Month: September 2013

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton (Mini Book Review + Giveaway)

Posted September 4, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Giveaway / 11 Comments

Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton (Mini Book Review + Giveaway)Two Lies and a Spy by Kat Carlton
Series: Two Lies and a Spy #1
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (Mail)
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4 Stars

When sixteen-year-old Kari’s dad sends her an unexpected text, she and her brother immediately go into hiding. Because when your parents are superspies and your dad declares a Code Black, it can only mean something bad. Very bad.

Kari soon discovers that her parents have been disavowed and declared traitors, and she’s determined to clear their names. Breaking into the Agency seems like a reasonable plan, especially with the help of a team that includes her longtime crush, Luke, as well as her two best friends—an expert hacker with attitude and a master martial artist—and Luke’s popular, vindictive twin sister. Oh, and a new guy, who’s as cute as he is complicated…

What a fun book! I love spy/thriller/espionage type books, and so I was really excited when I was sent a copy of Two Lies and a Spy for review. It was a delightful, quick read and I loved every minute of it.

My favorite part of this book is Kari’s brother, Charlie. He’s seven years old, but he’s a little Einstein. He loves to research things and spout off random facts. He absolutely loves Kari, and she loves him. This has got to be the cutest brother/sister relationship I’ve ever read. After they discover all the trouble their parents are in, they go into hiding together–Charlie dressed as a little girl, and Kari disguised in whatever costume she has at the moment. Kari enlists the help of her friends, and together they decide to break her parents out and clear their names in the process.

Kari’s friends made this story amazing. The plot itself has been done before, but these characters made it unique. Kari is spunky and sarcastic, which I love. Luke, the dreamboat, is so sweet and concerned. Rita and Kale, her two partners in crime were so much fun, especially the zingers they shot back and forth at each other (they kind of hate each other). Rita’s this quirky fashion guru with all the techie gadgets that get things done, and Kale is a computer whiz. Lacey, Luke’s sister, is the bodacious blonde with a major attitude. I liked her, though, and actually enjoyed her prissiness. And then we have Evan, my love. He’s the snarky British bad boy wannabe who drives Kari absolutely nuts with his antics. Aside from Charlie, he is definitely my favorite. I hope we get lots more of him in the next book, because he has a personality you can write novels about. It’s not just the characters I love, but their interactions with one another had me giggling. They are so funny, and I really enjoyed their dialogue. Together, they create this dynamic force you can’t help but root for.

The plot is rather unrealistic at times, but I didn’t even care. There was no eye rolling or muttering from me as I read. It was pure and utter entertainment. The ending made my jaw drop in a twist that was pretty exciting. I love how it ended, and left the door open for more. I can’t wait to read more from Kat!

Thanks so much to Simon and Schuster for providing two hardback copies I can giveaway to my readers! Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win. U.S. entries only, please.

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4 Stars

Towering by Alex Flinn (Book Review)

Posted September 4, 2013 by Jana in Book Review / 1 Comment

Towering by Alex Flinn (Book Review)Towering by Alex Flinn
Published by HarperTEEN on May 14, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 293
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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3 Stars

At first, I merely saw his face, his hands on the window ledge. Then, his whole body as he swung himself through the window. Only I could not see what he swung on.
Until, one day, I told my dream self to look down. And it was then that I saw. He had climbed on a rope. I knew without asking that the rope had been one of my own tying.

Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her.

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

I’ve got a thing for fairytale retellings, and Rapunzel is one of my very favorites! I really love the idea of a prince traversing a high tower to save a girl who has been trapped in there, and has no idea what the world is really like. Towering was a fun, quick retelling with a little mystery and a really pretty setting. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Wyatt is a strong character, and I enjoyed reading about the story from his point of view. He’s been through a very sad thing, and is trying to move on by changing scenery for a little while. He tries to make friends, which is hard since he’s still not quite himself. He keeps hearing a girl singing from far away, and thinks he’s going crazy because nobody else can hear it. He decides to investigate, and finds Rachel. From this point on, he has a mission and a purpose. He wants to save her. He’s no suave Flynn Rider, but I can handle that.

2. Rachel is so naive, it’s annoying. I had to keep reminding myself that her complete isolation has made her this way, and not that she was dreamed up to drive me nuts. What I liked about her is that as you get to know her, you realize she does have a brain. Everything she’s ever known is no so, and she’s not having the hardest time believing it. She will take risks, and she will jump into the unknown if it means she can help people.

3. I also had to keep reminding myself that fairytales usually include instalove. It’s just their nature. And considering the fact that instalove is a requirement of this story, it was handled relatively well. I’m not sure how much of a fan I am of Wyatt and Rachel, but the story stood out more than the romance for me, so I was ok.

4. The story was really interesting. I wondered how Flinn would tackle a modern Rapunzel, but she did it and she did it well. It was modern and believable. And there were twists and turns that I really wasn’t expecting. Flinn didn’t just retell the story, she made it her own. I didn’t particularly care for the drug aspect (yeah, drugs play a huge part in this) of the story, but it was unique.

5. It started off a little slow, but once things got going I was fully invested. I could not wait to learn all the mysteries and see a resolution.

Overall, Towering was a fun little jaunt with some mysteries and hat tips to the original fairytale of Rapunzel. Flinn is a great storyteller, and I always look forward to her fairytales.

3 Stars

The Emergence of New Adult by Abria Mattina (Author Guest Post + Giveaway)

Posted September 2, 2013 by Jana in Giveaway, Guest Post, New Adult / 2 Comments


It’s my pleasure to welcome Abria Mattina, author of Love Among Pigeons (companion novel to Wake), to the blog today to talk about the emergence of the new adult genre! I have never been a huge fan of new adult, but Abria makes some interesting points that have me thinking I should try dipping my toe into the genre again.

The Emergence of New Adult
by Abria Mattina

When I published Wake in the Fall of 2011, I lamented that the New Adult category didn’t exist yet. Here I had a book about characters in their late teens, facing issues and problems that weren’t necessarily appropriate reading material for young teens. So where do I list it? I ended up putting it in the General Fiction category, out of fear that someone would give it to a thirteen-year-old and then send me an angry email, accusing me of scarring their child for life.

Needless to say, I was overjoyed when New Adult began to emerge as a category, distinct from Young Adult and General Fiction. There’s been a lot of discussion about it recently, and some believe that New Adult is just sexed-up Young Adult. Personally, I think that’s making a generalization on the basis of the worst books in the category. The distinction between Young Adult and New Adult has to be more than sex — transitioning into college life or the workforce, taking on serious relationships for the first time, new levels of physical, intellectual, and spiritual freedom, etc.

I see New Adult fiction as books about characters in their college years, aimed at an audience of a similar age. Just like Young Adult is books about teens, for teens, encompassing the full spectrum of genres, styles, and plot types, I believe New Adult has the same potential.

Which brings me to the other New Adult stereotype: it’s all about the angst. Two tortured characters with severe emotional scars come together to heal each other. In basic terms, my first book Wake could be described this way, and it’s not a bad thing. The only reason it has become a stereotype in New Adult, I believe, is that the market has been flooded with books of this particular type. The category is young and has yet to diversify. I hope that it will, lest New Adult turn into a very grim one-trick pony.

Every market has its phases. Not so long ago the Young Adult category was jam-packed with dystopian trilogies. Before that it was the craze for everything supernatural, and now we seem to be moving into a glut of gritty realist fiction. New Adult will have its phases too. It just happens that the first one is heavy on tear-jerkers, but who doesn’t love those deeply moving books?

Released on September 27, 2011

Eighteen isn’t too young to run your life into the ground, but it’s not too old to fix it, either. The desire for change drives Willa Kirk from St. John’s, Newfoundland back to hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario, away from her mistakes and the place where her sister died. She’s looking for a place to settle and rebuild, but Jem Harper just wants to get out of town, back to the life he knew before cancer. By letting the tragedies in their lives define them, they are both dying a little more every day. Welcome to the wake.

Love Among Pigeons18072782
Released on August 23, 2013

In this companion novella to Wake, Frank invites the Kirk family home to Smiths Falls for Thanksgiving weekend. Holidays are always a trial for the family that lost their daughter and sister, but Frank is hopeful that this Thanksgiving will be the exception. He has some happy news to share. If only he wasn’t so reluctant to talk about it.


Thanks so much to Abria for stopping by to share her thoughts! She has also provided a few giveaways as part of the tour! Hope you win!


Click here to go to the form to enter to win a Moleskine book notes journal, 1 of 5 signed bookmarks, and a $30 Williams Sonoma gift card.

Click here to go to the form to enter to win a $25 GelaSkins gift card.