Monthly Archives:: July 2012

Showcase Sunday (#3)

July 29, 2012 Showcase Sunday 9

Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea. We get to showcase our newest books or book related swag and see what everyone else received, borrowed, bought, and downloaded!

It was another great week for me, here at That Artsy Reader Girl! I won a few titles, received three from friends, and even bought one! Sorry, but there’s no vlog today! The Olympics sent me to bed at midnight thirty this morning, so a picture will have to do.


Titles I won:

Glamorous Illusions (Paperback) by Lisa T. Bergen (Armchair BEA)
The Vicious Deep (Hardback) by Zoraida Cordova (From JoAnne at The Fairytale Nerd)
Tangled Tides (Personalized paperback and postcard) by Karen Amanda Hooper (Armchair BEA)
Under the Never Sky (Paperback) by Veronica Rossi (From Zahida at Musings of a YA Reader)

Titles I was given:

Such a Rush (ARC) by Jennifer Echols (From Alexa at Alexa Loves Books)
On the Island (Personalized paperback and bookmark) by Tracey Garvis Graves (From Tracey herself!)

Title I am borrowing: 

From What I Remember (Kindle copy) by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas (Kim at Book Blogger Mom is loaning her Kindle copy to me through Amazon loaning.)

Title I bought:

The Night Before Christmas (Used paperback) by Scarlett Bailey (for my upcoming Christmas event on the blog!)

 

What did you get this week?


Check out my review and giveaway of Frost by Kate Avery Ellison, an awesome and chilly dystopia that had me flipping through the pages faster than I could read!
I re-designed Alexa’s (Alexa Loves Books) blog & coordinating buttons and images! Go see it!
Come discuss book blogging safety with me!
See what I thought of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, & listen to the song I think goes with it!


Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Mini Book Review)

July 27, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 6 ★★★★★

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (Mini Book Review)Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on July 31, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 392
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

I’ve never read a book quite like this one before, but I’m so glad I did! I always love reading about two broken characters who put the pieces of their lives back together, together! This is the kind of story that needs to be experienced, so I am making my review short and sweet.

These characters are so amazingly real and likeable. They both have dark pasts that haunt them, and they are both a little broken and struggling with inner demons as a result. They both end up going to the same therapist, and that therapist puts them together to help one another. What surfaces is an amazing journey of transformation, self-discovery, self-confidence, and love. I adored the lessons of forgiveness and resilience that were inserted throughout the story. Two broken families, two heartbroken people, and one mission to change all of that in the hopes of a better future.

I loved seeing them transform and grow into better versions of themselves. Echo gained confidence and answers, and Noah gained a new perspective. I particularly loved watching Noah go from this hardened bad boy to an amazingly caring and responsible man. I loved the tenderness he exhibited with Echo and his brothers. I think everyone needs a Noah in their life.

The romance is so raw and believable, not to mention a long time coming. This one was a very slow burn, and I loved the tension and vulnerability. These two are put through the ringer, and at times put each other through the ringer too. Their imperfections made them perfect for each other. If one of them struggled with something, the other one was the rock that pulled them through. And vice versa.

The writing was beautiful. Katie painted such vivid pictures in my mind of what these characters, even the supporting ones, went through. I gained a lot of insight into the minds of people in general. I’ve never endured these hardships that are discussed in this book, but I do feel much more understanding than I was.

I would definitely recommend this book to contemporary romance and realistic fiction lovers. Many of my readers and blogger friends know me as That Artsy Reader Girl Who Does Not Read Books That Bring Tears. I’m embracing the inner crybaby, and I am so glad I gave this book the chance it deserved.

Oh, and for your listening pleasure… I heard this song the other day, and it totally reminds me of the hope these characters have. I particularly love the lyric: “Life is getting better all the time / As long as we’re together everything’s gonna be alright / I feel it, I see it, I know that / Life is getting better all the time.

Love it!


A Discussion on Book Blogging Safety

July 24, 2012 Discussion 15

The Internet has never been a safe place, and we book bloggers are not above those online dangers. Just because a person is an author, it does not mean that they are a good person. And just because a person claims to be an author, it does not mean they actually are. These days anyone can publish a book. They can be a terrible person offline, and an amazingly likable author online. How do you know which one you’re talking to?

Visualize this with me. You’re out late at night on a dark street all alone. You hear a noise behind you, and you speed up in the direction of your car. You glance behind, and there’s an ominous looking person following you that you know you want absolutely nothing to do with. You break into a run, jump in your car, lock the doors, and drive off. Hours later, that person turns their computer on and adds the finishing touches to their new young adult novel, presses the publish button on whichever online publisher they use, and begins to contact bloggers for reviews, asking if they can send them a complimentary copy to their book. Come to think of it, there might not even be a book! But now they have a bunch of addresses of people they can go after. And if they searched for bloggers in a certain area (I’ve seen a lot of “About Me” pages that give out way too much info), you might be really close by. Would you give that nighttime stalker your address? No! Would you give your address to a random person online who thinks you’re amazing? I doubt it. So why would you give your address out to an author you’ve never heard of, who might not even be an author at all?

And of course, this does not just go for authors. This goes for our fellow bloggers as well. How do you know that the blogger you’ve been tweeting back and forth with is not someone with less than honorable intentions? How do you know if they really want to send you a birthday present, or if they just want to get your address out of you? I see so many bloggers throwing their addresses around like beads during a Mardi Gras parade, and it scares me so much.

I adore all of my blogging friends, and I would just die if any of them got hurt as a result of being too trusting. I’ve seen friends give out personal information to people who they have no reason to trust. So, I’ve thought up a list of things you can do in order to have a safer experience blogging about books.

Top Ten Ways to be a Safe Book Blogger

1. Don’t accept physical books from self-published authors unless they go through a professional publicity company with a good reputation. Go for eBooks instead. I’m not saying self-published authors are bad people, I’m saying that they usually have nobody to vouch for their credibility. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Some of my greatest friends in the blogging world are self published authors, and I love many of them. It only takes one person with malicious intentions to raise the needed for extra precautions, though. I’d definitely still accept physical books from the major publishing houses, though. They are trustworthy, and it’s their job to get the word out.

2. Don’t link your personal blog to your book blog. Register with a separate e-mail address, or remove your personal blog from your blogging profile. You don’t want just anyone in the world reading about your personal life!

3. Don’t include your location or last name in your “About Me” page or Goodreads profile.

4. If you have a Facebook page for your blog, don’t “Like” that page. If people search the blog fans on that page and recognize your picture, all of a sudden they’ve got your last name.

5. Utilize Facebook privacy settings and don’t allow your location to be shown to people who are not your friends.

6. Don’t include your last name in your e-mail address or signatures.

7. Don’t enter giveaways that require you to enter your full name upfront. Use your blog’s name instead of your last name. I doubt there is someone out there with your exact blog name, as well as your exact first name. The giveaway host does not need your last name in order to tell you apart from other entrants with the same first name.

8. Don’t enter giveaways that require your home address upfront. Why do they need every single person’s address anyway? They only need the winner’s. Some giveaways I’ve tried to enter mention that it eliminates the extra step of e-mailing the winner and waiting for their response. I think that’s kind of a lame reason. I’m assuming they can wait a day before sending you your book, especially since most people do not mail out the book the day of/after the giveaway results are drawn.

9. Don’t take on extra blog contributors without really knowing and trusting them first. You could lose everything.

10. The ARC tours are kind of scary… Anyone can be a part of those, and you have no control over who has your home address. These books will be released one day, so don’t risk your safety for the opportunity to read a book a few months early. It’s not worth it.

All in all, minimize how many people you give your personal information to. No book or bookish opportunity is worth risking your safety for. I care about you. Yes, you. I’m pointing at you now. Please be safe. :)

So, let’s discuss this. What do you think? Do you have any ideas for how to be safe, yet still enjoy the bookish community? Have you learned anything through your own experiences?


Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review and Giveaway)

July 23, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult 12 ★★★★★

Frost by Kate Avery Ellison (Book Review and Giveaway)Frost by Kate Avery Ellison
Series: Frost Chronicles #1
Also in this series: Thorns
Published by CreateSpace on April 18, 2012
Genres: Dystopia, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 194
Format: eBook
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, compassion might get a person killed, and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone. After the monsters kill her parents, she must keep the family farm running or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides, she can't afford to let her emotions lead her astray. But when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest, a young man from beyond the Frost named Gabe, Lia does the unthinkable. She saves his life.

Giving shelter to the fugitive could get her in trouble. The Elders have always described the advanced society of people beyond the Frost, the "Farthers," as ruthless and cruel. Lia is startled to find that Gabe is empathetic and intelligent-and handsome. And she might even be falling for him.

But time is running out. The monsters in the forest are growing bold and restless. The village leader is starting to ask questions. Farther soldiers are searching for Gabe. Is compassion-and love-worth the risk?

Welcome to my stop along the official blog tour for Frost by Kate Avery Ellison, hosted by AToMR Tours! I’m quite excited to tell you what I thought about this book! Basically, I loved it, and I was surprised that I loved it, just because I’d never heard of it book before I was given the opportunity to be a part of the tour. I am SO glad I got to read it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. When I say this book is refreshing, I’m being extremely literal. This is such a great read for a hot summer day, because this book takes place in probably the coldest place ever: The Frost. It’s cold and snowy and windy, with blizzards and fires in the fireplace and short days, with long nights. I loved it!

  • “It was cold, the kind of cold that made bones feel brittle and hands ache. My breath streamed from my lips like smoke, and my feet made wet, crunching sounds in the snow as I slipped through the forest.”
  • “The snow swirled around me, like fat white moths in the darkness.”

2. The writing is gorgeous, and it grabbed me within the first paragraph. Kate Avery Ellison has this amazing knack for presenting ideas like love, and the intense coldness of the Frost, in a beautiful way.

  • “Just thinking abut it took my breath away. I gazed at the world of snowy white around us, at the feathery pines and moonlit hollows. What forgotten secrets lay beneath this icy visage?”
  • “The wind blew, stinging my cheeks and carrying with it the taste of ice. I slogged down the hill to the porch. My legs were weak with relief.”
  • “He kissed me at first like he was afraid I’d break, and then he kissed me like it was the last thing he’d ever do.”
  • “He looked at me like I was made of unbearable light and I was blinding him.”
  • “Love is a perilous dance too, you see. And if we stop dancing, we’ll die. Don’t ever stop dancing.”

See? Beautiful! Don’t some of those quotes make you went to melt into a puddle?

3. I love the storytelling. We are given just enough information to not feel completely unaware, but not enough to make things predictable. I loved the mystery and the unknowns. Like the monsters (Watchers)… Why are they here? What do they want? When will the show up? We are given information as we need it, not as we want it. I was flipping through the pages SO fast. The creativity behind this work is amazing!

4. The characters are all so likeable. Lia is strong and sensible. Her parents are dead, and she has to take care of her crippled twin brother and younger sister. She brings to the story that maturity a person gains when they are all of a sudden a teenage parent to children their own age. He siblings are so sweet and protective of her, but never try and hold her back from doing what she knows she has to do. The villain jumps out at you from nowhere, and the guy you thought you hated ends up being nothing you thought he was.

5. Gabe is swoonworthy, which is why he needs his own bolded number. I mean, he’s got this brooding hardened exterior, and is a man of few words… but the words he actually does say are perfect. He says the most amazing things to Lia. I melted. And he’s from this forbidden people, so we’ve got the tension that goes with “I have a major thing for him, but I’ve been brought up to fear and loathe him.” situation. Also, there’s this slow build up with him. The romance is actually barely mentioned, since it’s in the beginning stages. I bet the next book will include more. There’s no instalove, though, so I am SO willing to wait longer. :)

6. The forest is a character all its own, and I loved it. It sounds so mystical and gorgeous, yet it freaked me out! Every time any person ventured into the trees, I got so scared for them. And as the sky grew darker and darker, and the monsters began to appear… OH MAN. Good stuff, I tell you!

7. The ending is amazing! It’s suspenseful, charged with romance, and ah-ha! moments. Again, you are given the info you need to understand, but there are so many things screaming from inside of me, begging for the sequel. I can’t wait!

This book is a hidden gem. Again, I love being a book blogger, because I get to find all these amazing lesser-known books and then tell you to buy them! I’d recommend this to dystopia lovers, people who believe that monsters lurk in the dark, and swoonworthy male leads!

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Stop by the other tour stops for more book reviews, excerpts, deleted scenes, interviews, & more!


On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (Excerpt & Giveaway)

July 20, 2012 Blog Tour, Book Excerpt, Giveaway 5

Hello! Welcome to my stop along the On the Island virtual blog tour, hosted by AToMR Tours.

You might remember back in March when I participated in another blog tour for this book (also with AToMR). Of course, I adored it, and have been shouting its praises from the rooftops for months now.

Since then, On the Island has taken the world by storm. 5-Star reviews went up all over the Internet, and the book gained a lot of publicity. Plume (an imprint of Penguin) snatched this book up, gave it a new cover, and re-published it! MGM has even bought the movie rights! During all of this, Tracey has become a great friend of mine, and I am SO excited for her. When I saw the opportunity to participate in another blog event for her book, I jumped at it immediately.

Make sure you read the book excerpt (haha. I was assigned one of my favorites!), and enter the giveaway to win one of ten signed copies of On the Island after this event announcement!

Here’s what you can expect throughout the tour. It sounds like so much fun!

  • In addition to reviews and promotional/celebratory posts, keep an eye out for key words in a special scavenger hunt! Select blogs will be hosting one word from two of Tracey’s favorite book quotes (one from each of the main characters in the book: Anna and TJ). Visit each stop and collect the words (they will be numbered, and I have Anna’s quote, word #6 at the end of the excerpt!). After July 22nd, submit your answers here. Random entrants will be selected to win books and swag. Those winners will be chosen and notified by July 29th.
  • On Monday, July 23rd, at 8:00 PM come join us as we live chat with the author on Savor Chat. You can sign in there with your Twitter or Facebook information.
  • Be sure to follow the Twitter hashtag, #ontheisland, to see random shout-outs to win books and swag. (@Tale_of_Reviews)
  • On the Island has been available in bookstores, both brick and mortar and online, since July 10th. If you happen to see it “in the wild”, take a picture and tweet it using the event hashtag (#ontheisland), or post it to Facebook). Make sure you also submit those tweets/posts here.

On the Island Book Excerpt

We were eating lunch when a chicken walked out of the woods.
“Anna, look behind you.”
She turned around. “What the heck?”
We watched as the chicken came closer. It pecked the ground, not in any kind of hurry.
“There was one more after all,” I said.
“Yeah, the stupid one,” Anna pointed out. “Although it’s the last one standing, so it’s done something right.” It came right up to Anna and she said, “Oh, hi. Do you not know what we did to the rest of your kind?” It tilted its head and looked up at her as if it were trying to figure out what she said. My mouth watered. I thought about the chicken dinner Anna and I would have. But then she said, “Let’s not kill this one, T.J. Let’s see if it lays eggs.”
I built a small pen. Anna picked the chicken up and put it inside. It sat down and looked at both of us like it was happy with its new house. Anna put some water in an empty coconut shell. “What do chickens eat?” she asked.
“I don’t know. You’re the teacher. You tell me.”
“I taught English. In a major metropolitan area.”
That cracked me up. “Well, I don’t know what it eats.” I bent down by the pen and said, “You better lay eggs because right now you’re just another mouth to feed, and if you don’t like coconut, breadfruit, and fish, you may not like it here.” I swear to God that chicken nodded its head. It laid an egg the next day. Anna cracked it into an empty coconut shell and scrambled it with her finger. She put the coconut shell near the flames and waited for the egg to cook. When it looked done, she divided it between us.
“This is fantastic,” Anna said.
“I know.” I finished my share in two bites. “I haven’t had a scrambled egg in so long. It tastes just like I remember.”
The chicken laid another egg two days later. “That was a good idea you had, Anna.”
“Chicken probably thinks so, too,” she said.
“You named the chicken, Chicken?”
She looked embarrassed. “When we decided not to kill it, I got attached.”
“That’s okay,” I said. “Something tells me Chicken probably likes you, too.”

Scavenger Hunt: Anna’s Quote, Word #6:
Underwear

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Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (Book Review)

July 19, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★★

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown (Book Review)Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Series: Lies Beneath #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 12, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 303
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

I’m really loving the young adult mermaid romance trend that has been taking the book world by storm! I’d been really worried about this one, as a lot of the reviews have been mixed, but I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved so much about it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. We have a male narrator! YES! This was so refreshing. Calder is a merman from a family of human-killing mermaids. He was not born this way, but was changed to a merman after falling off a boat and drowning as a young child. Maybe that’s why he’s a bit reformed, and hopes to escape the “school of fish” loyalty and just be his own person. I loved reading his thoughts as he struggled between being who he wanted to be and being who he was created to be. I think Brown did an amazing job writing a male’s thoughts. I’ve always thought that would be a tricky thing to do.

2. This story takes place in an awesome location: Lake Superior. That lake is so mysterious and deep and freezing, and I LOVE that the story took place here rather than in the cliche tropical location. Rather than hearing about rainbow fish and sea turtles, you get to read about sunken ships and the unexplored depths of the lake. We even get a mention of an ancient road down there.

3. I really liked the evil mermaid spin. I was getting tired of the “I wish I were human, but I have this tail, so I’m going to swim around and hope I can fake being human well enough to make you love me” storyline. These mermaids love being who they are. Even Calder does not want to quit being a merman, he just does not want to suck the life out of humans. They all have their own personalities, and don’t sit around suppressing what they are. And the evil thing? It was awesome! Mermaids are made out to be monsters and not humans. It created some suspense and intrigue. I dunno, I guess I’ve always been a bit rebellious myself, so I enjoyed the more gritty and dangerous spin.

4. I really enjoyed the need for revenge that the mermaids had. It consumed their thoughts as they tried to seek revenge on the man they blamed their mother’s death on. Even though these mermaids are considered evil, you have to give them credit for never breaking a promise, and for being extremely loyal to each other. I mean, even though Calder began to change his mind regarding this revenge, his mind was so linked with his sisters’ that he really struggled with an inner turmoil that pulled him in two very different directions.

5. I appreciated Lily’s common sense and vivaciousness. I can’t stand a dumb, quivering-in-her-boots kind of heroine. Lily has a sharp mind and she knows things without having someone beat it into her head with a hammer. And I loved her little sister, Sophie. She is adorable.

6. The Hancock family’s past is vast and dynamic. I loved getting more insight into what happened to make these mermaids so mad, and what mysteries are hidden beneath the surface.

7. The romance was sweet. It was not obsessive or silly. It seemed legit to me. Calder and Lily look out for one another, and have a healthy give and take relationship. Calder is not controlling or stalkery. I mean yes, he lurks in the water outside her home to protect her, but he’s not sneaking in her room to watch her sleep. Lily is not helpless and naive. She can hold her own, and does not frighten easily. I believed this one.

8. I wish the book had spent a little more time on Calder’s sisters. Those girls were so much fun to read about, and they were really what made the book so unique. Hopefully the rest of the trilogy will give us more information on them. They could have their own spin-off series.

All in all, this book is now one of my new favorite mermaid romances. I loved the unique spin, the believable romance, and the interesting characters. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of mermaid books, and it’s also a great one to start on if you’re just dipping your toe into the genre.


Dark Light (Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser Spotlight)

July 18, 2012 Blog Tour, Giveaway 5

I am so happy to be participating in this blog tour to help raise money for the Ronald McDonald House! Here’s the story behind this project. Oh, and make sure to enter the giveaway for a Kindle at the bottom of this post!

Carl Hose and his wife, Marcee, went through a very trying time during the pregnancy and birth of their daughter, Ireland Joy Hose. Complications arose during the development of their baby, so Carl’s wife was scheduled for a C-section just over two weeks before her due date. Normally, this is completely fine. Well, Ireland wanted to come six weeks early instead. The doctors could not stop Marcee’s contractions, and she started bleeding profusely. Ireland came out fine, but very tiny. Marcee had to have a hysterectomy if she wanted to survive. She pushed through and survived the surgery, regardless of all the blood loss. After the birth, Ireland was moved to the NICU at a different hospital than her mother, which was much further away. Carl and Marcee decided that Carl should move to be with Ireland. However, that meant leaving his wife alone during a very emotional and painful time. After much coaxing from the hospital staff, Carl moved into the Ronald McDonald House. Miraculously, Marcee joined him there the next day. She should not have been able to walk. They spent the next 3 weeks living in there, visiting their baby and watching her gain her strength and recover from coming into this world so early. Their entire family is doing so well today.

Ronald McDonald House played a huge part in this family’s happiness. They provided a place to live, food to eat, gifts, and even Valentine cards. They did not have to travel to see Ireland, nor did they have to sleep in her NICU room. They had a comfortable place close by where they could heal from this trauma together. RMH does this same thing for thousands of other families every year, and they do it solely from donations. Carl and Marcee are so grateful for the help that they received, that they want to give something back to the Ronald McDonald House. Here’s what they did:

Dark Light is the light that shines through when some of the finest writers in horror use the power of their words for something good. That’s the case with this anthology—42 writers coming together to help support the Ronald McDonald House Charities and all the good the organization does for families every day of the year.

Make no mistake, though. These are horror writers and the stories they’ve written are not pretty. Traditional and non-traditional horror, dark humor, ghosts, serial killers, alternate universes, magic, zombies, and other creatures of the night hide between these pages. Shadows move and dead fingers stroke unsuspecting flesh, razor sharp knives shimmer in the moonlight, and unknown things hide in closets and under the bed. The stories here are as varied as the writers themselves. If you’re a fan of horror, you will not be let down.

Despite the horrific nature of these tales, however, their very existence in Dark Light stands as proof there will always be a light at the end of every tunnel.

Turn the lights down low and enjoy the show.

Dark Light will be available in all digital formats, plus the printed version will be available wherever books are sold online, as well as in some brick and mortar stores. No matter where you buy it, the money goes to RMH. I think this is a wonderful way to make a difference, and I’m so happy I was contacted to help with this project!

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Check out the other stops on this tour for reviews of the book, guest posts, and book excerpts.  (Scroll through the list of current tours to get to the button for this tour, where all the stops are listed underneath.)


Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson (Mini Book Review)

July 17, 2012 Book Review, Young Adult 9

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson (Mini Book Review)Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Series: Flirting in Italian #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 12, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
0 Stars
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

Ok, guys… This just might be the biggest disappointment of the summer. I was SO excited when I found out about this book, and even more excited when I found out I was approved for it on Netgalley. Seriously. I was in a local creperie, and I might have made a smallish scene when I checked my e-mail and saw that I could download it. At that time, I was about to leave for Italy myself, and I love themed reads! I never got around to it while on my trip, though, but I still thought it would be fun to read it as I reminisced.

The summary on the back of the book tells very little about what happens in the story. Violet is our main girl, and she finds out about a centuries old painting that looks just like her. It’s in Italy, so she figures out a way to get herself there as part of a program that is basically finishing school for Italian girls. Her neurotic, overbearing, and borderline insane mother about has a flip-out session, but lets her go. She gets to spend the summer at a house in Tuscany with 3 really stuck up girls (another English person, and two Americans) and some rude Italian girls… and gets in too deep with a playboy, all while searching to find out whether or not she was adopted, and who this doppelganger was.

So… within the first 50 pages of the book, I almost gave up. I love art history so much, so I was really excited with the mystery posed at the beginning of the book, about the heroine’s doppelganger in a centuries old painting. And I love Italy, and was enjoying reading all about the scenery, and the Tuscan countryside. I’ve been to Pisa, so I know what it looks like in that area. It was fun to reminisce. And then the girls showed up. First off, the American girls are made out to be materialistic valley girls, and I was embarrassed. They act so dumb, snobby, rich, and entitled. I hope the author does not believe we’re really like that.

And then the high school mentality set in. These four girls are terrible (well, one of them was not so bad, but it was only because she was so insecure that she couldn’t be cocky)! They constantly think about how someone is fat, or that shade of green makes her skin look putrid, or “thank goodness I have been self tanning for a while”, or how the blonde has nothing between her ears, etc. The bullying and rude thoughts are so annoying! And Violet, our main character is exactly the person who made my life miserable in school. She’s rude, cocky, gossipy, and downright mean! I mean, come ON. I thought we were supposed to like the main character. Why should we stick with the book if we don’t? I had no interest in reading such rude thoughts and mindless gossip and backbiting. The mystery at the beginning of the book fades away, and it turns into one big mess of rude, unintelligent girls partying and hanging out with the guys you’re, as a general rule of thumb, supposed to avoid. The main love interest, Luca, looks down his nose at Violet, and comes off as being a bit of a lunatic. Violet realizes this, but goes back and forth from loving him and hating him. It was just weird. There’s no real character development, and I cared about nobody.

The book is all partying. It’s like spring break in Cancun in book form. Violet’s mission to go to Italy to find out about herself is completely forgotten. Towards the end of the book, another mystery (which ends up being very unrealistic) surfaces, but honestly, it’s too little too late. The book was already unsalvageable at that point, so trying to make up for that by adding in a mystery that is seriously hard to believe, does more harm than good.

AND… there’s a companion novel. So… crud! Haha. The ending was just a mess! I suffered through it only to be told that I have to read another book if I want to know what happens. I put the book down wondering why I wasted the time on it, and I have no interest to read the next book.

I loved the idea. LOVED it. And I know that it could have been done so much better. I’m so disappointed in it! I’d heard it was in the vein of Anna in the French Kiss. Heck. No. To be honest, I feel a little deceived with that marketing statement. I’m going to tell you right now to not bother with this one. There are many better choices out there.


Cecilia Gray’s Writing Do’s (Author Guest Post)

July 16, 2012 Blog Tour, Guest Post 1

Cecilia Gray lives in Oakland where she reads, writes and breaks for food. She has written 7 books, the most recent of which (Fall for You) is the beginning of the young adult contemporary romance series, Jane Austen Academy. Two of her other novels: A Delightful Arrangement (The Gentlemen Next Door #1) and An Illicit Engagement (The Gentlemen Next Door #2) have spent time on several romance bestsellers lists in Spain, Italy, the UK, and the USA.

I’m delighted to have Cecilia here today to discuss some writing tips as part of the AToMR tour celebrating her newest book, Fall for You.

 

Dieting has never worked for me. The second you tell me what I can’t eat, it’s all I can think about is eating it. No carbs? I’ll eat a pizza. No fat? I want bacon.

The same is true of writing. Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I’ll want to do it. No starting a story with a dream? I’ll give my heroine a 300-page nightmare.

Instead, I’d rather focus on should I should be doing.

I should be eating more vegetables and lentils. I should be going organic. I should be eating nonfat yogurt.

Here are my writing “you-shoulds”:

  • You should draw the reader in by posing a question.

    I don’t mean an obvious question-with-a-question mark. I mean a sentence that begs a question, any question.I was listening to the new Maroon 5 song and the first line is, “I’m at a payphone trying to call home all of the change I spent on you.” The sentence brings up all kinds of questions. Who is he trying to call? Why is he trying to call them? Where in sweet hell did he find a payphone? Even though I know nothing about the situation in the song, I sympathize with the singer, because he’s desperately trying to reach someone and I know the feeling.Your first sentence should engage the reader to question what is happening, and more improtantly, to care about what is happening.

  • You should force the reader to set their own stage.

This is a fancy way of saying show don’t tell, and the reason it works because it switches the reader from reading passively to reading actively, and if a reader is more actively drawn into a story, they have more stakes in the outcome.

“She was sad” says less than “She fought the sting of tears at the corners of her eyes.” (Apologies for both sentences being pretty lame….)

Both beg the question, why is she crying. But the second also makes you realize she doesn’t want to be crying, that she is desperate not to cry, which adds depth and dimension to her emotional state.

  • You should invite the reader to complete their own story.

Consider the following endings (my apologies for any spoilers):

–    Life of Pi when the veracity of Pi’s story is thrown into doubt and you must decide whether he was really in a boat with a tiger or a man who murders his mother
    The ending of Inception when you must decide whether the hero has found happiness with his family or is trapped in a coma
–    Before Sunrise or Before Sunset when you have to decide whether the couple will stay together – and whether it’s the right decision
–    The Giver when you must decide what journey the hero takes
These stories have powerful endings precisely because their resolution depends on the reader.

This doesn’t absolve you of telling a satisfying story, but consider whether the satisfaction really comes from  tying up every loose end. Is there a thread better left untold? Is there a question you want to leave for your reader?

All three Do’s have one thing in common: reader engagement. Each Do is a way of waking up your reader, forcing your reader to read deeper, asking your reader to care more, think more, do more.
Getting your reader to do more is more work for you, but if you’re stressing about it – you could always eat a pizza.

Thanks, Cecilia! Stop by the tour schedule and visit the other tour stops to read reviews of Fall for You, more guest posts, book excerpts, and other cool things!


Showcase Sunday (#2)

July 15, 2012 Showcase Sunday 7

Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea. We get to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received, borrowed, bought, and downloaded!

 

 

Books Received:
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
(From Julia’s 2-year blogoversary giveaway)

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid
(Because Kimberly accidentally got an extra for the SLC Dark Days signing, and was sweet to give it to me!)

Every Day by David Levithan
(From Netgalley)