Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

Title: Whatever Life Throws at You
Author: Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie had dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last think she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

There is nothing I love more than a sweet contemporary with a kick-ass girl and swoon-worthy guy. I'm always on the lookout for just that kind of story. So when I heard about Julie Cross' Whatever Life Throws at You, I knew it was going to be right up my alley. And it totally was and I just tore through this book.

Annie Lucas was perfectly happy staying in Arizona. She went to school, kicked ass in track and even had a scholarship lined up for college even though she had a year left of high school. But when her dad gets the opportunity to get back to professional baseball as a pitching coach, she knows she can't stand in his way. Even if it means moving across the country to Kansas City, Missouri. When she gets there, the first person Annie meets is Jason Brody, the completely off-limits new rookie pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. Annie couldn't be farther from the type of women Brody is usually seen with. But you can't fight attraction, even if it could result in her dad killing them both. 

Whatever Life Throws At You is a book I randomly came across a while back. It sounded like something that I would enjoy so I promptly added it to my Goodreads "to read" shelf, like I do for dozens of other books. But then I saw someone tweeting about it last week and was reminded it of it. I quickly checked and it was available for my e-reader so I figured, why not? Honestly, I couldn't be happier about that random decision. I loved every page of this story. It didn't take long for me to get caught up in Annie and Brody's story. It was just so fun and happy and sweet. It was just a great romance read that was perfect for the mood I was in at the time. But I also loved the sport element that was present throughout the story. Whether it was seeing the behind the scenes of a professional baseball team or being at Annie's track meets, I just loved how sports were integral to this story. At times, it even felt like baseball was a character in the book. But not enough of one to overshadow the actual characters who, FYI, I loved.

If there's one sport I can relate to, it's running. All through middle and high school I ran cross-country and track competitively. So right off the bat (baseball pun not intended), I could relate to that aspect of Annie's character. But beyond that, I loved Annie's drive, how she wasn't afraid to go for what she wanted, even if it sometimes meant she acted before thinking things all the way through. Annie was just an all around great character and I loved getting to read this story from her perspective. And there's nothing I enjoyed more than seeing her interact with Jason Brody. If you haven't already met Jason Brody, you are missing out. I'll be the first to admit that I didn't exactly think much of him at first. He very much came across as that stereotype you have of a young professional athlete. But once the layers started being pulled back, I just loved him more and more. Let's just say that I would happily let him whisper to me in Spanish to calm me down in the middle of a tornado warning. And needless to say that I loved seeing Annie and Brody's relationship go from friendship to something more.

Julie Cross's Whatever Life Throws At You is a fun and adorable contemporary romance, perfect for sports lovers. It was exactly what I was in the mood for when I read it, and I would strongly encourage you to do the same. Odds are, you won't regret it.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Stone Cold Touch (Dark Elements #2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

I don't really know that there's anything new about Jennifer L. Armentrout that I can say. With every book of her's that I read, it just confirms that she's one of my favourite authors. I was really excited about reading Stone Cold Touch when I got a copy at BEA and I'm surprised that I waited this long to finally read it. But I'm SO HAPPY to have finally read it. 

For the last few weeks, Layla has been trying to pick up the pieces of her heart. After everything that happened in the school's old gym, she isn't sure how to go on anymore. Roth was the only person Layla could truly be herself around. With him she could embrace her demon side without feeling ashamed. But now Roth is gone, burning in the fiery pits of Hell. The only person left on Layla's side is Zayne. Her completely off-limits best friend. The person who's always been there for her. But things seem to be changing with Zayne. All of a sudden, he seems to be seeing Layla as more than just a little sister. But that's not the only thing changing around Layla. Her powers are changing, the Wardens are convinced she might be becoming a threat. And when she least expects it, Roth returns.

So. Stone Cold Touch. What can I say, other than I loved it? I'll do my best to say a little more than that, because it's not entirely helpful. Here's the thing about me and series, I have trouble keeping up with them. No matter how much I love them, I can't bring myself to keep up with them. And then when it's the second book in a trilogy, I'm always afraid it's just going to act as filler to tide me over until the last book. But that was far from a problem with Stone Cold Touch. The story picks up shortly after the event of the first book, and as a reader, you're thrown right back into the middle of it. Much like in the first book, the nature of many of the characters made it difficult to know who I could trust, and who was actually telling the truth. Every so often I would think I had caught one of them in a lie, but then something new would be brought to light and I was back to being confused. But confused in a good way. And once again, the ending took me completely by surprise. I kinda figured something big was going to happen. Jennifer L. Armentrout had actually told me as much when I met her at BEA, but I didn't think that was going to be it. Needless to say, I'm excited to see where things are going to go in the final book.

After having read Stone Cold Touch, I still love Layla just as much, if not more, than I did after I finished reading White Hot Kiss. The world just seems to be against her no matter what she does, and I can't help but want better for her. I felt her pain at losing Roth. Hell, I was not a happy person when Roth ended up in the fiery pits in the first book. And I felt her struggle with her feelings for Zayne, wanting more, but always being afraid that it would result in her getting hurt. I just want GOOD stuff to happen to Layla, but at the rate things are going that might not happen for a while. And now here's the thing about Zayne and Roth. Once, again I kept going back and forth between the two. This time around, I definitely got to see a whole lot more of Zayne. Basically, I got to see a whole other side of him and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED it. Meanwhile, Roth was being kind of annoying but kept on doing these little things that made me love him. It's just hard to choose between the two. Which leads me to say that as much as I was doubtful of having readers pick who Layla ends up with in the final book (more info on that here), I can see how it might work because I honestly can't decide on who I want her with. Both boys have their flaws and their merits and I love them both for completely different reasons. And maybe we can just clone Layla so she can be with both boys and no one gets their heart broken. How does that sound?

So yeah, I loved Jennifer L. Armentrout's Stone Cold Touch. Is anyone who knows me actually surprised by that fact? I didn't think so. I was definitely not disappointed by this second installment of the Dark Elements trilogy, and I can't wait to see how it will all end in Every Last Breath.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blog Tour - Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Today I am happy to be taking part in the Canadian blog tour for Chelsey Philpot's newly released Even in Paradise. As part of the tour, I asked Chelsey to talk about where she gets inspiration and ideas from. So if you're looking for new ways to get ideas, keep reading!
When it comes to uncovering ideas and discovering the right words, I’ve found that writing is more like searching through debris in a neglected attic than shopping a well-lit megastore. More often than not, my thoughts crawl instead of spring. More often than not, I produce more sentences that I can’t use than ones I can. More often than not, as Jack London once so famously said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. you have to go after if with a club.”

But how do you hunt an idea? Pin down a revelation? I can’t answer for every writer, but here are a few “clubs” that work for me.

1. Read poetry. Whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, poetry never disappoints. I particularly love the work of Paul Kane, Charles Wright, and Nancy Willard.

2. Look at some awesome travel photography. I’ve adored National Geographic since I was little.

3. Check out art. I have never met an art museum that I have not wanted to explore.

4. Move. Get away form the desk! I’m lucky to live near both ocean beaches and mountains.

5. Dance. I feel I don’t need to explain this one.

6. Do research. Whether my research involves looking through archives or watching YouTube videos, I love doing it—so much so that I have trouble stopping and getting to the actual writing.

7. Read about writing. I love discovering what rituals, practices, etc. for other writers.

8. Talk to strangers. Interviews with interesting people who may never have spoken to are among some of my best journalism experiences.

9. Have adventures. Travel. I would live out of a suitcase for the rest of my life if I could carry all my books with me.

10. Be brave. Each fresh experience, each time you try something strange or scary, might be the start of your next article, story, or book. Impulse can lead to crazy and wonderful stories.

Thank you to Chelsey for this post and sharing the strategies she found work to find inspiration and new book ideas!

About the book
When Julia Buchanan enrols at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do…or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden…until now.

About the author
Chelsey Philpot grew up on a farm in New Hampshire and now works as an editor and journalist. She’s written from the New York Times, Boston Globe, Slate, and numerous other publications. Like her main character, Charlotte, Chelsea attended boarding school in New England. You can visit her online at or on Twitter @ChelseyPhilpot.

And be sure to follow the rest of the Canadian Even in Paradise blog tour!

October 13 - A Glass of Wine
October 15 - Emilie's Book World
October 17 - Lily's Book Blog
October 20 - SukasaReads
October 21 - Hiver et Café
October 24 - Read My Breath Away

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Title: Falling Into Place
Author: Amy Zhang
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

It feels like everyone and their mother has been talking about Amy Zhang's Falling Into Place. I'm even one of those people who talked about the book long before I got a chance to read it. I was unbelievably excited about reading this book. I knew it had the potential to be a powerful and moving read. And let me tell you, it definitely was.

No one knows what happened on the day that Liz Emerson drove her car into a tree. To everyone looking in from the outside, Liz Emerson had the perfect life. But appearances don't always reflect reality. Everyone is asking themselves why Liz decided the world would be better off without her. Her friends wonder if they should have seen something they missed. Her mother wonders if things would have been different if she'd been around more. But unless Liz Emerson wakes up, no one will know exactly what happened on that fateful afternoon.

I started being excited about Amy Zhang's Falling Into Place pretty much from the moment I first heard about the book. It sounded like it was made up of everything I love about contemporary stories. Once people started reading the book though, I started getting a little worried. It seemed like either people absolutely loved the book or it wasn't for them. I started being afraid of how I would react. Would I be part of the group of people who absolutely love this story, or would I be disappointed by a book I was incredibly excited about? I didn't really have to worry about it though. I LOVED Falling Into Place. It was so completely different from anything I've read recently, especially in the way the story was told. Falling Into Place is not told in a linear way. Instead, it takes you back in time in an effort to explain what led to Liz Emerson driving her car off the road. I'll admit that it took me a little longer than usual to get into the story because of that, but once I was in, it's what kept me reading. All the jumps in time made me curious about what had led to this point. And that had a lot to do with understanding who was telling this story, and who Liz Emerson really was.

I'll be honest and say that Liz Emerson wasn't exactly a likeable person. None of what I really saw about her, especially in the flashbacks, did much to make me like her more. Liz was essentially the textbook definition of a mean girl, and even that might be putting it nicely. But as much as I wanted to dislike her, every so often I would get these glimpses of a different Liz. A Liz who understood that what she did was wrong, and who regretted everything she did. And that's the Liz I wanted to root for, the Liz I wanted to see pull through all her injuries from the accident. Really though, I wanted to believe in the version of Liz the narrator saw. And that brings me to the narrator. I new going in who the narrator of this story was, so I was curious to see how it would all work. And it really did. For most of the story I almost forgot who the narrator was, it just felt like I was reading a story told in third person. But then there were those moments that were heartbreaking, the ones where the narrator was trying to go back to a time where Liz was her better self. It's just really hard to explain it all in a way that makes sense. But it does. If you read Falling Into Place, it will all make sense.

Amy Zhang's Falling Into Place was everything I had hoped it would be. This was a moving story that left me completely raw. It wasn't until the very last page that I was able to let go of the breath I was holding. If you are looking for something completely different from what's out there, but feels entirely real, than this is the book for you.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Blog Tour - Burying Water by K.A. Tucker + Giveaway

Title: Burying Water (Burying Water #1)
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo / B&N
The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away.

Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defines all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?

Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried. 

The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of K.A. Tucker and her Ten Tiny Breaths series. With that series having come to an end, I was excited to see what she would do next. Burying Water sounded like it had a lot of potential. Memory loss and a mysterious neighbor? Count me in! And I was not in the least bit disappointed.

When she wakes up in the hospital, she has no idea who she is, much less how she got there. Having been left for dead in field outside a small Oregon, she doesn't know where she comes from or what she could have done to be attacked in way she was. After months in the hospital being called "Jane Doe," she renames herself "Water," after discovering a tattoo o her body. Taken in by Ginny, an old lady who owns a ranch outside of town, Water sets about getting on with her life hoping that her memories will one day return. But she can't help but feel drawn to Jesse, the neighbor who spends most of his time playing with the engine of his car. Does she know him? Does he know what happened to her before she lost her memory? Jesse knows he should stay away from Water. After everything that happened he shouldn't let himself get close to her. But his feelings, much like Water's, can only stay buried for long.

There's so much I want to say about K.A. Tucker's Burying Water. I just don't know if I'll be able to get it all out, much less if I'll be able to do so coherently. But I'll try. I was a little apprehensive when I started reading Burying Water. I love K.A. Tucker's other new adult books so FREAKING much that I didn't know how this one would possibly be able to compare. I didn't help that when I started reading I didn't know how it was going to work not only to have the story told from two perspectives, but from two different points in time. Once I started reading, though, I got swept up in the story. The way Burying Water is written, it's almost as if I got two love stories: one of Jesse falling in love with Alex, and one of Water falling in love with Jesse. I absolutely LOVED seeing these two stories unfold. With Jesse's story, there was definitely more drama, questioning of whether he was doing the right thing. With Water's story, it was all about jumping into the unknown. And as much as I loved seeing the relationships and the romance develop, it also broke my heart. The more I read, the more I knew what was coming but I couldn't stop reading even if I knew it would result with me in tears. Through it all though, I was falling in love with Jesse and Water.

It would have been very difficult for me to not fall for Jesse Welles. From the moment I met him in Burying Water, I knew that he would quickly work his way into my heart. He didn't thin highly of himself, but the more I read, and the more I saw him interact with Alex (and I REALLY want to talk about Alex, but I can't because it would just be too complicated), I just knew that he was more than he was giving himself credit for. Sure, he had made bad decisions in the past, and even now some of his decisions were questionable at best, but what he did came from a good place. He was willing to do whatever it took to keep Alex safe, even if it meant hurting himself in the process. And that happened again with Water. Water is one of those people you can't help but feel for. She wakes up in the hospital after having been brutally attacked not knowing who she is. You an't help but want to root for this girl. And believe me when I say I did. It didn't take long for me to figure out what had happened to her, and when I did it only made me want to root for her even more. And as much as I wanted her to get her memories back, to understand who she really was, I didn't want her to have to relive everything that happened to her when she was attacked. And Water and Jesse were just good for each other, despite what the people around them might have believed. And more than anything, I wanted everything to be okay for them.

As you might have guessed by now, I loved K.A. Tucker's Burying Water. As apprehensive as I might have been about this book, I have no regrets now that I've read this story. And I can't help but look forward to Becoming Rain, the next book in this series.


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