Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Cover Reveal: HALF TRUTHS by Claire Contreras




You’ve heard of these groups – the secretive ones that only the crème de la crème are invited into, the ones outsiders speculate about for centuries – I’m the second in my family invited to attend, but to them, I’m fresh meat. New blood. New money, too. 
They think they’ll elbow past me, that I’m here for their amusement, for them to walk all over, they’ll find out soon enough that I’m not. 

I may look like one of them, with my designer bags and clothes straight from the Parisian runways, but I’m not. I’m here for answers, to take revenge for blood spilled on their centuries-old Persian rugs. 
I transferred here in search for answers about what happened to my older brother, who hightailed out of here, and my friend who seemingly disappeared into thin air. I certainly wasn’t here for the attention of the star hockey player, regardless of how much he willed my eyes his way. I wasn’t here for his scrutiny or his judgment or to read into his mysterious aura. I was here for the society, because only they held the answers I needed. That was, until I found out that in order to get those answers, I needed to go through him. He’s saying if I want in, I have to play by their rules, follow their lead. 
It’s a game I’m willing to play. 

I may be the second person I know of to be invited into their society, but I’ll be the first to make it out intact. 





Claire Contreras is a New York Times Best Selling Author. Her books range from romantic suspense to contemporary romance and are currently translated in seven different languages. She lives in Miami, Fl with her husband, two adorable boys, three bulldogs, and two stray cats that she refuses to admit are hers (even though they live on her porch, she named them, and continues to feed them). When she's not writing, she's usually lost in a book.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Release Day: THE LAST POST by Renee Carlino


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See you on the other side.

Laya Marston’s husband, Cameron, a daredevil enthusiast, always said this before heading off on his next adventure. He was the complete opposite of her, ready and willing to dive off a cliff-face, or parachute across a canyon—and Laya loved him for it. But she was different: pragmatic, regimented, devoted to her career and to supporting Cameron from the sidelines of his death-defying feats.

Opposites attract, right?

But when Cameron dies suddenly and tragically, all the stages of grief go out the window. Laya becomes lost in denial, living in the delusion that Cameron will come back to her. She begins posting on his Facebook page, reminiscing about their life together, and imagining new adventures for the two of them.

Micah Evans, a young and handsome architect at Laya’s father’s firm, is also stuck––paralyzed by the banal details of his career, his friendships, and his love life. He doesn’t know what he’s looking for, only that there is someone out there who can bring energy and spirit to the humdrum of his life.

When Micah discovers Laya’s tragic and bizarre Facebook posts, he’s determined to show Laya her life is still worth living. Leaving her anonymous gifts and notes, trying to recreate the sense of adventure she once shared with her late husband, Micah finds a new passion watching Laya come out of the darkness. And Laya finds a new joy in the experiences Micah has created for her.

But for Laya, letting another man in still feels like a betrayal to her late husband. Even though Micah may be everything she could wish for, she wonders if she deserves to find happiness again.




   

Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com 


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Review: THE CONFUSION OF LAUREL GRAHAM by Adrienne Kisner



Seventeen-year-old Laurel Graham has a singular, all-consuming ambition in this life: become the most renowned nature photographer and birder in the world. The first step to birding domination is to win the junior nature photographer contest run by prominent Fauna magazine. Winning runs in her blood—her beloved activist and nature-loving grandmother placed when she was a girl. 

One day Gran drags Laurel out on a birding expedition where the pair hear a mysterious call that even Gran can’t identify. The pair vow to find out what it is together, but soon after, Gran is involved in a horrible car accident. 

Now that Gran is in a coma, so much of Laurel's world is rocked. Her gran's house is being sold, developers are coming in to destroy the nature sanctuary she treasures, and she still can't seem to identify the mystery bird. 

Laurel’s confusion isn’t just a group of warblers—it’s about what means the most to her, and what she’s willing to do to fight to save it. Maybe--just maybe-if she can find the mystery bird, it will save her gran, the conservatory land, and herself.

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I have to be in just the right mood to actually sit down and read (not listen) to a YA Contemporary book. So when I decided to start THE CONFUSION OF LAUREL GRAHAM this weekend I was apprehensive. It tuned out to be *exactly* what I needed! I started it on Friday morning and finished it Sunday evening. It was witty, moving and I just loved all of the different bird and photography references.

Laurel is a senior in high school who is spending her summer working at the local nature reserve. When her Grandmother and fellow avian enthusiast is in a tragic accident, she begins to wonder if the new bird call she's been hearing is really her grandmother trying to tell her something. With the fate of the nature reserve up in the air, Laurel rallies her flock (see what I did there?!) to try and "fight the man" and save the day. 

As the daughter of a nature photographer, the synopsis for this book really spoke to me. It reads much like a middle grade novel, except that it includes a lot of f-bombs in the dialogue. The main character is about to start her senior year in high school, there is minimal romance and the plot is not super dramatic/"high stakes." Sometimes that's exactly what I'm looking for. I might classify this as a lighthearted yet moving story. Like I said, YA contemporary can be truly hit or miss for me and this was a huge hit. I was captivated by the plot and found myself laughing out loud and nodding my head at some of the things written. I'd definitely recommend this to any nature loving friends.
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Adrienne Kisner has lived her entire “adult” life in a college dormitory working in both Residence Life and college chaplaincy. (She prefers the term “dormitory” over “residence hall.” Don’t @ her.) She went to school for a long time so that now she gets to swoop around in a fancy robe and silly hat (like at Hogwarts). She also has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts (a place like Hogwarts). Adrienne is a birder and knitter with more heart and enthusiasm than actual skill. Her debut novel DEAR RACHEL MADDOW won a 2016 PEN New England Susan P Bloom Discovery Award and was one of YALSA’s 2019 picks for Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her second novel, THE CONFUSION OF LAUREL GRAHAM, will be released in June of 2019. Book three, SIX ANGRY GIRLS, is due out in the spring of 2020. She loves her current home in Boston but will always be a Pennsylvanian at heart.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review: SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim


Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

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Okay, so if I'm being honest the pitch for this book did not catch my attention. But as I saw some of the early reviews start to come in, I became increasingly more intrigued. SPIN THE DAWN is said to be a mix of Project Runway meets Mulan. I feel like that only describes the first half of the book. I would describe the second half as more of a mashup between Aladdin and an adventure/quest (think Percy Jackson) mixed with something I can't quite place my finger on.

Maia is the daughter of a renowned Tailor and when tragedy strikes their family (from multiple fronts), Maia is left to carry the burden of keeping their shop running. But no one can know. Women aren't allowed to become tailors. Between her father's illness, her brothers' absences, and the war causing business to dwindle, her family is struggling to survive. Now that the war has ended, the Emperor is searching for the perfect tailor to make his new fiance's wedding dress and become the Imperial Tailor. When the Emperor's people come knocking, there's only one thing to do.... impersonate her brother and try to win a spot as the Imperial Tailor.

I loved this book from the minute I started reading it. Lim did a fantastic job of immediately grabbing my attention and keeping me interested throughout the whole story. I found it refreshing to have a story told through a single point of view. The author dreamed up many intriguing characters, but just like Maia caught the court magician's eye, he caught mine! The Enchanter is sassy, swoon worthy, and cloaked in secrecy. If you love a fantasy full of adventure, betrayal, mystery, mythology, and a slow burn romance, then look no further! This may be Lim's debut novel, but it didn't feel like it. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this story and anything else she writes.


Elizabeth Lim, author

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, "Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that's kinda cool!" But after one of her teachers told her she had "too much voice" in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English. 
 

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and she turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel -- for kicks, at first, then things became serious -- and she hasn't looked back since. 
 

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She grew up in Northern California, with a brief stint in Tokyo, Japan, but now lives in New York City with her husband and their daughter.
Elizabeth graduated from Harvard College with a degree in music and a secondary in East Asian Studies, and completed her graduate degrees at The Juilliard School.
She is represented by Gina Maccoby of the Gina Maccoby Literary Agency


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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Review: TEEN TITANS: RAVEN (A Graphic Novel) by Kami Garcia, Illustrations by Gabriel Picolo



When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth's foster mom--and Raven's memory--she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn't easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can't remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before.

But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she's ready to face what's buried in the past...and the darkness building inside her.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Kami Garcia and first-time graphic novel artist Gabriel Picolo comes this riveting tale of finding the strength to face who you are and learning to trust others--and yourself.

Add to your Goodreads TBR or buy now!


This year I have ventured into the world of Graphic Novels. BOY AM I GLAD I DID!!! I've always been a fan of Kami's books so, even though I had never heard of Teen Titans, I knew I had to read her first Teen Titan Graphic novel.

I sat down on Friday afternoon to start it and the next thing I knew I was done. I flew through and was completely taken by the story. As I mentioned I knew nothing about Teen Titans and not once while I was reading did I feel lost or wonder who the characters were. Kami did a wonderful job of giving new life to characters that already exist. I'd be interested to hear what readers who know more about this world think.
When I finished I wasn't ready. I wanted more. More words, more pictures, more of this story. I'm so excited to see that this is the start to a new series. But OMG 2020 for book 2?!? UGH. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger, so that was nice but I'll definitely have to read through this one again.

Now, I'm new to reading graphic novels, so I don't have a ton of exposure to different artists but I LOVE Gabriel Picolo's illustration style. Since I read an ARC copy, I'm very curious to see whether the art inside my finished copy looks different. I may have to do another read through when it arrives.
If you're like me and new to reading these, I definitely recommend picking TEEN TITANS: RAVEN up. If you're a seasoned graphic novel reader, I hope you check this one out and enjoy it as much as I did.

Catch Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo on tour!


TEEN TITANS: BEAST BOY (Teen Titans #2) coming in 2020
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Kami Garcia
Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, USA Today & international bestselling coauthor of the Beautiful Creatures and Dangerous Creatures novels. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES has been published in 50 countries and translated in 39 languages, and the film Beautiful Creaturesreleased in theaters in 2013, from Warner Brothers. Kami’s solo series, The Legion, includes the instant New York Times bestseller UNBREAKABLE, and the sequel UNMARKED, both of which were nominated for Bram Stoker Awards. Her other works include THE X-FILES ORIGINS: AGENT OF CHAOS and the YA contemporary novels THE LOVELY RECKLESS and the forthcoming BROKEN BEAUTIFUL HEARTS (February 2018).
Kami was a teacher for seventeen years before co-authoring her first novel on a dare from seven of her students. If she isn’t busy watching Supernatural, Kami can teach you how to escape from a pair of handcuffs or bake a Coca-Cola cake. She lives in Maryland with her family, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Visit Kami at www.KamiGarcia.com.