Thursday, September 27, 2012

Feature and Follow Friday

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read.

This weeks question: What is the BIGGEST word you’ve seen used in a book lately – that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition & book too.

My answer: I don't recall looking up any words recently. I'd like to think it's because I have a large vocabulary but in reality it is probably that I have been reading easy books...   So what about you guys???

Author Post: Sean Beaudoin

Today I have Sean Beaudoin here to do a guest post! His book, The Infects, came out Tuesday! Please help me welcome him to the Books Make Great Lovers stage....

The Infects
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Nero is stuck in the wilderness with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents on an "Inward Trek." As if that weren’t bad enough, his counselors have turned into flesh-eating maniacs overnight and are now chowing down on his fellow miscreants. As in any classic monster flick worth its salted popcorn, plentiful carnage sends survivors rabbiting into the woods while the mindless horde of "infects" shambles, moans, and drools behind. Of course, these kids have seen zombie movies. They generate "Zombie Rules" almost as quickly as cheeky remarks, but attitude alone can’t keep the biters back. Serving up a cast of irreverent, slightly twisted characters, an unexpected villain, and an ending you won’t see coming, here is a savvy tale that that’s a delight to read — whether you’re a rabid zombie fan or freshly bitten — and an incisive commentary on the evil that lurks within each of us.

Sean's Post:

    When I was a kid, I never wanted the hero to win. Ever. I rooted against Superman. I prayed for kryptonite. I wanted Batman to fall into the Joker’s roiling shark tank instead of looping Batcord over a joist and swinging to freedom. Those sharks looked hungry. Even sharks need an advocate. It was the same with James Bond. Why wouldn’t Goldfinger just cut Bond in half already, instead of blabbering away about his weather control device? It also drove my crazy that the Road Runner always got the best of Wile. E. Coyote. It seemed so unfair that all of Wile E’s rockets and gadgets failed. At least one Acme Bird Pulper has to function correctly eventually, doesn’t it? If you gave a hundred monkeys a hundred hatchet-shaped typewriters, one of them would eventually kill King Lear, wouldn’t they? And the Road Runner was so smug. He was ridiculously fast, never got caught in the dynamite blast, always ate the real bird seed instead of the poisoned pellets and had pure luck forever on his side? Whatever. I’m a firm believer in odds. And justice. A nice braised Road Runner shank in delicate aspic and cherry remoulade would have been just. It was the same with Westerns. Give me a black hat anytime. I always wanted the sheriff to be slow on the draw. I wanted the mean cattle rustlers to take over the town and turn it into an Outdoor Whiskey Garden and Upright Citizen Target Practice Range. And then all grow huge mustaches and get fat and marry the girls from the brothel.

    So, yeah, I was sort of an odd kid. But at least I was consistent. Because when I turned eleven and was taken to my first zombie film (Dawn of the Dead. Thanks, Dad!) I immediately started rooting for the zombie hoard. They looked parched. And dirty. They needed a bath and a shave. Even the women. I wanted them to get the humans. I wanted them to take over the city. I wanted their desires to be met, their flesh orgies to be fun, their ceaseless human-free shambling to come to a protein-filled end.

    But mostly, I’ve always wanted to know what happens when there’s no one left to fight back or hide or barricade themselves in basements. When there’s no one left to brain zombie skull with baseball bats or run screaming through the woods. What happens after the last human is eaten? Do all the zombies suddenly look up and shrug? Do they shuffle around purposelessly for months, years, decades? Do they just lie down and never get up again?

    I want to see a movie about post-human zombie society, where the zombie leaders all come together like the United Nations and decide what their stated goals and resolutions are. How they eventually get over their differences and build school and hospitals and libraries. How they start to get fat and comfortable, watching reality TV and giving each other the finger on the highway.

    When the zombies win, we all win.
    Because then we are them, and they are us.

    Just with worse breath.

    Seriously, though? If I were a zombie I’d get a diamond encrusted grill made and grow my sideburns out and hang out downtown in a silk sweat suit, watching the girls walk by and just basking in the knowledge that finally the right side got a fair shake.

Sean Beaudoin

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist

WW is a feature I started years ago when I started reviewing. I spotlight one book that is already out and that I want to read.

You Wish
You Wish
Mandy Hubbard

    Kayla McHenry's sweet sixteen sucks! Her dad left, her grades dropped, and her BFF is dating the boy Kayla's secretly loved for years. Blowing out her candles, Kayla thinks: I wish my birthday wishes actually came true. Because they never freakin' do.

    Kayla wakes the next day to a life-sized, bright pink My Little Pony outside her window. Then a year's supply of gumballs arrives. A boy named Ken with a disturbing resemblance to the doll of the same name stalks her. As the ghosts of Kayla's wishes-past appear, they take her on a wild ride . . . but they MUST STOP. Because when she was fifteen? She wished Ben Mackenzie would kiss her. And Ben is her best friend's boyfriend.

Why I want to read it:
    Thus sounds very unique. I think it would be very amusing if all your pasty wishes suddenly came true.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Must Monday

Must Monday is a feature I started years ago when I started reviewing. I have so much fun doing it, I have kept it going :)

The Shadow Society
The Shadow Society
Marie Rutkoski

     Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

    Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

    As if she were his enemy.

    When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

Why I want to read it:
    Alternate worlds and lost memories?! This sounds intense. I feel like I could be taken in by this book and not released until the last page!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: The Other Woman's House

The Other Woman's House: A Novel
The Other Woman's House
Sophie Hannah
*From a Penguin contact

Grade: B
For adults

    It's past midnight, but Connie Bowskill can't sleep. To pass the time, she logs on to a real estate website in search of a particular house, one she is obsessed with for reasons she's too scared to even admit to herself. As she clicks through the virtual tour, she comes across a scene from a nightmare: a woman lying facedown on the living room floor in a pool of blood. But when she returns to show her husband, there is no body, no blood—just a perfectly ordinary room, with a perfectly clean beige carpet.

My thoughts:
    I had been craving a good mystery and this book filled that desire. Though it was slow at times other parts made up for that. There were parts where I was wondering what the hell could happen next and other parts where I was laughing. Connie was an incredible asset to the story, mixing in her crazyness made for some humor.

    The biggest thing that took away from this book for me was how it eventually became like a Lifetime movie. Everything became very over the top and dramatic. As the twists kept coming, my eyes kept rolling. Somehow through all of that I couldn't put the book down!

    This is not a book that you will be able to figure out. Things keep changing and the mystery is eventually ablaze with clues you never saw coming. Don't go into this looking for a light read. This will keep you flipping page after page until the very end.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Never Have I Ever

Never Have I Ever (Lying Game Series #2)
Never Have I Ever
Sara Shepard

Teen audiences
4 stars

   My perfect life was a lie.

   Now I'd do anything to uncover the truth. Not long ago, I had everything a girl could wish for: amazing friends, an adorable boyfriend, a loving family. But none of them know that I'm gone—that I'm dead—and that my long-lost twin sister, Emma, has taken my place to solve my murder.

   But the deeper she digs, the more suspects she uncovers. It turns out my friends and I played a lot of games—games that ruined people's lives. Anyone could want revenge . . . anyone could want me—and now Emma—dead.

My thoughts:
   When I start a series I have to finish it unless I absolutely despise it. I did not love the first Lying Games book but I decided to give it another go. This book was a little better but still not amazing. The plot reminded me of Pretty Little Liars from time to time. That was not a surprise.

    Emma is a pretty connectable character. I think she was a great asset to the book. Some of the other characters were a bit far-fetched. It didn't take away too much though because it was not told in their voices.

    The flow of this book is easy. If you wanted to sit and read it all it would only take you a couple hours. It is smooth and pretty light. Because of that it would make a great series for reluctant readers or those in a reading slump.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist

Wednesday Wishlist is a feature I started years ago. I spotlight one book that is already out and I have not read yet but want to.

Stalker Girl
Stalker Girl
Rosemary Graham

Carly never meant to become a stalker. She just wanted to find out who Brian started dating after he dumped her. But a little harmless online research turns into a quick glance, and that turns into an afternoon of watching. Soon Carly is putting all of her energy into following Brian's new girlfriend--all of the sadness she feels about her mom's recent breakup, all of the anger she feels over being pushed aside by her dad while he prepares for his new wife's new baby. When Carly's stalking is discovered in the worst possible way by the worst possible person, she is forced to acknowledge her problem and the underlying issues that led to it.

Why I want to read it:
This is a concept that seems new, at least to me. I like the psychology aspect as well as the dramatics. Plus, look at this cool cover!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Must Monday

Must Monday is a feature I started years back where I spotlight 1 book that is not out yet but I can't wait to read.

The Dead Girls Detective Agency

The Dead Girls Detective Agency
Suzy Cox

Pop quiz: What would you do if you had to solve your own murder to get anywhere in death?

Maybe if I hadn't slept through my alarm, slammed into Kristin—my high school's reigning mean

girl—or stepped in a puddle, destroying my mom's new suede DVF boots (which I borrowed without asking), I wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I wouldn't have been pushed in front of that arriving train. But I did, and I was.

When I came to, I was informed by a group of girls that I'm dead. And that because I died under mysterious circumstances, I can't pass straight over to the Other Side. But at least I'm not alone. Meet the Dead Girls Detective Agency: Nancy, Lorna, and Tess—not to mention Edison, the really cute if slightly hostile dead boy. Apparently, the only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed me, or I'll have to spend eternity playing Nancy Drew. Considering I was fairly invisible in life, who could hate me enough to want me dead? And what if my murderer is someone I never would have suspected?

Why I want to read it:
This unlike any book I have ever read. I am drawn to the concept and excited to devour this book some day.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: Crazy by Amy Reed

Title: Crazy
Author: Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Price: $16.99
Release: 6/12/2012

Grade: C
Audience: Teens

    Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place.

    As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting. He knows he can’t save her from her pain...but what if no one else can?

My thoughts:
    I am sad to say I was disappointed with this book. I had read Beautiful when it came out and recently read Clean. I adored both of those books. I wan instantly drawn in and didn't want them to end. That was not the case with this book. I brought it to work, hoping to devour a good chunk of it during lunch. Shortly after starting to read I had to stop. That was how I read the whole book, with breaks every so often.

    Izzy came across as super whiny at the start. I could not like her or feel sorry for her as hard as I tried. The way she told her story frustrated me to no end.  I finally had to step back and remind myself that this is just a book, something I hate to do!

    My feelings for Connor fluctuated. Sometimes I could tolerate him and other times I was annoyed with him. He too could be whiny. There were a few moments when I thought he was generally a good guy.

    The story was all over a lot. I believe this was because it was written in emails. It was hard to keep everything moving in the same direction. I have seen it done in other books though, so I know it is possible. I wish there would be been more focus and not so much all over the place stuff going on.

     The lack of direction at points and my dislike of Izzy are what made my rating a C.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Wishlist

W.W. is a feature I started years ago when I started reviewing. I spotlight 1 book that is out and I have not read but would love to read.


And Then I Found Out The Truth
And Then I Found Out the Truth
Jennifer Sturman

Delia Truesdale is still searching for the truth about her mother, who is in hiding somewhere in South America. But for now, Delia has to make do with her mystery-solving in New York City, alongside her Aunt Charley (a downtown hipster), her Aunt Patience(an uptown ice queen), a detective with a questionable taste in neckties, an eccentric psychic, her brainiac friend, and Quinn, the wealthy, gorgeous boy who--gasp!-- seems to return Delia's affections. Too bad Quinn's shady CEO dad may be involved in the scheme Delia is trying to crack. And a trip to South America may be in order after all...

Why I want to read it:
I read book one and was hooked. I can't wait to devour this one.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Must Monday

Must Monday is a weekly feature I started years ago. I feature 1 book that is not out yet but I am dying to read!

Death and the Girl Next Door                                                            
Death and the Girl Next Door
Darynda Jones
St. Martin's Press

    Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.

    High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy—terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach—comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can't have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real? Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones's first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.

Why I want to read it:
    First off, look at that cover! She draws me in! I also am a sucker for a good mystery and this looks like it may feed that desire! How am I supposed to wait 3 more weeks?!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Interview: Smashed by Lisa Luedeke


Smashed was released 8/21/2012. Enjoy the synopsis and interview!

    Stay out of trouble for one more year, and Katie Martin can leave her small town loneliness behind forever. She is a field hockey star on the fast track to a college scholarship, but her relationship with alcohol has always been a little questionable. Then trouble finds her. Alec is the most popular guy in school, and also the biggest bully—with his sights set firmly on Katie. When Alec turns on the charm, Katie thinks she must have been wrong about him.

    Except that she wasn’t. On a rain-soaked, alcohol-drenched night, one impulsive decision leaves Katie indebted to Alec in the worst possible way. This debut novel is a fast-paced and compelling story of addiction, heartbreak, and redemption.

1. Smashed shows a teen on a downward spiral with addiction. What brought you to write this story?
The car accident was the genesis of the story; it’s the scene I saw first in my head. But the accident needed to be someone’s fault to be the beginning of a complex and compelling story. Alcohol use and abuse are common among teenagers, so this was an easy choice.

At the time I began the book—this is many, many years ago—I hadn’t seen alcohol abuse tackled in a YA book, at least not in a believable way. I’ve always wanted to write stories that are complex and realistic, stories that ring true, and reflect the lives of real kids. Alcohol use is sometimes part of those lives.

2. Writing such a serious book could get emotional. Did you ever find yourself feeling the emotions Katie was feeling?

Sure, I think it’s a bit like acting in that you really have to go there for it to be authentic. You really have to get inside the characters’ heads—all of them. For Katie, who narrates the book, I had to express what she was thinking and feeling at any given moment in time, and her feelings are pretty intense.

There is one particular scene in the book that I just didn’t want to write for this reason (I won’t name it, because it would be a spoiler, but if you’ve read it, you can figure it out). I spent an entire day pacing around this writer’s colony where I was staying, then finally jumped in my car, went to a local bookstore, bought a book on the topic of the scene I was avoiding writing, and read that instead. After I finally wrote the scene, I only revised it once, at my editor’s request. I didn’t like going there.

3. Katie plays field hockey. What made you choose that sport?
I simply chose my favorite sport. As a first-time novelist, it was easiest to stick to a sport I knew well. I’d played field hockey for six years and coached it for three. And I had a great time catching up on the sport again--going to state tournaments and doing research on current recruiting practices, for example. It made the writing fun.

4. You hear of some authors being disappointed with the covers chosen for their book. How do you feel about the cover of Smashed?
I absolutely love it. It’s perfect. The girl even looks like Katie. When I saw it, I cried because it was so perfect.

5. When you wrote Smashed did you map the story out or just see where it went?

I mapped it, but I mapped in many times over. When a book is conceived in my head, it comes with a complex situation that interests me, so I knew the main conflicts. Soon after, I knew the big turning points, and the gist of the ending. It’s the scenes that glue all that together that are up for grabs. I know the story in my bones, but how can I convey it to the reader so that she feels it in her bones, too? So my map changed many times, right up to my last draft for Simon & Schuster.

6. Do you hope Smashed conveys a message or is just a great read? If so, what would the message be?
I don’t ever write to send a message. I write to tell honest, compelling stories. For me, it’s just the story of one kid’s reality, told as honestly as possible, in a way that I hope keeps people turning pages. The reader determines what the message is (if any). A bunch of people have told me that after they finished the book, they kept thinking about it for a long time afterward. They couldn’t get it out of their head. I like hearing that. The story meant something to each of them, but what it meant is likely different for each of them.

7. What is your favorite book and why?
I fall in love with just about every book I read, so my answer could be, “Whatever book I’m reading at the moment you ask.” But I read The Catcher in the Rye every year for more than a decade—from the time I was fifteen until I was in my mid-twenties. I haven’t reread any other book that many times, so I’ll say that one. Why? I fell in love with Holden’s voice, and his sensitivity. The way he feels about his brother Allie, the way he hates Ackley for molesting girls, and his love and protectiveness for his sister Phoebe. I could relate to his confusion, and his sadness, and his anger. And his voice always makes me smile.

8. Recently I saw an article saying YA books are more honest about tough topics than adult books. Do you think this is true? Why or why not?
Certainly not if you include memoir…those books are often brutally honest. Hmmm, I’m not sure I agree. The truths are just different. One of my favorite adult books in the last few years was Olive Kitteridge, which does not shy away from looking at the difficulties of aging (among other things).

9. Other than writing how do you keep yourself busy?
I practice Ashtanga yoga several times a week, and I love to hike in the woods and on the rural roads near my home. I have a full time day job as an editor of professional books for English Language arts teachers and a family, including a young daughter, that I love spending time with, too. It’s a more than busy life right now!

10. What's next for you? Are you currently writing another book?
Yes, I’m about 90-100 pages into another book. It’s set in the same town, but with an entirely different cast of characters, and very different conflicts. It’s told in the alternating points-of-view of two girls who become friends. I have three other books in my head that I’d like to write after that.

A big thanks to Lisa for taking the time to talk to me!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Review: Sweet Talk

Sweet Talk                                                             
Title: Sweet Talk
Author: Julie Garwood
Publisher: Penguin
Price: $26.95
Release: 8/7/2012
Source: Publisher

Grade: B
Audience: Adults

When FBI agent Grayson Kincaid first encounters Olivia MacKenzie, she makes quite an impression.

The beautiful, tough, young attorney has stumbled into the middle of an FBI sting operation and has reduced it to chaos. Months of surveillance and careful planning down the drain, Kincaid’s partner is furious and lets Olivia know that she’s ticked off the wrong guy. After all, he’s FBI.

Olivia isn’t intimidated by his partner’s bullying because she’s something even scarier . . . she’s IRS.

And working for the IRS isn’t for the faint of heart. She’s on the trail of an elaborate Ponzi scheme, one that threatens to ruin the lives of naive and unsuspecting victims, and one she has personal reasons to be angry about. But after she asks questions of the wrong people, her life is suddenly endangered. She’s accustomed to fighting for the underdog but being vulnerable herself is a very different story. Smart enough to know when to call for reinforcements, she contacts Grayson Kincaid.

Together they make an excellent team to fight corruption but Olivia is also fighting the immediate and intense attraction she feels for Agent Kincaid, and that may be a battle she is bound to lose.

My thoughts:
    This was not a book I would usually go pick up on my own. When I recieved the request I decided to give it a try. Though it took me awhile to feel involved with the book, I did eventually experience that. The story picked up a deccent pace about half of the way through it.

    The characters were pretty likeable but not as easily connectable as some. I would have enjoyed this book a little more if I had felt a deeper connection to the characters. I did like Olivia a lot more later on.

     I recommend you try this book now if the synopsis really grabs you. If you are iffy on it, I recommend a library copy.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Did you miss me?

I'm back. After a week hiatus, I am finally able to return. As you know, I graduated from college and then went to see my parents in GA. I came back and started my new "big girl" job the next day. Tomorrow is my first day off and I am so ready to come catch up on reviews. You have been warned :)

Thanks for hanging in there with me!