Book Thoughts: One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

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Summary:

Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a lady while the guys move on without her.

Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.

But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends–the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.

My Thoughts:

One of the Guys is a cute, quick read for anyone in need of a happy ending.

The book revolves around Toni, a high school senior who considers herself “one of the guys” since her only friends – Loch, Ollie and Cowboy, are male.  In the beginning, the four of them are inseparable. But then a prank-gone-wrong messes things up between them and Toni is left to fend for herself while struggling at a new all-girls school.

Even though I’m nothing like Toni, she’s an easy character to relate with. What I value most about Toni’s character is her persistence in trying to communicate with her friends. No matter how many times they blow her off, she still tries to see them. I was able to recall my own personal moments in Toni’s story; because of that, Aldin does a great job at replicating realistic situations.

Another highlight of the book is the quick pace and easy flow. Even though the story spans over five or so months, the pacing is smooth and fits with the story. In addition, none of the descriptions felt unnecessary; all of the details fell into place by the end of the book.

On the other hand, while the characters are high school seniors, I found the writing to be geared towards a younger crowd. Many of the characters are immature, reminding me of freshman or sophomores. I also wish some characters were more dimensional. A few characters only talk about one topic throughout the novel and I got bored hearing about the same subject.

Still, I enjoyed the romance between Toni and Loch. It’s slow and confusing, like a lot of beginning relationships are. Yay for finding a book that actually details the awkwardness of having a crush and over-thinking things!

Overall, One of the Guys is a pleasant read. Although I did not fall in love with the book, I suggest you check it out if you’re looking for an adorable story.

Blog Tour: One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin (Exerpt)

One of the Guys by Lisa Aldin

Release Date: February 10, 2015 – Spencer Hill Press
320 pages – 978-1939392633

One-of-the-Guys-312x475

Summary:

Tomboy to the core, Toni Valentine understands guys. She’ll take horror movies, monster hunts and burping contests over manicures. So Toni is horrified when she’s sent to the Winston Academy for Girls, where she has to wear a skirt and learn to be a “lady” while the guys move on without her. Then Toni meets Emma Elizabeth, a girl at school with boy troubles, and she volunteers one of her friends as a pretend date. Word spreads of Toni’s connections with boys, and she discovers that her new wealthy female classmates will pay big money for fake dates. Looking for a way to connect her old best friends with her new life at school, Toni and Emma start up Toni Valentine’s Rent-A-Gent Service.  But the business meets a scandal when Toni falls for one of her friends–the same guy who happens to be the most sought-after date. With everything she’s built on the line, Toni has to decide if she wants to save the business and her old life, or let go of being one of the guys for a chance at love.

Excerpt:

From Chapter 3

One month later, I’m sitting in a brightly lit classroom at the Winston Academy for Girls. My dad used to joke that the day I wore a skirt would be the day the zombie apocalypse rolled into town. Two hours in and I have yet to see a zombie, but I do feel like the living dead. Someone bathed in raspberry perfume this morning, causing a war to rage inside my nostrils. I might fall to the floor and convulse, the smell’s that thick.

Maybe it’s not the perfume. Maybe I’m allergic to all this estrogen.

“You okay?” the girl next to me whispers.

I respond by covering my mouth and sneezing so hard that a giant wad of snot lands in the palm of my hand. Carefully, I move my hand under the desk and smile.

“Fine,” I reply. “Just tired.”

The girl chews on a strand of her honey-colored hair as she attempts to write down every word of the lecture. A leather day planner rests at the edge of her desk, a name embroidered in pink curly letters at the bottom: Emma Elizabeth Swanson.

I’m definitely not in public school anymore.

Our Business Mathematics teacher pity-smiles at me from behind her glasses and dives into a discussion about supply and demand. I continue to wonder what I should do with the snot on my palm. If I were sitting beside one of the guys at Burlington High, like I should be this year, the snot wouldn’t be an issue. I would wipe it on Cowboy, the least likely of the group to retaliate, and laugh.

But what would a “lady” do?

Here at Winston, boys feel as mythical and mysterious as unicorns. There’s no sign of them anywhere. No obnoxious belches. No stupid high- fives. No talk of monster hunting. It’s unsettling, like I’m walking among a race of polite aliens wearing plaid jumpers and lip gloss.

How am I supposed to survive a year on another planet? 

About the Author:

Lisa Aldin

Lisa Aldin graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in English Literature. She now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and daughter. ONE OF THE GUYS is her debut novel.

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Favorite Reads of 2014 & An Update

It’s 2015 and I’m sitting here typing this up, wondering where the time went. I realize that I’ve had this blog for a while and that I always say I’m going to update more and I never really do. I’ve always loved books but as a sophomore in college, I’ve turned my love into a career goal.

For those who have stuck with me and still read this, gold stars and much thanks to you. To everyone who has recently found me (surprisingly, people still do since I get emails about subscribers): welcome! I forever apologize for updating infrequently, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that it will always be that way.

A little update on my life: Last fall, I interned with the literary agency McIntosh & Otis, Inc. (they’re known for John Steinbeck’s titles). This semester, I’m interning at Bloomsbury USA. Hence, why I never update  (plus college and classes and all that).

Anyways, I’m here to share my favorites of 2014. I read a whopping 42 titles in 2014 (not really, since some of those titles are mangas, but let me believe I read 42 books). As always, my goal for 2015 is to read 100 titles and we’ll see how that goes…Here are my picks for 2014:

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Favorite YA book released in 2014:

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Why: What can I even say? I love fairy tales, and I love re-makes of fairy tales even more. Hodge’s book is seductively beautiful. She is a wonderful world and character builder and I was hooked from page one. If you wanna know a little bit more of my love for this book, it’s up on YA Interrobang; all of us posted our fave reads of 2014 there.

Favorite NA book released in 2014:

London Falling (International School #2) by Chanel Cleeton

Why: I loved the first book, I See London and was excited for the sequel. Cleeton is my favorite NA author because she writes characters that I can connect with and understand completely. Not only that, but there are passages where I find thoughts and feelings I’ve felt forever put into words and that means everything.

Favorite YA book that wasn’t released in 2014:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Why: I’m sad that I didn’t read this book when it was released a few years back. Everyone talks about this series and I finally got around to it. To me, the idea isn’t 100% brand new to hear about, the way Cass writes America’s story is very addicting. I’m hooked on the relationships in this series and America’s indecisiveness. Not only that, but I also love the idea of having a prince.

Honorable Mentions:

Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

Why: Not going to lie, I was captivated with the Stockholm syndrome theme. While the action and destruction in this book is interesting, I really enjoyed this book because the romance is written well.

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Why: Alsaid’s story beautifully captures moments and that’s all I’m going to say.

Now, since I have some time to read before the semester starts I would love to hear your favorites; I need reading material. In addition, what books are you looking forward to in 2015?

Blog Tour: I Wish by Elizabeth Langston [Interview + Giveaway]

An attractive guy that grants you wishes?

Today I would love to introduce I WISH by Elizabeth Langston. Spencer Hill is holding a wonderful blog tour and I was given the chance to interview Elizabeth Langston. I WISH releases tomorrow (11/18); with an awesome protag and a cute guy who grants wishes, I do hope you check this book out.

I WISH by Elizabeth Langston

Paperback: 312 pages
Expected publication: November 18th
ISBN: 1939392233 

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What Lacey needs is a miracle. What she gets is a genie with rules.

Lacey Linden is hiding the truth of her life—a depressed mom, a crumbling house, and bills too big to pay. While her high school classmates see a girl with a ready smile and good grades, Lacey spends her evenings seeking ways to save her family. On a get-cash-quick trip to the flea market, Lacey stumbles over a music box that seemingly begs her to take it home. She does, only to find it is inhabited by a gorgeous “genie.” He offers her a month of wishes, one per day, but there’s a catch. Each wish must be humanly possible.

Grant belongs to a league of supernatural beings, dedicated to serving humans in need. After two years of fulfilling the boring wishes of conventional teens, he is one assignment away from promotion to a challenging new role with more daring cases. Yet his month with Lacey is everything that he expects and nothing like he imagines. Lacey and Grant soon discover that the most difficult task of all might be saying goodbye.

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Elizabeth also answered a few questions I had for her. So without further ado, I welcome Elizabeth Langston!

1. How would you explain I WISH in a six word sentence?

Lacey needs Grant more than wishes.

2. What gave you the inspiration for your novel?

My daughter had a friend in high school with an absent father, alcoholic mom, and four younger siblings. This girl became the hub of her family. She went to school, worked a waitressing job, took care of the kids, and kept everything from falling apart. When their car broke down, my daughter became her chauffeur for a while.

I thought this young woman was amazing. She was on track to be a superstar in high school and college, yet she put it all on hold for her family. I remember thinking that it would be so nice if she had a little magic to make all of her problems go away.  And the idea for I WISH was born.

3. Lacey finds her music box while browsing around a flea market; do you go to flea markets? If so, what is the most memorable thing you have found?

Not in North Carolina. But my family travels a lot—and wandering through flea markets or bazaars is something we do on vacation. It’s a great way to discover what’s important in the places we’re visiting.

I usually try to buy a pair of earrings at flea markets. Each time I put them on, I’m briefly reminded of that place. But if I had to pick a single memorable thing, it would be a set of wind chimes made with ceramic birds. When the wind blows, I remember and smile.

4. The first thing I noticed on your website were the words ‘Magical Realism’ and its definition. What draws you to the genre and what has your experience been like incorporating it into your YA novels?’

My day job is in computer software. We’re logical, scientific, and orderly. When I’m not at work, I want to escape into things that can’t be explained. My favorite TV shows have often featured people with a twist of something magical in their midst of their ordinary worlds. Bewitched. Twilight Zone. Medium. Right now, it’s Elementary because I love how Sherlock has this eerie ability to perceive things the rest of us can’t. It also intrigues me to think how much of a burden a supernatural power must be.

When I started writing, I tried realistic fiction, but it didn’t work for me. I finally figured out that I had to be fascinated by stories before readers could be. So I turned to my love of magical realism, and it just fit.

My debut series is Whisper Falls. On Goodreads, it’s classified as time-travel, but I really wrote it as magical realism.  The heroine is Susanna, an indentured servant living in the completely realistic world of 1796. The hero is Mark, a teen athlete living in the completely realistic world of now. The heart of their story is how they create a real relationship through a magical fracture in time.

I WISH was the first YA novel that I wrote (although it sold after Whisper Falls).  The heroine Lacey needs help, so I send her a genie. But Grant acts as real—as nearly-human—as possible, because that’s more interesting to me than absolute power. It forces Grant to consider the true value of his powers—when it makes sense to use them and when it does not.

About the Author:

Eelizabeth-langstonlizabeth Langston lives in North Carolina, halfway between the beaches and the mountains. She has two teen-ish daughters and one husband (a geek like her). When she’s not writing software or stories, Elizabeth loves to travel with her family, watch dance reality TV shows, and dream about which restaurant ought to get their business that night.

Elizabeth’s debut novel WHISPER FALLS released in November 2013. Its sequels, A WHISPER IN TIME released in April 2014 and WHISPERS FROM THE PAST released in October 2014.  Her new series begins with I WISH in November 2014. Learn more about her at www.elizabethlangston.net.

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Rafflecopter Giveaway (Ends 12/01)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/efd711b43/

  • (1 winner) Grand Prize: Signed copy of I WISH, $25 e-book gift card, copper bracelet, swag, temporary tattoo (US & Canada)
  • (2 winners) 2nd prize: copper bracelet, swag, temporary tattoo (US & Canada)
  • (30 winners) 3rd prize: swag & temporary tattoos (international)

Tour Schedule:

November 17 – Bumbles and Fairy-Tales (guest post), Books As You Know It (interview)
November 18 – RELEASE DAY!!! Branwrites (interview), K-Books (guest post)
November 19 – (Lost in) Believing in Books (interview), The Cover Contessa (guest post)
November 20 – Jessabella Reads (interview), Books Complete Me (review)
November 21 – Shersinghzn (guest post)
November 22 – Lovely Reads (guest post)
November 23 – Crossroad Reviews (review), Stuck In YA Books (guest post)
November 24 – Letters in the Sand (review), Beauty and the Bookshelf (guest post)

My Thoughts: True Fire by Gary Meehan

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Megan is pregnant.

As she prepares to tell her family, the unthinkable happens. Her village is razed by soldiers: her grandfather murdered, her twin sister taken.

On a desperate mission to rescue her beloved Gwyneth, Megan discovers a terrifying truth – that the destruction of her old life is inextricably linked to her unborn child. The feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfilment of a prophecy: one that will put Megan and her new friends – Eleanor, a fiery ex-aristocrat, and Damon, a wayward charmer – at the heart of the greatest war her world has ever known.

My Thoughts:

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

With True Fire, Meehan has crafted a world divided by religion and corruption while interrupting reader’s connotations about witches.

I firmly believe I would not have enjoyed the novel as much if not for Meehan’s writing – it is definitely the strongest aspect of True Fire. For me, the book reads as high YA. The writing, along with the book’s themes, is more mature; on the other hand, the characters are highly sarcastic and fall into the mature, yet immature range. Meehan also details scenes with just enough description to keep things entertaining instead of boring readers with a descriptive over-kill.

That being said, I really enjoyed the protagonists Megan, Eleanor and Damon. Like any other novel, they meet under special circumstances; unlike other novels though, the three of them continue a very intense love-hate relationship with each other. I really couldn’t tell if they were going to stay acquaintances or kill each other off; that question itself kept me reading.

Although True Fire has a strong narrative and awesome characters, I found the plot to be average (if that’s a good description). There’s the girl who hasn’t done anything wrong, but is in this huge predicament; the beautiful friend that can kick-ass; and the charming guy who may or may not be on the protagonist’s side. I also must admit I predicted the ending, which I had hoped would be something different.

Still, the themes and conflicts that revolve around religion, belief, and corruption are written in with much thought. In True Fire, there are two groups: the witches and the Brothers. Both believe in God, but are out to destroy each other for the struggle of power. Meehan incorporates these things into the plot well; the reader is able to look into a world controlled by religion without feeling pressured to take on, or think of, notions of their own.

True Fire is a satisfying read. If you are looking for an action filled adventure mixed with sarcasm, I definitely think Meehan’s book is for you.

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]

FERAL TOUR BANNER

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

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Buy Links

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Giveaway:

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