Friday, April 25, 2014

Over the summer, SYNC provides access to free audiobooks for 13 weeks, pairing a recent young adult novel with a classic title that ties into it. The offerings change each week and are only available for download until the next offering is announced a week later. I've included a list below of all of the scheduled downloads for this summer, and I'll try to post a reminder each week of the next week's upcoming titles. SYNC will have all the details on how to download, so be sure to check back over there at the end of May!

Those are some awesome audiobook titles right there. You can be sure I'll be checking out all of these audiobooks, even the ones I've already read! ;0) This will be the fourth summer that I've participated! Have you ever taken advantage of this program before? Which title/week are you most excited about?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: After the End by Amy Plum

Thursday, April 24, 2014 with 6 comments

Title: After The End
Author: Amy Plum
Series: After the End #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 6th, 2014
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
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.

When I first heard about After the End, I just had to have it! Alaska!! Heck yes! When I was young I used to fantasize about living there. It’s so beautiful and the idea of seeing Northern Lights on the regular. Very cool. I’m old enough now to know that I would freeze my tushy off if I lived there, so the appeal has dropped drastically.

While this book does start out in Alaska, it does not stay there. Bummer, but I still found it interesting and different. I’m not sure what I really expected going into this. From the description I expected it to be more of a cult situation. She’s shut off from the world, told that there was this huge war and everything has been destroyed. Only to find out that she’s been lied to her whole life. That’s crazy and I was anxious to see how she was going to react to this news. And how she was going to integrate herself into the modern world and find her people.

That was the best part of the story for me, the beginning, but then it kind of turns paranormal. Had I known that going into After the End, I think I would have enjoyed it better. I picked up cupcake thinking it was Chocolate, only to find out it was Vanilla. Expectations ruin everything!

The hints of Paranormal aren’t crazy or anything, there are no vampires or werewolves jumping out at you, it's more of a spiritual “One with Nature” thing, but the story basically revolves around all that.

Juneau, I never really connected with her. She’s likable enough, but she’s so weird all of the time, that I spent most of my time trying to understand her. The story is told in alternate point of views with Miles. This is a boy she meets up with on her Journey and I didn’t really like him all that much either. He was a bit of a peen.

I know this makes it sound like I hated After The End, but I didn’t. It was good, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I will probably read the next one, because I’m curious to see where it’s all going to go. This is my first Amy Plum book and it wont be my last. I might have to try her Revenants series sometime.

About the author:

Amy PlumAmy Plum is the author of the International Bestsellers DIE FOR ME (Indie Next List pick, Romance Times top pick, and recipient of a starred review from School Library Journal), UNTIL I DIE, and IF I SHOULD DIE. The books have been translated into eleven foreign languages. The trilogy is accompanied by an eNovella entitled DIE FOR HER.

Amy grew up in Birmingham, Alabama before venturing further afield to Chicago, Paris, London and New York. An art historian by training, she can be found on most days either daydreaming or writing (or both) in a Parisian café.

After being raised in Birmingham, Alabama, in a rather restrictive environment, AMY PLUM escaped to Chicago to an even more restrictive environment at a university that expelled people for dancing. (And where she was called to the dean’s office for “wearing too much black”.) After all of that restrictiveness, she was forced to run far far away, specifically to Paris, France, where she only wore black and danced all she wanted.

After five years in Paris, she ventured to London, where she got an M.A. in Medieval Art History, specializing in Early Sienese Painting (1260-1348) mainly because it promised almost no hope of finding a paying job afterward.

Amy managed to find work in the world of art and antiques in New York. But after almost a decade of high-pressure lifestyle in the Big Apple, she swapped her American city for a French village of 1300 inhabitants.

After signing with HarperCollins for the DIE FOR ME series, Amy left her job as an English professor at Tours University to write full-time. She now lives in Paris with her two kids and big red dog Ella.

She is a huge fan of Edward Gorey and Maira Kalman (and collects both of their books/art), as well as David Sedaris, Amadeo Modigliani, and Ira Glass.

Find Amy:

Website | TwitterFacebookGoodreads

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

YA Fest 2014 Wrap Up

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 with 30 comments

So this past weekend, I finally got to go to YA Fest! If you remember, I was blabbing about it 2 months ago. It was so freaking fun! Oh my gosh, guys, there were so many Authors there it was almost overwhelming. My friend Heather volunteered with me, so it made it a little less scary.

The whole event was so nicely put together, and we all had a blast. And holy crap did B&N sell a lot of books!

That is where I spent most of my day, working in that area to keep up with the rush. Jennifer L. Armentrout alone bought a book by every author attending so she can do a big giveaway. I can tell you first hand how generous that is because I saw the receipt. So keep an eye out!! :)

The only thing missing was my lovely Co Blogger Jen. I offered to get her books signed though. She might not have been there physically, but she was definitely there in spirit. lol So sit back and prepare yourselves for....


We got up super early so we could pick up Heather on the way. 

This is where she got a little crazy. We had to park behind the police station so she thought flipping the bird to the Po Po was a good idea. Good thing we didn't get arrested. Jen is a rebel!

No worries though, we made it in just fine and found our work station. 

She started out being really helpful keeping an eye on all the books, but for the most of the day she was just up my ass. 

We met another blogger name Vi who also volunteered in our area. Vi meet Jen... Jen meet Vi! She was so sweet, and we all had a great time working together. 

Here Jen is posing with the Authors who organized this awesome event. Jennifer Murgia and Cyn Balog. They loved Jen and laughed just about every time they saw me with her. Both of them have new books coming out that I'm excited for. Forest of Whispers in September and Drowned in June. 

Early on, the fire alarm went off. So we all had to leave the building while the Fire Fighters double checked everything. I couldn't keep Heather and Jen away from the trucks. They were fascinated. 

Jen was in need of a Fem product so we headed to the bathroom. You will not believe what happened next. 

She was trying to PEEP on me!!! That dirty little cut out! 

Then I thought to myself, if we can share a blog, we can share a toilet too! 

Enough silliness though, it's times to meet the authors! I'm pretty sure most of them thought I was nuts. lol

Tiffany Schmidt was the author I most looked forward to meeting, because I loved her books Send Me a Sign and Bright Before Sunrise. She was so fun and I absolutely adore her. And I'm not gonna lie, when I first met Tiffany I almost did this...

Maybe not quite, but pretty darn close. lol

Ahhhhhhhh!!!! It's Maria V. Snyder people!!!! I was a little scared to go up to her with cardboard Jen, because she's Maria V. FREAKING Snyder!!! But... she was really nice and though I'm not sure she knew what to make of Jen, she was a good sport and posed anyway. lol. 

And here Jen is, posing with Shannon Delaney and Molly Cochran! Shannon was concerned that Jen looked so flat, but I assured her that she really does look like this and her husband is fine with it. They were both so fun. I hadn't heard of Molly's books, but now that I have met her I'll have to check some of them out. As for Shannon Delany, I've been eyeing up her Weather Witch books for a while. 

Ahhhh!!! And here is Jennifer L. Armentrout!! I have wanted to meet her forever. It's funny because I only just read my first book by her with Jen, but she's so nice on twitter and everyone seems to love her. I had to see what the hype was all about. She was great and we even discussed Don't Look Back for a little while. That's just surreal to me talking to authors about their books. In Person!!! *sigh* 

Next we met Cristin Terrill, Author of All Our Yesterdays! Now she definitely thought I was weird, but she was more than happy to pose with Jen. lol. 

I haven't read The Beautiful & The Cursed by Page Morgan but Jen has and she loved it so I brought her books to be signed. Page even recognized cardboard Jen. Surprisingly a lot of people did. That Twitter Avi has been around a lot apparently. lol. She was also a ton of fun, so many of the Authors were. 

I was pretty excited to meet Amalie Howard. I read Waterfell by her a while back and I liked it. Helping out with B&N with sales though, made me realize she has a ton of other books that I need to check out. 

And the last Author we met was Anne Greenwood Brown!! She wrote Lies Beneath and I really liked that one. Scary Ass Mermaids for the win!!! I need to continue that series like pronto.

All that Author Mingling made Jen thirsty, so we hit up the water fountain.

I had a couple books I planned to give away that were on my shelf, so I got them signed. I'm not getting fancy with it, because I just have no patience for rafflecopter tonight, so just mention in a comment below if you would like to be entered and I'll pick someone random org next week sometime :) US only, sorry. 

That pretty much concludes the event. I wish it had been longer because the day just flew by. I'm already signed up to help next year so let the countdown begin!!! I can't Freaking WAIT!!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Title: Fool Me Twice
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Series: If Only, book #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they're back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.

Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It's the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.

The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can't have, and Mandy Hubbard's hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love.

I was quite intrigued by the premise of this book when I first saw it pop up on Goodreads. I mean, who among us hasn't wanted to get revenge on an ex after a really nasty break-up? But despite the manipulation aspects, this book turned out to be cute and kind of fluffy, if not a bit juvenile at times.

On top of Mack's plan to make Landon fall hard for her and then unceremoniously dump him in much the same way he dumped her a year ago, Mack is full of pranks she's dying to play on him. They ranged from the mundane to cheesy, but it was kind of gratifying to see Landon take it all in stride and retaliate with pranks of his own. I had a hard time reconciling the Landon we meet at the very beginning of the book with the one that appears after the "accident". Even after the whole story is revealed -- and I totally saw it coming -- it felt like he was two different people: the jerk who doesn't even officially break up with a girl before kissing another and the sweet cowboy who goes above and beyond on the ranch.

Mack's character didn't feel all that authentic, either. Her new sense of style -- self-imposed after the break-up -- feels forced, as if she can't own it herself but only owes it to Landon dumping her. I did appreciate, though, that she realized that the Mack she had shown Landon the previous summer was just the girl she thought he wanted to see, that only this summer has she deigned to show him her true self. And it was nice that he seemed even more attracted to the real Mack.

The romance was kind of adorable at times. And though I at first suspected Adam's character was included only to involve a love triangle in the story, my doubts were slowly assuaged as it became evident that Mack's best friend Bailey was interested in him. Mack only has eyes for one guy, and it's the one she should be staying clear of.

This is my first Mandy Hubbard book, so I'm not sure if her other stories are as lighthearted and fun as this one, but I'm definitely interested in checking them out now. Even if Fool Me Twice wasn't serious or deep, it was still pretty entertaining, and I can't fault it for that.

GIF it to me straight:
Cute and distracting, but not terribly deep.

About the author:

Mandy Hubbard is the author of PRADA & PREJUDICE and YOU WISH, both novels for teens now in stores. In 2011, her releases include BUT I LOVE HIM (written as Amanda Grace) and RIPPLE. She is also a literary agent for D4EO Literary Agency. For more information, visit her website.

Find Mandy:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

Title: Wish You Were Italian
Author: Kristin Rae
Series: If Only, book #2
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Source: from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

The perfect reckless romance to enjoy whether you are home or abroad.

This adorable little romp in Italy is exactly what I needed after the more serious and fantastical fare I've been reading lately. Whenever I need a good palate-cleanser, I turn to fluffier YA contemporary novels, and sometimes I hit the jackpot and end up reading really endearing stories like this one. I enjoyed this one so much that it made me not want to cross back over to the dark side of YA fantasy, so as soon as I was done with Wish You Were Italian, I immediately picked up the other book in the IF ONLY series. (See review above.)

I was pretty impressed with the story and the writing in this book, especially considering that this is Kristin Rae's debut novel. (That's not to say that I haven't loved debut novels before, but they're not usually contemporary stories if I did.) This novel is so charming, so delightful, and I just didn't want Pippa's adventures abroad to end. Even though I've never traveled to Italy, Rae's beautiful descriptions of the country, the monuments, and the people instantly transported me there, as if I were seeing everything through Pippa's eyes for the first time. And the way she captured the moments that were truly important to Pippa...I wanted to be there experiencing them with her. Italy essentially became a character in its own right, thanks to the gorgeous imagery in Rae's writing.

Pippa is going to be in SO much trouble when she gets home. But for now, she's having the time of her life, gallivanting across Italy's countryside, seeing all the sights and sounds she would've missed had she stuck to her mother's original plan. Pippa is really going against the grain with her little excursion, but it's easy to see why this little escape was so necessary for her, considering the strained relationship she has with her parents, most especially her mother. But she keeps in touch with her best friend Morgan and her Gram, and though it's risky being on your own in a foreign country, I commend her bravery because I'm not sure it's something I could've done myself at that age. Though, looking back, I wish I'd had an opportunity like this...I don't think I could have let it pass me by either.

Besides, Pippa makes friends with a local girl who changes the whole course of her summer, and she also has that homework assignment Morgan gave her to keep her busy. Plus, Pippa met someone her very first day in Italy. Okay, she actually meets TWO someones. Darren is an archaeology student working on digs across Italy, and "by chance", he and Pippa keep running into each other. Their little tête-à-têtes are always unbelievably cute, but it's kind of obvious that both struggle with starting something they can't finish once summer is over, despite how in-tune with each other they might be. Also, Darren also suspects something might be going on with the brother of the girl Pippa is staying with...and with good reason.

I don't worry about love triangles as much as some, and this one really didn't bother me because Pippa has a good head on her shoulders and realizes the likelihood of anything lasting with either guy is slim. Still, one of her "goals" thanks to Morgan's homework assignments is to fall in love with an Italian guy, so I don't discredit her for trying to determine if there was something between her and Bruno. It's the summer before her senior year, after all, and she does figure things out for herself before they get too complicated and someone gets hurt.

That's another thing. I really liked how everyone actually communicated in this story. That's one of my biggest pet peeves in a story: when there's so much unnecessary drama because no one a) talks to each other, b) asks one another the right questions, or c) admits what they're feeling. And though there are plenty of misunderstandings and wrinkles along the way in this story, they manage to get ironed out pretty quickly, with little suffering on anyone's part.

I really enjoyed this debut from Kristin Rae, and it makes me curious to see what other stories she's working on if she can craft such a fun, fanciful read with so many positive elements. There may not be a perfect summer read for everyone, but this one comes pretty darn close. Also, it made me buy gelato, which is never a bad idea. =)

GIF it to me straight:
Awwwww's all around.

About the author:

Lover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. YA writer represented by Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN comes out May 6, 2014 from Bloomsbury!

Find Kristin:

WebsiteTwitter | FacebookGoodreads | Etsy

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...