Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios


Title: I'll Meet You There
Author: Heather Demetrios
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
If seventeen-year-old Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing standing between straightedge Skylar and art school are three minimum-wage months of summer. Skylark can taste the freedom—that is until her mother loses her job and everything starts coming apart. Torn between her dreams and the people she loves, Skylar realizes everything she’s ever worked for is on the line.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Mitchell had a different ticket out of Creek View: the Marines. But after his leg is blown off in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be. What brings Skylar and Josh tighter is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and soon, something deeper. 

In the last year, it is quite possible (read: VERY LIKELY) you’ve heard me talk about Heather Demetrios and her stories. Her contemporary debut, Something Real, was one of my favourite reads of 2014. And now I can say with certainty that I’ll Meet You There will be one of the best books of 2015.

Her whole life, Skylar Evans has been determined not to become a typical Creek View girl. She doesn’t want the fast food job, baby and trailer. She wants to get out and go to art school. When she graduates from high school, she’s on her way to just that. But before she can leave, she has three months of summer to get through. Josh Mitchell thought that joining the Marines would be his way out of Creek View, but losing a leg in Afghanistan lands him back home a different person from the arrogant boy who left. Everyone treats him differently because of his leg. The only person who just treats him as Josh, the same boy she’s known most of her life, is Skylar. The quickly spend more and more time together at the motel where they work, and before long their friendship starts to become something more. Something that could be what saves them both.

Around this time last year, I discovered Heather Demetrios and her debut novel Something Real. From that point on, I’ve pretty much been screaming my love for this author and her contemporary books from the rooftops. If you know me in person, you’re probably tired of hearing me talk about her books. But I just can’t because they are absolutely fantastic I will continue talking about them and pushing them on people until the end of time. Well, maybe not literally the end of time, but you get what I’m saying. The point is I love her books, and that includes her latest, I’ll Meet You There. I had been wanting this book ever since I first heard about it. I was constantly keeping my eyes open, trying to find a way to get my hands on a copy of the book without having to wait for its February 3rd release date. When I (finally!) got a copy in the mail, I couldn’t help myself, I started reading it right away. And as much as I wanted to pace myself, to draw out the book so I wouldn’t have to leave these characters and this story, I couldn’t do it. I just kept flipping the pages and reading as much as I could in whatever spare time I had. 

But here’s the thing about I’ll Meet You There: as much as I would call it a fast read because I couldn’t get enough, it’s also not an easy story to read. At all. Not because it was poorly written. But because it was so well written and depicts the harsh realities of these characters in a way that felt completely and totally real. And at times it was downright heartbreaking. In I’ll Meet You There, Heather Demetrios tackles a number of issues, none of which are light and fun. In this book you will deal with teen motherhood, poverty, alcoholism, and PTSD, just to name a few. And though these subjects could all weigh the story down, they didn’t. Heather tackled all these issues without diminishing them, writing this story in a way that just presents them as a reality for a lot of people around the world. They can be absolutely horrible realities to deal with, but for these people in this story, it is the reality they have to deal with. And they deal with it the best way they can. And that’s what made this story so powerful: the way that these issues are present throughout the story without the reader being hit over the head with them. They’re just there, and they’re being dealt with. And attention is being brought to them in a positive way.

What made the themes and issues resonate so much for me were the characters, both the main characters and the secondary characters. But this was first and foremost Skylar and Josh’s story, two people who are trying to escape their home of Creek View and make a better life for themselves but struggle with it. When the story starts, Skylar is counting down the days until she leaves Creek View and goes to art school. But something always seems to get in her way, whether that’s money or her mom struggling to keep her life together. Skylark quickly became someone I admired, both for her determination to pursue her dreams in spite of everything standing in her way, but also for her loyalty and caring nature. Because no matter what she wanted for herself, she wasn’t ready to do it at the expense of abandoning her mom. Granted sometimes I wanted to tell Skylar to think more about herself than about the people around her, but still. And then there was Josh, who thought joining the Marines would be his way out and his way to a better life. But an amputated leg quickly changed that. Now Josh finds himself right back in the place he had hoped to leave behind and doesn’t really know who he is anymore. Skylar and Josh had been friends before he left town, but now that he’s back, they’re drawn together. Their similar hopes and dreams strengthening the connection between them. And the whole time I was reading, my heart was breaking for them. But I was also rooting for them SO MUCH because they were two people who deserved happiness and they clearly belonged together. And seeing them figure it all out was both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

I can’t say enough about Heather Demetrios’s I’ll Meet You There, and no matter what I say it won’t ever come close to doing this book justice. Just know that it’s a touching story. A heartbreaking story, A powerful story. A heartwarming story. And a story that is absolutely worth reading.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter


Title: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 27, 2015
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay—in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.

Being in the book blogging community, I tend to hear about books a long time before they come out. And I mean a LONG time. Ally Carter’s All Fall Down, the first book in her new Embassy Row series was one of those books. And after having heard about it for all those months, I was very excited to finally be able to read it.

Grace has always had a knack for getting herself in trouble. Usually because she was dead set on chasing after her older brother, not afraid to do anything the boys were doing, not matter what that meant. As the granddaughter of one of the most powerful ambassadors in the world, that usually meant that Grace spent her summers running around Embassy Row, sometimes on roofs, sometimes over fences, but very rarely where she was supposed to. Now sixteen, Grace comes back to Embassy Row, but this time, it’s to stay. For the past three years she’s been obsessed with finding out what really happened on the night her mother died. Coming back to Embassy Row could mean finally getting the answers she’s been desperately searching for. But what Grace finds in Adria might be more than she ever bargained for.

Ally Carter is a master at writing spy stories. Though I still have to finish both her Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series (I KNOW GUYS I AM WORKING ON IT), I have loved what I have read. Those stories are always fun and different from the other contemporary stories I typically tend to gravitate to. So I was excited at the idea of a new series from Ally Carter. It didn’t hurt that All Fall Down sounded pretty great. And as someone who spent her high school years around expats and diplomatic families, that particular aspect of the story definitely drew me in. Though believe me when I say that my experience with expats and diplomats was nothing like Grace’s and what you see in the book. The stakes were never quite that high. But that’s besides the point. All Fall Down was a fast-paced story that kept me guessing the whole way through. I kept thinking that I had some part of the mystery figured out, but then Ally Carter would throw in another piece to the puzzle and I would be back at square one. I just couldn’t figure out what was happening. But in a good way. And that ending? I’m already begging for the sequel.

I loved Grace right from page one. How could I not? I mean, she starts off telling her story by saying that she jumped off a wall separating two properties on a dare. And she’s proud that she proved to her brother that the fall wasn’t a deadly one. So yeah, after reading those first few pages, I was sold on Grace. I couldn’t wait to read the rest of her story and find out more about her. Grace was fierce and snarky, not afraid to break the rules. And she was great at convincing others to go along with whatever plan she had, often getting her friends in trouble without meaning to. And she had some great friends who were ready to stand by her side. And I really liked those friends, especially Noah. Noah is the kind of friend I would love to have (not that my friends aren’t great because they absolutely are). He was always ready to stand by Grace, even when she wasn’t being the greatest friend. The character that I’m still trying to figure out, though, is Alexei. At first I thought he was a little shady. Then I discovered that he wasn’t actually. But then something else would happen and I was right back to thinking he was a little shady, but he had good intentions. Hopefully it all becomes more clear in the next book.

I loved Ally Carter’s All Fall Down. It was a great start to what promises to be a fantastic new series. If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action packed story with a mystery, then this is the one for you.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

COVER REVEAL - All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Holy smokes are we excited to bring you the cover for Cora Carmack's ALL PLAYED OUT! ALL PLAYED OUT is a New Adult Contemporary Romance and is the 3rd book in the Rusk University Series, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. It is due to be released on May 12, 2015!! If you haven't had a chance to read this sexy, fun series yet, be sure to grab ALL LINED UP and ALL BROKE DOWN!  


Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

About ALL PLAYED OUT
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 received Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the flied, 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 the begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds 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 of a chance at something real.

And don’t miss the first two books in the Rusk University Series…

RU books 1and 2 Banner

ALL LINE UP, Book 1

ALL BROKE DOWN, Book 2



About Cora Carmack:
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, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
      

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blog Tour - Make It Last by Megan Erickson + Giveaway




Title: Make it Last
Author: Megan Erickson
SeriesBowler University #3
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publication: January 6th, 2014 by William Morrow Impulse
Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo


After graduating from Bowler University, the last place Cam Ruiz ever expected to find himself is his hometown. A bad job as a bouncer and worry over his mom’s health make living in Paradise anything but. There’s only one thing that can make his return any harder—running into the only girl he’s ever loved.

Tate Ellison made a mistake when she was eighteen, one that cost her the best thing she’s ever had. She’s always hoped the regret of losing Cam would fade over time. Too bad it’s only grown. She took comfort in the fact she’d never have to face him again, so his presence in Paradise throws her for a loop.

The pull between them is instant and when the truth of what happened years ago tumbles out, they share a mind-blowing kiss...which leads to more. But the past has a way of repeating itself. When all the cards are on the table, Cam and Tate must decide what they are willing to do to make it last.

In 2014, New Adult became a favourite of mine. So many awesome NA books came out and I loved them. The best part, is that so many of them are contemporary romance which is my absolutely weakness. And among my favourites, are Megan Ericsson’s Bowler University books. The third one, Make It Last, might even just be my favourite.

Cam Ruiz had a plan. He signed up for the military so that he could go to college. He would finish his degree and then he would get his dream job working for a security company. But that’s not exactly what happens after he graduates from Bowler University. Instead of taking his dream job, Cam Ruiz finds himself back in his hometown of Paradise, working at a job he hates, and helping his mother through her health troubles. And that’s when he comes face to face with Tate, the only girl he’s ever loved. Tate never expected to see Cam again. She made a mistake, and that mistake cost her Cam. But now he’s back and Tate can’t deny that she still has feelings for him. Feelings she doesn’t want to have. Before long, Cam and Tate are both trying to fight back against old feelings. But how long can they deny what’s really between them? But more importantly, can they make it last?

It’s not a secret that I LOVE Megan Ericsson’s books. I gave rave reviews to the first two books in the Bowler University series, Make It Count and Make It Right. So it really shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise that I loved the final book in the series, Make It Last, just as much. Megan’s stories are always so fun. There’s always a healthy dose of humour sprinkled throughout the story and that always manages to make me smile. But what also makes me love Megan’s books is that there’s more to the stories than just humour and romance (and by romance, I mean sexy times, let’s be real). There’s always a more serious undertone to the story. The characters don’t just have to worry about themselves and their love lives. They have more going on in their lives that’s out of their control. And that adds another layer to the story. Sure it’s still a fun romance with many funny moments, but it’s also more than that. And that’s because she writes great stories that are fully fleshed out.

Unlike the couples in the previous two books, Cam and Tate had a history dating back to long before the events of Make It Last. That alone, made for interesting dynamics between these two. At the start of the story I was still a clueless observer while Tate and Cam clearly had more going on. It was definitely interesting to watch. What made it even more interesting, was that I already sort of knew Cam. Or at least I’d gotten glimpses of him in the previous two books. But I still didn’t know what made him tick, what his story was. Tate was completely new to me, but I took to her right away. She was strong, ready to do whatever it takes for her family. Almost too ready to do it sometimes. She just needed to spend a little more time thinking about herself. And that was kind of true for Cam too. So when you think about it, these two were kind of perfect for each other. They just had to work their issues out and see it for themselves. But I was totally rooting for them as I was reading. Aside from Cam and Tate (who were totally and absolutely awesome), I was so happy to see everyone from the other two books. And a certain part in New York City towards the end totally made me squeal out loud. As a side note, can we please have a YA story all about Tate’s little brother Jamie? Because I would totally read that.

I loved Make It Last. Megan Erickson wrote a fantastic story to conclude her Bowler University series. Sure, I’m sad to see this story end. If it were up to me, I would keep reading books in this world forever. But I’m still excited to see what Megan Erickson comes up with next.

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About Megan

Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’5” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Giveaway

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


Title: Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and real with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor has come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clues a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road. 

The moving, joyous and brilliantly compelling new novel from the bestselling, multi-award-winning author of Looking for Alibrandi and Saving Francesca.

There are some books that as a blogger I feel like I should have read. Or that I feel bad about the fact that I haven’t read them. Especially when they are books that seem to e such “YA classics,” for lack of a better term. Until recently, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road was one of those books. But I’ve now rectified that situation. And the book left me completely broken.

To Taylor Markham, the Jellicoe School is home. It’s the place she’s felt the safest since her mom abandoned her at the 7-Eleven up the road. Now in her last year of school, she’s been put in charge of the boarders, masterminding their defence in the territory war against the Cadets and the Townies. But things are different in the territory wars this year. For one thing, Jonah Griggs is leading the Cadets. The same Jonah Griggs Taylor ran away with a few years earlier. But then there’s the dreams she’s been having about the boy in the tree, and Hannah, the one person Taylor has always been able to rely on, mysteriously disappears. Taylor doesn’t know what to do and who to turn to anymore. She knows she has to find out more, but she doesn’t know where to start. Most of all though, Taylor is afraid that to get to the bottom of it all she’s going to have to do the one thing that scares her more than anything: confront her own past and finally understand how she came to the Jellicoe Road.

So I have this friend, and pretty much for as long as I’ve known her, she’s been telling me that I need to read Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road. In fact, her telling me to read it sometimes bordered on her yelling at me to read it. This has been going on for a few years and over the holidays, I finally gave in. So you better be happy Ciara. But for real, I should have listened to her so much sooner than I did. I can’t even begin to put into words my Jellicoe Road reading experience. Based on everything I had been told, I knew that this was going to be a powerful story and that it would likely have me tearing up. But still. This story sort of creeped up on me. I was reading, and I was trying to piece together all the different parts of the puzzle and all of a sudden it punches me right in the gut. The emotions just kept on coming and it didn’t take long at all for me to be full on bawling as I was trying to read the last pages of the book. And when I say I was bawling, I mean it. The tears wouldn’t stop coming. Each time I thought I finally had a handle on my emotions, something more happened in the story and I just started crying some more. I just couldn’t stop. Even after I was finished reading, I was still crying. Melina Marchetta wrote an incredibly powerful story and it completely broke me. 

Jellicoe Road is primarily Taylor’s story. But it’s also so many other people’s story. I knew from the start that these stories would all be connected and intertwined together. I just hadn’t realized quite so connected everything was. And exactly who everyone was. As Taylor was working to understand her past, I was there right alongside her, trying to put it all together. And Taylor was strong and loyal, much more so than she gave herself credit for. But she also needed people more than she thought. She was a master at closing herself off from the people around her, afraid of being abandoned again. And the person who tried more than anyone to break down those barriers Taylor insisted on putting up was Jonah Griggs. I’m not really sure there’s any way to put Jonah Griggs into words and have it even come close to what an amazing person and character he was. All I can really say is that Jonah Griggs isn’t someone I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. And I highly doubt Taylor will be forgetting him and letting him go anytime soon.

To everyone and anyone who has ever told me to read Jellicoe Road over the years, I finally listened and I don’t regret. Not even one little bit. This was such a fantastic and powerful story. And even though it’s been a couple of weeks since I finished reading it, I feel like I’m still trying to piece my heart back together. That’s how much this story affected me.

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