Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chelsea Cameron's "My Sweetest Escape"


MY SWEETEST ESCAPE Synopsis:


The past will always find you.

Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life; until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn't begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn't enough to help her feel normal again.

And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can't begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she's not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she's no longer sure she deserves.

But even as Dusty coaxes Jos to open up about the past, he's hiding secrets of his own. Secrets about the night her old life fell apart. When the truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together;or tear them apart for good?



My review:

This is the 5th book I have read by Chelsea Cameron and it is, by far, her best. While it focuses less on sex, it focuses more on a storyline and the interactions between the characters, and it's well done.

The first book in this series, My Favorite Mistake, is enjoyable enough, but storyline wise it doesn't make the most sense. Also, the fact that this is a 2nd book in a series means that we already know a lot of the characters, so we (and the writer) can focus more on the new characters and how they relate to their world. 

If this book represents how Chelsea's growing as an author, I AM IN.



Chelsea M. Cameron's Bio:

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.


GIVEAWAY: 
10 winners will receive a signed set of MY SWEETEST ESCAPE and MY FAVORITE MISTAKE. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Buy Links:
Amazon:  http://amzn.to/LfFN6j
B&N:  http://bit.ly/1e2zWgS
Kobo:  http://bit.ly/1esy387 

Author Links:
Website: http://www.chelseamcameron.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chel_c_cam
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chelsea-M-Cameron-Official-Author-Page/304422529610919
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5752359.Chelsea_M_Cameron




Thursday, January 16, 2014

E. Lockhart's "We Were Liars" + (A Remake of) Don Henley "Boys of Summer"

Okay, so my (first) official review on Goodreads is "whoa," but I should probably elaborate, at least a little. I came up with two words - lyrical and haunting.

This book is amazing. It is so simply and succinctly written, and yet it complex and lyrical and haunting. So in addition to "whoa," I add "lyrical and haunting."



From Goodreads:

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I've read almost all of the E. Lockhart books - The Boyfriend Series, Fly On The Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - there's only one I haven't read, and it's a collaboration. The Boyfriend Series was my favorite, but I enjoyed them all, so I knew I had to try We Were Liars, and I was thrilled to be accepted for a digital ARC after I saw book friends raving about it on twitter.

As I can sometimes do, I knew I loved this book within the first few sentences. Sometimes you can tell. Also, it's set in New England, which makes any book better, at least for me. 

In the true spirit of not telling people what this books is about, I leave you with:
  • Whoa
  • Lyrical
  • Haunting


...and a song.

 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wherein I Didn't Win the Jennifer Armentrout Fanfic Contest But Show You My Entry (Lux Series)


If you're a fan of Jennifer Armentrout/J Lynn, then you probably know that back in September she had a FanFic contest with an epic grand prize. I have always loved reading, and not too long ago, I decided to start writing. Just, give it my own go, see what I'm made of. Whatever, right? You can't get anywhere if you don't try new things.

Well I love Jen's books. So much. She is an amazing storyteller, and the characters and stories that come out of her are mind boggling. When I saw this contest, I knew I had to try. 

Now, Jen has a ton of fans, and gets a ton of new fans every day, so I was afraid that if I didn't get my butt in gear that I wouldn't make the cutoff. Of course, her fandom surprised me, and she never hit the limit on the number of submissions she was willing to accept, so maybe I could have taken longer than five days. In any case, I lost. I'm pretty bummed because the RT Convention is an AMAZING opportunity - a ton of YA and NA authors, writer workshops, chances to meet people and network. ALSO, my husband is almost done with his fourth deployment, and I could really use some me time that is a vacation and a fabulous opportunity, rolled into one.

Really bummed.




But here's a snippet of the email I sent with my submission, explaining where I was coming from, and then my submission itself. 

I wanted to write about Alex, or even Avery, because I assume the Luxen and Katy will be the most popular topics since Origin was released so recently. However, as I thought about it, I realized that I don't get Alex at all, and I spent a bunch of time yelling at Avery to buck up and tell Cam what was up. I considered Sydney, especially since I'm married to the school friend I had a crush on, but I'm so drawn to the Lux books overall. As I am short (5') and a book lover, I identify with Katy the most. However, I'm pretty sure you're going to get a ton of stories about DAEMON BABIES so I'm not going there :) Instead, I thought about poor Adam, the nice guy who was in love with the nice girl but died too soon. Why was Dee upset at prom? How did they evolve from tears at prom to spending time together planning Thanksgiving break and running away to The Smoke Hole to give Katy and Daemon alone time? I wanted to know, so I found out. 

I really wanted to take some characters and stick them in a Biggerson's, eating Pepperjack Turducken Slammers with snotty waiters in flare, or to have the whole story as something Chuck wrote, but I realized 1500 words wasn't really enough for all that. Maybe another day! 


I was terrified, but I knew I had to do it anyway. I ran up the steps to her house but stopped just outside her front door with my hand paused in midair. I sighed, and instead of knocking I ran my hand through my hair – I’d been so distracted that morning that I had forgotten to brush it – I just had a shower and ran out the door, eager to get to Dee. I couldn’t figure out why this was so difficult for me – technically we’d been seeing each other for a while – but then it was only because we thought we had to default to each other, not because we necessarily wanted to be together. I knew I had to stop thinking about it before I lost my nerve altogether, and so I knocked.

I could hear Dee’s footsteps as she approached the front door. The door opened, and there she was, in black sweatpants and a green tank top – the same shade as her beautiful eyes, but her eyes weren’t as radiant as usual. She barely looked at me, and I knew then that she was still upset about prom last night, not that I’d had any doubts that she would be. I had messed up, and let my anxiety about our relationship and my evolving feelings overshadow the night, so I panicked and ended up avoiding her for most of the night. I felt like such a jerk, and I was scared she would be done with me forever, but I couldn’t stop now, so I pressed past her and walked into her house.

“I’m sorry,” I said, pacing the living room as she came in behind me. “I’m sorry about us and I’m sorry about prom. I screwed up. I was distant and distracted and I was a jerk. I could have been better. Should have been. I’ve spent so much time lately thinking about Daemon and Katy, and about Dawson and Beth, and I let it get to me.”  She looked up at me and then sat down on the sofa, so I sat next to her and turned to the side so I could face her. I waited to see if she had anything to say, but I could tell she wasn’t ready to speak yet, so I kept speaking, mostly to fill the awkward silence. “I was nervous about prom – I knew that you had big expectations for it to be amazing and fun and perfect, and I wasn’t sure I could give that to you, or that you even wanted it to be with me. I wasn’t even sure that I was the guy you wanted to go with, or should go with.”

With that her eyes narrowed at me, and she interrupted. “Adam. I wanted to go to prom with someone who wanted to go and who wanted to go with me. If you only asked me out of some sense of obligation, that’s not what I wanted, no matter what my feelings are. I don’t want someone who thinks they have to be with me, I want someone who likes me . . . who wants me. You couldn’t even stand to be near me for most of the night.”

She sat next to me, staring straight ahead, her arms crossed angrily, her cheeks reddening, but I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – she thought I wasn’t interested? And was she interested in me, in us, in more? I really had screwed this up. Tears started to run down her face and I knew that they were tears of anger and frustration, not of sadness. She was too strong for that.

I took a few slow deep breaths as I tried to compose myself and figure out what I wanted to say. I wondered if the truth, as hard as it would be for me to get out, would be easier. It had to be easier than upsetting Dee – we’d been friends for so long – at one point we’d thought our friendship felt familial, but I knew now that for me, that was wrong – it wasn’t like that at all – and I hoped that she felt the same. I took another deep breath and I put my hand on her face and gently turned her towards me. I stared into her eyes, her magical green eyes, and hoped I was doing the right thing. That I could finally say the right thing.

“For years it’s been expected that you and I would be together – we had no other choice, not really. But then Dawson found Beth and they fell in love and disappeared, and now Daemon has Katy. . . . I didn’t even know if you wanted to be with me. I thought that maybe I was just a temporary thing for you – someone to be with until you found a human to love. I kept thinking that you didn’t want me, that you couldn’t want me. I saw how dejected Ash felt after Daemon chose Katy, and it scared me,” I said. “I’m sorry that I’ve screwed up so badly that you can’t see my feelings. That you can’t tell that you’re more to me than you think you are.” My heart caught in my throat as I waited to see how she reacted, to find out if she felt the same.

Dee’s eyes lifted to mine, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out my true feelings. To realize that she was amazing, and that I was so lucky she was the one I was supposed to be with – meant to be with. I leaned towards her and slid my left hand from her cheek to the back of her neck, and I pulled her forward gently. She pressed her hands against my chest as if to stop me, and my heart seemed to falter and skip a beat – had I misread her? Did I make another mistake? I opened my mouth to speak, to stop, to apologize, to save the moment, but then her hands slid up over my shoulders and behind my neck and she leaned in. When our lips met in the middle, the kiss electrified us, and I could feel her lips smiling against mine. She turned towards me on the sofa and I moved my right hand to her waist as she deepened the kiss, opening her mouth and letting me in. My fingers brushed under the edge of her tank top and she sighed into my mouth and lay back, pulling me down with her. Her left leg wrapped around my right leg and her hands moved to the bottom of my shirt. I pulled away from the kiss and sat up a little to get my shirt off, and as I did she bit the corner of her lip and blushed. “Wait. Let’s wait. We can wait, right?” I asked nervously.

She opened her mouth to answer, when upstairs a door opened and then slammed shut. Daemon came running down the stairs through the living room, and he ran out of the front door without even pausing when – if – he’d noticed the two of us together on the sofa.

Dee sat up, her eyes widening as if she knew what was going on. “What was that about?” I asked, reaching for my t-shirt. She smiled and stood up. “Katy’s here.”



Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Current Stash of Book Swag

So I got some new book swag in today and I decided to collect all my swag together and take pics of it! How great is it that we can have bookmarks that coordinate to our books? Magic. 

Most of this is just regular author swag - most authors have info on their websites about how to get swag from them. Some authors I met at Y'allfest and they gave me some. Some authors send swag just because they're amazing. And some authors have contests for their swag. I just won an amazing swag giveaway from The YA Insiders, so that's where the jewelry comes from.



Jennifer Armentrout YA Insiders Giveaway prize! For her upcoming "The Dark Elements" series - gargoyles!


Also, I have my own gargoyle. Less hot. 


Mindy McGinnis! I won a swag contest on the awesome Jessica Spotswood's blog. 


Sarah Dessen! I pre-ordered her latest book, The Moon and More, from Fly Leaf Book in Chapel Hill, NC because it came with swag. There's something else, but I forget where and what it is.


Leigh Bardugo! Met her at Y'allfest. Mal and Sturmhond!


From my newest best book buddy, my name twin, whom I met on twitter during an Epic Reads Tea Time.



From Nina Berry for a YA Insiders Giveaway! The SAME giveaway! Also the pearl necklace, seen below. I let my daughter take a bookmark because she loves Tigers.


Divergent stickers and Eleanor & Park button from Y'allfest (I am so scared to wear the button and lose it. How will the world know I love Rainbow if I lose it?) Carrie Ryan swag because I purchased one of her ebooks (You probably haven't read her Forest of Hands and Teeth series. You should, really.) I assume the Epic Reads bookmark is from Y'allfest or my aforementioned name twin. I forget.


From Maureen Johnson at a book signing in Raleigh for the release of her second Madness Underneath book. Which is awesome.


Because Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman are awesome (Okay, technically, I only know that Meagan is awesome, but it's a safe jump to think that, as awesome as Meagan is, that Amie must also be awesome). That's all. If you missed me describing "These Broken Stars" as an amazing blend of Titanic/Gilligan's Island/Star Trek, there you go. A must read. My husband, who is in the Army, finds my joy over a Tarver dog tag perplexing, but I am overjoyed. A big YOU STINK to the Post Office in town for losing my first necklace. 



From Katie McGarry! For pre-ordering her awesome "Crash Into You." 


YA Insiders Giveaway swag!

From Sara Raasch for her upcoming book, "Snow Like Ashes." You had me at Kingdom of Winter. Also, "You create the storm" is an awesome tagline.


For S. E. Green's upcoming "Killer Instinct," which also sounds awesome. It came in an evidence bag! HA. Awesome.


From Anne Blankman, for her forthcoming book "Prisoner of Night and Fog," which also sounds amazing. Also, wearing this necklace I took the best pic of me that's been taken in years. MAGIC NECKLACE.


The necklace on the left is also from the YA Insiders Giveaway, from Martina Boone, for her upcoming book, "Beholden," which also sounds great! And on the right is the necklace from Nina Berry. It's a good thing I got 2 jewelry holders for Christmas! Ha :D 




Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Aimee Carter's "Pawn" + Chvrches "Lies (Tourist Remix)"

I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley for review.

I started this book, and then I stopped. And then I started again, and thought I saw where it was going so I stopped. I am pretty good at telling where most books are going and how they're going to get there, but this book, with it's twists and turns, kept me guessing. With the exception of one time, every time I thought I knew where this book was going, I was wrong. Thankfully, because in my head, this book wasn't going anywhere original or good, but I was so wrong.




From Goodreads:


YOU CAN BE A VII. IF YOU GIVE UP EVERYTHING. 

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. 

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter. 

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.



So, this book. It's unexpected and it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. It's about love and sacrifice and hope and finding your place. Quotes!


"If I were a I, we probably never would have met in the first place.""Doesn't matter," he murmured, running his fingers through my hair. "I would know something was missing. I would know my life was pointless, even if I never understood why. Even if we'd never met, even if you never existed, I would still love you beyond all reason for the rest of my life."


But the world is out there, and it understands that the illusion of knowledge and freedom is not the same as the real thing.


"Don't apologize," he said, and he brushed his fingers against my cheekbone, an inch from my eye. "I see you now."

As far as small details are concerned, one of the characters is named Lennox, and he goes by Knox, and I love those names together. Loooove. There's another guy, named Benjy, and he's awesome two. Twice the awesome.




Monday, January 6, 2014

Tracey Martin's "Another Little Piece of My Heart" + Kodaline/Fix8's "Brand New Day"

When I first heard about this book, I wasn't sure I would suggest the ARC. As a big fan of Robin Benway's "Audrey, Wait!," I thought this book was too similar to be worth a read.

I was wrong. 

The only problem with this book is my problem - there are some books that I love, but I can't really adequately express my feels. This is one of those books, so you'll just have to read my ramblings and try it yourself.





From Goodreads:

What if your devastating break-up became this summer’s hit single? In this rock-and-roll retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, music can either bring you together or tear you apart.

At her dying mother’s request, Claire dumps Jared, the only boy she’s ever loved. Left with a broken family and a broken heart, Claire is furious when she discovers that her biggest regret became Jared’s big break. While Jared is catapulted into rock-star status, another piece of Claire’s heart crumbles every time his song plays on the radio.

The summer after her senior year, it’s been months since the big break-up, and Claire is just trying to keep her head down and make it through a tense trip to the beach with her family. But when Jared shows up, and old feelings reignite, can Claire and Jared let go of the past? Or will they be stuck singing the same old refrain?

I really loved this book, and not just because it takes place near the fabulousness that is Portsmouth, NH, and it isn't just because sometimes I felt like Tracey was in my brain ("Lobster is just one of the many things in life I don't get the hype about." - when I was a little kid, years before I went vegan, my parents were always trying to get me to like lobster, and I never liked it, and I never understood why they wanted their little kid to like something so expensive). 

I love Claire. Her family is . . . not one you would want. But she hangs tight to her ideals and who she wants to be, and she just keeps working at what she wants. As a teenager, I wasn't even sure who I wanted to be - I definitely didn't have the wherewithal to go for it, whatever my it was. 

And Jared. He's lovely, he really is. He's kind and determined and real and grateful, even after he becomes a big star. 

I guess what I'm saying is that my favorite thing about this book is that the two main characters, teenagers, who could be lost and broken, are focused and determined and strong. I envy that. 

Quotes!

It's the shock of hearing something you braced yourself for, and yet, as it turns out, weren't prepared to deal with in any way. It's the pain of isolation. And it's the pressure of knowing that no matter how badly you want to beat something into a bloody pulp, you can't.

Maybe all my hate and anger have been my sword and my shield, an attempt to protect myself, not from Jared's insults, but from the feelings I never managed to kill.

Okay. I'm stopping my rambling now. I'm going to go find a song to go with this post, and then you can read the post and go read the book. 




WAIT. I just realized it's a kindle book and it's only $2.51 and that is amazing and so worth it. I guess this means I can't buy a print copy like I wanted :(

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A 2014 List of My Favorite Famous Guys

People are all over lists for the new year. Favorite books, favorite authors, etc. Well, look. I just can't handle that kind of decision. Top ten favorite books of the year? That's rough. I'll think about it. Instead, I present to you my favorite three men of 2014. Just, because. For the pretty.

1. Dan Smith, lead singer, Bastille







2. Jared Padalecki, actor, Supernatural (and Gilmore Girls, of course)





3. Ryan Hansen, actor, Veronica Mars