Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Leslie's 2013 Favorites

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 with
Hey everyone,
I hope y'all are enjoying yourselves. I'm so happy it's winter break, especially since my sister is back as an official librarian--I'm super proud of her--although, gone again for the Philippines. And now she and I can relax, read, and have book-nerdy discussions together.

Even though I didn't do a reading challenge like my sister, let alone read half of what she read this year, 2013 book-wise was also pretty big for me. Besides having read my first few e-books and having listened to my first few audiobooks ever, my reading list for 2013 is a little more extensive than my others for previous years. I'm a terribly slow reader, and above that, a busy student, so I tend to read fewer than 20 books a year. **Sad face**  However! This year, I actually read more than I ever had before--38 books! Yay! And among them all, were some really great reads.

In no particular order, here are my top favorites of 2013:

Top 5 Young Adult Favorites of 2013
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Just... wow. A story I will hold close to my bookish heart.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
So vivid and moving. I loved the characters and the plot, and Marchetta's writing is just perfection.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Immediately after finishing, all I could think was, "Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful." This was my first novel by Rowell, so now I'm excited to read her other and future books.
How to Love by Katie Cotugno
Like my sister, I really related to the main character Reena. I was so moved by this book: I laughed; I cried; I laughed again, then cried some more. I will always cherish it.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
A really inspiring read. The narration was so clever and it told the story in the most profound way.

Top 3 Children and Middle Grade Favorites of 2013
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (Children's)
Very imaginative and deeply moving. A story I will read to my kids one day.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (MG)
This was one of my first few audiobooks, and the cast's performance made the story really come alive. Truly amazing and wonderful. I believe this is a book everyone needs to read.
Leisel and Po by Lauren Oliver and illustrated by Kei Acedera (MG)
Also one of my first few audiobooks, and another story I'd like my little sister and future kids to read. A very magical and fantastical story.

I also discovered some really great series this year, all of which I look forward to continuing, and hopefully, finishing in the year to come:
Legend by Marie Lu (YA)
My sister had pushed this series to me ever since the first book Legend came out in 2011, and now I'm a total fan. She and I cannot wait to read the last book Champion.
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (YA)
"explored a whirlwind of emotions and events experienced by individuals who are searching for themselves and learning about themselves...[reminded] me that I'm not alone in my confusion and fears." (My Pushing the Limits review, My Dare You To review) 
The Rephaim by Paula Weston (YA)
"I finished [the first book] Shadows within days...it was kind of hard to stop reading." (My review)
The Coincidence by Jessica Sorenson (NA)
The first book The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden was my first NA read. It was "just the type of contemporary fiction that I like...and on top of that, there was great writing and a great romance." (My Coincidence of Callie and Kayden review, My Redemption of Callie and Kayden review)

All of these books are a MUST READ. 2013 was such a great year of reading for me, although I can't wait for 2014 and the books it will bring. 

Do you share any of my favorites this year?

Happy reading and have a happy new year,

Monday, December 30, 2013

Format: e-book
Publisher: Forever
Pages: 336 pages
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
The dark secret Kayden has kept hidden for years is out. Worse, he's facing charges for battery. The only way he stands a chance against the charges is if Callie speaks up, something he'll never ask her to do.
Callie knows Kayden is going back to his dark place and desperately wants to save him. But saving him means admitting her secrets aloud. Callie and Kayden are stronger than they think, especially when they're together. Together they move forward, face their demons, and finally start to heal from their traumatic pasts.

I was super excited when I finally got my hands on The Redemption of Callie and Kayden. I absolutely loved The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden and I couldn't wait to get back to the characters I've come to know and love.

The Redemption of Callie and Kayden immediately picked up from where Coincidence ended. And by picked up, I mean really picked up--the plot, characters, setting, and writing all were as strong and interesting as before. I'll admit, the plot and romance of Redemption was more intense than Coincidence, and that kind of overwhelmed me as I read and caused me to like the latter more than the former, but that didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of this novel.

I loved watching Callie and Kayden change and grow drastically throughout Redemption. Together and individually, they went through A LOT in this second book, and I must say, how they overcame and coped with it all was crazy amazing. I really liked how Callie and Kayden supported and helped each other; they each played a significant role in the other's road to self-forgiveness and peace. Callie, was especially patient and kind, for even when Kayden tried to push her away, she never grew discouraged and continued to stand by his side. I rooted for the two of them all throughout the novel.

But what I especially liked about The Redemption of Callie and Kayden was that I got to learn and understand more about Kayden. I didn't realize before how The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden focused more on Callie and her life, leading me to understand only a little about Kayden and his life, but in Redemption, Sorensen really opened up and revealed him to the point that I was almost too scared and nervous to venture and see. Coupled with Callie and her development, I was so amazed and moved. I'll admit, at times as I read I was frustrated with Kayden and his insistence to keep people, even Callie, at a distance, but after learning more about him, I've come to love him more than ever.

The Redemption of Callie and Kayden was another great read in the Coincidence series. If you haven't yet picked it up, I highly recommend you do, especially if you like to read contemporary NA and are like me, who is fascinated by those heavier reads. As soon as I told my sister that I finished The Redemption of Callie and Kayden, she surprised me by getting the e-book of The Destiny of Violet and Luke, the third book of the Coincidence series. I just recently started reading it and am so far liking it. Although its focus is on Luke, Kayden' best friend, it includes all the characters, romance, and conflict I've come to love about Sorensen's books.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hello everyone,
We are so excited to have author Elizabeth Boyles on our blog today! Her newest novel, If Wishes Were Earls (the third book in the Rhymes with Love series), is out this Tuesday (12/31).

Harrriet Hathaway has loved only one man her entire life: the Earl of Roxley. But when he ignores her at a ball, she takes rather desperate steps to catch his eye and her plans find her ruined and without any hope of gaining Roxley’s heart. So it is much to her amazement when Roxley proposes marriage to save her from ruin. But Roxley’s proposal isn’t quite on the up and up and when she finds out she’s just another piece in one of his plots and japes, she vows revenge.

Roxley is desperate to pull his family from the brink of ruin, and the only way to gain a lost fortune is to prove to his aunts that’s he’s “reformed” his life and is determined to settle down. But the bride-to-be that he thought would be most amiable is doing everything to turn his life and his heart upside down. Harriet Hathaway had always seemed the most sensible girl he knew, but now this siren of a stranger he’s engaged to is leaving him feeling anything but sensible. Harriet is about to steal not only his heart, but quite possibly the keys to the Roxley fortune.
To celebrate the upcoming release of If Wishes Were Earls, Elizabeth did a Q+A with us and she has a special giveaway you can enter below.

Hi Elizabeth! Happy holidays and welcome to our blog! What was your reaction the first time you saw the cover for If Wishes Were Earls?
Probably the same as everyone else’s: WOW! But I have to say, the covers for the entire Rhymes with Love series have been really breathtaking—just so gorgeous. As an author, when you get that email from your editor announcing your cover, you just get this cold pit in your stomach, and this little voice whispers, “Please don’t suck.” So when you open it and find such a lovely cover, you just have to say “Thank You!!!”

Some writers talk about talking to their characters in their head like they are real people. Do you talk to your characters? Also, who was harder to write: Harriet Hathaway or the Early of Roxley?
Characters are always yammering on inside my head, but come on, they’re fictional and not that good at conversations. The trick is to listen to them. Because when you stop trying to direct them and you just let that voice, that inspiration, have room to talk, then you find out all the good stuff.

As for which character was harder to write, believe it or not, Harriet. She’s always been an interesting character to work into the mix, because she has depth to her and so much to say—and yet she says very little. She’s spent most of her life listening and having to push her way through that herd of brothers to be heard or noticed. So when she does speak—it has meaning, and that, in itself, is hard to write.

Which novel in the Rhymes with Love series was the most challenging to write? Why?
Definitely If Wishes Were Earls. The plot is immensely complex, layers of actual history—facts that cannot be changed--and then adding your fictional layer to it, and on top of things, Roxley and Harriet are so beloved. I was so stressed out ensuring that they had the right story. Plus, you wouldn’t think it would be, but writing a romance where both characters are head over heals in love on Page 1 is HARD.

If you have room (like college roommates) with any of your heroines in the Rhymes with Love series, whom would you want to be roomies with?
Well, certainly not Daphne (And The Miss Ran Way With The Rake)—she’s way too fussy about clothes, way overly opinionated, and her Dale relations would be always interfering. Basically, she would drive me nuts as a roommate. I love her as a heroine—because she makes an excellent friend and she’s hilarious in her antics and opinions, but not 24/7.

As for Tabitha, (Along Came a Duke) I wouldn’t mind her—after all, she’s been cooking and cleaning for her aunt and uncle for a number of years now, so she’d probably keep the place clean just out of habit. Again, as a friend, she is an excellent conscience, a devoted and fierce friend, and a great listener. But there are her Timmons relations and that makes her a bit of a drawback.

So I would have to say Harriet, hands down. And she has 6 older brothers. All hunky and perfect heroes in the waiting. They could come over anytime, especially Chaunce, who I have a terrible crush on.

How are you spending the New Year? Do you have a New Years tradition?
The usual: making resolutions I won’t keep. I hope everyone resolves to read Harriet and Roxley’s story. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve with an earl? That is one resolution that is worth keeping.

As for the Boyle household, we don’t have any big traditions—though we do like to watch the fireworks over the Space Needle here in Seattle (and we are totally lazy—we watch them on TV.) One year the entire thing went awry and nothing was working so in desperation whoever was in charge just hit a bit switch and they all went off at once. I think we watch now to see if something will go wrong. That’s just the way we roll around here—real life always makes for good story fodder.

But there is one tradition I don’t want to forget: Happy New Year to everyone! I hope your year is full of good tidings, blessings and great books.

A big thank you to Elizabeth for answering our questions. You can find more info about Elizabeth and her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

If you like fun, charming romantic comedy-style historical romance If Wishes Were Earls is your book (it can be enjoyed as a standalone read). Get it this Tuesday and make it our first historical romance read of 2014!

Good luck and happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hello everyone,
I hope you all had a wonderful last couple of days, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.

It's been quiet on this here blog in the last week not only because of the holiday season but because things were happening. I graduated with my Master in Library and Information Science on Saturday. Yep, I'm officially a librarian. Albeit, one without a job. Yet.

But since I graduated, that meant I had to move out of student housing and that took some doing because I accumulated A LOT of stuff in the 2.5 years I lived on Oahu.

I've been back on Maui in the last four days... only to pack up and leave for the Philippines in a few hours from now (by the time your read this, I'll be on the plane). One of my best friends is getting married in the Philippines and I'm one of her bridesmaids.

It's been a crazy few weeks because a lot of things are happening all at once but also exciting. I can't wait to see my friends--it's been over a year since we last saw each other.

But amidst the craziness, I found time to read. Last week Monday I blogged that I completed my 100 books challenge for 2013 and since then I read more books and now I'm at 103 books (never have I read this many books in a year before so I'm very proud of myself).

Two of the most recent books I read won't be out til 2014 and I won't be posting my reviews for them for a few months yet.

But I want to quickly talk about them because both are so, soooo good and, if you haven't already, you gotta add both books to your wishlists or your 2014 to-read list.

#Scandal was such a fun read. It made me laugh and sigh and laugh again. The main character Lucy is so snarky and funny. I loved her! It reads like a Kristin Walker (A Match Made in High School) novel. If you like cheeky/witty/snarky/funny contemporary YA novels with heart pick up #Scandal in 2014.

As for The Winner's Curse, it was amazing. I couldn't stop reading once I started and I didn't want it to end. The societal intrigue, the taut tension throughout, the forbidden romance and that ending... you never really know where the story is going to go and it was just awesome! You need to read this book in 2014.

Add both books to your to-read list, okay? Okay.

Since I'll be in the Philippines for a few weeks and I won't have internet access while I'm there, I'll be MIA from the book blogging world for a little while... Ohmigosh, guys, no internet for week. How will I survive?! Gah!

'Til then, happy reading and happy New Year in advance!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book I Covet: My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 with
My Last Kiss intrigues me. It kind of reminds me of Jessica Warman's novel Between (my review of Between here).

What if your last kiss was with the wrong boy?

Cassidy Haines remembers her first kiss vividly. It was on the old covered bridge the summer before her freshman year with her boyfriend of three years, Ethan Keys. But her last kiss—the one she shared with someone at her seventeenth birthday party the night she died—is a blur. Cassidy is trapped in the living world, not only mourning the loss of her human body, but left with the grim suspicion that her untimely death wasn’t a suicide as everyone assumes. She can’t remember anything from the weeks leading up to her birthday and she’s worried that she may have betrayed her boyfriend.

If Cassidy is to uncover the truth about that fateful night and make amends with the only boy she’ll ever love, she must face her past and all the decisions she made—good and bad—that led to her last kiss.

My Last Kiss will be released on June 10, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hi bookish peeps,
The flu bug found me and I'm all woozy. Too groggy to write a coherent review but not too befuddled to let you all know that I completed my reading challenge of reading 100 books (the most books I've read in a year since I started blogging). And the year isn't over yet so I can squeeze a few more books!

One hundred (and one) books is a big deal for me. I'm a slow reader and between juggling two part-time jobs, grad school, church and having an actual social life, it takes me at least up to a week to finish one book.

This year I counted audiobooks and that helped a lot since I can "read" while working most days. Here's the breakdown.

And I've very happy about the fact that I read almost as many books that I purchased as review books. The previous years, books I had purchased (book I was very, very excited for and often pre-ordered) were shoved aside in favor of review books because I felt pressured to read them. This year I found a sort of balance and it's great.

I also read more e-books this year than in all previous years and I'm 100% sure that I'll read even more e-books in 2014. When I first started blogging in 2009 (around the time e-readers are gaining popularity), I never thought e-books will be my format of choice because I was convinced e-readers were a fad that will die a quick death. 

Anywho, YAY ME!! 

So, out of the 101 I've read this year (so far--I'm hoping to read at least 5 more books), here are my favorites. And if you're thinking of gifting books to your friends and family, you can't go wrong with these titles.

Top 3 Young Adult Favorites of 2013
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I have no words for TFIOS, really. It's that amazing. It made me cry buckets.
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
"...one of the all-time best time travel books I've read ever. Yep, it's that good." (My review.)
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
"...superbly written with depth that you do not always find in YA contemporary novels." (My review.)

2013 YA Honorable Mentions
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
I love how Lilac and Tarver's relationship developed. Fantastic read.
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
"I quickly devoured this novel and I was really sad to see Cricket go after I finished reading it." (My review.)
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
"...very imaginative, romantic and readable with a Harry Potter sort of flavor to it..." (My review.)
Starglass by Phoebe North
"Mind. Blown." (My review.)
How to Love by Katie Cotugno
"It was a really powerful read... a very personal read for me." (My review.)

Top 2 New Adult Favorites of 2013
A Little Too Much by Lisa Desrochers
"...the way new adult [should be] written--deep, heartfelt..." (My review.)
Foreplay by Sophie Jordan
"I quickly flew through the book but at the same time wanting to slow down because I didn't want my time with Reece and Pepper to be over." (My review.) 

2013 NA Honorable Mentions
Easy by Tammara Webber
My first NA read. It will always have a special place in my heart. It is sooo good!
The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski
"...so addicting." (My review.)
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
It stayed with me for days. Well-written.

Top 4 Romance Favorites of 2013
Love Irresistibly by Julie James
Another winner. Julie James needs to write faster. I can't get enough of her books.
Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
WOW. Just WOW. (My review.)
One Night Rodeo by Lorelei James
Excellently written, heartfelt, emotional and so very, very steamy.
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
Funny, romantic, sweet. I basically had a smile on my face the entire time I was reading it.

Audiobook Favorites of 2013
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Funny, entertaining and gave a new perspective on Tina Fey, who wasn't high on my radar before I listened to Bossypants.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The ensemble cast was amazing. I loved listening to them and it made me enjoy the novel all the more through their performance.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
My favorite narrator was the one who did the voice for Auggie but the ensemble cast was great and they made me love the novel more through their performance.

The year isn't over yet and I might find another favorite in the next couple of weeks but the books I mentioned above are all amazing, excellent reads. I highly recommend them all. Do you share any of my favorites this year?

Happy reading,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Books! Woot!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013 with
Hello everyone,
It's StS/Sunday Post** time! Woo-hoo!! I hope you all are having a great December so far. It's crazy times here right now with me. Besides the end of semester scramble of trying to finish all the big projects and papers, I'm having to pack up and move out of student housing because I'll be graduating with my MLIS in a week. Then, I'll be headed to the Philippines for my friend's wedding. I am one of her bridesmaid and the seamstress she hired screwed up my dress measurements, so I was in a frantic search to find my own dress (I finally did though).

But amidst that craziness, I finally read a fun book. I finished These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner this week and I loved it! I'll be posting my review sometime next week.

Okay, before I get to the books that I acquired this week, here's some linkage first.
Blog Tour: RACING SAVANNAH by Miranda Kenneally - Review & Q+A with Rory Whitfield
<<If you're a Miranda Keneally fan, you can't miss this interview with Rory.>>
The Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel (a Dark Divine novella) by Bree Despain + GIVEAWAY
<<GIVEAWAY Alert>>We're giving away the entire Dark Divine series (3 books!!)<<GIVEAWAY Alert>>

Here are the books I got this week.

E-galleys via Netgalley or Edelweiss
Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon
#Scandal by Sarah Ockler

The Destiny of Violet and Luke by Jessica Sorensen
Song of the Fireflies by J.A. Redmerski

Law Man by Kristen Ashley
Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley
Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley

Back to You by Jessica Scott
Feel the Heat by Kate Meader
If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

What new books did you guys get? We wanna see! Leave your STS/Sunday Post link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

**Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hello everyone,
We are very excited to be part of the blog tour for The Promise of Amazing and to welcome author Robin Constantine to our blog today. If you all visit our blog enough, you might've noticed that we LOVE reading contemporary YA and we were excited about The Promise of Amazing.

Leslie posted her review of The Promise of Amazing earlier today. Check it out here. There's a lot of awesome things on this post. Read on!

The Description
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how.

Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.

One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.


The Interview

Hi Robin! Welcome to Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks! As soon as we saw the cover of THE PROMISE OF AMAZING and read the synopsis, we just knew it was a book we just had to read. I know authors don't usually have a say but did you have an input in the creation of the cover and the writing of the synopsis? Did the cover models do a good job representing Wren and Grayson?
Hi Michelle & Leslie! Thanks for having me.

I didn’t have much say in the cover, which was fine with me. I’m a writer not a designer – but of course I was nervous. The cover of your book is something you dream about. My editor wanted to go for an indie-film feel, something that caught the spirit of the book.

When I saw the cover, I was totally blown away. Erin Fitzsimmons did an amazing job. I love everything about it – I really couldn’t have imagined a more perfect representation. I sort of jumped around flailing when I saw it, like “that’s Wren and Grayson in the park!” It all happened very quickly and I couldn’t share it with anyone for like, four months – that was so hard!! I also love the typography on the cover. I think they really nailed it.

What is a typical writing day for you? Are there certain hours in the day or night where your creative juices flow most abundantly?
One of the things I love about writing is that there isn’t a typical day. Each stage in the process is different for me. I’m pretty cranky during first draft!!

After I get my kids off to school, I usually hit my favorite yoga class or walk. Writing requires a lot of sitting, so I think it’s important to be physical. It helps with the creative process. I create a playlist for a novel – music that will connect me to a feeling I’m trying to portray or the character I’m trying to understand – so I can listen to it while I walk. I’ll write for a while in the morning, take a break, then write some more in the afternoon. I tend to be really, really organized in the morning hours so it’s good for editing, but I’m more creative in the evening and have had some of my best story epiphanies when I’m the only one awake. So I’m sort of all over the place!!

We are very curious about Wren. Please complete the following about her:
Wren is a fierce friend. She loves to feel like she’s part of something bigger – she adores her family, even though she sometimes feels trapped by her role as squirt. She loves her friends, Maddie and Jazz, and will stand by them no matter what. Once you’re in her heart, you’re there forever.

Wren likes to binge watch her favorite shows, hang out with Mads and Jazz, read and snuggling with Grayson.

Wren dislikes coffee, fake people, being manipulated, people telling her what she can’t do and cocktail franks.

Wren wants Grayson to break free from his past! She sees the best in him, and wants him to see that in himself too.

We are also very curious about Grayson. Would he prefer:
Soda or water? Gatorade.
Mac or PC? PC.
Football or soccer? Football.
Intellectual films or action films or comedy? Anything as long as he’s sitting next to Wren.
With Wren: A midnight walk at the beach or staying in with Chinese take out and a good movie? A midnight walk on the beach.

We're always sad to see characters go by the end of the book. Will we see Wren and Grayson again in a future book? And while we're on the subject, do you have another YA book in the works?
I’m so happy to hear this! Wren and Grayson will be in a future book, but only in the background. I’m working on a companion novel told from the POV of Wren’s bestie Madison which has been so much fun. Madison was one of those characters who kind of arrived on the page fully formed, but it’s been fun to be inside her head because she’s so different from Wren. And there will be a boy…

Thank you for answering our questions, Robin!
My pleasure!!

About Robin
Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene.

Her YA debut, The Promise of Amazing, will be released in 2014 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

For more info about Robin and The Promise of Amazing, visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Goodreads and her blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie
Follow the rest of the blog tour here.

**We are not affiliated with any online booksellers. You clicking on buy links will NOT earn us any referral fees.
Format: e-ARC
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: December 31, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher via Edelweiss
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she’s not popular, but not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet, “good” girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change, but doesn’t know how. Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how. One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.

The first time I saw the cover of The Promise of Amazing I thought "Ohmigosh, that's so adorable! This is my kind of book." It was love at first sight! When I read the blurb, I was even more excited for the novel: two unlikely teens who find themselves by finding each other? Yes yes yes! 

Needless to say, I had very high expectations when I began reading Robin Constantine's debut novel The Promise of Amazing.

After reading the blurb of The Promise of Amazing, I was expecting one of those slow-burn type of romance between Wren and Grayson (sort of like Anna and Etienne's from Anna and the French Kiss). And because I'm one of those who live for cliche romantic stories the idea of Wren and Grayson, two unlikely people getting together and falling in love, awkwardly meeting, awkwardly trying to deny their feelings for each other, then having all the sweet moments and everything in between... I thought I'd be in reading heaven.

Unfortunately, I was sad to find that Wren and Grayson's relationship was not like how I built it up in my head. While it was not insta-love (well, it was on one of the character's part), I also was not completely convinced by Wren and Grayson's interest in each other. As I read, I couldn't help but feel a bit skeptical every time Grayson and/or Wren expressed his or her love for the other. The things that happened were too dramatic and there wasn't that gradual build up, that slow burn that makes you really believe that the couple are truly falling for each other.

But despite the sort-of insta-love, I was still able to enjoy The Promise of Amazing. I don't know... maybe I just built up the story too much in my head when it wasn't even the story the author was trying to tell. My expectations were too high and unfounded. In hindsight, maybe the way Wren and Grayson's relationship played out was necessary for the pacing of the plot because the plot was really all about Wren and Grayson growing into themselves and all the while falling for each other. Maybe the story would have dragged if it included that slow burn I was hoping for...? I don't know anymore. This whole second guessing myself is driving me nuts. But I gotta say I do wish Wren and Grayson did more things as a couple (sweet, intimate, swoon-y things) and less of all the drama that kept them apart.

Overall, The Promise of Amazing was a super cute, quick read. Although it didn't meet all of my expectations, I enjoyed reading it up to a point. I actually ended up wishing that it was a bit longer just so I can spend more time with Wren and Grayson and see them do all the couple things that I was hoping for.

Check out our Q+A with author Robin Constantine and the rest of the blog tour post.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hello everyone,
Yep, we have another giveaway for you!

Some of you might be familiar with the Dark Divine trilogy: The Dark Divine, The Lost Saint and The Savage Grace. But you might not know about the novella, The Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel (#2.5 in the series).

Here's a little bit about it:

Brother Gabriel, Daniel’s mentor and an ancient Urbat, plays an important role in The Lost Saint as well as the upcoming conclusion to the Dark Divine trilogy, The Savage Grace. We were first introduced to Gabriel in The Dark Divine when Grace recieves a book of ancient letters that Gabriel (a young monk at the time) wrote to his sister during the Crusades, detailing his search to know more about the Urbat. The book of letters ends just before Gabriel falls to the Urbat curse, leaving us to wonder what happened to him in the following years to turn him into the man he is today.

Most of Gabriel’s letters were written during the thirteenth century, and later translated and compiled by an Orthodox priest in the eighteenth century. For whatever reason, some of Gabriel’s letters were lost after translation and did not make it into that original book. But good news! A few of these “lost letters,” detailing Gabriel’s fall to the Urbat curse and his quest to seek revenge on the man responsible for his demise, have recently been “discovered” by the indomitable crew at Egmont USA, and are compiled here for your reading pleasure.

I hope you enjoy The Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel. I think they give a lot more depth to Brother Gabriel’s character and the mythology of the Dark Divine trilogy.

Bree Despain

If you guys have not heard of the series or you haven't had a chance to pick it up yet, you're in luck because we are giving away ALL THREE BOOKS in the trilogy!

Awesome, right? A huge thanks to Egmont USA for making this giveaway possible. Don't forget to check out The Lost Letters of Brother Gabriel.
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Good luck,

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hello everyone,
Welcome to our stop in the Racing Savannah Blog Tour! You all are in for a treat today because we have the screenplay-writing, all-around fun guy Rory Whitfield here on the blog today, talking to us about his latest screenplay, Vanessa Green and Will and Parker's wedding!

But, first  my review of Racing Savannah...

Format: e-ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 304 pages
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Source of my copy: publisher via Netgalley
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
They’re from two different worlds.
He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.
With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Racing Savannah is like season two of the Hundred Oaks series--the older kids, Jordan and Henry, Parker and Will, and Kate and Matt are all moving on and now it's the younger generation's turn.

So, in Racing Savannah we get Savannah, Jack Goodwin, Rory Whitfield (Will's younger brother), Vanessa Green (Ty Green's little sister) and their friends. The story centers around Savannah and Jack but we get a lot Rory and Vanessa too, as well as some glimpse of the older kids from "season one," and one of the couples get married!

Savannah moved to Hundred Oaks after her father got a job on the Goodwin estate to take care of their horses. They live on the property, her dad and his girlfriend being live-in help for the Goodwins. She was rough around the edges and a take-no-crap from anyone (except maybe Jack Goodwin) kind of girl. She loves her dad but resents him for getting his girlfriend pregnant when they're barely getting by financially. She's constantly being told by everyone to stay away from the owner's son, Jack Goodwin but that was hard, especially since Jack had her working with him on a difficult horse.

Jack was clean cut and preppy, a Southern gentleman and the most popular guy in school. But he wasn't a typical teen in that his father was already training him to take over their business and he was trying to prove that he was more than capable. He was expected to date debutantes not stable hands and his family frowned on his relationship with their "hired help" so he struggled with his feelings for Savannah but he did a really crappy thing to her at one point and I didn't think he groveled enough to earn her forgiveness. And he was a too hot and cold to Savannah for me. I liked Jack but didn't find him quite as likeable as the other Hundred Oaks boys.

Savannah and Jack each had their own issues they had to overcome along with issues because of their relationship so they had a lot of things to work out. There were many things going on in the novel and at times the writing felt a bit clumsy and cliché but I was never bored with Racing Savannah. It was like watching a CW show on TV--lots of drama between Savannah, Jack and their families and it was great! And, of course, we also get some steamy moments between Jack and Savannah. However, my favorite parts, aside from the secondary story line with Rory and Vanessa, were ones with Savannah and Star the horse. I loved the bond she formed with Star and I found the scenes with Star really sweet.

While this novel was not my favorite in the series (Stealing Parker is), it was still a good read. If you read and enjoyed Miranda's previous Hundred Oaks novels or a contemporary YA fan, you won't want to miss Racing Savannah.

Now, on to our Q+A with Rory Whitfield (in case you're not familiar with him, he is Will Whitfield's [from Saving Parker] little brother).

Hi Rory! First, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Last we heard from you, your dad was declaring bankruptcy on the farm and you might be moving... any updates on that?
Yeah, it sucks... Dad thinks he can probably keep the farm, but he won't be able to get a line of credit if he declares bankruptcy. And operating a farm without credit could be risky and damn near impossible. Mom got a job working over at the elementary school, so I don't have to worry about my little brothers for the time being.

Are you still writing screenplays? If you are, can you tell us about the current one you're working on? Is it the usual Rory Whitfield kind, filled with gratuitous sex or violence? Or are you softening your style these days?
Savannah becoming a horse jockey inspired me! I love watching a girl beat the men on the track. So I started writing a screenplay about a girl horse jockey, but Savannah said it was an invasion of privacy. Also, she made fun of the scene I wrote in which the barn explodes, and the strapping male farmhand named "Cory" saved all the horses from imminent doom.

Can you tell us about the first time you laid eyes on/met Vanessa? What was your first impression of her?
The first time I saw Vanessa was in 8th grade, after she moved to Tennessee from Texas. I thought she was very pretty and I liked how nice she was to everybody - even dorky kids like me, but I didn't stand a chance. Jack Goodwin and Colton Bradford were all over her from day one.

What was the most romantic thing you did for Vanessa to date?
I dedicated my screenplay, Tattoos of the Clinically Depressed, to her.

We're dying to know about Will and Parker's wedding... Was Will or Parker nervous at all before the wedding? It's hard to imagine her as one, but still... was Parker a bridezilla? Where did Will and Parker have their honeymoon?
If anybody caused problems, it was Will. He was a Groom-zilla. He wanted pigs-in-a-blanket at the reception and wouldn't settle for anything less. Just kidding - it was a very relaxed wedding. They didn't even get pissed when I misplaced the rings. They haven't been on their honeymoon yet because Will's in law school. They're planning to go to Jamaica next summer, though.

And finally... where do you see yourself in five years? Do you still see Vanessa in the picture?
I hope so! She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. In five years, I want to be living in Hollywood, watching my screenplays get developed into movies. I imagine the first one will star George Clooney.

We once again thank Rory for answering our questions and a big THANK YOU to Miranda for making this interview with Rory possible. Everyone, Racing Savannah is already out in stores. Last time I checked the paperback is only $5.99 on Amazon, which is a steal because usually it's $9.99.

If you want to chat with Miranda Kenneally or find more info about her books, you can find her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Share with us what you thought of the interview or anything you'd like to say about Racing Savannah.

Happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Books! YAY!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013 with
Hello fellow bookaholics,
We are so excited for the books we got his week!! EEEeeepp! But first some linkage...

Tuesday: Fa La La Forever Blog Tour + Giveaway <<<< GIVEAWAY ALERT
Wednesday: Book I Covet: After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum
Friday: Bloodstone by Gillian Philip Excerpt + Giveaway <<<< GIVEAWAY ALERT

We didn't get a lot of posts up because it was crazy this week, with the end of the semester for me and, well, Leslie is always busy. But next week, there will be a lot more posts, especially reviews (I'll be review Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally and Leslie will be reviewing The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine).

Okay, now for the awesome books. After watching the Epic Reads ARC party, I was so excited to be able to download the HarperTeen books below on Edelweiss.

E-galleys via Edelweiss and Netgalley
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings 
After the End by Amy Plum
Don't You Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley
The Last Best Kiss by Claire Lazebnik
Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike

Far Gone by Laura Griffin

Physical Books
Hunted by Karen Robards (unsolicited)
Splendor by Elana K. Arnold (won)

What new books did you guys get? We wanna see! Leave your STS/Sunday Post link so I can come gush over them.

Happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

**Stacking the Shelves, or STS, is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

BLOODSTONE by Gillian Philip Excerpt + Giveaway

Thursday, December 5, 2013 with
Labels: ,
Hello bookish peeps!
Any fantasy lovers out there? Back in February we had author Gillian Philip stop by and talk about Firebrand, the first book in her fantastic Rebel Angels series--check out our Q+A with Gillian if you missed it.

Book 2 in the series, Bloodstone, came out last month and we have an excerpt for you today! But first here's the description...
Bloodstone is the second novel in Gillian Philip’s critically acclaimed Rebel Angels series, debuting in the United States for the first time.

For centuries, Sithe warriors Seth and Conal MacGregor have hunted for the Bloodstone demanded by their Queen. Homesick, and determined to protect their clan, they have also made secret forays across the Veil. One of these illicit crossings has violent consequences that will devastate both their close family, and their entire clan.

In the Otherworld, Jed Cameron, a feral, full-mortal young thief, becomes entangled with the strange and dangerous Finn MacAngus and her shadowy uncles. When he is dragged into the world of the Sithe, it’s nothing he can’t handle until time warps around him, and menacing forces reach out to threaten his infant brother. In the collision of two worlds, war and tragedy are inevitable, especially when treachery comes from the most shocking of quarters…

The excerpt... [Warning: May contain spoilers if you haven't read book 1.]

If you want to read a longer excerpt and more information about the novel, visit the Bloodstone page on the Macmillan website or for more info about the Rebel Angel series, go here.

And if you haven't read Firebrand (book 1) yet, here's an awesome book trailer:

You can also connect with Gillian Philip on her website, blog, Facebook and Twitter

Okay, now for the giveaway! Thanks to Tor Books, two THREE lucky readers will have a choice between Firebrand (book 1--just in case you haven't read it yet) OR Bloodstone (book 2). Open to U.S. and Canada.
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Good luck and happy reading,
Michelle & Leslie

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I had After the End scheduled as my WoW pick but I don't actually need to wait to read it since I was able to download it via Edelweiss on Monday >> EEEeeppp!! << but I'm going to feature it anyway because it sounds very awesome and the cover is simply GORGEOUS.

She’s searching for answers to her past. They’re hunting her to save their future.

World War III has left the world ravaged by nuclear radiation. A lucky few escaped to the Alaskan wilderness. They've survived for the last thirty years by living off the land, being one with nature, and hiding from whoever else might still be out there.

At least, this is what Juneau has been told her entire life.

When Juneau returns from a hunting trip to discover that everyone in her clan has vanished, she sets off to find them. Leaving the boundaries of their land for the very first time, she learns something horrifying: There never was a war. Cities were never destroyed. The world is intact. Everything was a lie.

Now Juneau is adrift in a modern-day world she never knew existed. But while she's trying to find a way to rescue her friends and family, someone else is looking for her. Someone who knows the extraordinary truth about the secrets of her past.

After the End will be released on May 6, 2014. Click on the cover to go to the book's Goodreads page.

What book(s) do you "covet" this week?
Leave us a comment with a link so we can check your WoW of the week too.

"Books I Covet" is a weekly or bi-weekly blog post series we do here on Wednesdays. It will feature books we are very excited about reading and plan on buying/borrowing in the near future. It is basically the "Waiting On" meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine, but we just like the title "books we covet" better. We will include the books' blurb, cover art, and/or release date if they're available.