Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Blitz: The Cilantro in Apple Pie by Kimberly Nadine Knights

The Cilantro In Apple Pie by Kimberley Nadine Knights
Published by: Ravenswood Publishing
Publication date: May 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Fragnut. Confused? Well so is everyone else at Lumiere Hall Prep when sixteen-year-old Rubie Keane rolls in from Trinidad and Tobago talking her weird lingo. Not that she minds the culture confusion; she’s determined to leave the past behind her and be overlooked—but a certain stoic blue blood is equally as determined to foil her plans.

Gil Stromeyer’s offbeat personality initially makes Rubie second-guess his sanity, but she suspects his erratic outbursts of violence mask a deeper issue in his troubled, charmed life. Despite his disturbing behavior, a gradual bond forms between the two. However, on the night of the annual Stromeyer gala, events unfold that leave Rubie stripped of her dignity and kick Gil’s already fragile world off its axis.

Both their well-kept secrets are uncovered, but Gil’s revelation proves that sometimes the best remedy for a bad case of lost identity, is a dash of comradery from an ally packed with flavor.

Kimberley Nadine Knights knew when she kept willingly opting out of parties so she could stay
home and write instead, that she was destined to be an author.

Born and raised in the tropical twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago, when this Caribbean girl isn't creating new plotlines for her ever growing lineup of fictional characters, she spends her time strumming her guitar to indie rock songs and snapping once in a lifetime photos halfway across the globe in countries such as Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and France.

She's an avid fan of The Walking Dead series and firmly believes that The Food Network should consider her being a judge on the next Chopped challenge.
Visit her website and learn more about this up and coming author.

You can buy the book at Amazon or Barnes and, and find it on Goodreads!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book review: Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets. 

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

A copy was received for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

Sarah Rees Brennan is one of those authors I had heard plenty about but never actually read any of her books.  Reading Tell the Wind and Fire, I can certainly understand the hype: it has a certain magic to it that still, for the most part, is grounded in a reality you can believe.  It’s not from the point of view of someone who knows a whole lot about how light and dark magic came into being or why light and dark magicians are separated despite needing each other beyond what she and everyone else has been told, but you can still get a feel for the society and the strain that the separation and segregation does to it.

I enjoyed this book, for the most part, but I think a problem I had with it was where it ended.  There’s so much more to reasonably explore in this world, and in my opinion, it ended right when the action was really starting.  The climax of the story is hard to pin down because it depends on what you think is most important to the story, Lucie herself or the building revolution. Either way, we’re left with so many unanswered questions that it feels like only part of the story and it left me not wanting more but feeling dissatisfied.

Because of this, I’d only rate this book average.  It was a good read and I’d recommend at least looking at it yourself, though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book review: The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

Since her twin brother, Eddie, drowned five years ago, sixteen-year-old Elsie Main has tried to remember what really happened that fateful day on the beach. One minute Eddie was there, and the next he was gone. Seventeen-year-old Tay McKenzie is a cute and mysterious boy that Elsie meets in her favorite boathouse hangout. When Tay introduces Elsie to the world of freediving, she vows to find the answers she seeks at the bottom of the sea.

A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley for review.

I had mixed feelings about The Art of Not Breathing.  On the one hand, you have a story that the author seems to have put a lot of thought into, with the twists and turns that don’t just reveal themselves unintentionally right from the start like so many other family mystery books I’ve read.

On the other hand, I found myself not really liking Elsie a lot of the time.  She’s sort of a brat, and nosey as hell (she even spies on her brother and his girlfriend having sex? while still taking about how gross it is? you could look away, you know) and she falls for Tay way too quickly.  It felt less like a ‘teens fall in love quick’ thing and more of a ‘Elsie really wants to get laid’ thing, honestly.  Though I will give it mucho credit that Elsie doesn’t actually end up with anyone in the end.  Though that’s balanced out by the fact that Elsie is such a snob to literally everyone in school, so it’s no wonder none of them really want her.  She’s supposed to be a bullying victim but she turns around and does the same sort of thing to the one guy there besides her brother who’s willing to be nice to her.

All in all, I’d say it’s a good story, but the main character can sort of break you out of it because you find yourself not caring about a girl who can be so shallow and mean.  I’d say it balances out to be about average.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Cover reveal: Seven Deadly Sins, A YA Anthology (Envy)

Coming out April 1st, Envy will be my second publishing credit!  It features short stories from several different YA authors, with the only prompt being that the deadly sin, envy, had to be featured.  You'll be able to get an ebook or physical copy when it's out!  And without further ado, here's the cover.

Isn't it awesome?  Make sure to pick up your own copy when it's out!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Book Review: Death Wish (Ceruleans #1) by Megan Tayte


The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death. Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint? 

Seventeen-year-old Scarlett Blake is haunted by death. Her estranged sister has made the ultimate dramatic exit. Running away from school, joining a surfing fraternity, partying hard: that sounds like Sienna. But suicide? It makes no sense. 

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Scarlett comes to an isolated English cove with grand plans to uncover the truth. Alone. But she hasn’t reckoned on meeting two boys who are determined to help her. Luke: the blue-eyed surfer who’ll see the real Scarlett, who’ll challenge her, who’ll save her. And Jude: the elusive drifter with a knack for turning up whenever Scarlett’s in need. 

As Scarlett’s quest for the truth unravels, so too does her grip on reality as she’s always known it. Because there’s something strange going on in this little cove. A dead magpie circles the skies. A dead deer watches from the undergrowth. Hands glow with light. Warmth. Power. 

What transpires is a summer of discovery. Of what it means to conquer fear. To fall in love. To choose life. To choose death. 

To believe the impossible. 

A free e-book copy was given to me by the author in exchange for a review.

I loved this book.  It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but there was so much to like about it.  I found myself telling my friends lines, such as the one where Scarlett had gotten raging drunk at a party the night before and was trying to remember what had happened after those first couple tequila shots, only to say, “Conga… had I done the conga?” Scarlett is a good narrator, and unlike so many YA novels I didn’t really find myself annoyed with her for any significant part of the book.

The concept itself is an interesting one, although if I had to say, I would’ve liked there to be a little more lead-up to the concept of Ceruleans.  It’s in the summary, after all, but other than a couple scenes where we see there’s something up that isn’t normal, it reads just like a realistic contemporary book about a girl who’s just trying to find out why her sister would walk out into the ocean and drown herself.  Realistic contemp is probably my favorite genre so I’m not complaining, but it would’ve been nice to have a bit more mysteriousness to the whole thing.

The only other complaint I would have is that I did feel like it was a little slow to start.  As she’s getting her bearings around town there’s unnecessary details that slow things down and could’ve easily been cut to make things keep going.  Still, it definitely didn’t ruin the book, and I’d definitely recommend this one.  Happy reading!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Under the Dusty Moon by Suzanne Sutherland

She's with the band, whether she likes it or not.

Victoria Mahler is the sixteen-year-old only daughter of rocker Micky Wayne, whose band, Dusty Moon, took the world by storm when Micky was just a teenager. The band broke up under mysterious circumstances, but, after years spent off the road being a mom, Micky’s solo career is finally starting to take off.

When an offer to tour Japan falls into her mom’s lap, Vic is left to spend the summer under the care of her distant grandmother, and without her built-in best friend. Fortunately, a boy with a secret geek side and a group of feminist game-makers save the season, and Vic starts to see herself as her own person, out from under her mother’s shadow.

But when Micky finally comes home — with a poorly chosen boyfriend in tow — all bets are off. Will Vic be able to maintain her newfound sense of self amidst the building thunder of Micky’s second chance at stardom? And through it all, will Micky still really be her best friend?

A free copy was provided to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.

Looking through the other reviews of this book after finishing it, I have to say that I share a lot of people’s sentiments about this book: it has SUCH an interesting summary, and I went in expecting Victoria to be hanging out with a cute nerd and spending time with some female video game programmers who acted like surrogate moms/big sisters to her while her mother was away touring Japan.  I expected lots of personal growth from a girl who spends all her time with her cool rocker mom to a young woman who had her own ambitions but still wanted to be friends with her mom.

Unfortunately, what I got was a whiny protagonist who was OBSESSED with her mother’s stardom and who was such a brat to said mother I  had to wonder what the author was thinking when she thought this was how teenagers are friends with their mothers.  Vic made me cringe so hard, from her ‘accidentally’ bringing Shaun to a nudist beach (seriously you claim to spend like your entire summer on that island, how could you have not known it was there?) to her mouthing off to her mom and beyond.

Of course there were times when I could sympathize with Victoria but only because the other characters were so terrible, too.  She and her friend Lucy were making a text adventure and suddenly, Lucy had to stay at her aunt’s to babysit while the grownups went on a trip to help her grandmother move.  She was gone for about a week from what I can tell.  In that time, I don’t recall one mention of Lucy trying to call or text her, and in fact Vic took that initiative a lot, asking how she was and whether she was going to be home for Vic’s birthday.  Then all of a sudden, Lucy’s home and had COMPLETELY changed their game without Vic’s permission, claiming that ‘you never answered my calls so I did it myself.’ Ex-squeeze me?  And based on the fact that Lucy only had ideas that she called ‘homages’ to a video game series she was obsessed with, I’m not really convinced that the game she made was the funny, highly original story people at the She Shoots showing claimed it to be.

And then there’s the matter of Vic’s mother.  She flip-flops so badly between characterization as a woman who hadn’t planned on being a mom but was doing her best and an emotionally abusive, immature thirty-something who was famous young and never grew up from that.  She CONSTANTLY bugs Vic about what she’s doing with her life when it doesn’t involve her, and Vic is rightfully reluctant to tell her about the game and She Shoots because every time Vic brings up something she likes or tries to voice an opinion, Mickey makes fun of her so badly that it sometimes has her in tears.  She can never, not once, take her daughter seriously, and that’s REALLY damaging for a teenager, not something to casually laugh at and brush off.  I feel like it’s supposed to be portrayed as something quirky, but it’s just horrible, especially since it’s obvious that it always happens.

Not to mention huge scenes are brushed right through.  The trip to the convention that had been mentioned repeatedly throughout the book and that Vic finally got to go on when Shaun got them tickets?  Nothing big really happened.  She met one of her mom’s friends and got a Ms. Pac-Man dress.  The She Shoots display where they presented their game to a bunch of people from the group?  We don’t even get to hear any of it, it’s pretty much just “We did the talk and it was awesome.” There’s no such thing as tension or excitement in this thing because nothing actually happens, and that’s really disappointing.

And the romance was sort of gross, too.  Vic really had no reason to fall for Shaun at first other than lust, and even then she talks so much about how much he smokes pot and how he stinks (which is supposed to be romantic, I guess?) that I can’t believe anyone would find him anything other than really rank.  If it had been about her becoming FRIENDS with him and then finding out they had a lot of shared interests I’d have been more on-board, maybe, but as it was, bleh.  No thanks.

In other words, a book that could’ve been great... in theory.  Maybe they should’ve written the back cover summary first and then made the author actually write around that.  If you were thinking about pick it up, I’d give this one a huge NO.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Book review: When by Victoria Laurie

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client's young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie's whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it's too late?

A free copy was given to me through Netgalley in exchange for a review.

When is the story of a girl who can see people’s deathdates.  They’re always hovering there above their foreheads, and after her father dies and her family is left with very little money, her mother convinces her to read for people so they can know when they’ll die.  The story does take a tiny bit of time to really get going, and we find out that there’s a serial killer going around and Maddie is being blamed for it because all of the victims seem to have a connection to her.

The book itself is mostly average.  I actually finished it in a couple days just because I was curious where things were going to go.  The characters don’t have a lot of particularly interesting things different about them, but I don’t find them terrible, either.  What I think mostly saved this book for me was the first climax, in which they’ve finally found out just who the killer is and Maddie and Agent Faraday go to apprehend them.  Another good moment was the scene not long before that when Maddie visits the hospital and breaks down crying; it was powerful and I found my eyes misting a little right along with her.

Unfortunately, I also feel like this book was dragged on longer than it really had to be.  There’s actually a second climax where Maddie faces off against the killer and I just didn’t feel the same tense excitement that I did with the one before that.  So it was kind of a letdown.

All in all, I’d rate this about an average book.  Pick it up if you want.