YA Review: Falling From the Sky by Nikki Godwin

Falling From the Sky by Nikki Godwin

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Format: Kindle

Reviewed by: Judith

Genre: YA

Final score: 9/10

No drama. Great storytelling. Interesting premise. Sexy protagonists. Slow build up and sexy delivery. No smut. Need I say more?

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Book recommendations from you and a giveaway!

Help! I’m leaving on a three week vacation and have absolutely nothing to read. Hard to conceive of but true. So here’s a fun way for me to get recs and a lucky winner to get a free book!

I totally heart books; how about you?

Here’s the deal:

You: leave the name and author of a great book you recently read. When I say great, I mean just that – I want something that wowed you; made you think about the characters long after it was over; made you wish that you knew the author so you could storm over to her home and then beg her to write a sequel.

Me: I’ll take your recs and get great reads for my trip *plus* I’ll gift one lucky reader a free e-copy of any book recommended (your choice!).

So start recommending away! Winner will be picked Tuesday around 9 pm.

An open apology and BEA!

Yoohoo! Hello! Hello over there!! Can you see me? Hello? It’s me, Judith? You probably won’t recognize me and if you do, you’re all probably a wee bit pissed at me for, ya know, not blogging or reviewing or even maintaining the site really over the last few months. But don’t be. I’m here on my knees ready to grovel.

“Why’d you leave us, Judith?!” That’s the big question. Guys, I am so sorry but this dumb thing called “day-to-day life” just kept getting in the way. At first it was just asking me to make dinner and you know, clean for a bit (and by clean I totally mean put dishes in the dishwasher and nothing else). Then it started eating up my available time with homework assignments, girl scout troop meetings, working 8 hours a day, laundry…and we can’t forget that pesky husband and the never ending, extended houseguests.  It got so bad that at one point I actually considered stopping blogging altogether.

The sudden collective gasp  you guys just put out is enough to make me think, “whew!” I did the right thing by not dumping the blog.

So here’s the deal. I promise to get you guys some quality reviews over the next few weeks because me, Ellen, and Onni have been reading up a storm. I also promise not to go AWOL again.

Now, this brings me to the awesome photo montage portion of this post.

On May 28 and 29th, Ellen and I took NYC by storm (not a difficult feat considering we both live in NJ) and attended BEA 2014. It was our 3rd time and we had a blast.  We spent all of Thursday checking out the various authors and taking in the scene:

People lining up at 7:30 am to enter BEA at 9 am. Dedication!

People lining up at 7:30 am to enter BEA at 9 am. Dedication!

More line waiting at 7:30 am...

More line waiting at 7:30 am…

Waiting in line for books to be autographed

Look closely and you’ll see A.R. Kahler, author of the Immortal Circus, waiting in line too

The line up to get books signed

The lines to get books by famous authors signed

We learned that at least two of the five main cast members of How I Met Your Mother  + one member of The Office had written books!

IMG_20140530_081631

Jason Segal speaking at the Children’s Books Author Breakfast

Neil Patrick Harris in booth signing. He is so skinny!

Neil Patrick Harris in booth signing. He is so skinny!

BJ Novak signing in booth

BJ Novak signing in booth

Some of our idols of childhood:

Garth Nix, author of Sabriel

Garth Nix, author of Sabriel

R.L. Stine

R.L. Stine

And we met up with some amazing bloggers and authors from all over:

Author Michelle Mankin, Blogger Kelly Moorehouse, and Author Anne Eliot (plus me hiding behind a book on the telephone screen)

Author Michelle Mankin, Blogger Kelly Moorhouse, and Author Anne Eliot (+ me on screen)

Author T.Torrest and Blogger Kelly Moorehouse

Author T.Torrest and Blogger Kelly Moorhouse

Blogger Rebecca Peters-Golden

Blogger Rebecca Peters-Golden

Author Anne Eliot and I Love YA Fiction's Ellen

Author Anne Eliot and I Love YA Fiction’s Ellen

And the best part?! We got our hands on some new books:

I Love YA Fiction's Judith holding an ARC of Anne Eliot's How I Fall

I Love YA Fiction’s Judith holding an ARC of Anne Eliot’s How I Fall

Look at all the books!

Look at all the books!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

So long story short: we’re back! Reviews are back! Hope you are ready for us!

Release Day Launch – Aspen by Rebekah Crane

APSEN Release Launch Banner

Happy, happy release day to Rebekah Crane, one of our fave authors! Aspen, which you may remember us reviewing back in March is out today and you could win a copy! Details later.

We’re really excited to share this book with you and if you don’t know what Aspen is all about, then here’s the blurb:

One quiet night in Boulder, Colorado, Aspen Yellow-Sunrise Taylor made a mistake.

In the next instant, her life changed forever.

 Aspen doesn’t want to remember the devastating car accident that killed Katelyn Ryan, a sleek-haired popular soccer player. But forgetting is hard– because Katelyn may have died — but she didn’t leave. Her ghost is following Aspen around, and heading into senior year, it’s kind of a problem. Especially when Katelyn’s gorgeous former boyfriend Ben appears to be the only person at school with a clue as to how Aspen feels.

 Popularity, college, Homecoming Court, hot guys – none of these things ever mattered to Aspen. She’s been busy trying to rein in her giant mass of blonde curls, keep her stoner mother Ninny away from Toaster, her mom’s awful bongo drumming boyfriend, and prevent her best friends Kim and Cass from killing – or kissing – one another. But with Ben sitting next to her in Physics looking all too gorgeous, Katelyn’s spirit dogging her steps, and her obsessive snow-globe collecting therapist begging her to remember all the things she wants to forget, Aspen is thrust into a vivid, challenging world she can’t control … and doesn’t want to.

 A darkly funny, emotionally gripping story of opening up, letting go, and moving on, ASPEN is about the best-worst accident of your life … and what comes next.


 One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of ASPEN and $25 Amazon gift card (US/CA only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Any contestant that uses dummy or contest only accounts to enter will be disqualified.***

If you want ANOTHER chance to win some swag:

photoPurchase and review ASPEN on Amazon by June 22, 2014 to enter to win 2 tie-dye scarves, 1 t-shirt from Moe’s Broadway Bagel in Boulder, Grateful Dead stickers, a signed copy of PLAYING NICE and a signed annotated copy ASPEN, plus $25 Amazon gift card.

To enter to win this epic giveaway, you must 1) purchase a copy of ASPEN, 2) read it, 3) review it on Amazon, and 4) submit your entry by filling out this form:

 Good luck everyone!

 

 

 

About Rebekah CraneRebekah_Crane

Rebekah Crane fell in love with YA literature while studying Secondary English Education at Ohio University. After having two kids, living in six different cities, and finally settling down in the foothills of her beloved Rocky Mountains, her first novel, PLAYING NICE, was published. ASPEN, her second YA novel, set in Boulder, CO, is due to release in summer 2014 from In This Together Media. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 ft high in the Rockies, where the altitude only enhances the experience.

 

Fancy an excerpt? Oh go on…

I swallow hard, trying to wet my dry mouth as someone takes the seat next to me. The bell needs to ring now to save me from further conversation. I scoot my chair over, the room and all its occupants slowly closing in on me—and then my neighbor’s head of messy black hair catches my eye. My stomach drops to the floor. 

“Why are you sitting next to me?” I snap.

It’s Ben Tyler. Katelyn’s Ben. His eyebrows are pulled high on his forehead, his eyes wide.

“Taylor and Tyler. I guess Mr. Salmon did the seating chart by last name.” Ben says it like I’m interrogating him and he’s nervous he might give me the wrong answer.

“Oh.” Tingles flood my hands and I shake them out at my side. All around the room, people are looking at me. My cheeks heat with embarrassment. I’d get up and ask Mr. Salmon to change my seat, but then I’d get even more attention. People would start to wonder why I don’t want to sit next to Ben Tyler. Hotty Ben. The grieving, perfect boyfriend of the dead Katelyn Ryan. Me getting up is how rumors start. Suzy tells Olivia who tells Sophia who tells Claire that I didn’t want to sit next to Ben, and by the end of the week, everyone is talking about it.

I slink down in my seat, wishing I could disappear into the floor. “I hate eyes,” I whisper to myself.

“Don’t sweat it. I get that a lot, too,” Ben whispers out of the corner of his mouth. Only one side of his face curls into a smile, like he can’t force himself to pull the other cheek any higher. I feel the same way most days.

Then it hits me. People aren’t staring at me; they’re staring at us.

“I’m sorry.” I force a two-cheek smile. “I’m an ass.”

Ben huffs out a laugh. A scar runs through his right eyebrow, another across his left cheek. But even with the imperfections on his face, he looks handsome. I count all the colors in his eyes. Yellow, green, brown, flecks of blue.  

“Aspen,” Ben says. “You don’t need to apologize to me.”

I saw him at the hospital that night. He was sitting in a chair, his head in his hands, while Mr. and Mrs. Ryan talked to a doctor in purple scrubs with a colorful sleeve tattoo down her right arm. The scrubs looked more like a costume than a uniform. Mrs. Ryan had her hand on Ben’s shoulder. Even with a face full of tears, he was beautiful.

At one point, he looked at me from across the emergency room. I was sitting in a bed, waiting for Ninny. My head was bandaged, and my leg was in a splint. I was even wearing one of those terrible gowns that open in the back so everyone can see your ass. As Ben stared at me, I kept seeing him and Katelyn in the halls. The whole school knew when they started dating sophomore year, because all of a sudden Katelyn went from the girl who played soccer really well to the girl who held Ben Tyler’s hand in the hallway.

We stared at each other for so long that eventually it got awkward. I asked the nurse to pull the curtain closed. 

Ben doesn’t say anything else to me during class. Mr. Salmon goes over the syllabus for the year and then says he’s retiring in the spring and plans to be sick a lot.

“Nothing’s new in physics anyway,” Mr. Salmon says. “Gravity is still gravity.” He sits down behind his desk, takes a swig of his coffee, and tells us to “read or something.” Maybe I won’t fail after all.

When the class ends, Ben walks out of the room without another look in my direction.

 

Video created by Genius House Media. Find them on Facebook and Twitter!

YA review: Forbidden by Lori Adams

ForbiddenForbidden: The Soulkeepers by Lori Adams

Publisher: Flirt

Format: Kindle ARC

Reviewed by: Onnica

Genre: YA

Final score: 5/10

It’s no secret that from time to time I just love, love, love to dive into a good paranormal YA book. Done well it can be so much fun – there’s the folklore, the romance and the coming of age of the heroine that makes her rise to her destiny and come into her own. So I was pretty excited about this book when I saw it on Netgalley and when the author made contact on Goodreads.

Plot: (taken from the book’s blurb) When Sophia St. James learns that she’ll be moving from Los Angeles to a podunk town somewhere in Connecticut for her senior year of high school, she isn’t expecting an otherworldly encounter. But there is more to Haven Hurst than meets the eye: it’s home to a family of Guardian Angels, and she is the only one who can see them in spirit form. Sophia soon realizes she wants to see much more of Michael, an irresistible yet volatile Guardian who seems drawn to her too.

As Michael battles his forbidden desire for the beautiful young newcomer, one of Hell’s most notorious Demon Knights arrives. Handsome and charismatic, Dante has come to claim the reincarnated soul of his lost lover trapped in Sophia. Cursed with the demon of Persuasion living inside him, Dante will use his seductive charms to lure Sophia into a dangerous game that ends with the kiss of death—unless Michael, who has captured Sophia’s heart, can now capture her soul.

Review: So although I love a bit of fantasy, usually that love doesn’t extend to angels/demons. It’s just a bridge too far and not even I can suspend my disbelief to that extent. Forbidden made me believe the realm of heavenly bodies and demons – that was not the problem. Ok, so what was the problem I hear you ask? First of all, it was the action – or rather, the inaction. A large portion of the book is Sophia and Michael engaging in terse conversations, sharing heated and hateful looks and then…nothing. One of the main ingredients in a fantasy book (in my humble opinion) should be action and the plot needs to move along at a steady pace. If there’s conflict between the hero and heroine then there need to be sparks and the heat should leap off the page at you. It started well, I was fully engaged then it flatlined until approximately 70% of the way through the book. Then suddenly I started getting answers and finally there was some action!

My second problem was that the plot chopped and changed, certain passages weren’t described well enough to evoke exactly what was going on – which led to me getting frustrated. The dialogue of Sophia’s friends (who I’m guessing were supposed to be latino?) was really over the top and made very little sense to me. Sophia was a typical teenage character and her tendency to whine and pick arguments at the wrong time did alienate me from her at times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t connect with this book. Its stilted pace and dialogue wasn’t enough to draw me in, nor was the character development. Ironically however, there was enough action towards the end of the book to make me curious about book two, Awaken. So for these reasons I’m giving it 5/10.

Review based on the following:

How much I liked the heroine: 5 – I didn’t really. Sophia has settled with her father in a smalltown following the death of her mother. She’s worried about her dad who seems to have checked out of life completely and she’s nursing her own scars from an ex-boyfriend with anger management issues. I know she was a high school student who has been through stuff, but she was immature, judgemental and lacked grit. I need a fantasy heroine to grab life by the balls and get on with it rather than whine!

How much I liked the love interest: 6 – it was sweet once they started speaking to each other. A little Twilighty in places and unfortunately their ‘sparring’ did not work for me. But, I think their relationship will be better in Awaken.

How believable was the plot: 5 – Ok, not really relevant here, as we’re talking demons and angels, but in more experienced hands I doubt I’d have had such a hard time believing the story and caring about the characters.

How much I liked the writing style/editing etc: 5 – As mentioned above, I had real problems with the dialogue and the fact that some chapters made very little sense. I stuck with it, but it was really hard work. I’ve never written a book, so I don’t want to criticise too much, but it was a struggle to persevere.

Final score: 5/10 – an interesting premise, if the subsequent books drive the plot forward and develop the characters, then it will be a good series. Sadly, I won’t be pursuing it.

YA Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just ListenYA Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Penguin Group, LLC

Format: Kindle, 2008

Reviewed by: Ellen

Genre: YA

Final Grade: 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 out of 10

Choosing your favorite Sarah Dessen book is more challenging than choosing your favorite cocktail – they’re all so awesome (plus cocktails are also easier cause many contain whiskey…not a fan). While Judith has already shared her favorite, I felt it’s time to introduce you all to MY favorite, a book I love so much that I almost purchased it when I found a copy in South Africa just because it was there, which contains one of my Top 3 YA Hotties Of All Time!

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YA Review: Aspen by Rebekah Crane

AspenAspen by Rebekah Crane

Publisher: In This Together Media

Format: Kindle ARC

Reviewed by: Onnica

Genre: YA

Final score: 9/10

 

Plot: Aspen Yellow-Sunrise Taylor (yes, that’s not a typo) does not want to remember what happened that night in Boulder, Colorado. A devastating car crash killed Katelyn Ryan, the girl who used to sit in front of her in class, while she survived. Not only does she need time to heal physically, she doesn’t know what to do about Katelyn Ryan’s ghost, who insists on following her around and haunting her every moment. After the accident, Aspen finds herself the focus of (nearly) everyone’s sympathy. People she never spoke to before are suddenly asking how she’s doing and she’s being invited to social events. This, for a girl who went unnoticed for years and liked it that way is an adjustment. The only person who seems to understand her anxiety is Ben Tyler, Katelyn’s boyfriend.

With their attraction to each other growing and the class speculation about will-they-won’t-they, Aspen feels as though she’s living the dead girl’s life – fortunately she and her two misfit friends and stoner mother Ninny are at hand to keep her in touch with reality, if only she could share the truth with them about what happened that night. But the funny thing about secrets is they always come out in the end.

Review: Do you ever have those moments where you fancy a trip down memory lane and head back to high school? I do every so often and usually these kind of books deal with really serious ‘issues’ and are all reminiscent of how awful high school actually was. This wasn’t (I’m happy to say) one of those books. Aspen is a quirky, funny and touching book about loss and dealing with the consequences of our actions. There’s no bullying in this book, no students making others’ lives hell – the school community actually gathers around to help Aspen and those affected by Katelyn’s death. If anything, the funny parts of the book are where Aspen is almost killed with kindness from her classmates – she even gets voted Homecoming Queen!

I suppose my only issue with the story was the fact that Aspen’s secrets started to make her ill – yet she wouldn’t tell anyone. Not her friends, her family or her therapist. It annoyed and frustrated me, but it was totally realistic in many ways. That’s why I give Aspen 8/10.

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine? 8: Aspen is a great character – she looks after her young, irresponsible mother, who’s always chasing losers and searching for her bong. She’s the responsible one who has to make sense of what’s happened. She’s smart, witty and I really liked her. She has her insecurities like most teenagers – her hair won’t stay straight and is mercilessly curly – she just wants to stay under the social radar, but her new-found popularity makes it impossible. She’s a very likeable heroine – and you don’t see that a lot.

How much did I like the love interest? 9: Ben was a sweetheart, the kind of guy we’d all have liked in high school. Popular without being a jerk, handsome, athletic and sensitive. He’s carrying his own secrets and anxieties and finds support and solace in Aspen. I liked the dialogue between he and Aspen – it rang true. This is how I’d imagine teens to speak to one another.

How believable is the plot? 8: Hard to answer this one – seeing ghosts isn’t my reality thank God – but the realism isn’t important here. It’s a great story and I wanted to keep reading to see whether Aspen was mad, having a nervous breakdown or had a brain tumour. The pace was consistent throughout and none of the story dragged.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc. 9: Rebekah Crane writes some seriously good-quality dialogue. I laughed out loud in places and felt all sentimental in others. I would happily read more from this author – she’s awesome.

How much did I want to keep reading? 9: I read and read and read until I found out what had happened and why Aspen was so messed up inside. I had guessed some of it, but this didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. There were plenty of secrets that came out at the end which made sense of everything.

Final score: 9/10 – a funny, thrilling story that made me smile, laugh and thank my lucky stars I wasn’t that popular in high school!

Aspen is out in June 2014.

YA Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black


Coldest Girl in Cold TownThe Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Format: Library Hardback

Reviewed by: Judith

Genre: YA Vampire

Final Score: 8/10

Judith’s thought process when picking out a book: “oooh, great cover! Sold! Wait…now, what? It’s about what?” A lot of times that awesome cover grabs me and sucks me in and then I’m stuck with a dud. Luckily that didn’t happen here! Look at that cover! It’s freaking-fan-tastic! And score! I was only just mildly confused and pleasantly surprised by this unique brand of vampires…

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YA Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

AlteredAltered by Jennifer Rush

Publisher: Hachette Book Group, January 1, 2013

Format: Kindle and Audio Book

Reviewed by: Ellen

Genre: Young Adult

Final Grade: 9/10

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The Immortal Circus by A.R Kahler

immortal circus

The Immortal Circus (Cirque des Immortels #1)

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, Inc

Format: Kindle edition

Reviewed by: Onnica

Genre: Paranormal

Final Score: 8/10

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