could the Anima have known thirty years ago, when Adrian Farraday was decades away from being elected Patriarch, that Lynda would need this particular Gift someday? And yet, how could it possibly be a coincidence that her particular Gift was the only way to get through the Abbey’s defenses?
The refectory was an enormous rotunda with a domed ceiling and arched doorways. The floor was of inlaid tile, the ceiling gilded with gold leaf. The great table that dominated the room had been in use in the Abbey since the fifteenth century.
Lynda paused to gather herself in the doorway, her heart fluttering against her ribs. There were guards against each wall and beside each doorway, and servants bustled about carrying food and wine to the black-robed Elders who sat at the table. The Patriarch alone wore white robes and sat at the head of the table in a throne-like seat, on the far end of the room from Lynda’s doorway. The noise of at least twenty conversations echoed in the domed room, as did the clatter of knives and forks against plates, the sound so loud Lynda could almost feel it in her bones.
Keeping herself unseen had been effortless for the first few minutes, but Lynda had never tried to use her Gift for such an extended period before, and she found she was getting alarmingly tired. She couldn’t allow herself to take her time, or to be awed by her surroundings or the concentration of male power that sat before her.
Mouth suddenly dry, Lynda reached into her pocket with a shaking hand and pulled out her gun. She needed to get closer, though the sudden weakness in her knees made each step an onerous effort, the fatigue rapidly growing worse. It was imperative that she fire at close range, due to both the small caliber of her weapon and the uncertain aim of her shaking hands.
Sweat dripped into her eyes, stinging, and her shaking was getting worse instead of better. Just a little closer, she urged herself, but her strength gave out.
The sudden chorus of gasps and exclamations told her she had lost her grip on her Gift. If the Patriarch realized an attack was coming, he could invoke his own Gift to make her bullet pass harmlessly through him—assuming she hadn’t been shot by a guard already. It was now or never.
Heedless of her shaking hands and her questionable aim, Lynda pulled the trigger.

About the author:



Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr
Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like eighty percent of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She is now a full-time author of fantasy, young adult, and romance novels.

Giveaway:

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Schedule:

Monday, September 8th Fiktshun
Tuesday, September 9th Books and Things
Wednesday, September 10th Xpresso Reads
Thursday, September 11th Addicted 2 Heroines
Friday, September 12th Gizmos Reviews
Monday, September 15th The Book Swarm
Tuesday, September 16th Jessabella Reads
Wednesday, September 17th Romancing the Dark Side
Thursday, September 18th Literary Escapism
Friday, September 19th Bookish

The Martian by Andy Weir (Review)

Genre:
Adult, Science Fiction, Thriller
Publication.Date  February 11th 2014
Pages:369
Published By:  Crown
AuthorAndy Weir

The Martian on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:


Apollo 13 meets Cast Away in this grippingly detailed, brilliantly ingenious man-vs-nature survival thriller, set on the surface of Mars.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

(Goodreads)

“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”
“I can't wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”
“If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I'll have to risk it.”
“It’s true, you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl.”
“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
"What do you know? I’m in command”
“[11:49] JPL: What we can see of your planned cut looks good. We’re assuming the other side is identical. You’re cleared to start drilling. [12:07] Watney: That’s what she said. [12:25] JPL: Seriously, Mark? Seriously?”
“Me: “This is obviously a clog. How about I take it apart and check the internal tubing?” NASA: (after five hours of deliberation) “No. You’ll fuck it up and die.” So I took it apart.”
“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”




      The Martian took me by surprise. If I am honest, I have yo say I was ready to give up on this book after 50 pages. It's not that I didn't find it interesting enough, or well written, or even scientifically accurate, because it really was all these things. I just found it hard to connect with the lead character. 

    Mark Watney was not a character I immediately connected with. In fact, it took me long time to even get to the point when I would tolerate him, what with all his jokes and jackass behavior. I didn't understand how a person left to die alone on a different planet could be so lighthearted, cheerful and in the mood for random jokes. It wasn't until I finally realized, that, had he been any more serious or depressing, I would have hated his guts even more. Mark made the best out of the situation he found himself in, and I learned to appreciate his optimism and zest for life. His brave attitude was truly admirable. He was a clever problem-solver, and in situations where most of us would probably break down and cry, he looked for solutions and ways to troubleshoot. And his jokes and surprisingly positive attitude? Well, I realize now that without it, the whole novel would have been pointless, he might've as well just shoot himself in the head in the first chapter. 

     By the end of the book, I was a huge fan of Mark Watney and his biting sense of humor. He is such a fantastic, complex, intelligent and sharp character, I actually miss his inappropriate remarks and nerdy observations. He grew on me, like no other character ever did, and I wish I knew someone like Watney in real life. 

     The concept behind this novel is really rather simple, and really kind of brilliant in its simplicity. Can you even imagine how incredibly terrifying it would be to be left behind, all alone, on a planet thousands of miles away from home? Knowing that you don't have enough supplies to last anywhere long enough for the rescue mission to come and save you? Not even having any means of communicating to others that you're alive? Boy, I would probably give up and die on the spot the moment I'd realize the extent of just how screwed I was. 

    The premise was blood chilling in both the concept and its execution. Mark is a fighter, but Mars itself is definitely a worthy opponent. Everything that can go wrong, does, and it's a never ending battle against time and Mars' deadly atmosphere. The sense of urgency and danger is omnipresent, almost palpable and claustrophobic, to the point that you're having trouble breathing yourself while reading about Mark running out of oxygen, or you suddenly feel the urge to stock up on food supplies, while reading about Mark's desperate attempts at growing potatoes on Mars (and really, just how cool is that?). 

     I loved how scientifically accurate this book was. All the scientific detail made this story very believable, and therefore that much more terrifying. The many bits and pieces of information and data, endless calculations and predictions, detailed descriptions, etc.. It all made for an interesting read. And even though it was definitely a bit heavy on the scientific stuff, it was never boring or disconnected. Andy did a great job of balancing the intense plot line with the scientific information, creating a story that while mentally stimulating, complex and challenging, was also very entertaining and emotionally engaging. And Mark's awesomely bad-ass character played a vital role in making this a very accessible and enjoyable read.

     I would recommend this book to all science fiction fans, especially those who appreciate a great, thrilling story with a carefully fleshed out scientific background. You won't be disappointed.


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

HARLEY In the Company of Snipers by Irish Winters Blog tour [Promo Post]

Sometimes, only the heart remembers… He’s in the fight of his life… Suddenly back in Iraq, US Army Corporal Harley Mortimer searches for the men he left behind. He finds himself lost in a world where guilt never lets go and nothing seems real. Dead men talk and die over and over again. There is no peace or rest. Only war. Only despair. Only—didn’t he survive this exact scenario once before? And who the hell is Judy? She is a force to be reckoned with… Judy O’Brien’s future is planned and perfect until Harley, the man she intends to marry, goes missing. Mysteriously, Kelsey Stewart disappears the same day. He and Kelsey have a shared history, but do they love each other—that way? Worse, is he the murderer the FBI claims he is? Judy must come to grips with the man she thought she knew. And all of his secrets…

The wife of one handsome husband and the mother of three perfect sons, Irish divides her time between writing at home and traveling the country with her man while - writing. (Seriously, what else?) She believes in making every day count for something and follows the wise admonition of her mother to, "Look out the window and see something!" To learn more about Irish and her books, please visit www.IrishWinters.com.
Irish Winters is an award-winning author who dabbles in poetry, grandchildren, and rarely (as in extremely rarely) the kitchen. More prone to be outdoors than in, she grew up the quintessential tomboy on a farm in rural Wisconsin, spent her teenage years in the Pacific Northwest, but calls the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah home. For now.
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September 15th Kristin Holt – Review/Guest Post  September 16th The Pleasure of Reading Today – Review  September 16th ~ TBA  September 17th My Secret Bookspot – Review/Top Ten  September 17th Cabin Goddess – Guest Post   September 18th Fangirlish – Interview/Guest Post  September 18th ~ TBA  September 19th Jen's Reading Obsession – Review (Series)  September 19th Reads All The Books – Review (Series)
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