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Feature and Follow

Friday, May 30, 2014
Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

This week's question:

How important is good writing to you? In an ideal world, a book would be beautifully written AND have great character development, plot, etc. But in the real world, which do you prefer: (1) Great characters and plot with lousy writing or (2) Middling character development and plot but gorgeous writing?

Dyane: Oh, wow, this is a hard one. Of course I'd rather have a book that's amazing in both aspects, but if I had to choose one, I think I’d rather have middling character development and gorgeous writing, because what good would great characters and plot have if the writing can’t even do them justice? At least with awesome writing, even with only moderate character development, there’s still something that pulls you in and makes you want to finish the book. I don’t know, I’ve found that shoddy writing is just a huge turn-off for me. 

Pauline: Unlike Dyane, I'd have to go with good characters and plot, because if I had no interest in them at all, then I wouldn't even bother reading the book in the first place. The writing doesn't matter as much to me as how much I can relate to the characters and how creative the plot is.

{Blog Tour} Review+Excerpt+Giveaway: My Last Kiss

Thursday, May 29, 2014
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Title: My Last Kiss
Author: Bethany Neal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: June 10th 2014

Goodreads || Amazon || B&N || Kindle
Book Depository || iBooks

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy? 
Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss--the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died--is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn't a suicide as everyone assumes. She can't remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she's worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend. 

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she'll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made--good and bad--that led to her last kiss.
Bethany Neal's suspenseful debut novel is about the power of first love and the haunting lies that threaten to tear it apart.

My Thoughts

I’d be keeping this review short because:
  1. Hello, summer job. It’s taking up my whole day, and I’m so tired when I get home that I barely do anything at night. HUHU.
  2. I’m completely speechless with this book.
At the beginning of the novel, I felt that it was somehow boring, and I kept on thinking that this is like If I Stay meets Before I Fall, wherein the ghost looms around and is looking for answers. Or, maybe that’s just me. Anyhow, as I continued to read on, I realised that this is unique in its own way.

A lot of people suspected Cassidy committed suicide, but that seemingly isn’t the case. Cassidy remains as a ghost, but she doesn’t remember anything a few weeks before her birthday. She doesn’t even have any recollection on how she died.

Cassidy got a little bit annoying and whiney at some points, but I absolutely love Aimee and Ethan. They stuck up for her even if she’s already dead, and they’re the one who never turned their back on Cassidy. Cassidy and Ethan were also cute together, and their relationship was realistic.

Reading this has continuously made me think, and it made me feel like I’m also investigating on Cassidy’s death based on the clues and information that Cassidy remembers and discovers.  It has kept me on the toes, and I couldn’t just put the book down. It just makes me want to keep on reading, and to find out who the assailant was. One moment I thought I got it guessed correctly already, but the next thing I know, something contradicts my thought entirely.

My Last Kiss is so heartbreaking yet heartwarming at the same time. It just shows how powerful and great first love is because it’ll always be a part of our lives, no matter what happens. I’m glad that each one of the characters were able to see their mistakes and be able to say goodbye. It was touching, yet bittersweet.

My Rating


Excerpt

It’s snowing or maybe it’s raining. . . no, it’s snowing. I can feel the wet flakes gathering in the corners of my eyes, melting down my cheeks like tears. The warmth from the sun I felt on my face only an instant before is gone. When I blink, the only things I see are blotchy white bits of trees and clouds and lights. Where are those lights coming from? I stumble onto my feet and my legs feel Jell-O-y, like I’ve been swimming for a really long time and now the ground feels too rigid.
I take one step and suddenly my whole body stings. I fall to my knees and clutch my middle. The worst pain I’ve ever felt invades my limbs, like when your foot falls asleep except it’s my entire body and it’s epically stronger. I’m screaming and gripping my sides, writhing in the fluffy white snow. And then the pain stops; as fast as it came, it stops. Filled with relief, I do a quick once-over of my body. I even pinch my arm to check if I’m dreaming. How dumb is that?
I manage to open my eyes enough to see a silhouette standing above the waterline among the trees in Dover Park. He—at least I think it’s a he—is staring at me, but not at me, me. He’s staring at the bloody, twisted mess of me on the rocks along the riverbank.
Why are there two of me?! And how did I get in the river?
I run toward my other, mangled body. I must be having a nightmare—but it’s like there’s a force field around me. I sort of melt into the air, then get flung back. I land on my butt in a massive snowbank at the water’s edge, waiting to feel the cold from sitting in waist-deep snow.
A jagged chunk of ice floats by, sparkling in the early-morning moonlight.
I still haven’t felt the cold.
The silhouette is talking now. I hear him, but the words are muffled as if he’s talking underwater. I press my hands to the sides of my face and squeeze my eyes shut, concentrating. His voice comes clearer. . . He’s telling me he didn’t mean to.
Mean to what?
Now he’s telling me this isn’t how it was supposed to go. This is her fault.
Is “her” me?
I open my eyes to check if he’s talking to me, me. He’s not. I look at my Other body, broken and folded in ways a body should never bend over a mound of gray rocks. In one of my Other hands I’m holding something, maybe a piece of paper, but I can’t see it clearly. Snow piles high again around my eyes and my cheeks and now on my shoulders. It comes down, harder and harder, until I feel buried in it. I can’t even see it and I’m buried in it so deep that I can’t breathe.
Slowly a thought creeps in, settles in the front of my mind. It tugs at something I feel like I know but can’t quite remember. I open my mouth to speak it, but I don’t see my breath the way I should in early March. I glance up at the silhouette. He’s crying or maybe he’s yelling; either way, I can see his breath.
I’m not breathing. I don’t need to. The words float past my lips like a rehearsed chorus: “I’m dead.”

About the Author


Bethany Neal writes young-adult novels with a little dark side and a lot of kissing! She is obsessed with (but not limited to): nail polish, ginormous rings, pigs, pickles, and dessert. 

You can find her locked in her Writertorium for insane amounts of time. But, hey, insanity is fun! My Last Kiss is her first novel.


Giveaway


Giveaway is open to US/CAN Only | Must be 13 or older to enter 

Win (1) signed hardback of My Last Kiss + a Swag Pack ( MLK Button, MLK Notebook, & Cassidy's watermelon lip gloss)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour co-hosted by Bethany Neal and The Fantastic Flying Book Club


Blitz+Excerpt+Giveaway: Heart-Shaped Rock

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Title: Heart Shaped Rock
Author: Laura Roppe
Release Date: May 2014
Amazon || B&N || Kobo || iTunes

Summary from Goodreads:
“If you liked the music collaboration of Maybe Someday, you’ve got to check out Heart Shaped Rock.” — New York Times best-selling author of Maybe Someday, Colleen Hoover

"Laura RoppĂ© has written a moving and emotional novel of first love, accurately capturing the voice and mind of a dramatic and emotional sixteen year old girl caught in a maelstrom of grief and loss, love and heartbreak. And then there’s Dean…you'll just have to read the book, ‘cause I can't do him justice in a few short sentences.” –Jasinda Wilder, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of Falling into You

Sometimes a shattered heart needs to sing to love again . . . Sixteen year old singer-songwriter Shaynee Sullivan hasn't so much as touched her guitar since her mom died six months ago. In fact, Shaynee hasn't felt like doing much of anything lately, except maybe playing Whack-a-Mole on her "emotionally intelligent" brother's head. But when she meets a gorgeous and surprising rocker named Dean, her shattered heart begins to mend . . . and then burst at the seams. Heart-wrenching, heart-warming, and sometimes even heart-racing, Heart Shaped Rock will leave you laughing through tears and rooting for love in all its forms.

Hear the original music performed in Heart Shaped Rock at www.LauraRoppe.com. All music available on iTunes.


Excerpt

A log in the bonfire falls, and the entire fire crackles and pops and sizzles. A wave of thick smoke envelops me for just a moment with the shifting of the breeze. I begin to cough and wave the air with my hands to clear a clean patch to breathe.
“Looks like you’ve picked a dangerous spot,” a voice says. I turn, expecting Jared. But it’s not Jared. It’s some guy I don’t know.
Wow, yet another Casanova. Do I have “please talk to me” stamped on my forehead? What’s going on tonight?
I don’t reply to his pick-up line. I mean it’s pretty lame.
“Is this seat taken?” he asks, motioning to the sand next to me.
I shrug.
His voice seems really familiar to me. But I can’t place it.
He looks to the fire for a moment, and the flames dance across his face. Wow, he has the most alluring collection of features I’ve ever seen. Well, in person, anyway. I’ve seen movie stars and rock stars rival this guy, but I’ve never seen such perfection up close. He truly is a work of art. His hair is dark. His cheekbones are high. His nose is sculpted. His lips are . . . wow.
“I’m Dean,” he says, extending his hand.
I put my hand in his and immediately feel a current of electricity jolt through my body. I jerk my hand away.
“I’m Shaynee,” I say, sounding more confident than I feel. “I recently learned I’m supposed to say my name when someone says theirs. So, there, I did it. I said my name. It’s Shaynee.” Oh God, I’m rambling.
He laughs a masculine, guttural laugh.
I freeze. I know that laugh. Oh my God. I look down at his clothes. Jeans. Combat boots. He’s not wearing the leather jacket, but . . .
Another plume of smoke from the bonfire hits and envelops us. Again, I cough ferociously. But he isn’t coughing at all.
When the smoke clears, he lets out his breath. “You’re a bonfire rookie, Shaynee.”
When he says my name, my stomach flips over and that electricity from our handshake bounces throughout my body.
He turns to look at me, flashing a wicked grin, and I finally see those startling blue eyes in the flickering light confirming what I already know. Motorcycle Boy.
“When you see smoke coming,” he says, “you gotta hold your breath ‘til it passes.”
“Or, hey,” I say, “here’s an idea—we could just move back a bit.”
“What, and sacrifice warmth?” He grins.
“It is a bit of a Sophie’s Choice, isn’t it?”
Dean laughs like he actually understands my movie reference.
Gah, is it super-duper hot out here tonight? Am I sitting way too close to the fire? Is my hair burning? “Actually, holding my breath is my superpower,” I blurt. “I can hold my breath all day long.” God, I sound like such a dork.
“Well, that’s a handy superpower. You could totally team up with Aquaman and fight underwater crime and stuff.” He shoots me a crooked smile. “And make some really beautiful tadpoles.”
I can’t take it anymore. I have to call a spade a spade. “You’re the guy on the motorcycle.” It’s a statement, not a question. “Motorcycle Boy.”
“Yes, I am. And you’re the girl with the walkie-talkie. Walkie-Talkie Girl.” He laughs.

About the Author

Laura Roppé is an award-winning singer/songwriter, author, audio book narrator, speaker, and former attorney from San Diego, California. In 2011, Billboard Magazine ranked her as Number Three on its chart of the Top 50 "uncharted" artists in the world. In May 2013, Laura began hosting Amazon's weekly podcast, "Kindle Love Stories," for people who love hearing about love stories, romance, and happily ever afters.

Her first book is the non-fiction memoir, Rocking the Pink. Her latest is a YA-teen romance novel entitled Heart Shaped Rock, featuring a soundtrack.

Author Links:
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Giveaway

1 - $50 Amazon or B&N Gift Card (INT)
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Blitz Organized by:

Feature and Follow

Friday, May 23, 2014
Alison Can Read Feature & Follow

This week's question:

Have you ever convinced someone to read a book, a series, or a whole genre? What book(s) and who was it? Did they like it?

I have convinced people (but mostly just my friend Pauline) to read books. I think some of them include the Slammed series, Maybe Someday, Just One Day series, The Mortal Instruments series, and The Archived. I’m not sure if it was because of me that they read it though; maybe I was just that last push? I don’t know, haha. Most of them enjoyed those books from what I gather, but Pauline didn’t like the Just One Day series. She went absolutely crazy over Slammed and Maybe Someday, though, so that kind of makes up for it! :p

Review: Where She Went

8492825Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Summary from Goodreads:
It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life.

And three years he's spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?

My Thoughts

I really don’t know why, but right from If I Stay, I don’t like Mia anymore. My dislike towards her has increased even more in this novel. All the things she did to Adam was so sad and mean. :< I hated what was happening to Adam. He’s a totally different person already, and his feelings and thoughts were so intense that I could feel all the heartaches and pains that he has.

Reading on made me understand more about Mia and Adam, and it made me realize that I couldn’t really hate the both of them for what they did, or said. I love how Where She Went brought up a lot of emotions from me, and I can find myself contradicting myself. Wait, that sounded weird. But, yeah. It evoked so much mixed emotions for me, to the point wherein I thought Mia and Adam fit perfectly together, despite all their imperfections. I don’t really believe in fate and destiny, but this time, I think they really are destined to be together.

I really love Adam (new book boyfriend! <3) because he’s unselfishly selfish, if there’s that kind of thing. He’s willing to become selfish, as long as it’s for the good of others. I almost cried reading this novel, and I actually just don’t know how to write a review for this because it’s so damn awesome and fantastic.

Where She Went is a sweet, emotion-racking, intense and painful story that is about finding your way back to love and sacrifices.

My Rating



Review+Giveaway: Played

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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Title: Played (Hooked #2)
Author: Liz Fichera
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: May 27th 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads:
This Game Is Getting All Too Real
He said: I like to keep under the radar and mostly hang out with my friends from the rez. But when I saved Riley Berenger from falling off a mountain, that rich suburban princess decided to try to save me. 

She said: If I can help Sam Tracy win the heart of the girl he can't get over, I'll pay him back for helping me. I promised him I would, no matter what it takes.

My Thoughts

THE PLOT
The start seemed so promising, especially when Riley and Sam met in a leadership conference thing. The two of them got teamed for scavenger hunt , but Riley decided to take matters into her own hands, and she fell off the Rim. A storm came and forced the two of them to stay in the forest, fighting for survival. Riley is filled with gratitude that Sam had saved her. 

THE CHARACTERS

“Being the good daughter wasn’t easy. First, there was the guilt that gnawed at my self-esteem like a leech whenever I didn’t live up to my parents’ expectations.”

First sentence. I was ecstatic because I thought that Riley would be a character that is easy to connect, for me. I totally understand about the whole parents’ expectations thing, and you try to be the good, perfect daughter they want you to be.

However, everything went downhill from there. I totally understand that you want to repay someone after your life got saved, but why oh why does it have to be at the cost of other people’s feelings and life? I hated how Riley started to meddle in Ryan (her brother) and Fred (Ryan’s girlfriend) life. Half of the book, I was annoyed and pretty much hated her. Although, her character was very realistic, like becoming bitchy and all that when having bad days. It was hard to like her when all I can see was how her life is continuously going downhill. She built walls around her, and she became so unreachable.

Despite all her attitude, I could see myself in her. Heck, I don’t meddle with people’s lives, but I build walls and push away people like she did. Reading Played has made me see myself in Riley’s life, and it has made me realize that there are a lot of awesome people around me, even though I seem far away from them. It made me feel thankful and appreciate the things people do for me, even if I didn’t like them at times. I may have disliked her at some point, but I couldn’t just blame her because I could see a little of myself in her. In all honesty, I was afraid that someday I’ll become a Riley too.

I loved how she was able to admit her own mistakes, and do something to make up for them. I love how she didn’t try so hard to fix all the relationships she had broken, instead, she tried to become a better person. She knew the limits, when to push and when not to, and I liked that in her.

Sam was so judgmental from the start, that I didn’t like him right away. He always assumed the worse of Riley, even though he didn’t know anything about her. He also had this habit of becoming a jerk and pushing people away too. But the thing that I hated the most about him is that he thinks he’s got it worse than others. It was annoying how he could think like that when he hadn’t lived the lives of others. Nevertheless, he was sweet, caring and understanding. He knows when he was in the wrong, but is too proud to admit that. I actually liked reading his point of view more than Riley’s.

THE ROMANCE
The thing I loved the most in Played is the last 20-30% of it. It was the point of many realisations and reconciliations. I love how Riley and Sam both talked things out with their family. I love how both of them think that family is always family. The two of them have a lot of similarities actually, and it somehow gives me the thought that it’s because of it that they can help each other grow. Sam definitely did a lot for Riley, maybe even without him knowing it. And that’s what I love the most. The way they started off as friends first was also nice because it didn’t rush the romance. They gradually got to know each other, and fell for each other’s personality.

CONCLUSION
Played really hit me straight to home, and I may even have teared in a few pages. This is a beautiful story about social pressure, family, friendship and love, and I absolutely recommend reading this one! Although, I think it’s a book wherein you either just like it or hate it. Even still, the latter part of the story is completely breathtaking!

My Rating


Book Trailer


Praises for Played

"The book stands out in its nicely realistic portraits of the teens." (Kirkus)

"The plot is the perfect mix of real-life scenarios and swoon-worthy romance, while the issues of race and class that Fichera interweaves into the story add substance. In an alternating first-person narration style similar to Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, readers are given insight into the characters' thoughts and feelings. The tale sticks to the formula but the captivating ways in which the sequence of events plays out keep this take fresh and exciting." (School Library Journal)

About the Author


I'm an American author living in the American Southwest by way of Chicago.  

Born and raised in Park Ridge, Illinois, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, after college, never expecting to live more than one year among cactus and people who’d never seen snow. I was wrong. It certainly didn't hurt that I met my future husband in Phoenix too. 

Most of my stories are set in the American Southwest because I think the desert is a cool place. Living in Phoenix, I'm surrounded by Native American culture and influences, not to mention intriguing Hohokam petroglyphs and centuries-old canals. There are over 20 tribes in Arizona and I'm lucky to be neighbors to the Gila River and the Salt River Indian Communities. 

When I'm not busy writing my next novel, I like to travel, visit museums, support local theater productions, hike, and pretend that I'm training for a triathlon. I post a lot of photos from my desert and mountain hikes on my Facebook and Twitter pages. In no particular order, I've been chased by javalinas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and even one curious black bear.

Giveaway

Win (1) signed copy of PLAYED by Liz Fichera. Open internationally.



Blitz+Giveaway: The Art of Lainey

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes

AMAZON || BARNES & NOBLE || BOOK DEPOSITORY

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work!  But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with, if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

About the Author


Paula Stokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online at www.authorpaulastokes.com or on twitter as @pstokesbooks.

Giveaway


Open internationally. Must be 13+ years old to enter.
2 Winners will receive a copy of The Art of Lainey+Swag by Paula Stokes

a Rafflecopter giveaway