Review: Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . .

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Review: Game by Barry Lyga

When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz's door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can't say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple - - and its police force running scared with no leads. Meanwhile, Jazz's dad Billy is watching...and waiting.

Review: If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch

A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen year-old Carey can remember. Now Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go…

Review: 17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma

Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace.

Review: Fuse by Julianna Baggott

When the world ended, those who dwelled within the Dome were safe. Inside their glass world the Pures live on unscarred, while those outside—the Wretches—struggle to survive amidst the smoke and ash.

Review: Sins and Needles by Karina Halle

When Camden discovers Ellie’s plan to con him, he makes her a deal she doesn’t dare refuse, but her freedom comes with a price and it’s one that takes both Ellie and Camden down a dangerously erotic road.

Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Book Girls Don't Cry: What I Look For In a Blog

Inspired by Book Buzzers, Book Girls Don't Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don't miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:

Be attractive, baby! *winks*

Most people will start a blog because they want to share their opinion, so it's important that your blog (design, content etc) attracts readers. What you should really aim for are regular visitors as they're the ones who are your loyal blog supporters and readers. How do you get people to come back? After visiting tons of blogs in my 2 years of blogging - and even before - I've seen it all, and some things will attract me to come back, other things will make sure I never do.

How to attract readers:
  • Content! I like content that is a mix of interesting bookish things, though as I prefer reading reviews I'm attracted to blogs who post at least 2-3 reviews every week - to me reviews are the raison d'être of book blogging. I also enjoy discussion posts and some memes (I like Top Ten Tuesday, WoW, and STS). I think the key for memes is moderation; if a blog only has meme after meme after meme, it gets boring and lacks personality. Content should also show effort and that you care about what you're sharing.

  • An attractive design! This doesn't mean you have to pay an arm and a leg for a designer, in fact a lot of simple designs that take minimal effort can be very nice. I guess I should say more "a design that doesn't give people headaches". Firstly, white on black is hard on the eyes and while I won't not read a white on back text, I won't read a lot of it. I can't. It physically hurts my eyeballs! I also find it hard to read when the fonts are way too fancy (usually hard to read) or bright colors. No one likes to read bright lime green text!

  • Clean sidebar! This is a huge pet peeve of mine but I can't stand when things are all over the place on a sidebar. Similar go together!! For instance, a Facebook icon that is at a totally different place from the Twitter icon irks me (and this is something I deal with daily when visiting for tours), it makes it so hard to find you online which is how you make blog friends and connections! And if you're going to put buttons of blogs you like, why not put em together? One here, one over there, another one randomly on top of everything makes no sense, and if you don't make sense I'm not interested in figuring you out. Moving on, sidebar widgets like moving cats or fish-tanks have a sole purpose of making a site slow to load. Those book countdown widgets, too, can slow your site down tremendously if you have more than a couple. This reminds me, I went to a blog once that had a Hunger Games countdown with sound effects and I almost shat my pants - yeah I didn't go back there. My point: Keep your sidebar clean, logical, and to the point!

  • Socialize! Who wants to talk to a wall? Well aside from Facebook? No matter how nice your design looks or how good your content is, if you don't show you care or even notice people are visiting, they're likely to stop coming. If you get a comment, you should reciprocate, especially if the person is a regular commenter. If someone asks a question, reply direct or via Twitter - that's just common courtesy. I know some recommend replying to every comment but in my opinion 1) if you've got  the native Blogger commenting people don't get notified of your reply so I never saw the point (unless they asked a question and thus are likely to come back to check) and 2) a lot of people will appreciate comment backs more than a generic reply if you don't really have anything to add, so I prefer commenting back on their blog instead. I also like people who show an online presence on Twitter; that is how I made almost all of my blogging friends. It's how you really get to know and connect with them, and you get a bigger grasp at their personality. I'm not saying you have to be constantly on Twitter chatting about, but it's good to show your face every day or 2 - and if someone @'s you, reply!

Those are the main things that will be deciding factors on who will appear in my favorite list in Bloglovin and Feedly ;)

What do YOU look for in a blog?
What makes you come back, or run away?

We're looking for topic suggestions for future BGDC posts! What would YOU like to discuss (can be anything from vents to advice)?
Leave a suggestion via this short form!

You know you love me!
Xoxo, Book Girl!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Demanding Ransom Tour Stop: Guest Post + Giveaway

Today as part of the Demanding Ransom Blog Tour - Kismet Book Touring - I've got the lovely Megan Squires on the blog with some fun facts about herself! She loves Breaking Bad, so now we're BFFs! Have a look and enter to win before you go! :)

Demanding Ransom
Megan Squires
Genre: New Adult Romance
Publication date: June 2013

Sometimes life takes things away from you. In nineteen-year-old Maggie Carson’s case, it’s taken more than its fair share.

Determined to move forward, Maggie embarks on her first year of college, hoping to finally put her past behind her, exactly where it belongs.

But that’s hard to do when the present is just as difficult. And even harder when someone like Ran, the gorgeous paramedic that keeps crossing Maggie’s path, challenges her to face things head on, rather than bury them like she always does.

Ran hasn’t had a perfect life either. But there’s something different about him, and something different about the way he makes Maggie feel. Maybe meeting Ran is life’s little gift for Maggie—a sort of consolation prize for enduring everything she's had to go through.

But things don’t come easy for Maggie. Why should love be the exception? And just when everything starts to settle, it’s all turned on its head once again.

If there is one thing Ran has taught Maggie, it’s that you can’t sit on the sidelines of your own existence. When life takes something that’s yours, you have every right to demand it back.

Only for Maggie, that is easier said than done.

Guest Post by Megan Squires

10 Random Facts About Megan Squires (in no particular order)

I have never seen any of the original Star Wars. Or any Indiana Jones. Or The Sound of Music. Call me un-American if you will. I did, however, seen the Baz Lurhmann  Romeo and Juliet seven times in the movie theater. So I think that proves that I’m not only a bit of a creature of habit, but when I like something I tend to become a bit obsessed.

I was an International Relations major in college, yet have never really traveled internationally.  Well, that’s not entirely true. I did go to Costa Rica for two weeks when I was in my early twenties, but other than that, I’m a bit of a homebody.

I photograph newborn babies for a living. For the past five years, I’ve been a photographer and have a studio where I get to snuggle and photograph brand new babies. Other than writing, I think I have the best job on earth.

I write about my life. Sort of. I typically can’t get away from pulling past experiences into my stories. The snowboard scene in Demanding Ransom where they shut down the lift? Yeah. That happened. Luckily, it was with my best friend and not a guy, but still mortifying nonetheless.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was a Diet Coke addict. As in I would wake up and have a can every morning (and then several more throughout the day). Then I just decided to quite cold turkey. After getting past the initial few days of caffeine withdrawals, it wasn’t as difficult to kick as I thought it would be.

My first book boyfriend was Noah Calhoun from the Notebook. And I think he’ll always have a piece of my heart, though Jace Lightwood and Augustus Waters have successfully edged their way in.

This September I’ll celebrate my 10-year anniversary with my hubby.  And we’ll be going to Italy, so I can finally put all the international relating to use!

I wrote my first book on a whim. My best friend had just finished reading the Hunger Games and she said she needed another “escape” book, so I thought, “Hey, why not?” I was up that night outlining what later became Traced.

I’m obsessed with Breaking Bad. And have an unhealthy addiction to Jesse Pinkman. So excited for the final season to start in August!
I wrote Demanding Ransom in just under 30 days. I still don’t know how I did that, especially when I look at The Rules of Regret (my current work) and see that I’ve been writing it since February. I guess when inspiration hit, it really slugged me with that one!

About the Author

Megan Squires lives with her husband and two children just outside of Sacramento, California. A graduate from the University of California, Davis, Megan is now a full-time mother, wife, and dreamer – though her characters don’t often give her much opportunity to sleep.

This post is part of the Demanding Ransom blog tour:

Monday, June 24th - Just Reading For Fun 
Tuesday, June 25th - Nose Graze
Wednesday, June 26th - The Irish Banana
Thursday, June 27th - Proserpine Graving Books
Friday, June 28th - The Bookswarm

Monday, July 1st - Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, July 2nd Supernatural Snark 
Wednesday, July 3rd - Krista's Dusk Jacket 
Thursday, July 4th - Basia's Book Shelf 
Friday, July 5th - Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Monday, July 8th - Rose's Book Corner
Tuesday, July 9th - Confessions From Romaholics
Wednesday, July 10th - Xpresso Reads
Thursday, July 11th - The Book Cellar
Friday, July 12th - Selkie Reads Stories 

Waiting on Wednesday (85)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine 
and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 

My pick this week:

Perfect Ruin
 Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Genre: YA Sci Fi
Publication date: October 1st 2013
by Simon & Schuster BfYR

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

Whoa this sounds really cool and different for a dystpian/sci-fi/whatevers. I like the murder mystery included in it, too!

What are you waiting on?
Link me up! :)

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Review: Nomad by J.L. Bryan

J.L. Bryan
Genre: NA Time-Travel Dystopia
Publication date: July 26th 2013

A new dystopian novel from the author of Jenny Pox - coming July 26.

They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.

By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight
-A copy was provided by J.L. Bryan for review-

JL Bryan has always impressed me with the level of originality and excitement he works into his novels (big fan of Jenny Pox), and I was yet again taken aback, this time by a time-travel dystopian that is full of thrills and has a kick-ass heroine to boot!

Time-travel dystopian! When I saw those words together my mind kind of flipped, making me unsure of what to expect. For one, time-travel is nothing to play around with if you're not fully committed to deliver. I have a low level of patience for ignored time loops and paradoxes, and while I'm still wrapping my head around the details of JL's take on it with Nomads and the universe taking care of itself, it's one of very few time-travel plots that I can say I'm ok with (and "ok" is about the best you'll get). Some things still hurt my brain if I think about it too hard, but that's time-travel for ya.

Taking us straight into the action, this story begins with Raven suddenly finding herself in 2013 with no recollection of where she is, nor where she's from. It doesn't take long for her to realize she's in unfamiliar terrain, though, with old-fashioned… everything and bizarre gadgets in her pockets. It also takes just as long for trouble to find her! Raven's personality and smarts made it easy for me to take a liking to her. She's quick on her feet and intelligent in a way that completely fits with where she's really from - the future is not a pretty place. It also makes her loyal to her cause. However great of a protagonist she is, though, she brought out my enthusiasm more than my emotions. Perhaps due to the nature of the plot with its distant past and new present, together with flashbacks and the Nomads theory, it made it hard to get attached with this nonlinear character building. I did, nevertheless, find myself intrigued and unexpectedly enthused by the peculiar romance that she stumbles upon with its sensual pull and lingering sense of wrongness. I was also surprisingly content with the direction JL decided to take with these two.

This plot brings in a layered butterfly effect that requires pinpointing what needs to be changed to bring about a full metamorphosis of Raven's future. This means most of the book takes place in our day and age, where she wants to try to make things better with a nudge - or bullet - but what if it isn't enough? Or makes it worse? Aside from this fun to ponder time-travel bit, I loved learning about the future Raven came from; especially the realistic plausibility of it all. The advancement in technology, the history that lead to this dystopian society, even the fashion, it's a solidly imagined world that is made believably futuristic without any overkill.

Highly entertaining with a time-travel aspect that is just as fascinating as it is perplexing, Nomad is a unique dystopian that's perfect for reluctant dystopian readers, or those who just want a different mix! You might as well pick it up; this book is in your future! (I've seen it!)

FYI - This book is considered New Adult; college life, sex, violence, and a few swear words thrown in.

4 Hot Espressos

Monday, July 08, 2013

Review: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

 In the Shadow of Blackbirds
Cat Winters
Genre: YA Historical Thriller
Publication date: April 2nd 2013
by Amulet Books

In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.
-A copy was provided by Amulet Books for review-

It excites me so when I come across a novel that shows me there can still be books that thoroughly stand out from any other in its originality and outstanding story-telling. I can not even believe that In the Shadow of Blackbirds is Cat's debut novel!

What I love most from this book is how, through impressive research, Cat achieves an exceptionally poignant historical atmosphere from a time that saw through so much death and horror. The fall of 1918 had not only the highest death toll from the Spanish Flu which killed over 50 million people (some sources even say up to 100 million), but it was also in the throes of the first World War. Having been fascinated by an epidemic flu that, even to this day, is seen as unusual without a known origin, I have fell upon surprisingly few books on the matter, so I was instantly drawn to this novel. And I'm highly impressed with the level of realism and drive it endorsed in showing us exactly what people were going through in those god-awful days. From frantic - but in a way necessary - beliefs in thrifty home remedies; to face masks that hides you from the world - and you to it; to the number of bodies being picked up like garbage every evening. We're brought into a time that was, in the best of descriptions, gray.

Not only do we see the horrors of this invisible killer, we're also in the midst of Word War I. This, too, is full of unbelievable sadness. Cat is not afraid to show us the real ugly truths. Through the eyes of Mary Shelley - an innocent 16 year old girl - we experience the longing that comes from having a loved one at war, and we see the grim consequences of this war during her visits to the recovering veterans' ward when we meet soldiers who have been irreversibly damaged; not just physically, but mentally. And that is what In the Shadow of Blackbirds is really about: the fragility of the mind. Even while reading, you're forever questioning what is real, and what isn't.

Throughout, Mary becomes such a compelling character that I found myself easily lost in the ways she's seeing this bitter world. She despises the masks that she sees as the face of an unflinching villain. She digresses, at least to herself, from the new "patriotic" ways, believing what her father was saying about doing what is right instead of what's safe. She finds bravery when she has nothing else. Furthermore, I loved the side characters who, no matter how small the role, had great impact in the story, insuring their memorability.

When Mary Shelley's sweetheart starts haunting her, this turns an already bleak story into one that is positively eerie. There could not have been a better atmosphere set for a plot such as this. Along with hair-raising scenes that range from cryptic to horrific, the book includes several grim photographs that make its eeriness even moreso. Plus, when you think about the real surge of spirit photography from a desperate time with desperate mourners, the book doesn't stray very far from reality. Cat simply takes history and turns beliefs into actuality.

Cat Winters was immediately added on my "auto-buy" list upon finishing the last page. Her talent is proven undeniable in this unique, well-researched, and evocative novel that is In the Shadow of Blackbirds.

Also, isn't it odd that I was reading this book while sick with the flu? *looks around warily*

5 Hot Espressos