Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jeri Smith-Ready's "This Side of Salvation" + R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion"

When I heard that this book was going to exist, I felt this burning desire to read it that I can't altogether explain. Maybe it was the cover - I'm such a sucker for a good cover - and this one has a cloudy sky, and I am definitely a sucker for a good cloud picture.

From Goodreads:

Everyone mourns differently. When his older brother was killed, David got angry. As in, fist-meets-someone-else’s-face furious. But his parents? They got religious. David’s still figuring out his relationship with a higher power, but there’s one thing he does know for sure: The closer he gets to new-girl Bailey, the better, brighter, happier, more he feels.

Then his parents start cutting all their worldly ties in to prepare for the Rush, the divine moment when the faithful will be whisked off to Heaven…and they want David to do the same. David’s torn. There’s a big difference between living in the moment and giving up his best friend, varsity baseball, and Bailey—especially Bailey—in hope of salvation.

But when he comes home late from prom, and late for the Rush, to find that his parents have vanished, David is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined...

I guess for this book I'll state a quick summary of my belief in a higher power. I believe there might be something, but I'm not sure who or what it is. I also believe that extremism never goes anywhere good. There's actually a bit on the discussion of creationists and evolution and it's actually exactly how I feel -

I don't understand why creationists are so offended by evolution. Why can't they just tell themselves God wrote all the laws of science, including evolution, or say that evolution is part of the divine plan?

This book is written the first person POV from David's perspective, with chapters alternating between the past and the present. Like many YA books, this book touches on the fact that sometimes, teens lose their way. But wait, maybe I'm wrong - maybe when you're a teen, you don't really lose your way. Maybe as a teenager you're always just trying to find your way for the first time. Who you are, where your life should go, who you should be. But as you find out in this book, sometimes even grown-ups can lose their way, and need to find a new way. Also, there's even a kitten named after Tod, the grim reaper from Rachel Vincent's "Soul Screamers" series.

I was worried that I might not enjoy this book because of how religion focused it is, but it was original and well written, so it didn't bother me at all. 

But even the sweetest faith can taste sour when it's used as poison.

The hope in his eyes is cautious. He's afraid to believe.

I have a tomorrow, I remind myself. One that's fresh and blank, like a shaken Etch a Sketch.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mindy McGinnis' "Not A Drop To Drink"

From Goodreads:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Man this book with the feels. The Epic Reads team pimped this book so well that I knew I had to give it a try, but the truth is there's some dystopian stuff I can't handle - anything that wanders too close to the realm of possibility isn't for me - it just freaks me out too much. As an environmentalist and a vegan, a world without enough clean water is near the top of my future fears. I can't adequately express how much I love water. Water is the best. A world where I can't have a hot shower every day? Not a world for me. 

And yet, this book still manages to be a lot of what I love in YA books - there's hope and change and character growth, and realizing that life has more to offer you than you can imagine. I sort of knew what was coming, but I didn't know about the twist and turns or the final destination.

I'd like to compare part of the book to something else, but that would be spoiler-y. I'll just say that Mindy did it right. 

And a quote!

"Her affection and gratitude were too subtle and burned away under the harsh light of day. But in the familiar darkness of the basement she let her unspoken feelings pour out of her like water and hoped that somehow the flow would reach him while he slept, and he would know without her having to say."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Updated: An actual review of Jodi Meadows' "Phoenix Overture"

My original review for this book was a concise "BAD THINGS HAPPEN," and if you're a fan of Jodi Meadows, that's really all you need. But if you aren't yet a fan or want more detail, I am posting my more in-depth review :) I admit to having expedited my full review because Jodi is bribing us to review the amazing Phoenix Overture, but I would have elaborated eventually anyway.  

Okay, in all seriousness - that is definitely an adequate summary of this novella (of the whole series, quite frankly), but it's all magic and beautiful in it's own way, even with the Bad Things.

Phoenix Overture is an excellent and integral addition to the Newsoul series. In it we learn all about Sam's difficult first life. We learn how he discovers music, and about his family and their journey - both in their relationships to one another and to their new home and their new way of life - reincarnation. Sam, ever the musician, describes his world beautifully with sounds, and it's easy to imagine and immerse yourself in his life. Sam feels irrelevant in his world, and it's tough to see him living that life when we know how important he is. "What was music when humanity's greatest survival was a desperate hope, not a guarantee?" But we see Sam find himself, his strengths, his offerings to his world. 

"The cost for endless life had to be tremendous." This actually reminds me of something an economics professor said in school - it's something people say all the time, but when he said it, it made sense to me (something had to make sense in that class!) - he said 'nothing in life is free.' This novella is an excellent example of that - what does Sam pay to get to where he ends up, what does he pay (and does everyone else pay) to be endlessly reincarnated?

Some novellas make me mad - you pay $.99-$2.99 for them and you get what feels like not much, but PO is definitely worth it's cost. A must read for fans of the series.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

(Re) Cover Reveal! Chelsea Cameron's "Whisper"

I'm pretty excited to read this one - I enjoy Chelsea's books and she's really nice on twitter, and she's from Maine, so clearly she's awesome. 

Whisper by Chelsea M. Cameron
(Originally published in June 2012)


People think I'm crazy. Maybe I am, since I've been able to talk to spirits for as long as I can remember. They are the forgotten, the souls who have unfinished business and can't cross over. I help them, or at least I try to. There's this one in particular, Jack, I call him, who's been following me around a lot. Usually they tell me what they need to do and move on. Not him. 

It isn't until he brings another spirit, Tracy, the victim of an unsolved hit-and-run accident, that I know for sure he's something more than just your average spirit. Then I start seeing him. And feeling his touch. And falling for him. 

In our quest to get justice for Tracy and help her move on, Jack and I become something more than just a dead boy and a living girl. I'm just waiting to see what happens next…

Buy Links

Author Information

Chelsea M. Cameron is a YA/NA New York Times/USA Today Best Selling author from Maine. Lover of things random and ridiculous, Jane Austen/Charlotte and Emily Bronte Fangirl, red velvet cake enthusiast, obsessive tea drinker, vegetarian, former cheerleader and world's worst video gamer. When not writing, she enjoys watching infomercials, singing in the car and tweeting (this one time, she was tweeted by Neil Gaiman). She has a degree in journalism from the University of Maine, Orono that she promptly abandoned to write about the people in her own head. More often than not, these people turn out to be just as weird as she is.

Her New Adult Contemporary Romance titles include My Favorite Mistake, which has been bought by Harlequin along with a sequel, Deeper We Fall and Faster We Burn (April 20, 2013)

Her Young Adult books include Nocturnal, Nightmare and Neither, the first three books in The Noctalis Chronicles. The fourth and final book, Neverend will be out in 2013. Whisper, the first in The Whisper Trilogy is also available, with the second book in the series, Silence and the final book, LIsten coming out in 2014.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Leila Sales' "This Song Will Save Your Life" + Bastille's "Of the Night"

"It's not worth it. Sure, high school sucks sometimes. Some people will mess with you, whenever they want, and for no reason except that they can. But hurting yourself is giving those people all the power, and they don't deserve it. Why would they deserve to have control over your life? Because they're cool? Because they're pretty? That's completely illogical."

That line is from later in the book, but I think it's a pretty darned important line. Not just for teenagers and kids, but for anyone who suffers verbal abuse from anyone they know. Peers, family, whatever. Anyone who tries to take power from you in any way, especially through any form of abuse, is weak and horrible, and you don't have to let them take anything away from you. You are better than they are. 

From Goodreads:

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

This is a pretty great book about the difficulties of fitting in and finding your place in the world, difficulties I understand all too well. Part of this book was actually kind of rough for me, just because it reminded me of some of my troubles. It can be so hard to be a kid, especially if you're at all different. 

After I finished this book, I actually went back and looked at my high school yearbook, and I was looking at the "popular" kids, and do you know what I realized? They weren't that special. They weren't extra interesting or attractive, and they generally weren't nice people. I don't know if they were cruel people particularly (save for the one who verbally abused and then slapped me, or the multitudes of kids who verbally assaulted me), they just didn't think of anyone other than themselves. 

Some of my favorite quotes. This book has lessons to impart. 

Of course, as always, there is an arbitrary, invisible fence in place. You can't see it, but it will always keep you out. It will always encircle happiness and keep you out. 

I thought, for the zillionth time, about what a nice girl Amelia was. She was a nice girl with a nice life, so people were nice to her. In Amelia's world, nobody ever ignores you or glares at you just for kicks. 

You'd think that this might make me cool, since music is supposedly cool, but it doesn't work like that. It turns out that caring a lot about anything is, by definition, uncool, and it doesn't matter if that thing is music or Star Wars or oil refineries. 

And my favorite . . .

"I don't believe that anyone who is a legitimately interesting person can be popular as a teenager," Mel went on. "Or ever, maybe. Popularity rewards the uninteresting." 

Robyn Schneider's "The Beginning of Everything" + The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather"

This book. I knew before I finished the first page that I liked it, and I knew before I finished the first chapter that I loved it. It's quirky and original and well written. 

From Goodreads:

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

In the UK this book is called "Severed Heads, Broken Hearts" - how great is that? You can go to the Epic Reads blog to see a picture of the cover animated.

I don't really know what else to say, quite frankly. This is one of those books that I really like, but I can't really express my feelings in words. This book is about belonging, and not belonging. About changing, and how you change, and how you see change and where it comes from, and how what you think is happening isn't always what's happening. It's about getting to know people and then really getting to know people.I'll just put in some of the author's words.

That was what excited people around here, getting together a mob to shoo the coyote back in to the avocado groves, to remove the interloper from our perfect little planned community. No one went looking for adventure; they chased it away.

The way I figured it, keeping quiet was safe. Words could betray you if you chose the wrong ones, or mean less if you used too many. Jokes could be grandly miscalculated, or stories deemed boring, and I'd learned early on that my sense of humor and my ideas about what sorts of things were fascinating didn't exactly overlap with my friends'.

"You don't want to quote Robert Frost, for God's sake. Quote John Rawls, or John Stuart Mill." (I did a paper on John Stuart Mill's "The Subjection of Women" in college and it made me feel like a genius to understand him.)

She tasted like buried treasure, and swing sets and coffee. She tasted the way fireworks felt, like something you could get close to but never really have just for yourself.

There's something that might be a reference to DFTBA and Nerdfighters, so that's awesome.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Leigh Bardugo's "Siege & Storm" + MB20

From Goodreads:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

This book. Wow. I just finished it, and I chose a song, so I'm starting this post now (11/17/13 at 2:20pm EST) but I have to digest and work on NaNoWriMo, so I'll be back. 

Well, whoops. Three weeks since I finished the book and started this post (but at least I won NaNoWriMo, right?) and of course I have lost all my thoughts and returned the book to the library. 

If you liked Shadow & Bone, you'll be happy to hear that I think Siege & Storm is EVEN BETTER. I know, you're surprised - how can that be? Well, more Mal. Sturmhond. Power hungry Alina (you might want to punch her - don't say I didn't warn you)! A return of the Pug! It's all pretty great.

Quotes! The first quote are wise words from Sturmhond:

"Anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea."

His tone was light, but when his lips met mine, there was nothing playful in his kiss. He tasted of heat and newly ripe pears from the Duke's garden. I sensed hunger in the hard slant of his mouth, an unfamiliar edge to his need that sent restless sparks burning through me.

We both knew the hard truth. We do our best. We try. And usually, it makes no difference at all.

Matchbox Twenty - "Bent" lyrics

If I fall along the way
Pick me up and dust me off
And if I get too tired to make it
Be my breath so I can walk

If I need some other love, then
Give me more than I can stand
And when my smile gets old and faded
Wait around I'll smile again

Shouldn't be so complicated
Just hold me and then
Oh, just hold me again

Can you help me I'm bent
I'm so scared that I'll never
Get put back together
Keep breaking me in
And this is how we will end
With you and me bent

If I couldn't sleep, could you sleep?
Could you paint me better off?
Could you sympathize with my needs?
I know you think I need a lot

I started out clean but I'm jaded
Just phoning it in
Oh, just breaking the skin

Can you help me I'm bent
I'm so scared that I'll never
Get put back together
Keep breaking me in
And this is how we will end
With you and me bent

Start bending me, it's never enough
As I feel all your pieces
Start bending me, keep bending me
Oh, until I'm completely broken in

Shouldn't be so complicated
Just touch me and then
Oh, just touch me again

Can you help me I'm bent
I'm so scared that I'll never
Get put back together
Keep breaking me in
And this is how we will end
With you and me will let them
Without understanding
Here I go there again

Can you help me I'm bent
I'm so scared that I'll never
Get put back together
Yeah, you're breaking me in
And this is how we will end
With you and me bent

Brigid Kemmerer's "Secret" + Anberlin's "Unwinding Cable Car"

January 28, 2014

From Goodreads:

Nick Merrick is stretched to the breaking point.

Keep his grades sky-high or he’ll never escape his hometown.
Keep his brother’s business going or the Merricks will be out on the street.
Keep the secret of where he’s going in the evenings from his own twin—-or he’ll lose his family.

Keep his mind off the hot, self-assured dancer who’s supposed to be his “girlfriend’s” partner.

Of course there’s also the homicidal freak Quinn has taken to hanging around, and the Elemental Guide counting the hours until he can try again to kill the Merrick brothers.

There’s a storm coming. From all sides. And then some.

Nick Merrick, can you keep it together?

This book. It's amazing, and definitely the best book in the series (so far anyway!). It's heartfelt and stressful and sweet and upsetting. There were times I wanted to hug my kindle, and times I covered my face because I couldn't bear to watch. I bookmarked and highlighted the heck out of the digital copy and I'm definitely leaving it on my wishlist so someone can buy me a print copy I can snuggle with (I don't actually snuggle books, but you know that feeling like you want to snuggle a book, right?).

In this book we learn about the fallout from what happens in "Breathless" (I won't give details in case you're behind) and it's a big, deep, emotional roller coaster. We learn that bad guys aren't always bad and good guys aren't always good.

I'm really afraid that most people haven't read the Elemental series so I'm keeping it vague, but get on it people. It's really great. There's even an Afterword that is great and touching and true, and it made me cry.

The downside to having read this ARC? I have that much longer to wait before the next book. Argh! 


When you know what you want, I'll be right here. Nick knew what he wanted, all right. He just wasn't sure he wanted to want it.

"People surprise you sometimes. Especially when you give them a chance."

Opening those letters would force him to make a choice. A decision about where his life was going. A decision about staying or leaving.

"You know what sucks about sorry? It's the worst word in the world. Because it always happens after you fuck up something good."

"I think that's part of the problem," he said, killing the heat on the stove. "You're so damn worried about what everyone else wants. Well you know what, Nick? You're going to disappoint people sometimes. You just are. And you know what else? They're either going to get over it or they're not. If they don't, it sucks. But it's not going to kill them, and it's sure not going to kill you." 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Release Day Launch - Jennifer L. Armentrout's "Bitter Sweet Love"

Oh come on, you knew this was coming. I am all over all of the Jennifer Armentrout/J Lynn books. YES PLEASE. This novella is the start of Jen's newest series about gargoyles. Hot gargoyles, of course. This is good because we need something to help hold us over now that the Covenant series has concluded and while we wait for the last book in her Luxen series.

As always, thanks to Jen for writing like a maniac and keeping us entertained!


In a sizzling prequel novella to her new series The Dark Elements, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout draws readers into the extraordinary, irresistible world of Wardens and demons.

Dez wasn't just Jasmine's crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining the balance between good and evil. He was her everything…right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn't help that Jas's father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.

And now he's back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn't taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again…

Don't miss White Hot Kiss, book one in Jennifer L. Armentrout's The Dark Elements series from Harlequin TEEN!

Jennifer L. Armentrout Bio:

# 1 NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her book Obsidian has been optioned for a major motion picture and her Covenant Series has been optioned for TV. She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.


Moving lightning fast, Dez shifted and I was suddenly underneath him. His arms were on either side of my head, caging me in. Our bodies didn’t touch, but I felt him to the tips of my toes anyway.

                The teasing grin disappeared when I dragged in a deep breath and my chest brushed his. Everything changed in an instant. The playful mood faded, replaced by primal heaviness. Our gazes collided and locked. Neither of us moved. His closeness sent a series of shivers skittering across my skin and made it hard to take slow, even breaths. My body tensed when his gaze dropped to my mouth.

                He tilted his head to the side. “I… I honestly have no idea what we were talking about.”

                “Good. Neither do I.”

                He shifted his weight onto one arm, bring him closer. “Have you enjoyed your trip so far?”

                “Yes.” I felt as if I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs.

                “Good.” He lowered his head. His breath was minty as it moved across my cheek and then my lips. “I’m glad.”

                I wasn’t really following the conversation and I wasn’t sure that he was fully aware of what was coming out of his mouth. I searched my hazy brain for something to say and wet my lips. I-

                The sound that came out of Dez’s chest rumbled through me. A stuttered heartbeat passed and then his lips were on mine. There was nothing slow about this kiss. It scorched my skin and caused my body to stretch tight like a bowstring. The kiss deepened, spinning my senses. I shuddered when his hand curved over my shoulder and drifted down to my waist, his long fingers spreading out under the hem of my shirt, grazing the bare skin of my stomach.

                I gasped, floored by the raw sensations pounding through my blood. My skin felt as if I was about to phase. Maybe I was.

                “Jasmine,” he whispered, the word falling against my lips, and then his body was pressing mine into the mattress, heavy, sweet and hard.