Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Fallen by Laury Falter (Tour Stop)


Young Adult Fantasy
Date Published: April 1, 2009


Maggie is unaware of the terrifying fate that awaits her. It isn’t until she lands in New Orleans for a full year at a private high school and her unknown enemies find her does she realize that her life is in danger.

As a mystifying stranger repeatedly intervenes and blocks the attempts on her life, she begins to learn that there is more to him than his need to protect her and that he may be the key to understanding why her enemies have just now arrived.


B&N 



My Rating

3


My Review

Fallen is an excellent paranormal read and a wonderful introduction to a series. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience and can't wait to get my hands on the second book.

The characters were well-developed and enjoyable to read about. Maggie had a great voice that translated well and allowed for a fast pacing. I loved all the little things that made her unique as a YA protagonist, like the fact that she rides a motorcycle and actually makes money off her supernatural talent. (I don't know if I've seen that before, but in all honestly, most of us would probably do the same - even if she wasn't in it for the extra cash.) I liked the mystery that initially surrounded Eran. I also liked the relationship between them, but felt that it escalated a bit quickly. I understand the reasoning behind that, but it still was a bit sudden. In the beginning of the novel, Maggie was stubborn and questioned Eran more. At some point, I felt like she started accepting everything without too much question, and it seemed out of character.

Still, I enjoyed the ideas of The Messengers and The Guardians. It is a different spin on the usual "fallen angel" stories, and therefore more interesting to read about. In addition, The Fallen Ones brought about interesting characters and layered antagonists.

The world that was created during the nights was incredible. If anything, I would have loved to see more of it! It allowed for a contrast between the more contemporary settings of a high school in New Orleans.

The pacing of Fallen is nice, as it makes a very fast read. The pages keep turning easily, and build up a good sense of urgency and danger, as well as romance with a cool historical background. However, everything seemed to wrap up a bit quickly. The action and suspense had an answer that was rushed a little too much.

Despite this, Fallen is an enjoyable book that can easily be finished in a couple of sittings. A decent paranormal novel to add to the summer reading list, it's a fairly promising start.

 



Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Blitz: Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (Week One)


Let's Get Lost
Release Date: 07/29/14
Harlequin Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.





Early Praise:
“Reminiscent of John Green’s Paper Towns and road trip novels that feature a teen paving the way to adulthood, Alsaid’s debut is a gem among contemporary YA novels.” – School Library Journal

“Five love stories, beautifully woven together by a special girl in search of adventure, hope, and full appreciation of life’s simple pleasures. A do-not-miss.  ” – Justine Magazine

“Moving and poignant.”  - Glitter Magazine

“An entertaining and romantic road-trip debut.” – Kirkus

"Leila's quest to find the Northern Lights takes readers on a captivating cross-country journey, where four strangers' adventures collide into one riveting tale of finding yourself." ―YABooksCentral.com

“This will likely be a popular summer hit, especially for older teen about to embark on their own journeys of self-discovery.” –Booklist

EXCERPT 

 After half an hour of aimless driving, the air hadn’t cooled at all. The faux-velvet seats had become uncomfortably sticky, so they decided to park and stretch their legs for a bit. Seeking solace from the heat, they chose a spot under the shade of a tree with long, low-hanging branches that reached out over the street like protective arms.

Across the road from them, surrounded by a ten foot white wall that stretched farther than Bree could see, was the Kansas City Country Club. The landscaping outside was immaculate, everything bright green and evenly trimmed, bushes rounded into perfect spheres. Every now and then a car would drive up to the lone valet attendant. The people getting out of the cars were dressed up, the men in expensive looking suits, cuff links, and pocket squares, the women decked out in jewelry and brand-name handbags. A big, golden Mercedes came up the driveway. A car like that had never once stopped to pick Bree up when she was
hitchhiking.

“I bet that Mercedes has some pretty sweet AC,” Bree said.

“I bet,” Leila said. She wiped at the sweat on her forehead. “It looks like there’s some kind of event going on.”

The sun was still high, the sunset a couple of hours away. Bree felt her shirt stick to her lower back.

“Yeah . . .” Bree said, her voice trailing off. “You think they’d mind if we borrowed it for a little while?”

Leila turned to Bree, arching one eyebrow. “It would be nice to drive around with some air conditioning for a bit. Why? Your soul getting itchy again?”

They watched the valet attendant get into the car, drive about fifty feet up the driveway, and turn into the parking lot that was hidden from view. After a few moments he reappeared, trotting back to the entrance, waiting for the next car to show up. He left the keys of the Mercedes on a hook next to about two dozen other sets of luxury-car keys.

“We’ll just borrow it for an hour,” Bree said. “They won’t even notice it’s gone.”

“I’m not so sure about that. Rich people have a weird sixth sense about their belongings.”

“It’ll just be a few quick laps on the highway.”

“Quick because there’ll be someone chasing us?”

“No one will be chasing us.”

“I know,” Leila said. “I’m stalling because I’m nervous.”

“Hey, I’m not gonna deny you the right to be nervous. But once you’ve dealt with your nerves, I think you know what we have to do.”

“What do we say if someone catches us?”

“That we were dying of heat stroke and it was a medical emergency,” Bree said.

Leila paused. “Then we’ll come right back and leave it exactly where it was before?”

“Same parking spot.”

Another car was coming up the street, likely headed for the club. The girls looked at each other, grinning like madmen. Bree could feel her heartbeat speed up.

Bree opened the door. “Come on, we’ll grab the keys when the valet’s parking this car.”

Leila took a few deep breaths, as if she was about to try swimming a long distance underwater. “Seize the Tuesday,” she said.

They jogged across the street and hid behind the outer wall of the country club. When they heard the valet start pulling the car around, they left their cover and walked quickly up the driveway. The keys were hanging unprotected, as tempting as pies cooling on windowsills. Bree reached them first, grabbing the set with that recognizable Mercedes symbol glinting silver in the sunlight. It was almost
disappointingly easy.

“Just act like you belong here,” Bree said as they walked into the parking lot. “The best ID in the world is a smile and a wave.”

The weight of the keys in her hand already felt so gratifying, more than her entire duffel bag of stolen goods had. She couldn’t wait to get into the car, to
start the engine, to drive around and pretend that cold air had been their only motivation.

“Can I help you guys?”

The valet appeared up ahead, a couple of rows over. He wasn’t bad looking, Bree thought to herself. He was goofy in his valet’s vest, his white button-down shirt more shoved into his pants than patiently tucked. He had the kind of facial hair that can’t quite yet be more than scruff.

“We just need to get something out of the car,” Bree said, not slowing down.

The valet squinted at them, noticing the keys in Bree’s hand. She closed her fist tightly against them, as if he might try to take them away from her forcefully. She wondered if they could outrun him.

“Oh,” he said, starting to walk in their direction. “Are, uh, are you guys club members?”

“My parents just forgot something,” Bree said, pointing vaguely in the direction of the golden Mercedes. Leila followed Bree’s lead, but the valet kept walking toward them, as if he meant to cut them off.

He’d pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. “Okay,” he said, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to leave them.

Shit, Bree thought, sensing an impassable obstacle.

Then she remembered how easy it had been to just walk away with all they’d stolen at the convenience store, how that guy pumping his gas had looked at
them. The Mercedes was only about three cars away now, close enough that the remote would have no trouble unlocking the doors. She met the valet’s gaze, searching his rather pretty eyes for something besides suspicion.

“Can I ask you a question?” she said, stepping right up to him.

“Um,” he said. They were standing by the Mercedes now. The valet’s gaze went from the car, to Leila, to Bree, who was now less than an arm’s
length away. “Sure.”

“When was the last time you felt really alive?”

“What?”

Without another word, Bree put her hand on his waist and pulled herself toward him. She kissed him with abandon. Despite what had happened, Bree still believed in reckless kisses. She pulled back and couldn’t help but laugh at the dazed look in the valet’s eyes.

“Whoa,” he said.


About the Author
Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. Let's Get Lost is his YA debut.  
Let's Get Lost Website!

Author Links:
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***GIVEAWAY***
1 signed hard cover copy of Let’s Get Lost
1 Let’s Get Lost luggage tag
1 Harlequin TEEN notebook
1 Let’s Get Lost sachel
1 Harlequin TEEN tote bag


Book Blitz Organized by:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Phantom's Dance by Lesa Howard (Tour Stop)



Phantom’s Dance by Lesa Howard
Publication date: March 1st 2014

Synopsis:

Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.


 B&N


My Rating

 5
 
My Review
Phantom's Dance is, without a doubt, the most beautifully haunting novel that I've read this year. It grasps complete attention from the beginning and refuses to let go, building suspense and even a creeping terror. I completely devoured the book, and whether you are a fan of dance, horror, YA retellings or none of the above, I'm sure that you'll devour it too.                                                                                               
I've always loved the story of The Phantom of the Opera and  Howard does a wonderful job in this modern adaptation. The change of professional opera to a well-reputed dance school was flawless, and made for an engaging setting. I don't know much about ballet, but it was very intriguing as a reader to get a glimpse inside the world of this art form. Despite the transition in setting and story, all of the fantastical darkness found in the original phantom remains - and it is captivating.

All of the characters were beautifully developed, whether based from the original story or sprung from the imagination of the author. Christine had an excellent voice and stayed true to her character. It's wonderful to see characters that have a passion like she does for the ballet. Despite this, she still sounds like a normal teenager and has a great personality. Raoul is charming and heroic, and has so many great qualities that I thoroughly wanted to hate him, but was unable to do so. But to me, the real star of the story was Erik. I love scarred, complex characters, and he was developed so wonderfully. I loved every single second of his scenes. 

Although, I did find it a bit odd that The Phantom of the Opera was mentioned in the story, so all of the characters know of the plot and it's existence and no one (no one!) seems the similarities...? I mean, come on. Raoul isn't exactly the most popular names for American boys, and he's into a girl named Christine? Who also happens to be bettering herself in her craft through the secret lessons of a masked man with a disfigured face who hides himself in an opera house/ballet stage? I get that not everyone is a fan of musicals or French literature, but one of them had to have seen the Gerard Butler movie or something

Still, as much as the characters, I enjoyed the relationships behind them. There is an excellent friendship between Christine and Jenna. It felt natural, and they worked well together, and it added a lot of lightheartedness to the story. Plus, Jenna acted as a bit of a voice of reason, which is always nice to see. Contrasting, I thought that the relationship between Christine and Erik was wonderfully down. To see it escalate and morph was not only interesting, but absolutely exciting, to the point where I would crave their next scene together. Even now, having finished the beautiful ending, I can still get chills from envisioning the enchanting description of their first dance together - on the magic of a dark and otherwise empty stage.

From the very first chapter to the very last word, Phantom's Dance is a wonderful read that will be over before you know it, leaving a definite book hangover and a probable craving to immediately watch The Phantom of the Opera on Netflix. I highly recommend it.





GIVEAWAY


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Author Interview: Celine Garcia

I'm so excited to have interviewed Celine Garcia, author of Heart Tales, which I recently reviewed here on the blog.

Here's the official book trailer:




And now, for the interview:




 First off, can you tell us about Heart Tales?
             
CG: Heart Tales is a little book of three short stories that have unique tales about love and choice. I wanted my characters Geraldine, Dean and Ellie to each have a moment where they had to take responsibility for their own life and make the choices to make it better. I have written a lot of stories and didn’t know what to do with them. I was encouraged to self-publish them from people who had read them and decided to start small with Heart Tales. I myself conquered my fear and decided to publish my own work. So now readers can read about the characters I still hold close to my heart and think of them often. You never know, their stories may not be over quite yet. 


      About how long did it take you to write Heart Tales? Did any of the three stories take a longer time period than the others?


CG: Each story was written at different times. Audio Frequency took me about a month to finally finish after I decided to write all the song lyrics myself in case I ever decided to publish it. Legal U Turn took about two months and was probably the one story that came easier to me. Heart Set on You took the longest because it went through so many different storylines. I rewrote it when I had the characters visiting a cemetery and knew I had to begin Heart and Ellie's story there.


      In Legal U Turn, Gwen used some of her life experiences to influence her novels. Have you ever done this? Do people you know influence your characters?

            
CG: Absolutely they do! I have a variety of friends that continually influence my characters. I think my best friend Nikki heavily influenced Geraldine in Audio Frequency because she works in a music atmosphere as well. She actually received a box with song lyrics that inspired Audio Frequency. In fact people will be able to read exactly how my life influenced Heart Tales because I plan to sell published copies with a handwritten commentary by me. I will actually handwrite my thoughts and special little surprises throughout the book. They’ll be available through my personal store ChooseDuckie at Etsy.com, hopefully July 23rd.


      If you could bring to life any character from Heart Tales, who would it be?
            
CG: Hands down Heart! I love his straightforward attitude and his thoughtfulness when it comes to Ellie. Writing for him broke my heart because I always knew his fate. I did my best to give him a proper storyline and love the fact that he’s touched readers.  

Out of all the characters, which one can you relate to the most?
           
CG: I think it’s a tie between Geraldine and Ellie. Both characters are on the fence about putting themselves out there, and I felt this way about my writing for a long time. I didn’t think anyone would care or think I was kidding myself. I often thought people were just being nice when they said they liked my writing. Maybe in way Heart helped me come out of my shell like he did with Ellie.

  
           Out of the three stories, which was the most fun to write? The most difficult?

            
CG: The most fun was Legal U Turn because I couldn’t wait to write a story about a road trip. The most difficult was Heart Set on You because I was challenged on how to write for a character who wasn’t really there, and leaving out a detailed explanation of why Heart was around after the transplant. I didn’t want to risk boring readers and taking the story outside of Ellie and Heart’s friendship. I wanted to focus on their relationship and their goal. 

  
      Music seems to be an element in all three of the stories, especially Audio Frequency. What kind of music do you listen to? Do you have any favorite bands/songs at the moment?

             
CG: You just brought out a can of worms! I listen to indie, singer/songwriter, alternative and pop mostly. My favorite bands are The Drums, Blondie, Glasvegas, Blondfire, Best Coast, The Dum Dum Girls and much more. The songs I’ve been listening to a lot are “Chandelier” by Sia, “Overdose” by Little Daylight and “Wings” by Birdy. 


      I don’t know if I can speak for anyone else, but I absolutely love quotes. I get the quote of the day from Goodreads, and I have words all over my walls. There are plenty of great quotes from Heart Tales. If you had to pick one, which is one of your favorites?

            
CG: You’re killing me smalls! I think my favorite quote from Heart Tales is from Legal U Turn when Gwen and Dean are at the beach and she tells him, “Because…you’re my only place.” I mean I even made myself a necklace with that quote because it’s my favorite.

  

     Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

            
CG: I actually have a book I finished that’s set in a pizza arcade place called When Leo Meets Tes, which also involves music. But not sure whether I am going to self publish that one. I am in the process of writing another book of short stories but with more content than Heart Tales. 


     What is your favorite movie? TV Show?

            
CG: Favorite movie would be The Goonies but I also love all of John Hughes’ films. My favorite TV show right now would be The Mindy Project and Arrow.

  
     If you were stranded on an island somewhere and, for some reason, could only take one book with you, what would it be?

            
CG: I would take Amy & Rogers Epic Detour. Love, love, love that book! I love anything Morgan Matson writes. I encourage your readers to pick up any book of hers today.


Lastly, what advice do you have for writers still looking to get their works published?

CG: I am in a constant environment of books and see books come and go. I don’t write to become some massive success. I write because I like to share my stories and that’s what the goal of a writer should be. I chose to self publish my book to see what would happen. It’s tough work getting your book out on your own with limited resources but I’m very satisfied with the outcome. I have learned so many things by publishing my book myself and am grateful for this experience. If you want to get your work published then do research. Look into writing magazines, and books that offer advice on queries and synopsis letters. Find a group of friends who you can bounce ideas off of because they will be a great support system for you. Just keep writing, always. Whether it’s in a notebook, napkin or laptop, keep exploring your storytelling. Make mistakes, and take chances. Don’t try and write what you think people will love. Write what you want to say.







About the author
Celine Garcia resides in Central Valley California with her husband and three adorable children. When she isn’t writing she is usually found crafting, reading or updating her blog. Music is a great influence in Celine’s writing. She comes up with most of her stories during her drive to work on the freeway while listening to her latest playlist. You can find more of her writing on I Blog, You Read plus reviews of her favorite young adult and new adult books.