Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton

Title: Boys Don't Knit (Boys Don't Knit #1)
Author: T.S. Easton
Released December 20th, 2013
Won from Goodreads Giveaway
Rating: 4.5/5

Summary

Knitting is a man’s game.

After an incident regarding a crossing guard and a bottle of Martini & Rossi (and his bonehead friends), 17-year-old worrier Ben Fletcher must develop his sense of social alignment, take up a hobby, and do some community service to avoid any further probation.

He takes a knitting class (it was that or his father’s mechanic class) under the impression that it's taught by the hot teacher all the boys like. Turns out, it’s not. Perfect. 

Regardless, he sticks with it and comes to find that he’s a natural knitter, maybe even great. It even helps ease his anxiety and worrying. The only challenge now is to keep it hidden from his friends, his crush, and his soccer-obsessed father. What a tangled web Ben has weaved . . . or knitted (Summary from Goodreads).


I knew I would enjoy this book just by the summary, but I admit that I actually enjoyed it even more that I thought I would.  This was a funny, light-hearted read that just made me feel all good inside whenever I picked it up.  This was the kind of feel good book that brought me back to my Meg Cabot days.  I got a hardcover version of Boys Don't Knit from a Goodreads giveaway, and the cover is awesome.  I've been reading so much on my Kindle that it's like heaven on earth whenever I pick up a hardcover book.

Anyway, I swear Ben Fletcher is the male version of me when it comes to how much of a worrier he is.  The story is formatted as if you're reading Ben's required journal writing for his probation, so you really get inside his head and it's hilarious.  I laughed out loud a lot while reading his sarcasm.  He is such a relatable character.  It was great to see how Ben improved at knitting.  It makes me wonder if there are really people that can speed knit like he does in the tournament.  

When Ben gets tied up in an incident that lands him on probation, he has to choose a class at a local community college.  Ben chooses knitting (originally because the instructor was supposed to be hot), and finds that it helps him deal with his worries.  Not only that, but he's good.  So good that his instructor suggests he enter into a knitting tournament.  Things start to get complicated as Ben tries to keep his knitting a secret from his father and friends and other problems arise...

Once again, such a cute and fun read.  I highly recommend it, especially if you have any experience with knitting.  I feel I should add that this story re-lit the knitting fire in me.  About 2 years ago, I messed up on this sock I was knitting and threw it under my bed in a fit of anger and frustration.  Last week, I pulled out that partially completed sock, unraveled the yarn up to the error, fixed it, and completed it a couple days later.  Now I'm addicted to knitting again and working on the second sock. That just goes to show you how much books influence me!
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fairest by Marissa Meyer


Title: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Released January 27th, 2015
Bought on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Summary

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?


Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now. 

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series (Summary from Goodreads).


Possible Spoilers Ahead!

AHHHH I couldn't wait to finally read another Lunar Chronicles book, and now I can't wait for Winter!!! For some reason, Marissa Meyer's writing hooks me in.  This is a sort of prequel to Cinder, but I suggest reading this one after reading the first three Lunar Chronicles books.  You'll get more suspense and mystery surrounding Levana in the first three books, and then read this one to delve deeper into Levana's character.

It was really interesting to see how Levana became so twisted and evil.  It's really quite sad that the torments Levana received from her older sister messed her up so badly.  I simultaneously feel pity and frustration towards Levana.  Pity because she had to deal with so much hate growing up, but frustration because she justifies the horrendous acts she committed against her niece Princess Selene, and her husband Evret. 

I loved learning about the events set the stage for Cinder because it gives more meaning to the references made about Levana's past in the previous books.  Fairest helped me understand how Levana is related to Winter and Cinder.  It was also cute to see Jacin and Winter interact a little bit, and I cannot wait to see what their characters are like in Winter.  I want to reread the other three so I can relive the awesomeness. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Spotlight Friday(7): Fabled by Vanessa K. Eccles


I am hosting this book blitz on behalf of Xpresso Book Tours

Title: Fabled
Author: Vanessa K. Eccles
Genre: Fantasy
Released May 5th, 2015

Summary

Rowena thinks the Grimm’s infamous podcasts are simply another teen fad until she finds herself trapped in a land of nightmarish storybook characters. She tries desperately to flee Mezzanine and return home, but Dresdem, Mezzanine’s wicked monarch, plans to use Rowena’s access to her world to bring dark magic and absolute rule into Georgia and beyond.

But when Rowena’s dear friend Madeline falls into Dresdem’s grasp, her battle with him becomes war, and all hopes of home are temporarily thwarted. With the help of an invisible hero, a beast, and an owl, she sets out to free Madeline from a deadening sleep. But Rowena must become her own hero when she finds herself bound by the kingdom’s darkest family. She must make the ultimate choice – align herself with her enemies or live on the run forever (Summary from Goodreads).

Buy Fabled now from Amazon | B&N

Excerpt

The dirt shifted beside me, and the end of the tunnel opened. The crevice felt like it plucked me up in a whirlwind. In seconds, I landed on the ground face first on the surface of whatever lay beyond the tunnel. It smelled like nature after a storm. When I opened my eyes, I stared down at my mud-covered hands. The darkness that I once thought would be my tomb was now gone, and two low hanging moons lit the forest where I found myself. Even though I had no idea where I was, the fact that I was out of the hole sent a surge of relief that filled my entire being. I stood up, dusted off all the mud I could, and looked back. Strangely, there was nothing but trees. As I moved closer to the spot where I’d most certainly came from, all I saw was a mirror that reflected the woods. An illusion. I touched its smooth surface, tried to find the end of it but couldn’t. Another dead-end.

Before I could figure out what to do, I heard a voice and spun around to confront it.

“What are you doing here?” I heard a man’s voice growl, but I couldn’t see anyone. I looked around. He sounded like he was only a few feet from me.

“Where are you?”

“First, tell me why you’re here?”

“I don’t know why I’m here. I’m lost, I think. I was at a party, and while walking in the woods behind the house, I fell into a hole. Now here I am. I have no idea what happened. Where am I?”

Silence.

Right square in front of me, he appeared out of thin air. I blinked my eyes in disbelief. He seemed to be about my age and wore his hat cocked to one side with suspenders atop a blue button-up and brown trousers. It reminded me of Dashielle’s costume. I guess he could read the amazement on my face, so he answered the question that my mind was trying to form.

"Invisibility. That's all."

About the Author

Vanessa K. Eccles graduated Troy University with a degree in English. She currently serves as executive editor of Belle Rêve Literary Journal and is founder of the book blog YA-NASisterhood. When she’s not writing or devouring books, she enjoys the lake life with her Prince Charming and their four dogs.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Paper Towns by John Green

Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Released September 22, 2009
Rating: 4/5

Summary

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...(Summary from Goodreads).
Possible Spoilers Ahead!

Paper Towns was my first John Green novel and now that I've finally gotten a taste of one of his books I've somehow been initiated into the hipster world. That probably doesn't make sense but I digress.

Paper Towns started off strong and filled me with intrigue as Margo took Q on an epic adventure for revenge throughout the first quarter of the book.  After Margo left, I was hooked to find out what happened to her and what epic adventure Q would have to go through to find her.  However, I admit that, for me, the story kind of slowed from there.  I think my expectations were a little too high from the amount of hype that John Green's books get, but the quirky characters and the mystery made the story enjoyable for the most part.

It wasn't until the end that I think I got what the theme of the story was really going for.  Q was so entranced by the Margo he knew as a child that he always thought of her as a legend, not like a regular teenage nonconformist.  I found it difficult to relate to Margo.  She basically left her home without even thinking about what that would do to the family and friends that actually care about her. I mean, if she actually thought that no one truly cared for her, I guess I can see where she's coming from, but it seems irrational to not wait at least until she graduates to move out.

Q was also a bit naive because he lived his life with this fantasy that Margo was this epic person.  It was a little disappointing to find out that she only left clues for Q to find the subdivision she used to hang out at, not to find her location.  Really Margo?? How would anyone know that was your intention? I suppose that makes it all the more impressive that Q and the gang were able to locate Margo anyway.

Despite these drawbacks, the story was enjoyable and I found myself laughing out loud a few times from the dialogue between Q, Radar, and Ben. One thing I could very much relate to was Q's mixed feelings of nostalgia, fear, and excitement toward the end of his senior year. The sense of peace he felt after finishing his last exam and walking out of the school was the way I felt on the day of my graduation last year.  I think there is a lot of hype for John Green's novels because his characters feel the same things we do in reality.

It may be awhile before I read my next John Green book (my TBR pile is huge!), but I think there is a strong possibility that I'll pick up another one in the future. Also, if you've read the book, around the part where Q and Margo dance near SeaWorld a song called Stars Fell On Alabama plays in the background. I looked up a cover of it by She & Him (sung by Zooey Deschannel), and I listened to it at least a dozen times. I'm listening to it now as I'm typing this. That is all.
Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday Spotlight (6) and Book Review: Fairy, Texas by Margo Bond Collins

Title: Fairy, Texas (Fairy, Texas #1)
Author: Margo Bond Collins
Genre: YA Fantasy
Released February 6th, 2014
Received ebook copy for review
Rating: 4/5

Summary

Laney Harris thinks there might be monsters in Fairy, Texas. 

She's right.

When her mother remarried and moved them to a town where a date meant hanging out at the Sonic, Laney figured that "boring" would have a whole new meaning. A new stepsister who despised her and a high school where she was the only topic of gossip were bad enough. But when she met the school counselor (and his terminal bad breath), she grew suspicious. Especially since he had wings that only she could see. And then there were Josh and Mason, two gorgeous glimmering-eyed classmates whose interest in her might not be for the reasons she hoped. Not to mention that dead guy she nearly tripped over in gym class. 

Boring takes on an entirely new dimension in Fairy, Texas.

If she's going to survive in this small town, she'll have to learn to wing it (Summary from Goodreads).

Buy Fairy, Texas now from Amazon | B&N | Books a Million | Book Depository

*I received an ebook copy of Fairy, Texas in exchange for an honest review*

Possible Spoilers Ahead!

This was another quick, yet pleasant read that I finished within a couple sittings.  I really enjoyed the light, humorous tone of Fairy, Texas.  It was very refreshing from the dark YA books I have been reading lately. It really reminded me of the great Meg Cabot books I read several years ago.

Some likable qualities of the book, besides its light tone, were the characters.  I actually liked the main character Laney. She had a good sense of humor and was one of those characters that likes to joke when facing a dangerous situation. There were two main male demons/fairies/angels (they use the names interchangeably). Josh was sweet and I enjoyed the interactions between him and Laney. I feel neutral toward Mason.  He doesn't bother me, but I don't exactly like his character, either.

There was a hilarious "fake" love triangle going on between Laney, Josh, and Mason. I won't reveal too much, but it was done on purpose to confuse the bad guys. However, the relationship between Laney and Josh is real, and I really ship that ship.

The story itself I thought at first might be a little stereotypical YA romantic fantasy, but I ended up getting hooked and loving every moment of it (and it wasn't that stereotypical Twilight stuff).

Overall, I truly enjoyed this read and I flew through it! The writing isn't exactly the best I've read, but the story and the characters are what made it great for me.  I'm hoping the second book isn't too far away because I need more of Laney!

Excerpt

“Okay, girls,” Coach Spencer yelled above the chatter around me. “We’re going to get warmed up for this year with a little run around the outer track.” She gestured toward a field off to the right of the building. I could see a dirt track wending its way along the edge, disappearing into a copse of stubby trees and scrub brush at the far end. “Four laps,” Spencer added. A general groan went up, and I was glad that the discussion at lunch had distracted me from eating too much. Late August in Texas is hot.
“Well?” the coach said. “Get going!” 
We started off at a trot toward the field, many of the girls around me still complaining. For a moment, I considered hanging back with the crowd, but Andrew had told me that Spencer coached the girls’ track team. I wanted to impress her. So I stretched my legs out as I hit the track and settled in to a long stride, my breathing still easy.
The afternoon sun beat down on my head. I watched the small grove grow closer, anxious for some shade. By the time I hit the bend in the track that led into the thicket, I was yards ahead of the rest of the runners—so when I rounded the curve and tripped over the body, I was all alone.

About the Author

Margo Bond Collins is the author of a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Waking Up Dead, Fairy, Texas, and Legally Undead. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal fiction of any genre, and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them.

Author Links:



Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book Tour: Automaton by Amanda Clemmer






Title: Automaton
Author: Amanda Clemmer
Genre: Science Fiction, Steampunk
Released May 22nd, 2015


Summary

Last Thursday I awoke to learn that I died almost a month ago. I was rebuilt from a highly experimental process of clockwork and cloning, and I don’t know why. One man knows my secret—my creator, the lead of the Leona Scientific Laboratory. He says knowledge isn’t free. I say that unless I know why I’m here, he’s the one who’s going to pay.

My friend Jack Beasley has offered his help. He has inside knowledge about the laboratory and the man who runs it. I think he also knows something about me that he isn’t sharing. There’s no one I can trust now. Not even myself (Summary from Goodreads).

Buy Automaton now on your Kindle!

Author Interview

When did you start writing? Is it something you’ve always loved?
Reading is something I’ve always loved. I didn’t write much on my own until one night as a kid when I was so bored that I took it upon myself to write a book. I’ve never looked back!

What genres do you enjoy writing? Is there more than just Steampunk?
Steampunk is relatively new to me. I like writing almost any kind of genre (except erotica) and most of my writing has been either science fiction or fantasy. I also enjoy writing micro-fiction and poetry.

How did you get your idea for Automaton?
My idea for automaton started as an awkward high school dream of learning that my skeleton had been replaced because of an illness I couldn’t remember. I planned it out on-and-off for years, and assumed it would be science fiction. My decision to switch genres to Steampunk came as part of a planning experiment when I was wondering how the plot would play out in different settings. I liked it so much I decided to stick with it!

What was your inspiration while writing?
As for literary inspiration, I think it’s a tie between Jules Verne and Neil Gaiman. I listened to Abney Park music while writing and editing, and that shaped a lot of the atmosphere and Steampunk-ness.

Who’s your favorite character in Automaton? Why?
I think Mr. Steele is my favorite character. In the rough draft he kept switching from heartless villain to misunderstood hero, and I couldn’t decide how to shape him. He eventually settled into being a mysterious anti-hero, someone who means well but takes terrible and unorthodox measures to do what he thinks is right.

What are you working on now? Will there be a series for Automaton, or is it an independent novella?
Originally, Automaton was a single novella written as a part of the NaNoWriMo challenge. By the end of the story, there was far too much going on to cram into the one book, and I knew I’d have to write more. While I don’t know how long the series will get, I have so many plot points, secrets, and back story elaborations for each of the major characters that I’m currently guessing it will last for at least three books.

What made you decide to publish independently instead of looking at traditional publishing options?
I have actually been published traditionally several times. Automaton itself even started out as a semi-traditional online publication through Jukepop. I decided to take it back and self publish it so that I could have better control over the publicity and royalties and cut back on some of the waiting time.

Did you design your own cover?
Yes—but the cover you see now is not the first. My original guidelines for the cover were that it couldn’t be photographic and that it couldn’t show her face… basically the opposite of what I chose in the end. This is also the first cover that I paid money for, though I did much of the designing and photo editing myself.

What has your favorite part of the writing and publishing process been so far? Why?
There have been a lot of high points in the writing and publishing process. Finishing the rough draft is always exhilarating, and knowing that I had good ways to move forward was great. But I think my favorite part has been reading reviews and hearing what others have to say. It’s scary to put your writing under the public microscope, but learning that my writing has brought some joy to a stranger’s day is one of the best feelings imaginable.

Now a bit about you. Where are you from?
That’s a hard question to answer. I’m a missionary kid, and I’ve moved an average of once every two years through my life. I was born in Seattle and now live in Maine (a few minutes away from Stephen King!), but will probably move to New Hampshire over the summer. I’ve also lived in Quebec, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), southern California, the upper peninsula of Michigan, western Tennessee, the tip of Florida, Wisconsin and Minnesota. I can get nostalgic about any of those places!

What books do you enjoy reading?
Currently I’m catching up on some independent fantasy and science fiction. I’ve also been reading R. Scott Bakker’s Saga of The Three Seas (sooo good!), Jules Verne, and some Neil Gaiman.

Lastly, favorite kind of tea and names of cats—if any?

Right now I’m going through a phase of green Jasmine tea. It’s light and sweet with just enough flavor! My husband and I have two cats right now—a partial Maine coon called Pretty Kitty (the manipulative one) and a muscular orange cat called Minsc (the sweetheart).

Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of Automaton!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Amanda Clemmer is a freelance writer and musician living in the heart of Maine.  Her work has been published traditionally through the Snow Monkey literary journal and JukePop Serials, and over the past few years she has been expanding her reach through self publishing. Automaton began as a part of her 2014 NaNoWriMo challenge and was quickly accepted as a JukePop serial.  She has since revised it and is excited to release it in more digital and physical formats independently.

Author Links:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
Monday, June 1, 2015

June TBR

Books I read in May:

1. The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Jeffrey Westhoff
2. Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
4. The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson
5. Automaton by Amanda Clemmer (Review to be posted June 3rd)
6. Fairy, Texas (Fairy, Texas #1) by Margo Bond Collins (Review to be posted June 5th)

Books on my TBR for June:

1. Paper Towns by John Green  - By the time this is posted I should be almost done with this one.  Just had to read it since the movie is coming out in a few days!









2. Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer - I have been wanting to read this for the longest time, so I absolutely cannot wait to finally get to this one.









3. Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton - I won a hardcover copy of this book from a Goodreads giveaway and it looks like it will be a fun and enjoyable read! Plus I like knitting, as well!









4. American Gods by Neal Gaiman - I decided to follow along on one of my favorite booktuber's Little Book Club pick.  I haven't read anything with mythology in it since Percy Jackson, so I'm really interested in picking up this book this month!
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