Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games Book Cover
Mind Games by Kiersten White

Published December 3rd 2013 by HarperTeen

About the Book:
Fia and Annie are as close as two sisters can be. They look out for each other. Protect each other. And most importantly, they keep each other's secrets, even the most dangerous ones: Annie is blind, but can see visions of the future; Fia was born with flawless intuition—her first impulse is always exactly right. When the sisters are offered a place at an elite boarding school, Fia realizes that something is wrong . . . but she doesn't grasp just how wrong. The Keane Institute is no ordinary school, and Fia is soon used for everything from picking stocks to planting bombs. If she tries to refuse, they threaten her with Annie's life. Now Fia's falling in love with a boy who has dark secrets of his own. And with his help, she's ready to fight back. They stole her past. They control her present. But she won't let them take her future.

Review

Mind Games is the first book I’m reviewing in over a year and it’s really a great one for me to start with. Mind Games is a face paced book about Annie and Fia, two sisters attending boarding school after losing their parents in a tragic accident.

Annie is blind, but realizes she can see premonitions of the future. Fia feels protective of her older sister and has always felt it was her job to protect her. Annie is offered an opportunity to attend a boarding school that offers the best education and will look for treatments for her loss of vision. Fia feels like something is wrong and voices her opinion to the school. The school realizes that both sisters have talents and offer them both scholarships. Against Fia’s better judgement they accept. Annie believes the school is wonderful and wishes that her sister were happy. Only Fia is trained as a thief and killer. The emotional toll on both sisters is hard, but Fia is strong willed and determined to get them out.

Kiersten White does a fantastic job of creating a range of good, bad, really evil, and mysterious characters. I kept hoping the bad and really evil characters would get what was coming to
them. There were a few characters that I wasn't sure what side they were on which of course made me read faster!

Mind Games is told from both sister’s point of view and each chapter is either the present or sometime from the past. At first I was worried that I would get lost but I found it easy to jump into each girl’s POV. Only when the suspense got super high did I yell “NO! Keep going! I need to see what happens in the present.” I was really glad to see not one, but two strong female characters. Wondering about romance? There is a lot of chemistry and some kissing, but romance was not the main story line. My hopes are that there will be more romance in the sequel.

Mind Games is a good mix of contemporary fiction with a slight mix of supernatural. As I was reading I was thinking all the twist and turns of Pretty Little Liars with the action and suspense of Covert Affairs. I can see this being a great read for Ally Carter and Jennifer Lynn Barnes fans.

Friday, May 15, 2015

May - What I'm Reading Now

Yay, my first To Read post since I've been back! Can you believe that May is nearly half over? Here are my picks for May. Feel free to join me and we can discuss. Also, I am always up for taking recommendations, so please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. If you visit my blog often you will find I add and remove books depending on my moods. What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?


Reading:
Finding Paris Book Cover


Listening to:
Dreams of Gods & Monsters Book Cover

Next up:
the start of me and you book cover

Finished:
Mind Games Book Cover

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hey you....

Wondering where I went? Did I quit blogging?

If you know me personally then you know that I decided to go back to school. I never finished my bachelor's degree so two summers ago I decided it was time. At first I was juggling school, working full time, and blogging. I'm one of those people who believes they can do it all, especially when you add coffee. As time went on and I started taking more and more classes I realized I couldn't keep up and something had to give, so I stopped blogging. Then things got harder and I stopped reading regularly and didn't have time for book events. I would read a book between breaks and listen to an audiobook, but not enough to blog.

With so many of my friends being amazing bloggers and authors a part of me was worried that we would stop having things in common. I learned that these were more my insecurities than reality. I'm now between breaks again and I'm only three classes from graduating. (Insert happy dance) I'm hoping that I'm at the final stretch and I can spend more time reading and blogging. I don't know if readers will still visit or what's going on in the book blogger world, but I'll be here to talk books.

-Maria Cari Soto

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Jen Calonita


Today I'm talking to Jen Calonita about SUMMER STATE OF MINE. I'm a big fan of Jen's earlier books like Secrets of my Hollywood Life and SLEEPAWAY GIRLS. I loved SUMMER STATE OF MIND and actually read it in about two days when I should have been doing homework. Review coming soon!


Where did the inspiration for SUMMER STATE OF MIND come from?
I always thought the character people would want more of was Kaitlin Burke (from Secrets of My Hollywood Life), but it was actually not a character, but a camp that people would write me about! I got so many emails about Whispering Pines —is it a real camp? How do I apply to be a CIT? Would you recommend going away to sleepaway camp? I couldn’t believe how much readers enjoyed Whispering Pines and all its activities. Whispering Pines is a camp I made up for the book, but it’s based on a number of camps I visited as well as a day camp I worked at as a teen. I didn’t get to go to sleepaway camp as a teen, but when I was researching SLEEPAWAY GIRLS, all I could think was “why didn’t I go to camp?” It seemed so fun. Being away from family and friends, getting to be a whole new person and meet new friends, going to campfires, doing camp pranks, spending my days swimming or doing camp activities—what a way to spend the summer! I couldn’t wait to get back to camp so I was thrilled when Poppy said I could have another spin at Whispering Pines. We decided on a companion rather than a sequel so that we could meet all campers and still hang with some of the older ones readers remembered.

Can we agree that being 15 is hard enough? Now Harper goes from normal girl to being wealthy and starting a whole new life. What are some of her methods for coping?
I KNOW, RIGHT? Harper is actually based on a family I know that this happened to. To go from a regular home and a normal life to a mansion in a wealthy neighborhood and a new private school seems amazing, but also difficult--especially when you’re 15! I kept wondering how the girl I knew survived. I watched her change from this sweet, good-natured person to someone who cared more about labels and money than her friends and I kept thinking, if I were one of her old friends, how would I talk some sense into her? That’s how Harper was born. Shipping a girl like Harper off to sleepaway camp without any luxuries from home seemed both fitting and hilarious!

In YA we always hear about the stereotypical bad parents. What are Harper’s parents like?
I love Harper’s parents. I’ve written about a momager (Kaitlin’s mom from SECRETS), a girl who was raised by her grandmother (Izzie in BELLES) and a single mom (Sam’s in SLEEPAWAY GIRLS). What’s so funny about that is my parents have been happily married for over 35 years! It seemed time to have a character who has two very involved parents and what I love about Harper’s dad is that he’s been in Harper’s shoes—he came from no money and then came into money and he didn’t change. So when he sees Harper becoming someone she shouldn’t be, he immediately wants to help her with that. He’s a camp guy himself so he loves the idea of her going and Harper’s mom is pretty cool too so she’s on board with it as well. I like them being a united front!

I love that there is always a bit of fashion in your book. Tell me what are some of Harper’s favorite looks or designers?
I can picture Harper tearing pages out of Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue and hanging them up in her room! She is a fashion plate so she loves all designers and is always up for trying new ones. I see her in a lot of Stella McCartney and Chloe.

What are Harper’s thoughts when a boy pretty much sees her as superficial?
That really bothers her because it’s the first time that she realizes her life has become this bubble of money, fashion, and friends who, well, only care about money too! She was not that person in the past and in her own mind she’s still not. Him seeing her differently makes her realize she might have changed…not that she’s ready to admit that yet!

Harper has a twin brother. What were some of the funniest moments between the two?
I always wanted a twin brother! Always! I thought it would be so fun to have a guy’s point of view on things and to have my back. There’s a lot of teasing that goes on to, I assume, and that’s what I do to Harper and her twin—let them constantly


About Jen:


Favorite genre that you like read?
Realistic, contemporary YA. Chick lit for adult. These are the genres I gravitate towards the most.

What is the one fashion item you could not live without?
I’m not sure it’s a fashion item, but I live in ballet flats. I tend to write about my characters wearing them too!

Since your book is called SUMMER STATE OF MIND I want to know if you have any fun summer plans?
This summer, for the first summer ever, we are joining friends in getting a cabana at a beach on Long Island. We’re so excited because it means we can leave our gear at the beach and we also have a pool there, our own shower and area for a fridge and a table. I’ve always wanted to live at the beach—this may be the closest I get to doing that!


A few things caught my attention. First I think Little Brown did an amazing job with the cover. Second the Dedication is really sweet. When you are writing do you think “My family is going to read this” someday?
Thank you! I LOVE the cover too. I think they really captured the beauty of summer and camp in that shot. I love the designer too—it’s the same designer who has done Jen E. Smith’s covers (a fellow Poppy girl). I love doing dedications and always think a lot about who they are going to be for. I look forward to the day I can read my books with my nieces and my boys (if they’ll read anything this girly!)

To learn more about Jen Calonita visit: http://jencalonitaonline.com/


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE TAKING EXCERPT TOUR


If you have been a long time follower of my blog, then you know that one of my all time favorite authors is Kimberly Derting. I was beyond excited when I was contacted to be part of Kim's blog tour.

About the Book:
The Taking Coming April 29, 2014 from HarperTeen

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas 'n' Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn't aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra's old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn't sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin's annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra's father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?


The Taking Excerpt

I’d only made it one step before the man had ahold of my arms and was dragging me back out the door. I heard his phone fall, clattering on the tile floor. He wasn’t gentle, and my heart was racing, slamming against my ribs, bruising them. I didn’t know what he planned to do to me. The little boy was crying, but the man didn’t release me as he hauled me down the steps. I tripped over my own feet as he pulled me along the walkway until we were standing on the sidewalk out in front.
“I don’t know what you’re problem is,” he hissed, trying to keep his voice low, his eyes shifting back and forth from me to the screaming boy with no pants at the front door. “But this is my house, and you’re scaring my son. If you need help, then call 9-1-1. I can’t do anything for you.” He released my arm but didn’t leave right away. He just stood there looking at me, waiting for some sort of acknowledgment that I’d heard what he’d said.
I had. I’d heard him. I just couldn’t make sense of it.
His house?
Is that what he’d said? His house?
But that wasn’t right. This was my house.
My house.
I tried to find something in all of it to cling to, something that would clear things up. I replayed the last few minutes, when I’d burst through the front door, and tried to recall what I’d seen.
It was the same house I remembered. The same, but different.
How could that be?
Tears burned my eyes as I looked, too, not at the boy, but at the house in front of us. The house I’d grown up in.
The man gave me one last piteous look before shaking his head and going back to his son. The boy raised his arms to his father, who scooped him up and carried him back inside, closing the door without looking back at me.
I wanted to explain what I was going through, to tell him who I was and who my parents were, but all I could manage was “But I . . . I live here.”

Please make sure to check out the next excerpt at http://www.fangirlish.com. If you want to read all the excerpts on the tour you can start at LushBudgetProductions.


The following stores are doing a pre-order campaign so call and order a signed copy:
Blue Willow Bookshop
The King's English
Books of Wonder
Mysterious Galaxy

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith



Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Holy cow I had no idea what in the world I was getting myself into. I told myself I wouldn’t look at any reviews or press beforehand, because I wanted to experience Grasshopper Jungle for myself. When I first started Grasshopper Jungle I thought oh I’m going inside a guy’s head that lives in a small town that is slowly dying out. Little did I know, that is exactly what I was getting, and so much more! I will admit that when it comes to male point of views I expect the best. You see I have fallen in love with male point of views like Felton Reinstein and Nick Gardner.

Austin Szerba is different, from other male point of view books I have read, but just as important! See Austin is a typical teenage boy who can’t stop thinking about sex and shit like that. (His words not mine) I believe it’s important to point out that Austin is dealing with a lot of insecurity about the possibility that he is either gay or bisexual. I look around my book shelves and I don’t think I have another book that deals with this topic from the main male point of view. Teens need to know that they can pick up a book and feel they can relate to the main character.

When I found out about the struggles that Austin was having with his sexuality I thought well this is what the book is about. Right? Well wrong! One night a group of teens accidentally break a globe with a plague that can potentially destroy the world.  Austin and his best friend Robby discover what happens and try to fix it. Austin loves his girlfriend Shann who he and Robby spend all their time with and who helps him find the truth about the plague. Austin is obsessed with keeping a history of his life. He writes everything down as he goes about his day and connects the pieces of history.  When Austin is lost he spends his time with his dog, Ingrid, who loves him regardless of who he chooses to love.

Grasshopper Jungle is a book that you have to experience. It’s funny saying this as a book reviewer, but block out what everyone is saying! Read Grasshopper Jungle with an open mind and live the life that Austin Szerba lives. Andrew Smith’s writing style is completely unique and a voice that is needed in young adult literature.

Note: There is sex and violence in the book, but would you expect anything less in an “end of the world” type of book?

To learn more about Andrew Smith visit: http://www.authorandrewsmith.com



I want to give a big thanks to Penguin Books and Lady Reader's Bookstuff Blog Tours for including me in the blog tour. Penguin is also giving one lucky US winner a copy of Grasshopper Jungle and a very cool shirt! So fill out the rafflecopter form below:

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Giveaway: White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages

I want to thank Egmont for providing a giveaway copy of White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages by Ilsa Bick! I love this cover and can't wait to read it! Good luck all!

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White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages
From Ilsa J. Bick--the critically acclaimed author of The Ashes Trilogy--comes the first title in a two-book, young adult series about blurred reality in the tradition of Memento and Inception. This thrilling and scary young adult novel is about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it's as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she's real.

Then she writes "White Space," a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard. Unfortunately, "White Space" turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she's never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. When Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she's dropped into the very story she thought she'd written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they--and Emma--may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.

Now what they must uncover is why they've been brought to this place--a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written--before someone pens their end.

This is the first in a two-book, young adult series from Ilsa J. Bick about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines. From Wisconsin to an alternate Victorian London, Bick combines elements of thriller, horror, and speculative fiction into a heart-racing story that will leave readers eager to turn the page. Book Two will publish in Spring 2015.


About Ilsa J. Bick
Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time author. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning YA novels include The Ashes Trilogy, Draw the Dark, Drowning Instinct, and The Sin-Eater's Confession. Ilsa currently lives in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery. One thing she loves about the neighbors: they're very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. You can find her online at www.ilsajbick.com.

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