Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blog Tour: PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD by Michelle Falkoff



Welcome to our stop on the PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD blog tour! You fellow music lovers are going to enjoy this one. I'm excited to share with you some of my favorite quotes from this book today.

Be sure to check out the other stops on this tour sponsored by the dynamic duo behind Rockstar Book Tours.


               01/26/15 Novel Novice – Guest Post
               01/27/15 Me, My Shelf and I – Review + Excerpt
               01/28/15 Such a Novel Idea – Review
               01/29/15 Fictitious Delicious – Review
               01/30/15 Once Upon a Twilight – Interview

               02/02/15 Bumbles and Fairy Tales – Guest Post 
               02/03/15 Fiktshun - Review
               02/04/15 Tales of a Ravenous Reader - Interview
               02/05/15 Swoony Boys Podcast – Guest Post 
               02/06/15 Falling For YA – Review + Excerpt




THE BOOK


PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD
by Michelle Falkoff

Release date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 288


A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Here's what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you'll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it's only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Part mystery, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, Playlist for the Dead is an honest and gut-wrenching first novel about loss, rage, what it feels like to outgrow a friendship that's always defined you—and the struggle to redefine yourself. But above all, it's about finding hope when hope seems like the hardest thing to find.





THE QUOTES

Many of my favorite quotes are quotes that I can't share with you today because they contain spoilers. SO MANY profound realizations hit characters at the end of this book and those realizations are brilliant! They're the kind that make you clinch your heart because they're that good.  In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite sharable quotes. Some are cryptic and I apologize for that.  Believe me, though,  you don't want to be spoiled.

"Can we talk?" - Chapter 26.  Three small words that make a BIG impact in this story. I was kind of shocked to hear them!

"I missed him so much I finally didn't even feel bad thinking about it; I just sank into it, let it roll over me in waves." - Chapter 24.  This is a feeling that anyone who has lost someone whether that's through a death or a breakup can identify with.  Sometimes the pain is so great that it's too much to even think about.  It was here that I connected the most with Sam.

"I was starting to get how much the surprise of the gift was part of the fun, sometimes even more so than the present itself." - Chapter 14.  I was in a hotel room all by myself when I read this book and scared myself when I yelled out a big ole' "YES!" when I read this line. Truer words have not been spoken.

"Look, you actually did something useful," I pointed out. "Even if it was by accident." - Chapter 13. This made me GOL (giggle out loud) and warmed my heart. It comes from one of my favorite scenes in the whole book.

"For Emma" Bon Iver - Chapter 24. OK, I know this isn't a quote--it's more a chapter heading, really, but this song. THIS SONG. It haunts my bones. It has some weird control over my body and makes me tear up every time I even think about it.

And THAT is what I loved most about this book. The idea that we have the universal language of music that connects us to people in ways that mere words cannot. It is through the songs on Hayden's playlist that you feel and understand his pain. Falkoff's use of the playlist to tell a story is beautiful!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Falkoff's fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake, and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently serves as Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law. This is her first novel.






Find Michelle: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads





BUY PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD





THE GIVEAWAY

There is a tour-wide giveaway for 3 copies of PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD (US/Canada ONLY)
Giveaway ends on February 10th at 11:59 p.m. Pacific

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book Review: FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta



FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK
by Melina Marchetta

Release date: September 29, 2008
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Viking Australia
Pages: 416


Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.

Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.

But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself






Fictitious Delicious Rating: 5+



Once upon a time, a girl named Amy told her friend Jen to read a little book called FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK. Amy even blogged about how much she loved this book, but still Jen did not listen. Years passed by and poor Finnikin and his epic story remained neglected on Jen's Kindle.  Then one day, Jen joined a TBR challenge and made it her mission to finally pick up the book that Amy insisted she read so long ago. And it was good.  REAL good.  So good, in fact, that she blew up Amy's phone with texts that contained lots of exclamation points and proclamations of love.  Amy's final words? "I told you so."

And she did.  RIGHT HERE.  Amy's review of this book is so well crafted that I beg you to read that review--you'll be convinced that it's a story that must land on your TBR list immediately.  Just don't ignore it for four years like I did, okay?

I want to add one piece for you here.  This book started out so strong.  I was hooked from page one. (OK, it was page four, but you know what I mean.)  Sometimes fantasy can take some time to get into because you're trying to remember characters and lands and histories but that did not happen to me in this book.  What DID happen, though, was a lull about 40% of the way in.  The characters, history and story line all had my attention, but the pacing slowed down to a point that left me a little frustrated.  It was like you just KNOW there's more coming but you want the more to happen right now right now right now! Keep pushing through that spot because you will be rewarded handsomely.

There's a reason why half the world thinks that Melina Marchetta is a genius.  I'll second the sentiment that no one can tie together characters/events like she can.  She left me aghast in the revelations of this world and then pushed me over the edge with the consequences of those revelations. I can't even share with you my favorite line because of spoilers, but I dare say you'll be gripping your heart and having all the feels for these characters.

Can't wait until my schedule allows me to read Froi's story.  That boy has a tale to tell, no doubt.




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Blast: A COLD LEGACY by Megan Shepherd


I am so excited that A COLD LEGACY by Megan Shepherd releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an excerpt from the book!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Megan Shepherd, be sure to check out all the details below.


This blast also includes a giveaway for a signed copy of the book and swag courtesy of Megan and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.



THE BOOK



A COLD LEGACY (The Madman's Daughter #3)
by Megan Shepherd

Release Date: January 27, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Horror
Publisher: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins
Pages: 400

After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.

Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.

With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity. 





THE EXCERPT
p.21-24

Montgomery stopped the horses outside a tavern. He came to the carriage door, opening it just a crack to keep the rain from drenching us. “I’m going to ask directions. We can’t be far now.”

We watched him saunter over the muddy street as though he didn’t even feel the bite of freezing rain. A face appeared in the tavern window. The door opened and he spoke to a woman in a wool dress for a few moments, then stomped back through the mud. “This village is called Quick,” he told us. “The manor’s only five miles from here.”

“Did you hear that?” Lucy murmured to Edward, still stroking his hair. “We’re almost there. Just hold on. Everything will be all right once we arrive.”

Montgomery’s eyes shifted to me. Neither of us wanted to remind Lucy that the prospect of Edward’s fever breaking—and the Beast’s reappearance—was almost more frightening than the fever itself. Delirious, he was less of a threat.

“Let’s go then,” I whispered to Montgomery. “And quickly.”

He closed the door and in another moment we were moving again, passing through the rest of Quick. Then all too soon the village was nothing but fading lights. The storm grew and the road became rougher, and all the while Edward’s eyes rolled back and forth beneath shuttered lids.

Thunder struck close by, and Lucy shrieked. Montgomery whipped the horses harder, pulling us along the uneven road impossibly fast, trying to outrun the storm. I twisted in the seat to look out the back window at the pelting rain. A stone fence ran alongside us.

“We must be getting close,” I said.

“Not soon enough,” Lucy breathed. “We’re going to crash if he keeps driving like this!”

The road widened, straightening, letting us travel even faster. Lightning struck close by, blinding me. The horses bolted. Lucy screamed and covered her eyes, but I couldn’t tear mine away. The lightning had struck an enormous oak tree, twisted from centuries of wind. The oak took flame, blazing despite the rain. A smoking gash ran down the trunk—the lightning’s death mark. I watched until the rain put out most of the flames, but it still smoldered, billowing hot ash into the night.

The horses pawed the earth, and I grabbed the window to steady myself. At this wild speed, just hitting a single rock at the wrong angle would send the carriage shattering to the ground. It was madness to go so fast. Couldn’t Montgomery calm the horses?

Just when I feared the carriage would careen out of control, it stopped short, throwing me against the opposite wall. I tangled in Lucy’s limbs as the chains around Edward’s body clinked. Balthazar grunted, jerking awake at last. We scrambled in the bottom of the carriage until the door flew open.
Montgomery stood in the pelting rain. I feared he’d say we’d broken another strut or the horses had gone lame or we’d have to spend the night in the harsh storm.

But then I saw the lights behind him, and the night took shape into a turreted stone manor with bright lamps blazing and gargoyles on the roof vomiting rain into a stone courtyard.

Montgomery’s eyes met mine beneath the low brim of his hat.

“We’ve arrived,” he said.



BUY A COLD LEGACY






THE AUTHOR



Hello! 

I’ve been many things, like a professional exchange student, park ranger in Montana, and LOST enthusiast, but what I am now is a writer.

I think it’s fair to say I was born into it. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, raised behind the counter of my parents’ independent bookstore, Highland Books in Brevard. Ah, so many free books. But I never thought being a writer could be a real career. After college I thought I’d end up as a foreign service officer somewhere dashing and exotic, like Canada. I studied French, Spanish, German, and Russian and still speak a few of those. Then I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Senegal, where I learned a few more languages I’ll never speak again and lived in a mud hut with no electricity or running water. You can probably imagine how that experience went, but if you’re curious, here are the dirty details

It wasn't until a chance aquaintance read something I wrote and said, "have you ever considered being a writer?" that something clicked and I realized it was possible. My husband encouraged me, and I quickly fell head-over-heels in love with writing and children's literature in particular. I started out writing articles, which have appeared in Faces, Appleseeds, and Calliope magazines, and stories for younger children. I soon realized I wasn’t sweet enough to write fiction for that age and found myself writing young adult literature instead, which doesn’t require nearly as many tender moments and includes a lot more cursing.

When I'm not writing, I can usually be found horseback riding, day dreaming at coffee shops, or hiking in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I love to hear from readers, so please drop me a line!

I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.
Author Photo by Kristi Hedberg Photography

Find Megan: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads


THE GIVEAWAY

1 winner will receive a signed copy of A COLD LEGACY and swag! US Only.
Ends on February 6th at Midnight EST!




Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review: LOVE, LUCY by April Lindner



LOVE, LUCY
by April Lindner

Release date: January 27, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304


While backpacking through Florence, Italy, during the summer before she heads off to college, Lucy Sommersworth finds herself falling in love with the culture, the architecture, the food...and Jesse Palladino, a handsome street musician. After a whirlwind romance, Lucy returns home, determined to move on from her "vacation flirtation." But just because summer is over doesn't mean Lucy and Jesse are over, too.

In this coming-of-age romance, April Lindner perfectly captures the highs and lows of a summer love that might just be meant to last beyond the season.





Fictitious Delicious Rating: 4


There is going to be in inevitable comparison of LOVE, LUCY to JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman. It's a valid comparison when looking at the general overall premise of the book: American girl goes overseas to find herself, meets boy with worldly views, travels with boy, falls in love, goes home and then tries to reconnect with beautiful boy. That's a lot of similarity, yeah? But there's a huge difference. The reconnection. In Lucy's story, she has a choice in whether or not she reconnects with Jesse (aka the beautiful boy) and that brings a whole new dimension to the story.

LOVE, LUCY is a retelling of "A Room with a View", a story that I'll just go ahead and admit right now that I was not familiar with going into this story.  After reading the synopsis on Wikipedia, I found myself nodding my head over the similarities.  I'm going to go ahead and bet a good chunk of change, though, that this retelling is a magnificent update to the original, based on my previous experience with Lindner's writing.

This is one of those books that you'll visualize as if you're exploring right alongside Lucy and Jesse. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Lindner has spent a great amount of time in Italy. The first half of this book will make you fall in love with Tuscany. Oh, the romance. Ciao, amore mio!

Jesse is basically the perfect guy in Italy.  It's the second half of the story that made me feel disconnected from him.  In many ways, that's a GREAT thing because that means we're feeling exactly what Lucy is feeling when she heads to college and lives her life without Jesse (A life that includes a fantastic new boyfriend).  The angst kicks in and Jesse's character goes off course for me when he comes back to America and attempts to rekindle the relationship he had with Lucy in Italy. That doesn't take away from the fun factor, oh no, no, no. A little angst never hurt anyone--it was just unexpected from these characters.

Highly recommend this one to those of you who love to read about summer time romances of the European variety.  *eyebrow waggle*  Be prepared for a dose of angst.  Now excuse me while I go devour the last Lindner book in the retelling trifecta of goodness.  I'm coming for you, JANE.




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cover Reveal: ALL PLAYED OUT by Cora Carmack

Start dancing!  We've got the cover reveal for ALL PLAYED OUT, book three in the Rusk University series by one of my favorites--Cora Carmack!


THE BOOK






First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.

Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.









PRE-ORDER ALL PLAYED OUT



ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.


Find Cora:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads








Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review: ALEX AS WELL by Alyssa Brugman



ALEX AS WELL
by Alyssa Brugman

Release date: January 20, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary LGBTQ
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 224



Alex is ready for things to change, in a big way. Everyone seems to think she’s a boy, but for Alex the whole boy/girl thing isn’t as simple as either/or, and when she decides girl is closer to the truth, no one knows how to react, least of all her parents. Undeterred, Alex begins to create a new identity for herself: ditching one school, enrolling in another, and throwing out most of her clothes. But the other Alex—the boy Alex—has a lot to say about that. Heartbreaking and droll in equal measures, Alex As Well is a brilliantly told story of exploring gender and sexuality, navigating friendships, and finding a place to belong.






Fictitious Delicious Rating: 4


I read this book with tears in my eyes for most of the time. It is absolutely heart-breaking and made me wish I could jump into the pages of this book and give Alex a hug.  Here is a girl that was born intersex and coming into her own ON her own. Her parents have always treated her as a boy and, in the case of her mother, flat our refuse to acknowledge that Alex is a girl. 

No doubt this is a difficult situation for a family to work through. It becomes an impossible situation when you throw in a mother who is as horrible as Alex's.  Watching her treat Alex's decision to identify as female as something as trite as teenage rebellion is infuriating.  Her posts on a website asking for help on dealing with her rebellious teenager offer comic relief, but they also show how self-centered much of our society is.  It's appalling. (Except for Vic.  The world needs more Vic's.)

Alex is brave and is determined to live her life regardless of how uncomfortable that decision makes her mother.  She finds support in the least expected of places and learns how strong (and sometimes fickle) friendships can be.  That's what I loved most about this book. Alex doesn't want sympathy. She wants to be herself, and pays a steep price for that same right that most of us in the free world enjoy everyday.

I've never understood how a parent could be unaccepting of their child, regardless of his or her sexuality. It blows my mind. I would be proud to call Alex my daughter!




Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: ONE PLUS ONE by Jojo Moyes



ONE PLUS ONE
by Jojo Moyes

Release date: July 1, 2014
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 368


One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.




Not so long ago, I got a phone call from my Mom that went something like this.

     Mom:  Jen. It's yo mammie. Listen, I know I've rolled my eyes at your crazy 
     reading habits over the years, but I think I'd like to read a book. I've 
     already read every single Danielle Steele book three times. What should I
     read now? And don't tell me to read any of those damn vampire books. 

     Me:  *jumping up and down* OHMYGAAH, Mom! You want to read one of 
     my books?!?

     Mom:  I sure do. Do you own that Fifty Shades of Christian Grey book?

     Me:  Mom, no!! I mean, yes, I do. But, no. I'm not lending you my copy of 
     Fifty Shades of Grey. That's now how we'll begin your journey into reading 
     good books.

     Mom: Ooo-ho-ho! You'd miss it, wouldn't you? You can't be without it 
     even for one night, eh? You're dirty.

     Me:  STOP. Please believe me when I tell you that you don't want to read 
     that book, okay? Or wait. Do you like to read about men pulling used 
     feminine hygiene products out of women to bump uglies?

     Mom: WHAT?!? What kind of filth are you reading, young lady? 

     Me: *snickers*

     Mom: Bring me something without vampires and without those...thingies. 
     Surely you have at least one book that fits that criteria.

     Me: *ponders* Well, I have this book I just bought that you might like 
     called One Plus One. I haven't read it yet, but lots of my Twitter friends 
     really love it. You should try it. It's not even young adult.

     Mom: OK. Bring it to dinner with you on Sunday. And why are you on 
     Twitter? Isn't that for kids?

     Me: Alrighty then. I'll bring the book.

     Mom: Go put it in the van right now so you don't forget it.

     Me: Mom, I won't forget it.

     Mom: YES YOU WILL! Go put it in the van right now! I will be very 
     angry if you forget it.

     Me: OK, Mom.  See you Sunday.

     Mom: Jennifer Lynn. I'm serious. Go put that f@!cking book in the 
     f@!cking van right now. (I'm not exaggerating with the eff bombs. 
     My mom swears a lot.)

     Me: Yes, Mom. okgottagoiloveyoubye.



And then, no lie, I did this:


I buckled that baby up in the van. You think I'm going to do anything to make my Mom angry? No f@!cking way.

So, Jojo went to my Mom's house.  And she kind of created a beast. My mom, let's call her Jo (because that is her name), has fallen madly in love with reading again. Can I tell you how happy that makes me, please? It makes me "crying tears of joy" levels of happy.  I get almost daily texts from her fangirling over the latest book she's reading. Hey, if you guys like this kind of review you're about to get, I could make this a regular occurrence and share her hilariousness with you!

Anywho, my Mom (aka Jo) has written a review for ONE PLUS ONE, the story that brought back her love of reading.  It's adorable and I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do.




Fictitious Delicious Rating: 5





Jojo Moyes takes you on a journey like no other. “One plus One” is a love story between several different characters. Jess and Ed could not be any different, different life styles, different backgrounds. Maybe they can find love, true love, but not so fast. Can Jess’s kids - Tanzie, a math geek and Nicky, well just a geek find happiness, but most important can they all be given a second chance?


Moyes novel One plus One is just one of her New York Times bestsellers. She is also praised for “Me Before You” and “The Girl You Left Behind”. One plus One is highly recommended. You will wonder how these characters will ever fit together in one book, laugh as Norman a big really big slobbery dog travels in the journey.




And there you have it. A review from my book lovin' Mom.  She just finished Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire last week and has determined that that book is her favorite book to date.  I think I should have her review it, yes?


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