Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday #54

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: July 23rd, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen

Following an all-out battle with the walking Dead, the Spirit Hunters have fled Philadelphia, leaving Eleanor alone to cope with the devastating aftermath. But there’s more trouble ahead—the evil necromancer Marcus has returned, and his diabolical advances have Eleanor escaping to Paris to seek the help of Joseph, Jie, and the infuriatingly handsome Daniel once again. When she arrives, however, she finds a whole new darkness lurking in this City of Light. As harrowing events unfold, Eleanor is forced to make a deadly decision that will mean life or death for everyone.

Just look how beautiful that cover is!  Something Strange and Deadly was an awesome steampunk zombie book, and I can't wait to continue the series!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 
Also, I'm having a ghostly giveaway here!  Ends 11/2

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Possess by Gretchen McNiel

Title: Possess
Author: Gretchen McNiel
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal/Horror
Release date: August 23rd, 2011
Pages: 379 (Paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Rule #1: Do not show fear. 
Rule #2: Do not show pity. 
Rule #3: Do not engage. 
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down. 
Rule #5: They lie. 

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from. 

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

Bridget holds a terrifying secret.  Ever since her dad passed away, she's gained a power she didn't know existed.  She can hear demonic voices and their plans to rise a demon king.  The only one that could possibly help her now is Monsignor Renault, who deals with the possessions that keep popping up around town.  Having to keep her two lives separate, she soon finds out the dangers lurking around each corner.

Possess is a quickly-paced story that will make your heart race.  The characters were full of emotion, easy to connect to, and the story was detailed enough to be shocking.  My only complaint is that it didn't scare me enough.  I chose to read the book this Halloween season because possessions are something that have always terrified me since I was a child.  While it was well-written, I never found myself as paranoid as I hoped to be once I turned the last page.

One of the things that made me love the book the most, though, was Bridget's emotion.  I felt as though I could connect with her, not only because she lost a father, but because she was going through this huge change in her life.  She wasn't sure who to trust anymore, and I think we've all been there at one point or another.  Along with all of the new information, Bridget finds herself falling for a boy she never thought she'd fall for.  The romance is done nicely, and it definitely didn't take anything away from the story.

Overall, Possess is a great book to read any time of the year.  Certain scenes are definitely creepy enough to make you shudder, but not enough to make you pull the covers over your head at night.  Give it a try if you're a fan of the paranormal, horror or mystery genres.  It won't disappoint.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

In My Mailbox #53

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Slide by Jill Hathaway
(ARC from Montana @ The Book Belles)

-The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo
-The Quick Fix by Jack D. Farraiolo
(Finished copies from Abrams)

-The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
(Finished copy from my boyfriend)

-Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
(Signed finished copy from Emily @ Ed and Em's Reviews)

-Origin by Jessica Khoury

Review ebooks
-Reckoning by Molly M. Hall
-V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram

I'm very pleased with the week I've had in books!  The Evolution of Mara Dyer is one of my most anticipated books of this year, so I'm incredibly happy that my boyfriend bought it for me, especially since I'll be meeting Michelle Hodkin on Tuesday!  Another exciting thing, I received my first unsolicited review copies (The Big Splash and The Quick Fix)!  Unfortunately, I don't read much MG, so I'll be holding a giveaway for the copies I received soon.  :)

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?
Also, I'm having a ghostly giveaway here!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

Title: Blind Spot
Author: Laura Ellen
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary/Mystery
Release date: October 23rd, 2012
Pages: 336 (ARC)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

There’s none so blind as they that won’t see. 

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.

If Roz had never been diagnosed legally blind, she would have never had to be put into a special education class.  If she'd never been put in those classes, she never would have met Tricia.  It's easy to see that the two didn't get along.  In fact, Tricia didn't seem to get along with most people, but she never seemed as though she wanted to.  When she goes missing, she's only the talk of the school for a short period of time, but Roz won't let it go that easily.  It's up to Roz to figure out what really happened the night of Tricia's disappearance.

Very few of the characters in this story were actually relatable to me, but surprisingly, I enjoyed it nonetheless.  Roz is full of angst and with reason, but at times it's a little over the top.  She's mad at everyone because she can't be "normal", constantly being judged by her inability to see many things because of the spots blocking her vision.  Tricia, on the other hand, is a very troubled teen.  The more we read about her, the more we find out what she's had to struggle with.  The entire time I read, she reminded me of Angelina Jolie's character in Girl, Interrupted, and I loved that about her.

Roz still can't remember completely what happened the night of the party.  Her memory isn't cooperating and neither is anyone else who was there to witness what happened, so she has to do some digging.  The reader never really knows who to trust throughout the story, which is why it's so intriguing.  Emotions run high and this quick-paced mystery will keep you holding on until the end.

Blind Spot is well written from the start and the author knows how to keep you on your toes until the very last page.  The book is more about Roz and the people around her rather than Tricia's mysterious death, and I think that will throw some readers off, but I definitely enjoyed the journey.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review & Giveaway: The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide by Stacey Graham

Title: The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide
Author: Stacey Graham
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Age Group: Middle Grade
Category: Nonfiction/Paranormal
Release date: May 1st, 2012
Pages: 185 (Paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Ask any girl what the best part of a slumber party or camping trip is and she'll tell you it's the ghost stories. This bright, interactive journal is for tweens who are no longer content to watch movies or read about ghosts online, but are ready to jump into the paranormal fray themselves. With workbook pages, ghost stories, quizzes, sidebars, and interviews with ghost hunters, this illustrated guidebook gives girls the tools to safely explore the unknown using everyday household items- and helps them discover their own strengths using deductive reasoning.

The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide is a quick and entertaining for readers of all ages.  The author covers a ton of information, from the basics right down to what it would take to conduct your very own ghost hunt.  Not only was the book helpful and enjoyable, I thought it was absolutely adorable.

Whether you're a believer or not, I think anyone will be able to find something they enjoy in The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide.  Not only does it teach you how to become a ghost hunter, the book is filled with activities, recipes and urban legends.  The humor that Stacey sneaks into each chapter will make you laugh out loud and keep you turning the pages.  To give you more of an idea of what the activities include, there are chapters dedicated to levitating a table or even one of your friends and writing your own scary stories to share in the dark.

My favorite part of it all had to be the interviews with real ghost hunters about their shocking first experiences with the paranormal.  There are many helpful websites sourced throughout the book, which constantly made me want to look up information on local haunts in my hometown.  Overall, the book kept me entertained for hours and I was sad to finally put it down, but I know that I'll pick this one up time and time again.

The publisher was kind enough to offer one copy for giveaway!
To enter, you must be a resident of the United States or Canada.
Giveaway will end on November 2nd, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

Title: The Elementals
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Age Group: Adult
Category: Mystery/ Magical realism
Release date: October 16th, 2012
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

From a star YA author—an adult novel about a student, haunted by the disappearance of a friend, who must face the truth. 

The Elementals is on one level an intriguing coming-of-age novel about a young woman, Ariel Silverman, facing the challenges of her first years away at college in Berkeley, California, while her mother battles cancer at home in Los Angeles. But the book takes on deeper, stranger meanings when we realize that Ariel is haunted by the disappearance of her best friend, Jeni, who vanished without a trace a few years before, closing Ariel’s heart and changing her forever. Ariel wonders if she will ever be fully alive, until she meets three mysterious, beautiful and seductive young people living in a strange old house in the Berkeley hills. Through them Ariel will unravel the mystery of her best friend’s disappearance and face a chilling choice.

A year ago, Ariel's best friend, Jeni, disappeared on a trip to Berkeley.  When Ariel moves there for college, she has a lot more on her mind than the typical student.  She's determined to find her friend, or at the very least, what happened.  On top of that, her mother is diagnosed with cancer and Ariel doesn't seem to fit in with the college life as well as she hoped, but when she meets John Graves and his group of beautiful and intriguing friends, Ariel is hooked.  Will they help her find Jeni, or will they just throw her off track?

One thing I love about Francesca's books is that she can make any place feel magical.  Ariel's life isn't at all glamorous, which is why she's so attracted to these mysterious grad students.  They wear extravagant clothing, drink wine and eat food that's just as good as the way her mother made it.  There's something seductive about them that makes this main character feel as though she would do anything to please them, anything to make them love her back.

The reader really feels sympathy towards Ariel.  Her mother is clearly not getting any better, the more time it takes to find Jeni, the more Ariel realizes that the possibility of her being alive is slim.  It's her first time away from her family, which is tough by itself, but then she gets mixed up with these people and it's clear that they're not very good for her from the start.  Her focus starts to disappear as they become the substitute for everything she's lost in the past few months.

The Elementals is a perfect mixture of magical realism and mystery, and I think many will be shocked at what is revealed throughout the story.  Francesca Lia Block is one of my favorite authors for a reason, and this book definitely doesn't disappoint.

Waiting on Wednesday #53

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls. 

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness. 

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

This book sounds absolutely chilling, but beautiful.  I have yet to read anything by Brenna Yovanoff, but Paper Valentine sounds like a great place to start!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

In My Mailbox #52

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

(from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)

-Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
(from Epic Reads)

-The Nightmare Garden by Caitlin Kittredge
(signed, from Tara @ Tater's Tall Tails)

-Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
(for blog tour from Little, Brown)

I'm way too excited to get started on Days of Blood and Starlight!  As for the other books I received this week, I read The Girls' Ghost Hunting Guide immediately after opening the package and loved it. The review will be up soon with a giveaway.  I also plan to give away this new copy of Pretty Little Liars, so be on the lookout if you're interested!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal/Fantasy
Release date: October 9th, 2012
Pages: 256 (ARC)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

After her family's scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won't turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys--a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far...especially when he starts flirting back.

Parker is nearly finished with high school, but there are still a few things standing in the way of her happiness.  Ever since her mom came out and moved away with her partner, splitting up their family, Parker has found that she's being judged by the entire town.  To help ease the pain and to make herself feel wanted and less abandoned, she becomes a girl she thought she'd never be.  Though she still has her standards, she keeps making the same mistakes.  Finally, after being forced to manage the boy's baseball team (thanks to her best friend, Drew), things begin to look up.  Parker begins to feel whole again.

What I loved most about Stealing Parker is that the characters are so realistic.  They're easy to relate to and they're so imperfect, making you realize that this could easily be yourself or someone you know.  Parker is just a teenage girl who is dealing with the issues she's been dealt the best way she can.  When she meets the new assistant coach, she becomes quite fond of him.  It doesn't matter to her that he's 6 years older, what matters is getting what she wants, and all she wants is to be happy with someone she enjoys spending time with.  There are many people that Parker knows she can't trust, and she feels that Brian isn't one of them.

The character that stood out the most was Will, because he seemed to have the biggest heart when it came to his friends and family, especially.  He never once treated Parker with disrespect like the other boys, and he's proven himself to be a worthy friend.  Though Parker gets judged on a daily basis, she still has those few special people to lean on when others try to drag her down, and that always warmed my heart.

The author did an amazing job with this story, focusing on many of the things teenagers go through, such as first love, friendship, acceptance, and learning how to survive when something life-changing takes you off course.  Stealing Parker is emotional in all the best ways, and I love that Miranda wasn't afraid to bring up sexuality, addiction and add an illegal relationship to the mix.   Those are the little things that make her stories realistic and memorable.

Home Run Blog Tour: Guest Post

Stealing Parker is a companion novel to the much-loved Catching Jordan.  Miranda Kenneally stops by to share an important lesson that has helped her create the lives of the characters we love reading so much about!

The Art of Making Mistakes:  Why messing up is one of the most important things you can do.

I love reading reviews of my books. I always listen to what people have to say in hopes I can make my writing better. However, there’s one thing I’ll never change about my books, no matter what: I’ve seen some readers get upset when my characters make mistakes.

My characters make big mistakes and small mistakes. Some decisions have serious repercussions on the life of not only my main character, but sometimes on the lives of others.

When I was a teenager, I did some very dumb things. Like, one time my parents told me I couldn’t go to the Aerosmith concert, but I took their car and went anyway. My parents got really upset. Sure, I loved the concert, but afterwards I had to live with the guilt of hurting my parents and doing something I knew was wrong. They grounded me for a month!

Another time, I told a friend a serious lie because I thought it would impress her. She was always doing things that were “cool” and I wanted to feel cool too. I wanted her to think I was worthy of our friendship. Instead of thinking I was cool, she told a bunch of people what I said and spread the gossip about me all over school. What made it especially bad was that some people knew it wasn’t true. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. And I was sad that my “friend” wasn’t a true friend. But I learned from the mistake. I learned not to lie anymore, and I learned that true friends will love me for who I am, not what I’ve done.

When I’m writing a book, I’m not scared to have my characters screw up. If we don’t screw up, we can’t learn, and then we can’t become better people.

Connect with the author!

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Buy the book!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Waiting on Wednesday #52

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Poison
Author: Bridget Zinn
Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction--which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend. But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart...misses. Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she's not alone. She's armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can't stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

After featuring Poison in last week's IMM post, I was shocked to find out that the author had actually passed away last year.  Since acquiring that information (I must have been under a rock), I haven't been able to get Bridget out of my mind.  It makes me incredibly sad that she's no longer around to see her first book published, yet thankful that she was able to leave a large part of herself with us.

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

Title: Velveteen
Author: Daniel Marks
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal/Fantasy
Release date: October 9th, 2012
Pages: 464 (eGalley)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem. 

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind. Bonesaw. 

Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days. It’ll be brutal... and awesome. 

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker. 

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

Velvet has landed in purgatory after being murdered by a man who has gotten away with taking the lives of many teenage girls. She's taken it upon herself to get revenge for herself and everyone else he's ever hurt, but that's not all.  The more you read, you find out that Velveteen isn't just about seeking revenge.  In fact, it's more about the lives of those stuck in Purgatory and what goes on from day to day.

It's pretty easy to see that the concept of this book is unique and it definitely caught my interest from day one, but the more I tried to invest myself, the faster my interest began to fizzle out.  The summary is misleading, but I tried to put it past me and enjoy the story being told.  After all, the author has an interesting way of writing, and I enjoyed seeing much  of his personality in the dialogue, but something was lacking.  Though I enjoyed Velvet as a main character, I couldn't quite connect with anyone.

I loved reading about Velvet's determination, getting glimpses of her memories and even watching her interact with the other characters.  She is undoubtedly very good at her job and falling for the newest rescued soul is interesting on its own, but I loved that the book was set in Purgatory the most.  Unfortunately, I found myself skimming a good portion of the book because certain scenes were impossibly slow for my taste.

Like most readers, it seems, I expected so much more than what I got from this book.  I enjoy Danny Marks as a person, and while I frequently watch his vlogs on Youtube, I'm sad to say that Velveteen was a letdown and I don't think that I will be continuing the series.  If anyone is planning to read this one soon, I will warn you to go in with an open mind, knowing that this book is more about the romance than the revenge.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

In My Mailbox #51

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Shadowlands by Kate Brian
-The Archived by Victoria Schwab
-Poison by Bridget Zinn
(ARCs from Disney Hyperion)

-Possess by Gretchen McNeil
(Signed, from Mindy @ Magical Urban Fantasy Reads)

All of these books sound fabulous and I can't wait to get started on them (or in multiple cases, continue them from where I forced myself to stop reading)!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kiss 'N Tell Blog Tour Guest Post

Who I Kissed is a new contemporary filled with heartbreak and hope that no one will want to pass up.  To celebrate it's release earlier this month, I'll be sharing a guest post from the author, Janet Gurtler!

Author Body-Swapping

As a YA writer, Janet Gurtler often has to embody the lives and emotions of her character. This time, we’re asking her to channel Sam and tell us some of the character insight we’re dying to know – first crush, most embarrassing moment, favorite books, music, & more! And Janet reveals a little of how she creates such realistic teen characters.
“Sam, Sam, Sam. What are we going to do with you?”
If you can’t tell, I’m using my mother voice. Also I’m talking to a fictitious character. But we’ll ignore that part. When I write teen characters I have to turn my mother voice off. (And embrace the crazy.) Truth be known, I am able to remove my mother voice pretty easily and I find it kind of natural to slip inside the head of a teenager.

I had a tough time when I was a teenager. I had a lot of internal struggles. I majored in insecurity and angst. And I remember many of those feelings really well. Really, really well.
So, getting inside the head of a teenager isn’t as hard for me as it should be. Of course, my characters aren’t me. I give them different challenges and different personality quirks. And then I have to try to think the way they would think. I have to slip into their shoes.

Fortunately, I enjoy imagining getting inside a character’s head. I like to go deep inside and look at things people sometimes try to hide. From themselves and from the world. I like to go there. To places that are uncomfortable. Especially with the challenges of today’s world around them. Technology. Expectations. Social media.

I took Samantha to some uncomfortable places in Who I Kissed. Imagine feeling responsible for the death of someone else. How horrifying would that be? How would you possibly get over it? Especially when you’re dealing with your own issues. Sam had some things to overcome even before the accident, but the accident brought them to the surface with a rush. Ultimately, Sam has to learn to let other people in. And that’s not always an easy thing to do. To me she’s a fully formed person with a history and built in likes and dislikes. So let’s take a deeper look at Sam. Let me slide back into her skin for a moment and tell you some of her secrets.

Favorite Book- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
Favorite Song- Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae
Favorite Movie- The Avengers
Favorite Food- Jelly Bellies of course! But as far as real food goes, she likes Mexican. Bean Burritos. Even though they give her gas. She probably wouldn’t eat them on a date.
First serious crush. Zee. First heart aches. Zee. Best kiss ever. Zee.
Celebrity Crush- Corbin Bleu. She is waiting for his acting career to extend beyond High school Musical
Personal Hero- Missy Franklin
Secret Talent- Sam loves to dance. She practices in her room with her iPod. At some point, she’s going to try to convince her swim team to record a dance dare (dancing behind people without them knowing) for the Ellen show. She knows every dance step to Party Rockin by LMFAO.
Most Embarrassing Moment- When her bathing suit split down the butt at a swim meet and she had to finish her race, which was thankfully backstroke.

Connect with the author!
Goodreads | Blog | Twitter

Janet lives near the Canadian Rockies with her husband and son and a little dog named Bruce. She does not live in an Igloo or play hockey, but she does love maple syrup and says “eh” a lot. 

Buy the book!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

You can find my 4 star review of Who I Kissed here.

Review: Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Title: Who I Kissed
Author: Janet Gurtler
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Contemporary
Release date: October 1st, 2012
Pages: 312 (Paperback)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
She never thought a kiss could kill… Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in...and she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms. 

Was she really the only person in the entire school who didn’t know about his peanut allergy? Or that eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing him would be deadly? Overnight Sam turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she’ll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.

Who I Kissed tells the story of a teenage girl who seems to have everything going for her...and the night that changed it all.  Sam has always been healthy, both mentally and definitely physically.  Unfortunately, when she's the cause of a classmate's accidental death, her life take a turn for the worse.  She loses any hope of finding friendship in her new school and she even quits swimming altogether, which was once her entire world.  Why should she deserve to have a good life when she took someone else's away?

I loved that the author pushed issues surrounding food allergies and asthma into the spotlight.  I haven't read any books on the subject before this, and it's definitely an eye opener.  When Samantha kisses a boy she'd just met in order to make her crush jealous, she's faced with something more shocking than she could have ever imagined.  Alex dies from the peanut butter sandwich Sam consumed before the party, and now Sam is the talk of the town, as if she did it on purpose.

Sam was the perfect main character for this story.  Her emotions felt so real.  Pain and remorse is present throughout the entire story, and she even tries to turn to others in order to take it away, but what she doesn't realize is that she is her most difficult critic.  Sam has to be able to forgive herself, to make herself believe that Alex would have wanted her to keep living her life the best she can instead of giving up.

The author creates an incredibly heart-wrenching story about loss, love and the mistakes we all have to make in order to grow.  The reader will feel like they've grown with these characters, which makes the story all the more worthwhile.   With realistic characters, an interesting plot and wonderful writing, Who I Kissed is a contemporary that no one should miss.

Waiting on Wednesday #51

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by, Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on! 

Title: Shadowlands
Author: Kate Brian
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

Although I just got the ARC of this in the mail, I have to wait until at least December to start it, which is proving to be very difficult!  I made the mistake of reading the first chapter and it completely sucked me in.  I can't wait to find out what happens!

What awesome title are you waiting for this Wednesday? 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Science Fiction/Retelling
Release date: April 24th, 2012
Pages: 336 (Paperback)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: Won
Goodreads | Amazon | Author
Everything is in ruins. 

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them. 

So what does Araby Worth have to live for? 

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all. 

But in the depths of the club--in the depths of her own despair--Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does. 

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for--no matter what it costs her.

An exciting retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death mixed with steampunk and romance sounded right up my alley, so you can only imagine how excited I was to begin this book.  The story follows a young woman named Araby, who has always had to live around the dangers of the plague.  People around her are deteriorating and the city is falling to pieces.  When her best friend disappears, she's overwhelmed with worry, but she soon finds hope in April's brother, Elliott.

Although there's a very visible love triangle throughout the entire story, I found it to be enjoyable.  I could never tell which boy I wanted Araby to be with more.  There's Will, the hard-working lower class young man who would do anything to protect his siblings, and Elliott, a relative of the Prince, who wholeheartedly believes that with the help of a small army, he can save many people from their impending doom.

Of course, Araby wasn't a bad main character, but you could definitely see where her personal issues with loss comes in.  She's too afraid to let herself get close to someone, and living in a place where anyone could contract the disease at any time, it's understandable.  As the story moves forward, we get to look back into her past, to where it all began as well as get a little glimpse of her future, which I enjoyed very much.

Masque of the Red Death is definitely a book you'll want to dive into as soon as you can.  The writing is beautiful, dark and a little horrifying in all the best ways.  The steampunk elements were exactly what I hope they'd be, from the plague-fighting porcelain masks to the elaborate airships; they all fit very well into the story.  With hopes of more excitement, Araby's growth and a budding romance, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the second book in the series.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

In My Mailbox #50

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren

-Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler
-Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally
(for blog tours from Sourcebooks Fire)

Make sure to come check out my blog tour posts for Who I Kissed (October 10th) and Stealing Parker (October 17th)!

I'm also an Ambuzzador for Random Buzzers!  Ambuzzadors help spread the word about awesome new releases, and I'll be on team Mystic City by Theo Lawrence!

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you received in your mailbox?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: The Suburban Strange by Nathan Kotecki

Title: The Suburban Strange
Author: Nathan Kotecki
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age Group: Young Adult
Category: Paranormal
Release date: October 2nd, 2012
Pages: 368 (ARC)
Rating: 2 out of 5
Source: Publisher
Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Shy Celia Balaustine is new to Suburban High, but a mysterious group of sophomores called the Rosary has befriended her. Friends aside, Celia soon discovers something is not quite right at Suburban. Girls at the school begin having near-fatal accidents on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. Who is causing the accidents, and why? As Celia’s own birthday approaches, she is inexorably drawn into an underground conflict between good and evil—the Kind and the Unkind—that bubbles beneath Suburban High.

As if being a teenager wasn't hard enough, the students at Suburban High have to worry about the strange things that have been happening on the eve of each girl's 16th birthday.  Celia is fifteen-years-old, and although she's the new girl, she's quickly accepted into the school's most popular cliques, the Rosary.  As her birthday slowly creeps up and the "accidents" become more threatening, she team up with a few unusual friends to put an end to the curse.

At first the story felt as though it was going in the right direction, but somewhere along the way, the excitement I had for this book disappeared completely.  I found the characters very hard to believe, especially those in the Rosary.  To put it simply, none of them were relatable.  They would constantly spout off cultural references, which got frustrating after a certain point.  The only semi-enjoyable one is Celia, even though she doesn't seem to have a backbone when it comes to her new friends.  She lets them change her completely, from her appearance to her interests.

I tried to like the characters, with their impossible maturity and their penchant for indie music, old art and classic novels, but I couldn't.  I couldn't picture any of them being as young as they were supposed to be, and while I'm sure there are teenagers similar to these characters, I can't say that I know anyone quite like them.  Though the plot was interesting and could have made the story incredible if it had been done better, I found it to be very predictable, and that was the biggest disappointment.  Another problem I had with this book was the slow pace, and the fact that I felt the need to skim a good chunk of the book in order to keep from putting it down and forgetting about it forever.

Overall, I can't say that I would recommend The Suburban Strange.  It wasn't the worst story I've ever read, but I constantly found my eyes glazing over, which ultimately lowered my overall rating.