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.

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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

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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.

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.

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!

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.