Vlog Review: Be My Galentine

 

 

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: December 8, 2015

He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man—except for the one that struck.

When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern conveniences, it’s too much too handle for her mother, who abandons them in the middle of the night. Heading out to track her down, Nicole’s father leaves her in charge of taking care of the house and her younger sister, Izzy. For a while, Nicole is doing just fine running things on her own. But then the food begins to run out, the pipes crack, and forest fires start slowly inching their way closer every day. Wolf, a handsome boy from the neighboring community, offers to help her when she needs it most, but when she starts to develop feelings for him, feelings she knows she will never be allowed to act on once her father returns, she must make a decision. With her family falling apart, will she choose to continue preparing for tomorrow’s disasters, or will she take a chance and really start living for today?

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: November 3, 2015

Reeling from her mother’s death, Georgia has a choice: become lost in her own pain, or enjoy life right now, while she still can. She decides to start really living for the first time and makes a list of fifteen ways to be brave – all the things she’s wanted to do but never had the courage to try. As she begins doing the things she’s always been afraid to do – including pursuing her secret crush, she discovers that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes friendships fall apart and love breaks your heart. But once in a while, the right person shows up just when you need them most – and you learn that you’re stronger and braver than you ever imagined.

Blog Tour: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

I’m lucky enough to be included as a stop on the blog tour for Courtney Summer’s new novel, All the Rage!  Thanks for stopping by!  You’ll find a brief interview with the wickedly talented author below AND a giveaway!  This novel really tackles some hard hitting topics, and it couldn’t have come at a better time in the midst of rape-culture debates and protests.  Thank you to Courtney Summers for this novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK

alltherageThe sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact.

Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won’t now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women in a culture that refuses to protect them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Courtney Summers lives and writes in Canada, where she divides most of her time between a camera, a piano and a word processing program. She is also the author of What Goes Around, This is Not a Test, Fall for Anything, Some Girls Are, Cracked Up to Be, and Please Remain Calm.

Visit Courtney’s Social Media:
Website|Tumblr|Facebook|Twitter|Instagram

INTERVIEW

1. What made you want to write a novel with such heavy subject matter? 

All of my books explore heavier subjects and All the Rage is no exception, but I think it’s my heaviest novel yet. I wrote it as a response to rape culture, victim-blaming and the way we fail victims and survivors of sexual violence. I wanted it to be part of that larger discussion about rape culture, because if we don’t talk about these things, they don’t change.

2. Was this story inspired by any specific news story?

No, it wasn’t inspired by a specific news story.

3. What would be your advice to girls struggling with deciding whether or not to speak up? 

I think it’s always important to realize speaking up can be complicated and that the circumstances surrounding the girls struggling with this decision will be unique to them—not everyone has access to the same resources. That’s why foundations like RAINN, https://www.rainn.org, are so important. They offer confidential crisis support for survivors who need to talk and need help figuring out what their next steps are. I would encourage them to visit the site or call 1-800-656-HOPE. RAINN also offers a list of International resources for survivors outside the United States: https://www.rainn.org/gethelp/sexual-assault-and-rape-international-resources

Thanks for having me on your blog!

BUY THE BOOK

Amazon| Books-a-Million| B&N|Indiebound|iTunes|

GIVEAWAY

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Book Review: Boarding School Girls by Helen Eve

boardingschoolgirlsWorshipped, envied, desired, and feared by all, Siena Hamilton reigns over Temperley High, the embodiment of the Hamilton legacy. She and the Starlets may still be healing from the unfortunate and horrible events of that night, at the end of last year, but nothing can shake her place as the head of Temperley’s elite any longer. The Starlets are nothing if not adept at dealing with traitors, and Siena is her mother’s daughter: she knows how to be perfect, and she will not disappoint. There is only one person who could possibly get in her way…

Romy, former Starlet, is back—back from a mutually-agreed-upon term away, in France—and no one is happy about it, least of all herself. She’s changed now, though. She’s trying harder to be normal, to dress appropriately, to blend in, to keep her head down and keep the secret of what really happened that night safe and hidden. But when your former best friends are untouchable, and you’ve betrayed them, you don’t just get to come back—even if you’re beginning to think they might not have been your friends in the first place.

Boarding School Girls is a book that I wasn’t expecting.  This lack of expectation is twofold: on one hand I had no idea that Eve was working on a novel that would give us the full story of Stella’s older sister, Siena, who was such a looming presence in the initial novel, Stella (Click the title to check out my review). On the other hand, since I found the first novel to be somewhat average in its story telling and character development, I wasn’t expecting Boarding School Girls to be any different. I was wrong.

Almost immediately it is evident that Siena is a much more sympathetic character than Stella.  I think that was one of my main issues with the first novel, as I just couldn’t really sympathize with her.  I do completely agree that we need unlikable characters and heroes/heroines in YA Lit, but for some reason Stella just got under my skin.  Siena, however, was so endearing to me from the beginning.  I think that maybe Eve just did a better job of developing her character than she did with Stella.  I also think that the rest of the Starlets were better developed as well, because I couldn’t even remember any of the names that were involved in Stella’s Starlets, but I can’t imagine forgetting Libby.

I also liked Romy much more as a opposition character than Caitlin.  She had her reasons of struggling with her ideals as a Starlet and keeping the secret of Libby’s fall from the stairs, and they were just.  Romy was definitely the most sympathetic of all the characters, and she was almost as likeable as the youngest Hamilton sister, Syrena.  Who, by the way, I would love to have another novel about.  I’d love for the Hamilton curse to break with her.

It was hard going into this novel knowing that Siena dies at the end.  She’s dead in Stella and her death was outlined as much as it could have been.  That being said, I still stand firm in the fact that this novel is worth reading.  There is so much more to Siena than was ever let on in Stella, and her story is as interesting as it is heartbreaking.  I do think that the ending felt rushed and very abrupt, but overall the narrative was strong.

4 Bards.

fourbards

Book Review: Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

8705784One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…

 

So I guess I am late to the game with the series.  I see on Goodreads that everybody has already read and loved the book…  This is what happens when I see a book store on vacation!  I end up with like 5 books to read that were all on sale!  I am a cover person, if the cover of a book looks cool or intriguing than I am sold.  Sometimes I don’t even read the back cover to see what the book is about.  I loved this cover, it drew me in and made me want to read the book immediately.  And then I figure out the rest of the books in the series are there, and on sale, done!  So the next couple of reviews will be on the Shadow Falls series.

I felt that the synopsis of the book is misleading, it leads you to believe that the book is going to be about a girl who is going down the wrong path, drugs, sex, and all that but that is not what the book is about at all.  In fact Kylie has had a relatively normal, calm, un troubled upbringing.  She comes off as slightly whiney really.  But not bad or annoying enough for me to stop reading.  I liked the concept of the camp, it was a really cool idea.  How much fun would it be to go to that camp!

You can tell that this is the first book in a series, it does a lot of stage setting for future books.  I will say I thought the other books were better, and the stories were more developed than this book.  So if you were eh on this one I encourage you to read the other books.  Kylie gets less whiney and more independent and strong.  The secondary characters have more of a voice and the love connections are great!

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

Book Review & GIVEAWAY: Loop by Karen Akins

At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.

Release Date: October 21, 2014

I really wish that there could be more time travelling stories that are as good as Loop.

Things that worked:  Akins manages to place the reader immediately in the action of the narrative, without leaving the reader behind with such fast pace explanations of time travel.  Not going to lie though, having musket fire on the first few pages really had me wondering what it was I was getting myself into. Basically, in what is “our” present, there are time travelers called Shifters who can move back and forth in time, because their bodies are just built for it through genetics.  There’s a whole education system built around these abilities, and evidently some kind of prejudice against them based out of jealousy.  I kind of wish that had been more explored, rather than leaving everything up to the mystery leading to the turning point.

I really liked that Bree had a very strong voice throughout the novel, and that while her story continued to evolve she kind of faught it tooth and nail.  I know, we are supposed to want a character to grow and become their true self through the course of a novel, but man, it was fun watching her try to resist all of the trouble that life and time kept throwing at her.

Akins’ debut novel manages to handle time travel without being super convoluted, and with specific rules that remind me of Doctor Who.  Granted, some of Bree’s “accidental” encounters can be arguably more Marty McFly-esque than The Doctor.  Although, I’m pretty sure the Doctor (minus all of his interactions with himself in specials) would warn pretty harshly against messing with events in her own timeline, but Bree still manages to do this…and it is a tad confusing.  I understand that it was the point to be confusing, but it also felt really bogged down in some places.  There is a sequel coming, but when we essentially learned what is in Bree’s future in Loop, then something drastic is definitely going to go down.

forevergif

 

 

Also, Bree & Finn: That one comment was very Rose and the Doctor.

 

 

 

 

Fun and fast read, even if I did have to stop and make sure I knew which timeline was happening.

4 Bards.

fourbards

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.

Release Date: June 3, 2014

I will say that the first thing that I noticed when reading this novel was how frequently the Point of View shifted.  Pretty much every other chapter was one of four people’s points of view.  Now, when done well this can be extremely helpful for the movement of the plot, so I have no problem with it.

That being said, I totally understand why Mathieu chose to do this for her novel because it really helped express how deep the rumors and gossip concerning the main character went in their small town.  There was the popular girl, the school nerd, the closeted best friend of the quarterback, and the former best friend of the Alice in the title.  My problem with the point of view shifts in this novel?  While they did help inform the reader about the intricacies involved with the rumors that ruined Alice, each point of view was only distinguishable by the titles at the beginning of each chapter.  Each character’s voice sounded the same.  Hence the major problem with utilizing multiple point of views, there has to be a way for each of those voices to stand out and be original to the story. Also, I really hated all of the voices except Kurt.

Other than that major problem, the story was constructed well and it was an excellent foray into the damage that rumors and vicious lies can cause for high school students, or well, anyone being the victim of this.  I think that this story is important to remember when there are a lot of stories about bullying in schools and online.

The only other thing I disliked about this novel was how abrupt the ending was.  All of the sudden the character of Alice speaks up and then the story ends.  It really just felt like there wasn’t enough resolution for me in the end.  There was so much build-up through the different point of views and then the resolution was so short and sudden.

3.5 Bards (-1.5 for POV shifts, and the abrupt ending)

3.5bards

Book Review: Stella by Helen Eve

Seventeen-year-old Stella Hamilton is the star blazing at the heart of Temperley High. Leader of the maliciously exclusive elite, she is envied and lusted after in equal measure. And in the Hamilton tradition, she is in the final stage of a six-year campaign to achieve her destiny: love with her equally popular male equivalent, and a triumphant election to Head Girl.

Caitlin Clarke has lived a quietly conformist life in New York City – until, with the collapse of her parents’ marriage, she’s sent across the Atlantic for a strict English boarding school education. As soon as she arrives at Temperley, she learns that the only important rules are the unwritten ones. The upper echelons of her new society are marked not by neat dresses and Kate Middleton hair, but by skinny jeans, cigarettes and scars.  It’s a world of the beautiful and the dangerous, and acceptance means staying on the right side of the most beautiful and dangerous of them all.

As Caitlin’s popularity grows, she discovers that not everyone is happy under Stella’s rule – that it might finally be time for a new order among the Stars and the civilians. Fighting the system, however, means Caitlin must tread the same dark path as Stella, where absolute power and absolute destruction are only a breath away . . .

Release Date: March 25, 2014

I’ve always had a soft spot for dark comedies and Heathers is still one of my favorite movies of all time.  Once I read the synopsis of this novel, it really seemed like it would be a match made in heaven since there are some clear tropes that are in both Heathers and Stella.  (The similarities are not just in the fact that both titles are female names)

Stella Hamilton is a fairly tame, yet still terrifying, reincarnation of Heather Chandler.  She is the lead of the most powerful clique in school, she is admired by all, (or as Heather Chandler says, “Everyone wants me as a friend or a f**k”), and there is at least one very chubby girl that is the focus of a lot of her jokes. (Poor Martha Dumptruck and Hannah)

Oh, and for some reason the place where everyone eats is really important to the hierarchy of the cliques:  Stella and the stars have their special table that is carved with their initials.  The Heathers have their lunch time poll.  It is almost impossible to not see the influence that Heathers and other clique movies (like Mean Girls and Jawbreaker) had on Eve during the construction of this novel.

I’m not complaining about that, because I absolutely adore Heathers.  However, there is just so many similarities that it was hard to view Eve’s novel as something completely stand alone.  There are some slight differences, the inclusion of family issues, a dual point of view, and the fact that it is set at a British boarding school.

And yet, somehow everything goes up in flames in both.  (Am I being metaphorical? Read Stella and watch Heathers to see). In addition, Eve directly quotes Heathers in the novel with “What’s your damage, Heather?”damage

So, while I enjoyed reading this novel, it mostly ended up making me nostalgic to watch Heathers and made me even more excited to see Heathers the musical in NYC when I’m there for BEA.

 

3 Bards.

threebards

 

This novel was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Author Spotlight: Adi Rule

AdiRule

 

Be sure to check out my review of Strange, Sweet Song!  You can find it here.

 A Midsummer Night’s Read (AMND): Adi, thank you so much for stopping by our blog and giving us the opportunity to pick your brain about your wonderful novel, Strange, Sweet Song!

Adi Rule (AR): Thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here.

AMND: Did Gaston LeRoux’s Phantom of the Opera or Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom inspire you during the plotting and writing process? I actually was thinking this prior to your character’s actually mentioning it!  And if they did, which do you prefer? LeRoux’s or Webbers?

AR: I didn’t have The Phantom of the Opera in mind in terms of adapting it or using it as a framework, but I love that story. I’m sure it influenced me under the surface. The original novel is so beautiful and heartbreaking! As far as adaptations, I think my favorite is Phantom by Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit. The music is gorgeous. (And it was the first big show I was ever in, when I was 14. I was in the chorus and had one line and a scream.) I like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation, too, but for me, ALW is all about Cats! 

AMND: The dynamics of Strange, Sweet Song remind me of whether you planned the main character’s storyline to mimic Christine’s and focused on the possibility of what could have happened had the Phantom been more humanized and lovable.  Is Ryan supposed to be a Raoul and Nathan a Phantom?

AR: That’s an interesting question. I think the Felix is the closest thing to a Phantom of the Opera in this story. She’s homicidal, a bit mythical, and was once grand and glittering but has been cast low. Nathan has quite a lot of bitterness going on as well, though, and he does have the creepy tower and dark mentor angle. And Ryan is the handsome, popular guy, just like Raoul. But Nathan’s intentions are pure, like Raoul’s, and Ryan is more about advancing his personal agenda, like the phantom, so in that way I think they’re opposites.

Sing’s rising star, met with equal parts jealousy and adoration, does mirror that of Christine. They’re very different people, though. Sing isn’t an ingenue off the street; she has been raised in the highly competitive world of classical music and groomed to succeed. She also is very much in control of her personal trajectory, whereas Christine always seemed to me to be a lovely, precious object that is manipulated for good or ill by stronger forces.

AMND: Your bio states that you are a soloist and chorus member at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  Are you a soprano like Sing?

AR: Yep, I am a soprano. I’m definitely not as talented as Sing, though! 🙂

AMND: What is your favorite piece to perform?

AR: My favorite audition piece is “Je veux vivre” from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, my favorite choral work to sing is Brahms’s A German Requiem, my favorite role was the Witch in Into the Woods, and I’m not sure I could pick a favorite karaoke song. Some friends and I recently utterly demolished “Buddy Holly” by Weezer. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

AMND: Will we see any more of Sing’s story?  Or is Strange, Sweet Song a standalone? (It is strong on it’s own, but I just loved the characters!)

AR: I’m so glad you loved the characters! I’m very attached to them, too. It’s a standalone right now — my next book from St Martin’s is a whole different cast — but I’ve definitely kicked around some ideas about where the characters in Strange Sweet Song would go next.

AMND: Do you have any advice for readers who are aspiring writers?

AR:  I find a lot of people are looking for someone’s — anyone’s — permission to write. So that’s the first thing, just knowing that you don’t need anyone’s approval to do it. Go for it! The second thing is to read and write a lot. A lot lot. All the genres you can put up with. When you’re ready, find a person or people who can give you honest, helpful feedback. (So no bullies and no cheerleaders.) Write, revise, repeat. Remember the best and most efficient route to publication, if that is your goal (and for many writers it isn’t, and that’s totally fine, too), is to create the best, most polished stories you can.

AMND: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, and we are looking forward to your next novel, Redwing!

AR: You’re very welcome. It was fun popping by. Thanks for reading, and for connecting with readers every day. 🙂

 

Be sure to pick up a copy of Strange, Sweet Song–you won’t regret it!

Links to buy! Amazon, Books-a-Million, B&N

Follow Adi Rule on Twitter: @luciferadi

 

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