Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

The Break-Up Artist 
The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 

After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.
One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.
No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy


Publishes in US: April 29th 2014 by Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Contemp
Source: Netgalley
Series? No

Buy it: Amazon  Barnes & Noble Book  Depository

Author stalk away: ~site ~twitter ~facebook

    The Break-Up Artist came on my radar when I saw it for review on Netgalley. I liked the premise, and even though I knew that the main character, Becca would probably undergo a crazy transformation on her views of dating and love. 
    Sure enough, at first, Becca was very jaded. She scoffed at PDA, and she felt a solidarity with her other single friend Val. She'd lost her best friend from earlier in life when she dated a new guy quarterback and her popularity skyrocketed, and on top of that Becca's sister was left right before her wedding. So, she has seen the pain and the devastation that being in a relationship can bring, so she offers her services to break up couples, thinking she is saving them from pain later on. She gets pretty divisive in her goals to break up others, and gets a challenge she isn't sure that she can do. 
    I guess some of my problems were that the characters seemed really immature at times and that there was maybe too much drama for me at times. I know that some of this is just the nature of the book and subject. It's about a girl who breaks up couples, so I should have predicted there would be fall out and then also the actions of Becca catching up to her. And they did, but I think that she first went downhill in her actions rather than a steady character growth and realization about the realities of life, love and relationships. I know that as a freshman in high school that you aren't going to have full understanding, but I think that she just saw things in a slanted light without the full stories on what she made her decisions made on. 
    I like how things wrapped up though, and I wanted to know what would happen overall, so while I had the above issues, I also didn't want to stop reading and it kept my interest. I liked the friendship between her and Val , that they clicked and understood each other so well. I love when stories emphasize good friendships that can last through the excitement of new boyfriends or even when not-so-smart and harmful to other person decisions are made and there is forgiveness. I also like the closeness of Becca and her sister. Even though a lot of their time together is spent plotting the break-up artist stuff, they do have real conversations and I love how much Becca cared and pushed Diane to face some of the things that was wrong in her life and reconcile with some of her friends. 
      Disclaimer: There is cheating, and while I hated every minute of it, I think that it taught that character a lot. It was hard to see it behind a best friend's back, but it was okay for me considering nature of the story as well as drama level. I still don't condone it, but understand that hormones can make us believe crazy stuff and make poor decisions.
Bottom Line: Solid friendship and family relationships but as expected a lot of drama and people hurt, but also healed.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever been a part of breaking up a couple or friendship?
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WoW, waiting on wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. I also feature books that may have already released, but I am anxiously waiting to read.

This week, I'm featuring:
Sublime is the story of two teens, Lucy and Colin, who fall in love, but the the problem is … Lucy's a ghost. 

Slowly, she begins to remember more about her life and death as daredevil Colin takes himself to the edge of death where their realities overlap so he can be physically closer to Lucy.

Lucy starts to wonder if she's Colin's salvation or the means of his demise.

 October 14th 2014 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

What are you waiting on?
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley

Don't Call Me Baby
Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
All her life, Imogene has been known as the girl on THAT blog.
Imogene's mother has been writing an incredibly embarrassing, and incredibly popular, blog about her since before she was born. Hundreds of thousands of perfect strangers knew when Imogene had her first period. Imogene's crush saw her "before and after" orthodontia photos. But Imogene is fifteen now, and her mother is still blogging about her, in gruesome detail, against her will.
When a mandatory school project compels Imogene to start her own blog, Imogene is reluctant to expose even more of her life online...until she realizes that the project is the opportunity she's been waiting for to tell the truth about her life under the virtual microscope and to define herself for the first time.
Don't Call Me Baby is a sharply observed and irrepressibly charming story about mothers and daughters, best friends and first crushes, and the surface-level identities we show the world online and the truth you can see only in real life.


Publishes in US: April 22nd 2014 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA contemp
Source: harper teen via netgalley
Series? No.

Buy it: Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound Book Depository

Author stalk away: ~site ~twitter ~facebook

    I wanted to read Don't Call Me Baby because I liked the premise of being in the proverbial spotlight for her whole life and then her struggle to find the balance between letting her mom do her thing and having her own life. 
    I liked Imogene's voice. She seemed like a person that I could talk to and that I would like in real life. She respects her mom and that she gets her affirmation and has based a lot of her personality and identity through the blog and she doesn't want to disappoint her by asking for more privacy. But she is embarrassed that others, especially people that are actually in her whole life sees this image of her and her embarrassing moments and every detail of her life.
    I loved the presents and themes of family and friendship in this one. Although Imogene feels smothered and overshadowed, and misunderstood because of how she is portrayed on the blog, you can still tell that her mom loves her. Understands her? No way, but she cares. Part of Imogene's growth was learning to speak her feelings instead of seething silently or being passive aggressive--both methods we see in this one for how she copes. Her plans to get back at her mom and open her eyes evolves in this one, and it causes some problems with her and her best friend Sage, who understands what Imogene is going through because her mom is also a blogger, a health food blog, and she forces her views and food on Sage. They bond and have been close friends for years, and I loved their easy conversation, and the light feel that there is between two teens who are so close for some time. We see the friendship tested in this one, and it is hard to read, but I did like the changes and epiphanies it caused the girls to have. 
    Imogene is also close with her golfing Grandma who lives with them. She is a smart lady and it is hard to see her torn between her daughter and granddaughter and helping them to see the other point of view while still affirming and listening to each's side. She is a cool old lady and the bond reminds me of my late grandmother in some ways. 
    The romance was fun and light. She'd had a crush on him for a while from afar, but they are finally in some of the same places at the same time. It is the awkward first real conversations and getting below the surface level. I liked how he was understanding but also wise and gives advice and insights without being too pushy or making her feel bad. He has a whole different growing up existance and can see how Imogene could feel misunderstood and written about too much, having no privacy, but he also sees the positives-- that she pays attention to the details of Imogene's life and that is her way of being involved. 
    Part of the story is told in blog posts, and while I normally don't like anything except narrative, this worked for me, and it came from both Imogene's mom, Imogene herself, and from Sage. They give a new insight into the characters and it flowed well. 
    The story did seem to change abruptly about fifty percent. I think that the transition and details of what brought Imogene to make such a turn in her tone and objectives needed a bit more time, but I still like the direction that the story went. I liked the story as a whole a lot, but I didn't rate any higher because I don't think it is a memorable enough story to stick with me. I think it is fun and great while reading though and still recommend.
      It wrapped up well and was a fun read overall. It was pretty fast paced and character driven story. 

Bottom Line: Fun story about a girl discovering her own identity and letting others see who she is outside of her mom's blog.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever been in the spotlight?
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: The Hunt by Stacey Kade

The Hunt (Project Paper Doll, #2)
The Hunt (Project Paper Doll #2) by Stacey Kade
Ariane Tucker has finally escaped GTX, the research facility that created her. While on the run, Zane Bradshaw is the only person she can trust. He knows who-and what-she is and still wants to be part of her life.
But accepting Zane's help means putting him in danger.
Dr. Jacobs, head of GTX, is not the only one hunting for Ariane. Two rival corporations have their sights set on taking down their competition. Permanently. To protect Zane and herself, Ariane needs allies. She needs the other hybrids. The hybrids who are way more alien and a lot less human. Can Ariane win them over before they turn on her? Or will she be forced to choose sides, to decide who lives and who dies?

Publishes in US: April 22nd 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: ya scifi
Source: Disney for review
Series? Project Paper Doll #2
my Review: Project Paper Doll: The Rules

Buy it: Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Author stalk away: MySpace :: Twitter :: Site

    I wanted to read this one because I enjoyed the premise of the story and wanted more when I finished it. Ariane is a great main character and struggled with what made her different and who I saw a lot of growth in as well as the potential for a lot more. Zane was swoony, the way he treated Ariane like there wasn't anything different about her and respected her. 
   The romance continues in this one, and while the time elapsed is still only about a week, it has been intense and it is the first time that Ariane has ever felt romantic feelings for anyone. I know that lots pegged it as insta-love but that isn't so much one of my pet peeves as long as I feel the emotions, and I did in their case. There were some pretty swoony scenes too, that I very much loved. 
    But for the most part, they are on the run, and they are very scared and paranoid of their next step. I love the dual narrative because I get both of their thoughts on each other as well as what they are planning. It was hard to see the struggle in Ariane about whether or not to leave Zane in order to better protect him since everyone she cares for is threatened.  I get to see the strength of Zane and how much he wants to be there for her especially in the moments where it feels like no one else is there for her. 
    Understandably, there are a lot of arguments between the two about safety. Ariane thinks that Zane would be safer without being with her and Zane wants to be by her side and helping her along the way. Ariane doubts Zane at times that he really accepts the alien part of her, and Zane has a lot of self doubt that maybe he is slowing Ariane down or holding her back. I think that they finally come to an understanding and agreement about how the other feels even though there are some impulsive decisions that have some unfortunate or costly consequences attached. But its a book so you expect that there aren't always going to the best decisions made and it will keep the plot going as well as teach the characters a lot about themselves and those around them, giving them opportunity to grow and discover things about themselves. 
    The world building is good, although I still have a lot of questions about how exactly, and who and under what circumstances did the alien and human DNA mix. What happened to the "parent/donors." We do get to see another competitor for the trials and meet several hybrids in this second book and it looks like according to the ending, we are going to meet the third in the next book. There is a lot of set-up in this one, as with so many second books, but I was okay with it because I enjoyed the romance and the action scenes that we got. 
    The pacing is good and it keeps the story moving along and my attention rapt. Although the ending was pretty cliff-hangerish. Of course, the climax always has events happening in quick succession, but several of these were fairly surprising and then all of the sudden you are at the end, going--did she stop in the middle of a chapter? Surely this arc is missing some pages, because you can't just drop a bomb like that and then end a book and make me wait another year (I'm guessing) to find out how they are going to possibly get themselves out of this pickle and get their HEA. 

Bottom Line: Enjoyable sequel with swoon worthy scenes. Major cliffie though.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you think you could keep dating someone if you found out they had partial alien DNA?
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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Giveaway and Interview: Salted by Aaron Galvin (Int)

Picture Salted by Aaron Galvin
Life isn’t better under the sea.
Lenny Dolan is all too familiar with this reality. A Selkie slave in the realm beneath the waves, he has no choice when charged with leading a crew ashore to capture an elusive runaway. If unsuccessful, the loved ones kept behind will pay for his failure with their lives.
But when their target leads Lenny and his crew to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies are faced with a moral dilemma. Secure their own freedom at the expense of others, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences?
How Lenny and his crew answer the question will teach them the harshest truth of all. Only through the loss of innocence does one become Salted.
interview with Blkosiner's Book Blog

Interview with Aaron Galvin, YA Fantasy author of Salted.
--The Twitter version: tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.
A crew of Selkie slave catchers hunt a runaway with the fate of their loved ones on the line. It also features a new take/twist on mermaids.
--How did you get the idea for the story?
My mom.
I had written a different book that received numerous rejections and was moping around her one day because of it. She told me to suck it up. Write something new. For about an hour she gave me various prompts.
“Wizards!” she’d say. 
“Harry Potter,” I’d reply.
“Vampires! Werewolves!”
“Twilight, Mom.”
Finally, she said, “How about mermaids?”
I didn’t have an answer for that. This was back in 2009 when I admittedly hadn’t been reading much at the time. Too busy chasing my other dream, acting. Anyway, I couldn’t think of any mermaid books at the time. The only response I could come back with was that mermaids were for girls. And what guy wanted to be seen reading about mermaids anyway? They weren’t cool!
Then Mom said something I’ll never forget. “Find a way to make them cool.”
That changed everything. I’m a pretty competitive person. Suddenly I had a challenge. How could I make mermaids cool for guys like me? How could I make them different? 
Salted is the result of that. It took me five years to reach this point, but I like to think I accomplished Mom’s challenge. Readers will decide if that’s true.
--Which character would you most/least like to have dinner with?
From my book, dinner with Wilda. I would love to hear all the amazing stories she could tell me about the Salt world.
From other books, it would be a tie between Gandalf and Dumbledore. I’m a sucker for magic and those two would certainly make for interesting conversation.
--Do you have any other works in progress? Any teasers or release dates?
I’m currently hard at work on the sequel to Salted. I also have another completed YA novel about witches I hope to release this year. It’s set sixteen years after the Salem trials ended and features a cool twist I’ve not seen/read before.
--What are some of your favorite books? Do you still have much time to read?
I’m a fantasy guy all the way, but I also dabble in sci-fi and horror. I don’t have much time to read now between writing and caring for my daughter, but my favorite books are: The Lord of The Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter series, Hunger Games, Wool, and just about anything from Stephen King.
--If a fairy godmother told you could be put into the world of your favorite book for 24 hours, which book would you pick and why?
Plop me down in Narnia, lady! It’s not as dangerous as Tolkien’s world and I’ve always wanted to hear animals talk. I’d love to cross swords with Reepicheep, (even if he would quickly disarm me), stand next to a centaur, and, of course, meet Aslan.

--Do you need anything to write (music, coffee, etc)? Are there any songs on your playlist- songs that inspired you or that were playing while you wrote?
Oh coffee, you sweet nectar of the gods, how do I love thee? I typically take a fresh cup before writing. I also must write to music. It takes some time finding the right inspiration for a character or chapter, but once it fits I’m off to the races. The music differs for whichever character is in my head, but it’s almost always instrumental soundtracks.
--If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Mimicry, or absorption. That way I could take on all sorts of powers; flight, time travel, telekinesis...why limit yourself to just one?
--Besides writing, what do you like to do in your free time?
Save the world, cruise around on my hoverboard, play a round of Quidditch or two, and volunteer as tribute.
--What is one thing you would tell your 15 year old self?
--Is there anything else you want to add or say to your readers?
Thank you for giving my characters life. There are so many great reads out there and I’m humbled that you took the time to read mine. Hopefully you’ll stick with me! ;-)
Lightning round: this or that?
Vanilla or chocolate?
Video or Board Games?
Board games. You learn more about the people you’re playing with.
Summer or Winter?
Winter is coming.
Edward or Jacob?
Hockey or soccer?
I suck at both.
Ebook or paper?
Paper. I’m old school.
Salty or sweet?
Come on…Salty. ;-)
Beach or mountains?
Mountains. Writing about what lives in the ocean makes me nervous to go near the water…
Phone call or email?
I would’ve said phone call before my daughter came into the picture. Now I’m better with email. I don’t have to worry about her crying and someone on the other end being annoyed.
Early bird or night owl?
Night owl.
Dog or cat?
Messy or neat?
Messily organized.
Ninjas or pirates?
A pirate ninja! Wouldn’t that be fantastic to see? Sign me up to watch that movie!

Blkosiner's Book Blog Giveaway
- ebook of Salted (int)
-Fill out Rafflecopter to enter
-Ends on 5/18/2014 11:59 pm EST
-If you win a review on your blog and/or amazon is appreciated but not required.

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