Friday, September 16, 2016

The Way We Bared Our Souls Review

Title: The Way We Bared Our Souls
Author: Willa Strayhorn
Publisher: Razorbill
Release: January 22, 2015
Pages: 288
Review: 5 stars

Synopsis:


If you could trade your biggest burden for someone else’s, would you do it?

Five teenagers sit around a bonfire in the middle of the New Mexico desert. They don’t know it yet, but they are about to make the biggest sacrifice of their lives.

Lo has a family history of MS, and is starting to come down with all the symptoms.
Thomas, a former child soldier from Liberia, is plagued by traumatic memories of his war-torn past.
Kaya would do anything to feel physical pain, but a rare condition called CIP keeps her numb.
Ellen can’t remember who she was before she started doing drugs.
Kit lost his girlfriend in a car accident and now he just can’t shake his newfound fear of death.

When they trade totems as a symbol of shedding and adopting one another’s sorrows, they think it’s only an exercise.

But in the morning, they wake to find their burdens gone…and replaced with someone else’s.

As the reality of the ritual unfolds, this unlikely group of five embarks on a week of beautiful, terrifying experiences that all culminate in one perfect truth: In the end, your soul is stronger than your burdens.

First Impressions

I received this from Isabel- she hadn't read it and she thought I would like it. I took one look at it, read the back of the book, and went "yup, this is gonna kill me in the best way possible." I was so excited to read it, and I was ready to have ALL the feels.

Characters


Lo, the main character, is a kick butt girl, and I love her. She's terrified of her body, terrified that she has MS, and yet she still does her best to seem "normal" to her friends and to pretend she doesn't have MS. Her emotional growth through the book is beautiful- especially since we get to have her first person perspective the entire time. The other four characters are equally as amazing. Everything about them is so dense- so filled with emotion and real issues that you can feel the content overflowing from the book. You can see the characters vividly in your mind, you can actually feel their pain, and it makes the story that much more real.

Writing


The writing is beautiful. It's just honestly beautiful. It's elegantly scripted and it changes over the course of the book as Lo herself changes, which provides a stronger sense of authenticity. As the book goes on, the writing becomes more introspective, more thoughtful, and more complex. This is not to say that the writing isn't complex or talented in the beginning, for it is. Another thing I love about the writing is that it honestly feels like it's coming from a high school girl's mind. 

World- Building


It's set in "our" world- Strayhorn didn't build an entirely new world, but she did build a world focused on different cultures and beliefs. Jay is a man who wanders the woods with his coyote, Dakota. The ritual with the totems is based on Native American beliefs. I love that she brought diverse cultures and ideas into the light of contemporary novels. I honestly just love this book.

Tweet me your thoughts- did you love it as much as I did? @Tween2TeenKat

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Blog Tour: Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch


Hello, and welcome to my stop on the Frost Like Night blog tour! I have an extreme love of Sara and the Snow Like Ashes series, so I was ecstatic when I got a spot on the tour! Sadly, time got away from me and I haven't been able to finish the book yet, so I have a mini review for you today, that will be expanded on upon finishing Frost Like Night!

I apologize if this sounds a lot like an essay, that's all I've been writing recently!

First Impressions

It's been so long since I read book two (I read it in Summer 2015), that I was a tad confused at the beginning, but I quickly caught on to what was happening. As always, I love Sara's writing, even when I disagree with what characters are doing.

Characters

Meira, Meira, Meira. I love her, I truly do. But why do characters have to have feelings that differ from my own?!?! I love Meira, and will respect her no matter what she chooses, but I know where I think her heart should lead her, and I suspect where it actually will. This makes me sad, but if she is happy, I can be happy for her.

Frost Like Night is told from three perspectives. Meira, which is first person present tense, Ceridwen, which is third person past tense, and Mather, which is the same. After Meira, the Ceridwen chapters are my favorite. It's awesome seeing another kick-butt, strong-willed woman. Ceridwen loves her people and will do anything to protect them. I majorly admire her, and all the things she's able to do without any magic at all. Ceridwen is a force to be reckoned with, that's for sure.

Lastly, Mather. To be fair, I didn't like him from the beginning. Luckily, most of his chapters also have Meira in them, so at least I can get my awesome lady dosage in there. Mather cares a lot about his people, but Meira keeps him in the dark about many of her plans, and what she knows is to come. This creates an interesting dichotomy between the characters, as they try to go about solving problems in different ways.

World-Building

In Frost Like Night, we are exposed to both new and old parts of this world. There are various new places we get to explore, and as I read, I can't wait to know more about. There are also old places, such as Summer, which we get to see in a new light. With Angra's Decay spreading, nothing is as it was once before.

Title: Frost Like Night
Author: Sara Raasch
Release: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 496
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Synopsis:

Angra is alive, his Decay is spreading—and no one is safe.

Meira will do anything to save her world. With Angra trying to break through her mental defenses, she desperately needs to learn to control her own magic—so when the leader of a mysterious Order from Paisly offers to teach her, she jumps at the chance. But the true solution to stopping the Decay lies in a labyrinth deep beneath the Season Kingdoms. To defeat Angra, Meira will have to enter the labyrinth, destroy the very magic she’s learning to control—and make the biggest sacrifice of all.

Mather will do anything to save his queen. He needs to rally the Children of the Thaw, find Meira—and finally tell her how he really feels. But with a plan of attack that leaves no kingdom unscathed and a major betrayal within their ranks, winning the war—and protecting Meira—slips farther and farther out of reach.

Ceridwen will do anything to save her people. Angra had her brother killed, stole her kingdom, and made her a prisoner. But when she’s freed by an unexpected ally who reveals a shocking truth behind Summer’s slave trade, Ceridwen must take action to save her true love and her kingdom, even if it costs her what little she has left.

As Angra unleashes the Decay on the world, Meira, Mather, and Ceridwen must bring the kingdoms of Primoria together…or lose everything.

You Can Find it At:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Goodreads

Title: Ice Like Fire
Author: Sara Raasch
Release: October 13, 2015
Pages: 479
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Synopsis:

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

You Can Find it At:
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iBooks

Title: Snow Like Ashes
Author: Sara Raasch
Release: October 14, 2014
Pages: 432
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

Synopsis:

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

You Can Find it At:
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iBooks

Author Bio:

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray, and the sequel, ICE LIKE FIRE, comes out October 13, 2015. Neither features her hand-drawn pictures.

You Can Find Her At:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Pinterest
Google+
YouTube
Amazon
Reeds
Wattpad

Giveaway:

3 winners will receive a signed copy of FROST LIKE NIGHT, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Blog Tour: Olivia Decoded by Vivi Barnes


1. What are some of your favorite YA novels featuring hacking and computer technology?

Find Me, by Romily Bernard and Feed by M.T. Anderson are both excellent.

2. Do you prefer HEAs (Happily Ever After's) or open endings?

I am a total romantic, so I love to see the couple united at the end. But only after having some major issues. I’m mean like that. ;)

3. What advice do you have for young writers?

Turn off the electronics (except for whatever word processing program you use) and write! Read as much as you can in whatever genre you write as well. I’ve been to many conferences and writing sessions, but nothing teaches writing better than a well-written book!

4. How have Olivia and Z changed since we last saw them?

Olivia Decoded actually takes place before the epilogue of Olivia Twisted. Olivia is finally situated with her grandfather, happy and secure. Olivia and Jack have been apart for eight months, and neither one is too happy about that. When they finally do come together, it’s not going to be without angst.

5. Do you have any new story ideas jiggling around in your brain?

I always do! The problem is that I have way too many ideas and not enough time in the day to write them. I’m currently working on a humorous middle grade novel so I hope to finish that by the end of the year.

6. Can we expect to see any more of Olivia and Z after Olivia Decoded, or is this the end for them?

I closed the loop pretty tightly in this book, so this will most likely be the last book sharing Olivia and Z’s adventures. I like to think they’ll have plenty more on their own, though. ;)

7. What are some of your favorite books that you've read recently?

I recently finished the ARC of Every Falling Star by SungJu Lee, a memoir based on the author’s real-life experience growing up in and escaping North Korea. It was phenomenal and I highly recommend it! Another book I’m reading right now and thoroughly enjoying is The Replacement Crush by Lisa Brown Roberts--so adorable. And one I’m really looking forward to starting soon is the thrilling Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker. After that...well, let’s just say I have WAY too many books and not enough space to put them. When you know you have a problem...

8. Are there any books from your childhood that have influenced your writing today?

Oh yes! Well, most of the books I read were fantasy - Watership Down, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, David Eddings -- these were my go-to books to read, and it’s how I learned to tell a story. For contemporary stories, I loved reading Sweet Valley High books and, of course, I consumed Judy Blume books. Blume’s books influence without being preachy, so I try to emulate that in my writing.

9. What's your favorite part about being a writer?

Hearing from kids who love the story. That is my absolute favorite thing in the world! Especially if they say they can connect with or relate to one of the characters. Publishing is a tough business, so this makes it all worthwhile.

10. Have you done any hacking/computer coding before, or did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

I did a ton of research for Olivia Twisted! I am not a hacker, so I took online courses and conferred with people who knew that biz. Olivia Decoded does not feature quite as much hacking as the first book--I was more concerned with the psychological aspect of a stalker, so I did a lot more research into that area. Research is a lot of fun in itself!

Thank you so much for answering my questions!

Thank you!! =)

Olivia TwistedSynopsis:

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Liv might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Liv and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…   Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

You Can Find it At:
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Entangled Publishing

Olivia DecodedTitle: Olivia Decoded
Author: Vivi Barnes
Series: Olivia Twisted #2
Release: Sept. 6, 2016
Genre: YA Thriller 

Synopsis:

This isn’t my Jack, who once looked at me like I was his world. The guy who’s occupied the better part of my mind for eight months.   This is Z, criminal hacker with a twisted agenda and an arsenal full of anger.   I’ve spent the past year trying to get my life on track. New school. New friends. New attitude. But old flames die hard, and one look at Jack—the hacker who enlisted me into his life and his hacking ring, stole my heart, and then left me—and every memory, every moment, every feeling comes rushing back. But Jack’s not the only one who’s resurfaced in my life. And if I can’t break through Z’s defenses and reach the old Jack, someone will get hurt…or worse.

You Can Find it At:
Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iBooks
Kobo
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Entangled Publishing

Author Bio:

ViviBarnesVivi Barnes was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. After college, she convinced her supportive husband to move with her to be part of the sunshine and magic in Orlando, Florida. On a good day, she manages to divide her time writing, working, reading, goofing off with her three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes. Vivi is a proud member of SCBWI and attends conferences whenever she can.

You Can Find Her At:
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Read below for an excerpt from the book:

“Wow, who gave you that?”

“My grandfather. He left it on my car seat this morning."

“Oh, boo. I thought maybe you had a secret admirer or something.” I try not to smile at her obvious disappointment. Emerson’s been on me to date for months now. She knows I had someone back in Richmond who was special, but only that we broke it off before I moved here. She doesn’t know anything else about Jack. No one does, because what would I say? The last guy I dated is a criminal, and the last time I saw him was right after we got kidnapped by his horrible boss and almost died trying to escape. That’d go over really well.

“I don’t know, what do you think?” Emerson breaks into my thoughts as we walk down the hallway to our lockers.

“About what?”

She sighs. “Where Kade’s taking me tonight. Girl, you are not with it today, are you? Are you doing anything tonight?”

“My grandfather’s taking me to dinner.”

“Sweet. Not so romantic, but sweet.”

I smile. “Yes, he’s sweet. But a little over the top on gifts sometimes.” Even after eight months of living the wealthy life, I’d be happier if he gave me a gift card to a bookstore instead of extravagant jewelry I rarely wear.

My phone starts buzzing, and I pull it from my pocket. Grandfather’s text reads: What gift?

I frown, typing, The bracelet you left in my car. I snap a quick picture of the bracelet on my wrist and send it to him. Maybe his text was a hint to send a picture, though I doubt it. He’s usually pretty direct about things.

“What’s up?” Emerson asks.

“Looks like Grandfather forgot he left me the bracelet.” But even as I say it, it doesn’t sound right. He’s one of the sharpest people I’ve ever known, and he runs a financial institution.

“Maybe he gave it to one of his staff to put in your car.” Her voice has the usual bitter tone whenever she’s thinking of her parents. They’re hardly ever around, and when they are, they don’t pay much attention to her.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.” I don’t believe that, though. Even though it’s possible Mrs. Bedwin did put it there, I doubt it. Grandfather is the type to handle things himself when it comes to me. But Emerson’s parents travel so much for their business that they often let their staff handle things like birthdays and other events they think aren’t important. So as grateful as I am that Grandfather’s always there for me, I don’t like to rub that in Emerson’s face.

“Maybe you really do have a secret admirer,” she says hopefully.

I roll my eyes.“I doubt that.”

“Oh, really?” She stops in her tracks, her eyes fixed straight ahead. I follow her gaze, a sharp sense of dread creeping down my spine. A white rose is dangling from the vent in my locker.

A rose I know wasn’t placed there by my grandfather.

Giveaway:

A signed copy of Olivia Decoded + a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Top Ten Favorite Books in Paranormal Romance


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I haven't necessarily read these, but I bought/read them on a whim.

1. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

2. White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

3. Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

4. Embrace by Jessica Shirvington

5. Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent

6. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

7. The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare

8. Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon

9. Hourglass by Myra McEntire

10. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Friday, September 9, 2016

Cover Reveal: Unrest by Wendy Higgins

If you love Wendy Higgins nearly as much as I do, then you can't wait for the cover of Unrest! Well, without further ado, here it is!



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Title: Unrest
Author: Wendy Higgins
Release: February 16, 2017

Synopsis:

Being on the run in the desert means food and sanctuary are hard to come by, but Amber Tate and her crew are not about to give up. Not after having so many of the things they love brutally ripped from them by an unknown enemy who sent their world into the apocalypse.

Survival takes precedence, but once safe shelter is found, their guards fall and the emotions they’ve been holding in are finally released. Anger, insecurities...lust. In their tight quarters, Amber, Rylen, Tater, and Remy can't escape it. The past must be faced, and passions run even stronger in the darkest of times.

In the midst of unrest, their worlds are rocked again when they discover the truth about the war that’s ruined their lives. They thought finding out the enemy's identity would give them the edge; instead it’s revealed terrifying dangers they never thought possible.

You Can Find it At:
Goodreads

Synopsis:

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have. 

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.

You Can Find it At:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
Book Depository
Goodreads

Giveaway:

Wendy is running a giveaway for Unknown on Goodreads!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Unknown by Wendy Higgins

Unknown

by Wendy Higgins

Giveaway ends October 10, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
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