Monday, May 20, 2013

[Book Blast + Giveaway] The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

With only two weeks until The Testing's release, we want to make sure everyone knows about it! Read all about The Testing and also be sure to enter to win one of two copies of the book!
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies – trust no one. But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.
The Official Website for The Testing
Add on Goodreads
Preorder the Book: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
Also, don't forget to download the FREE prequel story. All the details can be found here. There are more goodies on The Testing website as well, such as a quiz to see if YOU would be selected for the Testing.
About Joelle Charbonneau :
Joelle Charbonneau began telling stories as an opera singer, but these days she finds her voice through writing. In addition to The Testing trilogy, she is the author of the Rebecca Robbins Mysteries and the Glee Club series. She lives near Chicago with her husband and son. When she is writing, she works as an acting and vocal coach. Visit Joelle on the Web at her Website, Facebook, and Twitter

Praise for The Testing:
“The Testing is a chilling and devious dystopian thriller that all fans of The Hunger Games will simply devour. Joelle Charbonneau writes with guts and nerve but also great compassion and heart. Highly recommended.” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of Rot & Ruin and Flesh & Bone 

 “Trained to rely on her wits, Cia must survive on her courage and trust her instincts, even when it means following her heart ever deeper into danger. A surefire favorite for dystopian fans, The Testing crackles with suspense, passion and betrayal set against a scarred and brutal world.” –Sophie Littlefield, author of Unforsaken and Hanging By A Thread. 

 See the stunning Trailer! 

 If you are interested, signed copies can be ordered through Anderson's Bookshop before June 4. Joelle Charbonneau will be having her launch party here. See Anderson's website to order! AND even cooler, for all books pre-ordered or bought for her launch party, a donation will be made to Autism Speaks. 

TWO (2) people will win a copy of The Testing!
Open to wherever The Book Depository ships! 
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ARC Review: You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Harper Teen, 368 Pages
Expected US Release Date: June 4, 2013
Format/Source: ARC via Around the World ARC Tours - thank you!
Challenges: Contemporary Challenge

For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they're real life.

The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There'd be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.

Now sixteen, Justine doesn't feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.

But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what's on film. They've all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else's eyes.

Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what's personal and what's public aren't always clear.
-----------------------Goodreads summary
Notable Quote
...instead of my life shaping a film, a film would shape my life.
I read The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle right when it came out (luck of the draw, actually – saw it propped as a new release at my library and really liked the colour tones of the cover), and though I don’t quite remember all of that book, I do remember how I felt about it when reading. I was invested. I was impressed, and even though I expected something that was delivered, there was also a little more. I remember being emotion, I remember connecting with it even though it wasn’t anything like my life.

Apparently, this is just a skill that Jennifer Castle possesses, because I felt all that and more with You Look Different In Real Life.

Have I ever told you guys how much I love documentaries? It shouldn’t surprise anyone, as I love stories and have a degree in journalism: realism and getting to know a person to the very core are things I love to do, love to discover, and love to invest in. So documentaries are perfect, and for a YA book to come along that’s all about that? Love love love.

If you’ve watched the Up series documentaries, you’ll recognize the plotline. (And if you haven’t watched them, you totally should – they’re fantastic!) Choosing varying kids from one class, all connected by a single, vaguely unimportant thread, and revisiting them every set number of years. It’s a fascinating concept, and I’m truly curious the mental and emotional toll that will take on people.

Anyway. I’ll put it out there that this story is partly predictable, in that I could tell who of the group would have what connection to each other. And I wasn’t necessarily disappointed in that, but I know some people may not like how it works out. Still, it all makes sense and I think it’s best this way. I still thoroughly enjoyed how we get to these ends, and I think that saves it.

The one fear I had is that the point of this documentary is that each of the characters are portrayed as one thing, but are so much more – and how cliché is that? Everything is like that, and I was so scared it was going to be overly done and completely stereotypical. And it wasn’t! I was pleasantly surprised how much more in depth we discover these characters, how perhaps it’s not about them being different than what they seem, but them becoming a lot like who they are thought to – just in ways we’d never quite expect.  The stereotype they are supposed to be is there, and it’s actually fun to pinpoint who they are supposed to be while simultaneously learning just how much they break the molds they’ve been shown to be.

I was also quite happy with the adventures they take in this novel; there’s an unexpected road trip, a fun little set up of a cabin retreat, times in the scary new York City…there’s a lot of intensity packed into this book, and I quite liked that. We’re treated to a lot of different scenarios with these kids, and I thought it worked beautifully to round out who they are.

I found myself drawn to Justine – perhaps not as much as some others will, but I found a lot of her in myself. Particularly how she thinks she’s uninteresting and not what the public thought she would be. These were some very real fears in my high school life (hell, they’re real fears I have now, in my adult life, too!), and I thought Justine was a great portrayal of it. There are insecurities mixed in with desires and hopes and personal beliefs, some sadness amongst her sarcasm, and she was really a character to which I could attach.

Truthfully, I liked all the characters – Felix and Rory especially, but even Nate and Keira had elements I respected and loved. They’re a diverse group, as intended – but in way more ways than you initially know. My favourite scenes were probably all the ones where the five were together, where they could interact and play off each other. Jennifer Castle really did well with this set of characters and creating a bunch I could really see together, watching and waiting to see what will happen.

You Look Different In Real Life was interesting and emotional, lending a story behind a story that reveals a little more than your typical story of being more than you seem. Jennifer Castle has created a fantastic cast of characters that shine as brightly as their Hollywood parts are intended to.

4.5 Stars / 5

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop: Golden by Jessi Kirby! (signed!)

Welcome to the Love In Bloom Giveaway Hop!
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

For this hop, ONE (1) lucky winner will get
a signed hardcover of Golden by Jessi Kirby!
I love Jessi and Golden is breathtakingly amazing - read my review here!

It'll be a hardcover, the book is just in transit to me at the moment.
And it'll be signed when I see Jessi this Saturday.

Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Make sure to check out the rest of the linky list, there are some great prizes!
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 13, 2013

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Entangled Teen, 276 Pages
US Release Date: May
Source: e-ARC from publisher/tour host - thank you!
Challenges: DAC 2013, SARC 2013, Contemporary Challenge
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

On the outside, seventeen-year-old Madelyne Summers looks like your typical blond cheerleader—perky, popular, and dating the star quarterback. But inside, Maddie spends more time agonizing over what will happen in the next issue of her favorite comic book than planning pep rallies with her squad. That she’s a nerd hiding in a popular girl's body isn’t just unknown, it's anti-known. And she needs to keep it that way.

Summer is the only time Maddie lets her real self out to play, but when she slips up and the adorkable guy behind the local comic shop’s counter uncovers her secret, she’s busted. Before she can shake a pom-pom, Maddie’s whisked into Logan’s world of comic conventions, live-action role-playing, and first-person-shooter video games. And she loves it. But the more she denies who she really is, the deeper her lies become…and the more she risks losing Logan forever.
-------------------Summary provided
Notable Quote
It's not just high school. People are going to judge you for all kinds of reasons for the rest of yoru life. Because you vote one way or the other, because you go to one school or the other, because you look a certain way. It's a fact of life: you can't make everyone happy. But you can make you happy.
I've said over and over and over again how contemporary is my home. It is the only genre I will repeatedly come back to like a dearly missed friend, the genre that I will always find a friend and a love in. And The Summer I Became A Nerd is a perfect example of a contemporary I love and enjoy.

I'm definitely not quite on the geekdom level that Maddie is (despite my 5-year-and-still-going streak of attending Comic-Con), but I can relate to her pretty well. I used to be made fun of a lot because I was a "nerd" - I read all the time, worn glasses since I was 9 years old, cared obsessively about my grades and generally had my nose stuck in books or writing at all moments of every day. But really, I think anyone who has ever felt like they've had to hide a huge part of themselves for fear of being ridiculed will relate to this book and recognize a lot of the feelings.

I have to say, one of my only complaints about this book is that sometimes it felt a little over-dramatic or cliche. The popular girl afraid of tumbling, the amount of teasing she feared, the resolution and how it was a 3-page "revelation" of lessons -- but in the grand scheme? I will totally let it all slide since the rest of this book was SO awesome.

One of the best choices the author made was having Logan, the love interest, come in early and remain in the novel as one. So many times it's like they're introduced, but they don't play a real part in the story and you just have to believe he's right -- but we're really allowed to see Logan and just how perfect he is. I have such a huge nerdy crush on him, you guys! I wanted so badly to be in the back of the comic store with him, or sit in on his Awesome Logan show. He's sweet and not without his faults and so considerate, and I wanted to holler at Maddie every time she even began to think she shouldn't be with him.

And it's a smaller part -- one that I can't quite talk about in case of spoilers -- but I'm kind of glad Leah Rae Miller gave Eric a personality. He wasn't just some stupid jock with an anger issue. Sure, he's maybe not the brightest crayon in the box, but there was dimension to him and I found myself feeling for him. In fact, all of the secondary characters were so enjoyable and fun! They had their own quirks and personalities and each one is so distinct in my memory. I love all of them, no matter how weird or bad-mouthy or ridiculous they are.

Looking back on the novel, one of my favourite things was that each of the characters came from stable, loving families that were still present throughout the entire story. Not to say a novel always needs those, but I'm a little sick of seeing the same absentee parent, or that Disney thing (98% of Disney movies have the main characters missing one parent*). So it was nice to find characters who had supportive families, who had typical relationships and difficulties with the parents, whose parents cared enough to ground them but still hug the kid when they made it safely home. That is how I grew up, and I was very happy to see it in this book.

As for the plot...well, I can't quite detail of all of it because it'd give away some of the fun of the book, but I really enjoyed all of this! I loved all the fun elements, all the unique sets and sitations that come up. There was a lot going on without being too much, just enough to always keep me interested and wanting to read and find out what was happening. The progression is really good, and I like that Maddie is kind of a simple character - right away you get a feel for the type of person she is, and regardless whether or not I agreed with it, I immediately took a liking to her and wanted her to figure out how to really be happy with who she is. Some books focus on one bigger event and more of a personal growth; but I felt like The Summer I Became A Nerd did really well balancing a lot of events with a fun plotline with just a little - but still important - growth in the characters.

The Summer I Became A Nerd is the perfect contemporary novel: a light, sweet read about important matters with a fun, energetic cast and matching plot. I smiled within the first 3 pages and closed it with an even bigger one. I highly recommend you read this if you want to find a piece of yourself and see how it should make you happy to show it.

*observational guesstimate, though I'm positive I'm not far off from fact.

4.5 Stars / 5
About the Author: Leah Rae Miller
Mother, wife, and YA author living on a windy hill in Natchitoches, Louisiana. I love fuzzy socks, comic books, cherry coke, and brand new office supplies. THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD coming Summer 2013 from Entangled Teen. Stay cool!
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads
Win an eBook of The Summer I Became A Nerd
Three winners! INTERNATIONAL!
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Monday, May 6, 2013

Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop: A Box of YA ARCs/Books! (US)

Welcome to the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop!
hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

One (1) lucky winner will win a box of YA books!
All are 2012 releases, with the exception of Light.

Lucky Fools by Coert Voorhees (ARC)
After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (ARC)
Light (Gone #6) by Michael Grant (ARC)
Counting Backwards by Laura Lascarso (ARC)
Escape Theory by Margaux Froley (ARC)
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (finished hardcover)

I don't have any intention of adding more to this box, but then again...I seem to always find more books to toss into packages right before I close them up!

US only, ends May 13!
Enter through the rafflecopter below, and all my usual giveaway policy rules apply.
Make sure to check out the rest of the linky list, there are some great prizes!
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Weekly Wrap-Up (27): And by "week," I mean "April."

It's been quite awhile since I did one of these! I keep meaning to, but each weekend has been filled with so many things to do or places to go. LA for the Festival of Books (which was fantastic!), Palm Springs with 9 other friends for a friend's birthday (also fun), family things...time just moves so swiftly. Work has been utterly insane, though I'm not going to whine about it here too much (mostly because if you follow me on Twitter, you've probably already heard it). Busy busy busy!

In case you missed it...
Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer
All I Need by Susane Colasanti
Une Petite Revue: Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Waiting on: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Waiting on Wednesday: the STAR cover edition!
Top Ten Tuesday: Words That Get An Instant Reaction

I kicked off the Blog Tour for Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins!
Check out her awesome interview and enter to win her books!

The Spring Fling Giveaway Hop runs until Tuesday!
Win a hardcover of Illuminate by Aimee Agresti and a ton of swag!

Coming up...
Truthfully, I have no idea! I've got a bunch of reviews written, but nothing formatted to put up. I'm so happy to be a tour stop on the 13th for The Summer I Became A Nerd - check out my review then! And I think I'll also review You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle. Surprises to come! (Also, the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway hop will start on Tuesday! Come back then for a fantastic prize!)

Onto the books!
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen 
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (yes, this has popped up twice. Could this mean giveaway? Maaaaaaybe.)

At the LA Times Festival of Books, for signings
Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini (so nice to have Ned back in my life again!)

From Epic Reads #TeaTime #YAJeopardy
How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer (read my review here!)
Light (Gone #6) by Michael Grant (a surprise, they said you'd only win 1 book!)
---thanks lovely Epic Reads girlies!

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Harlequin had them out for free at LATFOB! Thanks Harlequin! (and Cindy for alerting me :))

Story's End by Marissa Burt (see my review for Storybound here!)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Blankets by Craig Thompson  -  I've been on a graphic novel kick lately, I dunno why. Blankets was interesting, in a weird way.

Around the World ARC Tours
You Look Different In Real Life by Jennifer Castle
The End Games by T. Michael Martin
Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
September Girls by Bennett Madison

Burning by Elana K. Arnold - thank you Random House
Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg - thank you Scholastic!

What books came into your possession this week?
Leave your link and I'll hop by!
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