Thursday, October 30, 2014

Loop Blog Tour- Review + Giveaway

Title: The Loop (Loop #1)
Author: Karen Akins
Published: October 21st 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: eARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future. "

Thoughts: Don't you love that feeling you get when a book completely consumes you from the beginning until the very end? This, my friends, is how I felt about LOOP. Hilarious, witty and captivating are just a few words that best describe this novel in a nutshell.

First off, I have to mention that the main reason why I was so anxious to read this book is because it came highly recommended to me by my friend Andi from Andi's ABCs. I was a bit skeptical, being that time-traveling books are typically a hit or miss with me, and the only two I really loved were THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE and the HOURGLASS trilogy. It took about 10 pages for me to forget my hesitation and fall in love with this novel. I completely adored Bree. She's comical and an overall fun character. I loved that she "accidentally" holds a younger Finn captive. I also love that, in order to prevent any future consequences, she goes back and tries to fix her mistakes. Sadly, she doesn't quite go back far enough. Then, as if these blunders weren't enough, she ends up taking an older, hotter Finn back with her to her present day.

Now, can we please talk about how amazing Finn is? He's just that charming, sweet, next door neighbor type of guy you wish you knew. There were so many moments when I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him. Give him puppy kisses and whatnot. I love how Bree is initially annoyed with him but grows to love him. To me, it made him more realistic and the romance more believable. Once you start reading THE LOOP, I know you'll fall in love with him the way I did.

Overall, I recommend LOOP to anyone out there looking for a unique, fun, and all-consuming read. I seriously cannot wait for the sequel and believe everyone should read it, just so I can have someone to talk to about it (with spoilers, as oppose to spoiler-free). If you read it (or win the giveaway!), tweet me (Lena1xoxo), so we can discuss all of the fabulous things that make up THE LOOP.

Alas, for now, I must just settle with waiting for the sequel (TWIST) coming out in March.


5 Stars

Giveaway time! Thanks to the fabulous people at St. Martin's Griffin, I am giving away a finished copy of THE LOOP. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is only open to US participants and ends November 16th. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Atlantia Blog Tour: Ally Condie's Top Ten Books

The Top Ten Books of My Life
by Ally Condie

Over the years I’ve read a lot of good books. And now that I’m an author, people ask me all the time what my favorite books are. I always have lots of favorites—favorites that I’m reading right now, favorites for my kids, etc. But these ones are books that I have loved for years, that I can honestly say have shaped me as a reader and as a person.

1. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery. I read this one over forty times, starting in third grade when we bought it on a trip. How do I know how many times I read it? I marked the inside of the cover each time I finished. I loved everything about this book, and I passionately wanted to BE Anne. For several years, in my own mind at least, I was Anne about half of the time. I also think this book changed my vocabulary—it gave me access to lots of words and their meanings that I might not have encountered otherwise.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. My mom gave it to me in sixth grade and said, "This is a really important book." Later, I got to teach it for a couple of years, and it was absolutely my favorite book to teach. My hands would shake the day we started it in class because I was so excited and nervous--I wanted the kids to all love it the way I did.

3. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie. On our way to England when I was twelve, my dad bought me a book of Agatha Christie mysteries. I think this is why Agatha and my first wide-eyed exposure to England are inextricably linked; I can't get enough of either Agatha or her country.

4. Saint Maybe, by Anne Tyler. Another one given to me by my parents, this time my mom. I was in ninth grade. Something about Anne Tyler has always spoken to me; I think it's her normal, everyday, flawed characters trying to do the best they can. This one remains my favorite of her books, although I also adore Digging to America. I think it's because I read it first.

5. Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Also read in ninth grade, but not for school. My dad gave it to me. At first, I thought it was going to be boring, but it only took a few pages and I was hooked. I sobbed harder at the ending of this book than any book before or since.

6. Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury. I read this book in ninth grade. (Again with ninth grade! That was a good year!) I also loved teaching this one. It's about a summer in the life of a boy who realizes that he is alive. I could and can relate to it many different levels.

7. Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. My grandmother gave it to me in tenth grade and said, "If you want to read some gorgeous writing, read this." She was right. This book is different every time I read it because I find something new every time I read it.

8. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson. I was twenty-two, and teaching at Timpview High School. Another English teacher gave me this and said, "This is going to knock your socks off." He was right. I think about this book all the time. It was a game-changer for people personally, and for young adult fiction in general.

9. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin. I love this book because it feels timeless, and because the story is about a girl who did something everyone said was impossible. The illustrations are also exquisite.

10. Book of A Thousand Days, by Shannon Hale. Everything about this book is achingly perfect. The heroine, the prose, the individual beauty of each scene and of the story as a whole.

Ally, thank you so much for joining us today! A special thanks to Jen at Penguin Random House for putting this fabulous tour together.

Now, it's your chance to join and show your support for TEAM ATLANTIA ABOVE! Simple leave a comment and give a shout out to the fabulous Ally Condie. Keep checking back, too. There may be a giveaway on this post later on today...

Just saying. AND DON'T FORGET TO TWEET #AtlantiaAbove

"Can you hear Atlantia breathing?

For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.

Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Epic Forbidden Giveaway

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.

Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter.

  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.



1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)
3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White
4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt
5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf
6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)
4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)
5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings
2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)
3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards
4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

Follow Kimberley:

About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at

Share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Make It Count

Title: Make It Count (Bowler University #1)
Author: Megan Erickson
Published: June 3rd 2014 by William Morrow Impulse
Source: Bought

"Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it."

First line: "Kat chewed on her pen and studied her tutor's bent head."

Thoughts: Is there anything better than a fun and cute read? I had high expectations prior to reading MAKE IT COUNT, which came recommended to me by my twinnie Alexa at Alexa Loves Books. Anyone who reads her blog knows that this girl has GREAT taste in books, fashion, and food. You guys, I cannot tell you how many times MAKE IT COUNT made me smile and giddy. I had the hardest time putting this book down and continuing with my every day life. It's truly that good.

I was a little worried going into this book, being that Alec is Kat's boyfriend's best friend. In my eyes, there is nothing worse than a book that condones cheating. It's basically the kiss of death for me. Not to worry, folks, because MAKE IT COUNT shows both the frustration and complexity that comes with forbidden love without the moral turpitude.

Like most New Adult novels out there, MAKE IT COUNT alternates POVs between the two main characters. Of the two, I think I enjoyed Alec's point of view more than Kat. Reading about his struggle containing his attraction to Kat, as well as his thoughts on all of the drama that unfolded, kept me intrigued. I constantly wondered what he would do next, especially since he's a genuinely good guy and loyal friend. His inner turmoil regarding his father touched me in a way I didn't think would happen. The feels definitely caught me off-guard. No wonder he always seems so angry at the bar!

I also enjoyed reading about Kat's learning issues, but I was also surprised that none of the other characters caught onto why she has such a difficult time. I figured it out right away, but it's strange that her friends, her brother, even Alec didn't catch on sooner. At any rate, her wandering, usually rambling, thoughts definitely made me "LOL" on occasion. Just don't tell Lea I said that. I hear she hates acronyms.

Oh, and for anyone curious, there's a Brazilian dish mentioned in this book that sounded so tasty, I immediately searched for a recipe and plan on making it soon...or should I say making it count? Food and books, what can I say? I love them both!

Overall, MAKE IT COUNT surprised me in a way I wasn't expecting it to (but in a good way). I really loved it and would recommend it to fans of BOOMERANG by Noelle August and anyone out there looking for a genuinely funny, sexy, and light-hearted book. I loved it so much, I immediately bought MAKE IT RIGHT (the sequel), and am now I'm impatiently waiting for MAKE IT LAST. Is it January yet? Sheesh!


5 Stars

Favorite Quotes:

"She imagined this would be an amazing scene in a movie, where he whispered in a tortured voice, Kat, I want you. I've always wanted you. Let's retreat to my boudoir and consummate our mutual attraction...

His lips were moving, and she snapped back to attention.

'...It was acting up, so flush twice'"

He didn't want to tell her he remembered the smoothie was green because it matched her green sweater she was wearing that day. Because that definitely be weird. She he shrugged. 'Yeah.'"

“You know, nerd is the new black. I read that in Cosmo.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Happy Release Day To Whatever Life Throws At You


Life loves a good curveball…
Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas is too young to remember her dad’s glory days as a pitcher for the Yankees. So when her father is offered a coaching position with the Kansas City Royals, Annie is intrigued to see the baseball side of her dad. Of course, knowing he’ll be a mentor to hot young rookie pitcher, Jason Brody, certainly makes it more enticing.

After an awkward first meeting with “Brody” involving very little clothing and a much-too-personal locker room interview, Annie’s convinced she knows Brody’s type: arrogant, self-involved, bossy. As her dad grows closer to the pitching phenom, the friction between Brody and Annie increases. But when opening day arrives and it looks like both her dad and Brody may lose their dream jobs, Annie steps up and offers support. She and Brody call a truce that grows into friendship—and beyond. Falling for a rising star who’s quickly reaching a level that involves rabid female fans is not what Annie would call smart, except suddenly she’s getting hints that maybe this crush isn’t one-sided after all. Could someone like Brody actually fall for a girl like her?


He eyes me skeptically. “What kind of article?”

“It’s for Sports Illustrated,” I say without hesitation and then quickly realize that I don’t look nearly old enough to be a real reporter for a huge publication. “I’m an intern,” I add.

The skepticism falls from his face and he looks nervous, which gives me a boost of confidence. I walk closer and pull out the chair in front of the locker beside his, propping my feet up on the bench across from me. “Frank

Steadman said you’d be willing to answer a few questions.”

His mouth falls open, and he looks down at his towel and then back at me. Water drips from his hair and off his dark shoulders. “Um…okay,” he says. “Mind if I get dressed first?”

I wave off his concerns, my face heating up, blowing my confident cover. But him getting dressed might allow enough time for Dad to return, and I’d rather not have to deal with that. I duck my head down, letting my hair hide my cheeks and flip open the first page of the notebook. “This will just take a minute… So, you’re nineteen? And you’re from Texas?”

“Chicago,” he corrects.

I had no idea where he was from but figured it sounded better if I pretended to know. I write down this information and then search my brain for some more questions. “Does the wind in Chicago affect your curveball? Do you throw into it or against it?”

He gives me a funny look. “I…well…I just throw toward home plate.”

My face gets even hotter. “Right, kidding. What’s your favorite color?”


I take my time writing orange in really big loopy cursive while I think of my next question. “What are your opinions on sushi?”

His forehead wrinkles like I’ve just asked him to publicly declare a political party. “Raw fish and seaweed? I think it’s best eaten while stranded on a desert island with no other options.”

“Very diplomatic.” I scribble down his answer. “How many strikes have you thrown in your career?”

Don’t know,” he says. “Do people actually count that stuff? Before the majors?”

“Some of them do,” I say, though I have no idea. “If you could be any magical creature in the Harry Potter series, which would you choose?”

“You said this is for Sports Illustrated, right?”

“Yeees, But it’s the…kids’ edition.”

“Oh, right.” He scratches the back of his head. “I guess maybe one of those elves.”

“A house elf? Seriously? They’re slaves.” I shake my head. “Why would you want to be an enslaved elf? They can’t even wear clothes.”

He grips his towel tighter and releases a frustrated breath. “Fine, I’ll choose an owl. That’s what I’d want to be.”

I snort back a laugh and drop my eyes to the page again.

“What? What the hell’s wrong with being an owl? They’re smart, they know geography and shit like that.”

“Owls in real life are actually pretty stupid. But no big deal, I’ll just relay that message on to the children of America. Jason Brody, temporary Royals pitcher, wants to be an owl when he grows up because they know geography and shit like that.”

Okay, I’m getting way too into this fake reporter role.

“Who says this is temporary?” he snaps.

“Your two-way contract.” Isn’t that how Dad explained it? He plays a few games then goes back to Triple-A, all without signing a real major league contract.

He yanks a pair of jeans from his locker and then grabs a bundled up orange T-shirt. “Well, I plan on kicking some ass on Opening Day and making this a permanent gig.”

“I think you need a reality check,” I say. “One game isn’t going to be enough--”

“Annie, what the hell are you doing?”

I leap off the bench and turn around to face Dad and Frank standing about five feet from me. “Introducing myself to your new pitcher.”

“Brody, what are you doing here, son?” Frank asks. “We’re off today.”

“Just getting in some cardio and weights.” His gaze darts from me to Dad to Frank. “I was just finishing up this interview for Sports Illustrated. The kids’ edition.”

“Well, we won’t keep you from getting your clothes back on, then,” Frank says, like he’s trying not to laugh. “And just for future reference, all interviews will go through the team’s publicity department so no one will be wandering in here, surprising you. Savannah will meet with you tomorrow to discuss publicity.”

Dad moves forward and extends a hand to Jason Brody. “Jim Lucas, nice to meet you, son. I’ve seen your spring training videos. You’ve got some real talent. I’m looking forward to working with you.”

Brody shakes Dad’s hand, his eyes still on me.

“And this is my daughter Annie,” Dad adds.

Brody glares at me. “Let me guess—you don’t work for Sports Illustrated?”

Giveaway: Enter to win one of three signed copies of WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amazon ** Amazon UK ** Barnes & Noble ** iBooks ** Powell’s Books

Julie Cross Bio:

Julie Cross lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast and longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former gymnastics program WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOUctor with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres. Outside of her reading and writing credentials, Julie is a committed—but not talented—long-distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar-weather survivor, and expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym-shoe addict.

Author Goodreads:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Review : Even In Paradise

Title: Even In Paradise
Author: Chelsey Philpot
Expected Publication: October 14th 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: ARC courtesy of the publisher for an honest review

"When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now."

First line: "I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard someone throwing up in the bushes outside my dorm room."

Thoughts: I'll admit, what originally drew me to this novel was the cover. It screamed light beach read, and I had to get my hands on it. What I wasn't expecting were the intense amount of emotions that came with this novel. EVEN IN PARADISE is a book about friendship, first love, and the bittersweet nature of growing up.

The novel is broken down into three parts: The beginning, the middle, and the end. It starts with the first day Charlotte (who will later be deemed Charlie) officially meets Julia. It's not exactly an ideal meeting, considering what happens to Charlotte's slippers, but it's one of those life changing moments that you'll one day look back on and think of as the good old days. Charlie is immediately infatuated with Julia, her life, and her family. After all, Julia is the campus mystery and rumor-mill. One thing I have to admit that I didn't like about Charlie was how quickly she abandoned her old friends for Julia. She even admits to knowing what she was doing and not being able to stop. Just reading about it hurt my heart a bit. I know this happens to everyone, and it's often part of growing up, but I guess I just wish it didn't have to be one or the other.

Julia isn't exactly an angel. She's sweet and can be a good friend, but she's reckless. The entire Buchanan clan have been through devastating experiences, and Julia is coping the only way she knows how. I love that Charlie is not only a fantastic friend to Julia but also a great addition to her family. I always find it fascinating how one person can truly change an entire family's dynamic, especially if it's the right person. The best thing about this novel is reading about Julia and Charlie's friendship, and how it affected and changed them both. Out of the two girls, Charlie was probably my favorite. There were times where I questioned her actions, however, she ended up staying true to herself, and I really admired that.

As far as romance goes, I very much enjoyed the innocence and sweetness of Sebastian and Charlie's relationship. I usually prefer my books to be oozing with swoon, but I'm so grateful that the book stayed true and focused more on Julia and Charlie. The moments with Sebastian were simply perfect, with the right about of angst, love, and a bit of heartache as well.

After reading the opening page and seeing the word "Beginning", it left me with an uneasy feeling as to what's to come. EVEN IN PARADISE did not disappoint. From the opening of the book to the end, the overall tale balanced itself out, and never once drifted from the story line. I love how everything went full circle and that the story follows up with the characters in the end. Not necessarily an epilogue but enough information to give you closure.

Overall, I recommend EVEN IN PARADISE to fans of Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (author of OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE) and Huntley Fitzpatrick (WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE). It's a great coming of age book that will easily sweep you into the world of luxury, scandal, and many, many firsts. Toss a penny and make a wish. You'll get that reference once you read the book.


4 Stars

Favorite Quotes

“Even knowing, as I do now, that grace, power, and, yes, love can hide the darkest elements of the human heart, I would do it all again.”

“Before that night, I didn't grasp that the shadows that sometimes crossed her face weren't momentary clouds passing in front of the sun. Her deep silences were more than daydreams. And her habit of standing with her arms wrapped around her ribs was a way of holding herself together.

I didn't get there must be balance.
She couldn't hold so much life, light and joy without also containing their opposites.”