Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: My Fake Summer Boyfriend by Ann Herrick

Sun, surf, sand and Alex--Katie was swept away!

Katie eagerly agrees to pretend she is Alex's girlfriend for the summer in order to protect his job. Amid sundrenched waves, they develop a friendship that is on the verge of turning romantic, when who should arrive but Nicole, Alex's old girlfriend. In three days, Nicole ruins Katie's relationship with Alex. So Katie gets involved with Logan, Nicole's handsome older brother, though Alex is the one for her.

Soon enough Katie learns that fake romances can get out of hand and lead to complications she never imagined.

My Rating
My Review
This is not the first book of Ann Herrick's that I have reviewed, but the romance involved is just as sweet as always. A perfect light beach read, it is a fun and flirty summer book that readers can absolutely devour.

Katie is a nice protagonist all around. She's funny and has a good heart. Sure, she isn't the most experienced, and she doesn't always make the most perfect decisions, but her voice is very realistic for her age and she ends up being very likeable as a character. The same can be said for both Alex and Logan. Alex is a smart and sexy love interest, but the relationship between them stays very light and fun. It's admirable of how he really cares for Katie. Not to mention, the boy really packs a punch. Initially, Logan seemed a bit less than likeable, as Katie was a bit young for him to be praying on, but he has a lot of redeemable qualities in the end.

In addition, it's really easy to get into the setting, which is always an enjoyable quality for a novel to have. Throughout my time reading, I could envision long summer days at the beach so vividly, it was like actually being there along with the characters. 

The pacing of My Fake Summer Boyfriend works very well. It is the perfect length for the story, and creates a novel that can be fully enjoyed. Although the plot appears a little cliche at first, the story is actually quite unique. It really is a great read to get in the spirit of summer. Not to mention, wonderfully easy to relate to. Even if not fifteen or sixteen, most readers can identify with the longing for a good summer romance. Even if you don't currently have one lined up, you can read about an incredibly cute one in My Fake Summer Boyfriend. Which is pretty much the next best thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes (Book Blast)


Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work!  But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with, if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?


Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Int. 13+

Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: Shortcomings by Ginger Simpson

Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.
My Rating  
My Review
  Shortcomings is a short and sweet contemporary YA that will appeal to a wide variety of readers. It has a real-to-life authentic voice and a great pacing that allows for a light, but substantial, read. Although Shortcomings definitely isn't a novel that will take long to read, it is enjoyable throughout the entire ride.

Cindy is a very likeable character. She is caring and funny, and has to deal with a lot given the small defect that she has. Nearly every teenage girl is self-conscious about at least one part of her body, so the feelings about her slight limp are completely relatable. Besides, we've have enough of the perfectly perfect female characters. Being born with one leg longer than the other is not only a main part of the plot, but it allows Cindy to be more unique, as well as flawed. If there is one thing I love in novels, it's flawed characters.

The relationship between Cindy and Cory is incredibly sweet, and I loved the natural way that it grew. At times, it seemed that Cindy was being a little ridiculous (of course he likes you) but I suppose it is understandable. When you tell yourself something enough, it is hard to convince you otherwise.

The themes in Shortcomings were excellent. Especially for those in middle school and high school who seem to forget about them altogether. Everyone has their little faults, but we can't let them get in our way. I absolutely loved the ongoing theme of not being defined by our shortcomings, and the clear way it is incorporated into the story.

Simply put, Shortcomings is a fun, but strong, read that will satisfy readers. Sweet and entertaining the entire way through, it is definitely worth a look at.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Midnight Spell by Kody Boye and Rhiannon Frater (Review, Tour Stop)

The Midnight Spell by Kody Boye and Rhiannon Frater
Published by: Permuted Press
Publication date: February 28th 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Best friends since kindergarten, Adam and Christy have always been the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas. The other kids call Adam gay and Christy a witch.

On both counts the bullies are right.

Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious boy enrolls at school and sets hearts aflutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome football player Ian seems to be going nowhere fast and her witch puberty is making her life miserable.

When a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, the best friends realize that finding a boyfriend is the least of their worries. Soon Adam and Christy will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before, and will again.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13597181-the-midnight-spell

--Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Spell-Rhiannon-Frater/dp/1481938401/ref=la_B002BT64NK_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394203674&sr=1-1
--B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-midnight-spell-rhiannon-frater/1114701520?ean=2940149594924




The Midnight Spell is a great fantasy read that incorporates just about everything one can ask for in a novel. The entire reading experience is a ton of fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Both Christy and Adam are good characters with unique personalities. They both have relatable qualities and real voices that make them extremely likeable and fun to read about.

The plot is the same way. I mean, it isn't everyday that two teenagers experiment with spells and magic.

Not to mention, the pacing was spot on, keeping the pages turning with fun and elements of suspense that kept me wanting to read more.

The relationships of The Midnight Spell were beautifully crafted. The friendship of Adam and Christy was as powerful as it was realistic. Even the relationships with their parents were great, and resulted in some funny exchanges.

One thing I really loved was how real parts of The Midnight Spell felt. Most fantasies seem completely far fetched, but this one was more believable, despite it being fic to on.

All in all, The Midnight Spell is a highly entertaining read I can recommend to fans of fantasy and other genres alike.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mine to Spell Blog Tour and Interview with Janeal Falor

Title: Mine to Spell (Mine #2)
Author: Janeal Falor
Publish Date: May 5, 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy


Cynthia has always hidden from her father’s hexes behind her older sister. When her family gains independence unheard of for women, she’s relieved that her days of harsh punishments are over. But as her seventeenth birthday approaches—the typical age to be sold to a new master—death threats endanger her sisters. She now faces two options: run or meet society’s expectations.

For once, Cynthia isn’t going to let her older sister shield her from the problem. She’s going to prove to herself, her sisters, and society that her family isn’t a threat to their traditions. She willingly chooses to be purchased by a new master. A bold step that takes her somewhere she never thought she would go and to a man she might possibly fall in love with. With his help, she may just find a way to save her sisters while discovering how to stand up for herself. If she lives long enough.

Note: From May 5th- May 10th, you can get YOU ARE MINE for only $0.99 and MINE TO TARNISH free! (Which is a super good deal.)

Amazon US - http://amzn.com/B00CLXC07A
Amazon UK -  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CLXC07A

1Try to describe your novels in no more than one sentence each. (I know, this can be terribly difficult.)

JF: Mine to Tarnish – Katherine would rather face death—or worse—than marry her new owner.
You Are Mine – Serena knows she will always be owned BUT
Mine to Spell – To save her family, Cynthia will do choose the one thing she despises most: a new owner.

2How did you initially come up with the idea of the You Are Mine series? Did it just come to you?

JF: I'd been in a mood to read a lot of marriage of convenience/arranged marriage-type books and then I thought: What if these girls weren't being sold off for money? What if they were being sold for something they had that was of great value, but something they couldn't control. Something like… Magic! And BAM! You Are Mine was born.
3How long does it normally take for you to write a novel? Do you generally plan a lot ahead of time or just see where your writing goes?

JF: Usually it takes about 6-9 months, though Mine to Spell took over a year. I generally plan things out fairly well but I'm very flexible to where the story goes. I find if I don't know where I'm going, it's hard to get there, but at the same time a lot of new ideas come when writing and I am open to them.

4What was it like to transition from Serena’s voice to Cynthia’s between book one and book two?

JF: In some ways it was easy, they are sisters after all so they share a lot of similarities. At the same time, they have a lot of differences. I think the biggest thing that helped was about a four month gap from when I finished writing You Are Mine until I began Mine to Spell.

5If any one character from anything you wrote could come alive in person, and you could have a conversation with them, which character would you choose?

JF: Katherine for sure. I think she's fascinating in so many different ways. It'd be awesome to not just talk with her but to hang out with her on a regular basis.

6If you had the ability to cast spells, what is the first spell that you’d be dying to try?

JF: Avada kedavra on all the bugs in my house.

Really though, a cleaning spell. Occasionally, I really enjoy cleaning but most the time it's a terrible nuisance that gets in the way of writing and play time.

7If you found yourself in the world of Mine to Spell, what would you do first?

JF: Depending on my mood, either run from all the warlocks or punch them in the face.

8What scene(s) of Mine to Spell were the most fun to write? The most difficult?

JF:The first kiss scene was a blast to write. I had so much fun with it. The hardest scene was the rest of the book. Seriously, for some reason it was a big struggle but I'm very pleased with the end result.

9Although these kinds of questions are awfully overdone, I will ask anyway: If either You Are Mine or Mine to Spell (or both) were to receive a film adaptation, do you have any ideas of a dream cast?

JF: Truth, I'm horrible at keeping up with actors and actresses. I do think I'd mostly want those actors and actresses that no one has heard of but are unbelievably talented. You know, since we're dreaming anyway.

1What is your go-to movie to watch? Go-to book to read?

JF: Stardust. Love that movie. But it is the only example of a movie which I like better than the book.

Book is a tougher one. I don't usually reread books. Probably the one I've gone back to most is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

1Have you always wanted to be a writer? If not, when did you first hold an interest in writing?

JF: I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I wasn't always convinced I wanted to be a writer though. I was *cough*am*cough* terrible at spelling and grammar but I figured spelling and grammar I can work on and utilize the amazing talent of others. The stories in my head could only be told by me.

1Are there any authors or particular novels that inspire you, or have inspired your own writing?

JF: I think the books that have inspired me the most are Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradury and The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.

1When not writing or reading, what do you enjoy doing?

JF: Gardening, which I'm terrible at but is very soothing. Fencing, which I'm better at but is not as soothing. More like invigorating and glee-making.

1What projects are you currently working on? Can readers expect to see more of Serena and Cynthia in the future?

JF: Serena and Cynthia will definitely be around in the future. There are two more books in the series I'm working on where they will both play a part. I'm also working on a YA Utopian/Fantasy mashup. It's a duology I'm hoping will be complete sometime in the next year or so.

1Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring writers or those who are considering publishing a novel of their own?

JF: Keep at it. The Mine Series are not the first books I've written, far from it. Find a muse or a cheerleader to help you stick with it.  Writing is hard work, and it is tempting to quit when the going gets tough. You need someone who can keep you going.

Amazon best-selling author Janeal Falor lives in Utah with her husband and three children. In her non-writing time she teaches her kids to make silly faces, cooks whatever strikes her fancy, and attempts to cultivate a garden even when half the things she plants die. When it's time for a break she can be found taking a scenic drive with her family, fencing, or drinking hot chocolate.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: The Skinwalker's Apprentice by Clarabel Ortega (Tour Stop)


“Welcome to The Empire State, where banshees, witches, and skinwalkers wait…” 

Margo Pennyfeather is being hunted. The 16-year-old witch has always been an outcast, in her home back in England, and now in the village of East Hampton, New York, where her family has settled. No one but her family has ever cared for Margo, but now the most important witch in the magic world wants her as an apprentice, giving her a chance to bring her family out of poverty. 

Before long, Margo realizes things aren't what they seem, least of all, what kind of witch she really is. Now, the young witch must face a terrifying monster on her own, and the reverberations will reach farther than she could have ever imagined. 

More than three hundred years later, in 1984 Emerald Kipp is a high school senior in New York City. A troubled teen with a rebellious streak, Emerald can't seem to figure out what to do with her life, and unfortunately for her, “witch” isn’t one of the available career choices in her guidance counselor’s office. As she struggles to figure herself out, Emerald is faced with the threat of being stuck in school and missing her final summer with her three best friends. Her last year of high school is turning out to be the worst yet, and Emerald thinks it can’t possibly get any worse. Unfortunately for her, she’s dead wrong.

And there’s something else, something far more sinister stirring in Emerald’s world, and she’ll have to believe in herself if she wants to get through it alive. 

Two witches, three hundred years apart, one inescapable fate. 

The Skinwalker's Apprentice is a prequel to the upcoming novel, Emerald Kipp and The Riddle of The Timekeeper, a terrifying magical scavenger hunt through the gritty streets of 1980’s New York City,set to a killer soundtrack, and perfect for fans of Harry Potter and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Part of The Empire Witch series.




The Skinwalker's Apprentice is a great novel for fans of fantasy and the the supernatural. It got me highly excited for the upcoming series, and it is cool to have a prequel that actually comes before the actual books. The novella gives a taste of what will come, and I definitely enjoyed it. I mean, even the title is cool. Plus, I like my fair share of magic in reading.

The dual point of views worked beautifully in the story, especially because of the difference in time between them. Margo's story added a bit of historical fiction, another genre that I can't get enough of.
Margo is an excellent character, and it isn't only because she lives in the nineteenth century. She is smart, brave, and really cares about her family. She is a bit of an optimist, even when she isn't coming from the best of situations. All of these qualities are admirable and allow for easy connection to her as a character. In addition, Emerald was a great character. Much closer to modern times, she brought magic into our world. 

Although at times she seemed a bit self-absorbed, it only arose from her loyalty. She's a funny and witty teen rebel, which is always fun. Even the more minor characters of both storylines like Charlie and Goody stood out. (They also showed some diversity in YA, which is fabulous.)

Despite both plotlines were enjoyable to read, I found myself getting more involved with Margo's story. It may have been because - in this novella, at least - the stakes of her chapters were higher. From when she started the apprenticeship, I kept reading, eager to find out what would happen next. Emerald - despite being a great character - had flat chapters in comparison. Another thing I loved about Margo's section is how dark it got. I've always been a fan of the dark side and it is awesome to be pleasantly surprised with the appearance of a good villain. Which this novella has. The whole idea of skinwalking on its own is so wonderfully horrific that the pages in which it was explained were my favorites of the novella. I loved getting this glimpse into the dark side of magic.

The Skinwalker's Apprentice was an intriguing read to the finish, which was enough of a cliffhanger to keep me itching for the series to come. A good choice to satisfy the thirst for a fun fantasy with plenty of enchanting magic and darkness.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Review: Mine to Spell by Janeal Falor

Cynthia has always hidden from her father’s hexes behind her older sister. When her family gains independence unheard of for women, she’s relieved that her days of harsh punishments are over. But as her seventeenth birthday approaches—the typical age to be sold to a new master—death threats endanger her sisters. She now faces two options: run or meet society’s expectations.

For once, Cynthia isn’t going to let her older sister shield her from the problem. She’s going to prove to herself, her sisters, and society that her family isn’t a threat to their traditions. She willingly chooses to be purchased by a new master. A bold step that takes her somewhere she never thought she would go and to a man she might possibly fall in love with. With his help, she may just find a way to save her sisters while discovering how to stand up for herself. If she lives long enough.

My Rating

My Review
I had reviewed  You Are Mine before and I fell in love with the novel immediately. Everything was enchanting and exciting from the characters to the plot to the entire world itself. Well, Mine to Spell did not disappoint. I can't say that I enjoyed this second book more than the first, as they were different as the sisters themselves, (plus, it's been a little while since I read You Are Mine) but Mine to Spell is a wonderful read for YA readers across genres. From beginning the book in the morning, I had to take my ereader with me everywhere because I couldn't stop the story.

Cynthia is a new narrative voice, and a great one. Despite the same world and even the same family, Serena and Cynthia's voices and personalities are quite different, part of the reason why they are so intriguing together. Both are strong female characters, although I felt Cynthia was a bit more of a fighter. Her story allows her to be very admirable, as she really pushes for change, proving to everyone - including herself - exactly what she can do. 

At some parts of the tournament, things did seem to go a bit easily, or seem sort of rushed. Of course, that's understandable. For one thing, Cynthia is naturally talented at magic, or she would not have been able to be self-taught in the spells she's practiced her entire life. In addition, I may have been reading a little quickly, so eager to discover what would happen next.
It was intriguing to learn more about the magic, which - as readers - we've only seen done secondhand through Serena's point of view. Cynthia allows us to get a personal view of the Warlock's magic as she explores it both in theory and in practice. For example, I loved the incorporation of emotions into magic. That isn't something often seen, but makes a lot of sense.

The romance of Mine to Spell is absolutely sweet. Although I may have been silently and angrily urging Cynthia to accept her feelings, I loved the tension that built. It was also great to still get glimpses of Serena and Zade, after adoring their relationship in You Are Mine.
Just as in the first novel, the universal themes of Mine to Spell are incredibly power. Discrimination and sexism just brushing the top of this novel, the treatment of others and the pedestal the domestic Warlocks place themselves on can parallel events in our history - as well as beliefs of some today. Showing how change can come about through hope, hard work and serious risk-taking just acts as a reminder of how important this series is.

All in all, Mine to Spell is a wonderful sequel. Beautifully written with a pace that keeps going, great characters, and plenty of magic, it's sure to appease just about everyone. It's a fantastic read that will leave readers ravenous for more.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: Careful by Randy Anderson (Tour Stop)

For two decades Tyler Gibbons has been keeping a secret from his family. At the tender age of sixteen, Tyler embarks on a student exchange program. Sent to the Andean city of Ambato, Ecuador, he finds daily adventure as he tries to fit in at school, connect with his host family, and navigate through a world of beaches, volcanoes, and jungles. But tucked deep inside this year are events so profound, so unexpected, they forever shape the man he will become.
Now, 25 years later, his mother pulls these soaring tales from her son, exposing, for the first time, the source of a deep unhappiness. While these memories contain the wounds of an unresolved past, they also possess the power to heal his painful present.
Thoughtfully crafted and boldly told, Tyler’s journey takes the reader on a wild South American adventure, while illuminating a mother’s unyielding power to heal her child.

 My Rating


My Review

It's been a decent amount of time since a read a coming-of-age story, and Careful is both a good one and a unique one. Unlike most of novels of this genre, the book is takes place both in the present and the past - using flashbacks to get inside the world twenty-five years before. 

I absolutely loved being able to compare the teenage Tyler to the man that he became, as it allows the readers to grow a deeper connection to him in a shorter amount of time, which is interesting to experience. Like most people do, he grows and changes throughout the story, and his troubled mind only adds to his intrigue as a character.

In addition, I thought the relationship between Tyler and his mother was beautiful. The bond between mother and son is a strong one, but it isn't always the easiest to write about. I thought that Anderson did an excellent job of it. Tyler telling his mother everything that happened had a heart-warming quality to it that readers will love, and most of us can relate to emotional experiences with our parents. 

Books that involve international settings always excite me, as I feel that I can learn a little bit more about other parts of the world without actually leaving my bedroom or trying to figure out if an internet post is accurate or not. The parts that took place in Equador were highly interesting, as they create a change in setting while still having a basis in reality. It is always fun to see a good culture clash, and as an American who traveled internationally before, I could relate to Tyler.

Although I did enjoy the style of writing and the dialogue, some of the pacing was a bit slow, and the book may take a little to get into. Nonetheless, Careful was an entertaining ride that showed true meanings of love, adventure, family and healing.