My Thoughts: Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith

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Summary:

When 22-year-old aspiring journalist Emma Cohen is forced to flee the comforts of her NYU student life, she maneuvers an internship from her father at his newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. There, Emma is immediately swept into a major news story—and a life-threatening situation—when a famous jungle environmentalist, Milton Silva, is mysteriously murdered.

Emma must now enter the Amazon rainforest with her father to investigate, where she is both awed by the enormity and beauty of the Amazon and appalled by its reckless destruction. Not only will Emma have to brave the primal world of the Amazon, she must fight to survive the kidnappers, villains, corrupt activists, and indigenous tribes that lay in wait along the ever-twisting trail of the murder case. Stretched to the brink, it’s up to Emma, her father, and the dreamy news photographer, Jimmy, to unravel the mystery and live to tell the tale.

Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith is a spectacular debut Young Adult novel. Griffith’s powerful rendering of the Amazon rainforest forms the perfect, wildly exotic backdrop for this extraordinary tale of a young urban woman coming of age in the midst of intense conflict.

My Thoughts:

(**I received this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

I finished Amazon Burning a little more than a week ago; today, I’m still unsure about how I feel about this book. To begin, I thought this book fell more into the new adult category instead of the young adult category (the steamy scenes get a little too graphic for me to place this in YA).

I went into this book thinking it was going to be engaging and heavy; instead, Amazon Burning is more of a light, action-filled story. The plot was filled with crazy impossible scenes and non-stop action, which allowed me to imagine the book as a thriller movie, instead of a novel, in my mind.

Emma is a likable protagonist, even though I was not able to connect with her. The story begins with her in the middle of a sexual assault case against one of her professors, which prompts her to take her dad’s offer to go to Brazil. Although I understood the importance of the situation, I did not think the writing captured the severity and effect it has on Emma’s life. I was waiting to read about Emma’s character development through her mental and physical battle with these events, but it never came. There are many sub-plots that emerge throughout the novel; I wish Griffith had focused in and built more of that one.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the relationship between Emma and Jimmy. Jimmy is caring, protective and adorable. Emma and Jimmy are a good fit and I think the romance is a great part of the plot. Still, I found the sex scenes to be awkwardly detailed.

A great aspect of this novel is the setting. A majority of the book revolves around the Amazon rainforest and the animals and people that live in it. Amazon Burning is unique from other teen books because it focuses on people outside of modern influence. I liked reading about Yanomami Indian characters, and knowing that the author spent time with Yanomami people adds to her credibility in portraying them.

Overall, I thought Amazon Burning was alright. I didn’t fall in love with the book, but at times I kept reading because I wanted to know what came next. If you’re looking for something different, Amazon Burning might be for you.

 

Blog Tour: Feral by Holly Schindler [+Giveaway]

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Today I would love to introduce you all to FERAL by Holly Schindler! FERAL was released back in August, but Holly is holding an awesome tour that is a little different than your usual blog tour. Instead of doing interviews, Holly has decided to answer one question in depth for each person on the tour. I was lucky enough to be a part of this tour, which means Holly has answered my question specifically for my blog (which I am crazy happy about!) So please, welcome Holly and check out FERAL!

When you write, do you get sidetracked and visit other sites? If so, what sites do you visit and why?

Of course! There’s only so much staring you can do at your own words before they start to exhaust you. Every once in a while, I do need to take a break. When I find my words tapering off, I usually head to Twitter. There’s always a conversation going on there that I can jump into—I always love to hear about what people are reading, or learning what my favorite writers are up to. I’m a serious fan of the written word, and I love hearing about sales and releases, too (sometimes, I can wind up adding several new books on my Kindle while I’m at Twitter).

If one of my own books has just released, I often check in at Goodreads. I do read my reviews—I look for patterns in reviews, and that offers me insights into larger publishing issues. (My reviews don’t just illuminate subjects regarding a specific book, but about the process of writing in general: plot, pacing, character development, etc.)

For example: my second YA, PLAYING HURT, is a love story. Two former athletes meet and fall in love during the course of a summer vacation—they’ve both endured tragedy, and have lost their ability to play sports, but through the course of their short-lived and intense love affair, they realize all is definitely not lost. One of the main characters—Chelsea—has a boyfriend back home, though. Some readers took exception to the “cheating” plot point. I realize now what they were saying was that they need to be able to cheer for a main character. And when the character does something they can’t get behind, their own enjoyment of the book diminishes (or disappears). Fascinating stuff.

I also read headlines—whatever pops up. I read articles on the publishing industry, but also read general news articles as well. As I’m reading, one story can lead to another—when I’ve drifted from links leading to current-events articles (the economy, world news, the events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri) to a link that leads to pictures of George Clooney’s vacation, I take that as my signal that it’s officially time to get back to work.

Feral HC

Summary:

The Lovely Bones meets Black Swan in this haunting psychological thriller with twists and turns that will make you question everything you think you know.

It’s too late for you. You’re dead. Those words continue to haunt Claire Cain months after she barely survived a brutal beating in Chicago. So when her father is offered a job in another state, Claire is hopeful that getting out will offer her a way to start anew.

But when she arrives in Peculiar, Missouri, Claire feels an overwhelming sense of danger, and her fears are confirmed when she discovers the body of a popular high school student in the icy woods behind the school, surrounded by the town’s feral cats. While everyone is quick to say it was an accident, Claire knows there’s more to it, and vows to learn the truth about what happened.

But the closer she gets to uncovering the mystery, the closer she also gets to realizing a frightening reality about herself and the damage she truly sustained in that Chicago alley…

Holly Schindler’s gripping story is filled with heart-stopping twists and turns that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.


Feral and the Psychological Thriller:

FERAL falls squarely into the realm of the classic psychological thriller. While the book features mystery, horror, and paranormal elements, the emphasis is on the “psychological” rather than thriller / action. The novel features a Hitchcockian pace and focus on character development (here, we’re exploring the inner workings of the main character, Claire Cain). Essentially, every aspect of FERAL is used to explore Claire’s inner workings—that even includes the wintry Ozarks setting. The water metaphor is employed frequently in psychological thrillers to represent the subconscious, and here is incorporated in the form of a brutal ice storm (that represents Claire’s “frozen” inner state). The attempt to untangle what is real from what is unreal (another frequently-used aspect of the psychological thriller) also begins to highlight the extent to which Claire was hurt in that Chicago alley. Even the explanation of the odd occurrences in the town of Peculiar offers an exploration into and portrait of Claire’s psyche. Ultimately, FERAL is a book about recovering from violence—that’s not just a lengthy or hard process; it’s a terrifying process, too. The classic psychological thriller allowed me to explore that frightening process in detail.

About the Author:

Holly Schindler is the author of the critically acclaimed A BLUE SO DARK (Booklist starred review, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year silver medal recipient, IPPY Awards gold medal recipient) as well as PLAYING HURT (both YAs).

Her debut MG, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, also released in ’14, and became a favorite of teachers and librarians, who used the book as a read-aloud. Kirkus Reviews called THE JUNCTION “…a heartwarming and uplifting story…[that] shines…with vibrant themes of community, self-empowerment and artistic vision delivered with a satisfying verve.”

FERAL is Schindler’s third YA and first psychological thriller. Publishers Weekly gave FERAL a starred review, stating, “Opening with back-to-back scenes of exquisitely imagined yet very real horror, Schindler’s third YA novel hearkens to the uncompromising demands of her debut, A BLUE SO DARK…This time, the focus is on women’s voices and the consequences they suffer for speaking…This is a story about reclaiming and healing, a process that is scary, imperfect, and carries no guarantees.”

Author Links

Website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads

Buy Links

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Giveaway:

Check out the giveaway for a signed hardcopy of FERAL. Enter here —> a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: The Collectors’ Society by Heather Lyon

The Collectors' Society teaser 1

 

We are very excited to bring you the cover for Heather Lyon’s THE COLLECTORS SERIES!  THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY is a new adult romance title, set to be released on October 23rd!

 

The Collectors' Society front cover

Cover design by Victoria Faye of Whit and Ware

THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY Goodreads

THE COLLECTORS’ SOCIETY Synopsis:

From the author of the Fate series and The Deep End of the Sea comes a fantastical romantic adventure that has Alice tumbling down the strangest rabbit hole yet.

After years in Wonderland, Alice has returned to England as an adult, desperate to reclaim sanity and control over her life. An enigmatic gentleman with an intriguing job offer too tempting to resist changes her plans for a calm existence, though. Soon, she’s whisked to New York and initiated into the Collectors’ Society, a secret organization whose members confirm that famous stories are anything but straightforward and that what she knows about the world is only a fraction of the truth.

It’s there she discovers villains are afoot—ones who want to shelve the lives of countless beings. Assigned to work with the mysterious and alluring Finn, Alice and the rest of the Collectors’ Society race against a doomsday clock in order to prevent further destruction . . . but will they make it before all their endings are erased?

The Collectors' Society full wrap

 

Author PhotoAbout Heather Lyons:

Heather Lyons has always had a thing for words—She’s been writing stories since she was a kid. In addition to writing, she’s also been an archaeologist and a teacher. Heather is a rabid music fan, as evidenced by her (mostly) music-centric blog, and she’s married to an even larger music snob. They’re happily raising three kids who are mini music fiends who love to read and be read to.

 

 

 

 

Website ** Author Goodreads ** Twitter ** Facebook

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Cover Reveal: Play On by Michelle Smith

Title: Play On by Michelle Smith
Expected Release Date: April 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

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Summary:

In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek — he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

About Michelle Smith:

Michelle Smith writes books for teens (and adults who aren’t ashamed of their love for YA). She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and is a complete sap. She advocates for mental health awareness, and is a strong supporter of The Trevor Project, Love is Louder, and To Write Love on Her Arms.
Michelle lives in North Carolina with her family.
Awesome Links!

Blog Tour: London Falling (International School #2) by Chanel Cleeton [Book Thoughts]

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Summary:

Maggie Carpenter walked away from the hottest encounter of her life when she left the seductive glitz of England for summer break in her South Carolina hometown. Now that she’s returned to the International School in London—and sexy, privileged Samir Khouri is once again close enough to touch—she can’t help but remember the attraction, the drama … the heartbreak.

She can’t help but want him even more.

Samir can’t afford to fall for someone so far removed from his world, not when his time in London is running out. It’s his senior year—his last chance at freedom before he returns home to Lebanon. There, he’ll be expected to follow in his father’s footsteps—not follow his heart to Maggie. But when a scorching secret hookup becomes a temptation neither can resist, they’ll both have to fight to survive the consequences … and find a future together.

My Thoughts:

Although I adored I See London, London Falling somehow made me fall in love with Maggie, Samir and the International School a hundred times more.

To be honest, I didn’t really know where London Falling was going to go. Yes, the first book set up a lot of things for the sequel, but I questioned the relationship between Maggie and Samir. Everything between them was already so intense and passionate that I honestly questioned how it could become more intense and passionate. In the end, it was wrong for me to question. Chanel Cleeton crafted an addictive sequel that intensified everything between Maggie and Samir, making me feel every emotion known to mankind.

Even though the book revolves around Maggie and Samir, Cleeton doesn’t forget about the other characters and other important things. For example, Fleur’s past comes back to haunt her, and she’s stuck getting through everything too. Maggie is also challenged with facing her own family issues. What I love about London Falling is that it mirrors true reactions and outcomes. In every scene, I understood and empathized with a character’s decision.

Chanel Cleeton does a wonderful job at capturing moments and emotions and translating them into words one can put on a page. I found myself staring at the book in awe at certain sentences and passages because Maggie’s thoughts about life captured my exact feelings. Those details brought me closer to the characters because I knew how they felt.

In the end, all I can do is applaud Chanel Cleeton for writing a wonderful sequel to a wonderful book. If you haven’t read I See London, the first book in the International School series, then you need to do so right now. If you have, you need to somehow obtain the sequel because this series is my favorite.

Buy Links
Amazon - Barnes & NoblesiTunes - Harlequin

Author Links
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

Giveaway!

Win a London Falling coffee mug, Tea, (4) signed London Falling bookmarks, (4) signed I See London bookmarks, (4) pens, a London case, and a $25 Amazon GC. Enter the rafflecopter here!

Please check out the rest of the LONDON FALLING tour here!

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Release Day Blitz: London Falling by Chanel Cleeton (International School #2)

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Summary:

We weren’t a relationship, we were a ticking time bomb…

Maggie Carpenter walked away from the hottest encounter of her life when she left the seductive glitz of England for summer break in her South Carolina hometown. Now that she’s returned to the International School in London—and sexy, privileged Samir Khouri is once again close enough to touch—she can’t help but remember the attraction, the drama … the heartbreak.

She can’t help but want him even more.

Samir can’t afford to fall for someone so far removed from his world, not when his time in London is running out. It’s his senior year—his last chance at freedom before he returns home to Lebanon. There, he’ll be expected to follow in his father’s footsteps—not follow his heart to Maggie. But when a scorching secret hookup becomes a temptation neither can resist, they’ll both have to fight to survive the consequences … and find a future together.

Don’t miss this explosive sequel to I See London, and the riveting conclusion to Maggie and Samir’s story. This is a New Adult romance recommended for readers 17 and up.

About Chanel Cleeton:

ChanelCleeton

Originally a Florida girl, CHANEL CLEETON moved to London where she received a bachelor’s degree from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Chanel fell in love with London and planned to stay there forever, until fate intervened on a Caribbean cruise, and an American fighter pilot with smooth dance moves swept her off her feet. Now, a happily ever after later, Chanel is living her next adventure in South Korea.

Law school made Chanel realize she’d rather spend her days writing sexy stories than in a courtroom, and she hasn’t looked back since. An avid reader and hopeless romantic, she’s happiest curled up with a book. She has a weakness for handbags, her three pups, and her fighter pilot husband. Chanel writes New Adult contemporary romances and thrillers.

She is the author of I SEE LONDON and LONDON FALLING, published by Harlequin HQN, and FLIRTING WITH SCANDAL, the first book in a new NA series to be released by Berkley in 2015.

Buy Links
Amazon - Barnes & NoblesiTunes - Harlequin

Author Links
Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

Giveaway!

Win a London Falling coffee mug, Tea, (4) signed London Falling bookmarks, (4) signed I See London bookmarks, (4) pens, a London case, and a $25 Amazon GC. Enter the rafflecopter here!

Launch Party!

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Join us for a party celebrating London Falling’s release! A group of amazing authors will be stopping by to host the party and there will be giveaways, teasers, games, and much more! Join here!

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Book Thoughts: Pawn by Aimee Carter

(** I received this book through Harlequin Teen Panel.)

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Summary:

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked—surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister’s niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There’s only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed …and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that’s not her own, she must decide which path to choose—and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she’s only beginning to understand.

My Thoughts:

Although Pawn is an interesting book with a strong female protagonist, I am still not 100% sure where my thoughts about this story lie.

Let me start off with Kitty – she’s cool. She’s strong willed and holds her own in almost every situation. Right from the beginning, Kitty is planning a way out of the miserable future she has just been given. Her mind constantly wavers between the task she’s been ordered to do and her plan to get out of doing that task. Even though Kitty is the pawn of this entire story, she’s good at playing and faking her role.

In addition to Kitty’s character, all of the other characters are well-built. The history written into each character heightened my empathy for each of them, since I was able to see things through his or her point of view. At one point, I even found myself agreeing with the antagonist through her back story.

On the other hand, although most of the characters are well-developed, the relationships between them were not. Before Pawn takes place, Kitty has been dating Benjy, a boy she’s been good friends with her whole life. Actually, most of Kitty’s actions and decisions revolve around her concern and love for Benjy – which I did not understand at all. Right from the beginning, I had no feeling for their relationship. To me, it didn’t feel like they were dating. There was no passion or tension; nothing for an outsider to feel or understand their emotion. Even though there is enough supposed romance in the book between different characters, I wish it had shown through.

To continue, I didn’t love Pawn. It didn’t capture me in the beginning. Towards the middle, I became more intrigued and wanted to keep reading. The ending surprised me a little, and it was nice to have a twist.

On the other hand, Pawn is a decent read. It’s interesting and filled with enough family drama people can relate to. If you’re looking for a simple dystopian read, I suggest you check this one out.