Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Terra Elan McVoy. BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS **Giveaway!! ***

I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour arranged by Literary Logistics for Terra Elan McVoy's new release BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS. (keep reading for your chance at a free copy of the book!!) I adored PURE, one of McVoy's previous books, so I was eager to dive into this one. 

Charlotte spends most of her time with boys. She manages and writes songs for a band made up entirely of boys. She has a best friend who's a boy and she studies with another boy. She has never had feelings for any of them until a new boy joins the band. She is suddenly aware that he isn't like the other guys. She isn't sure how to handle the electricity between them.

On top of those new feelings, her best guy friend suddenly begins acting strange and then proceeds to disappear from her life. It's hurtful because they were so close. All this time Charlotte loved how easy it was being friends with boys, particularly considering how some girl friends act.  But lately, the boys are confusing her more and more. What's a girl to do? Being friends with boys may not be so easy anymore.

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun book! I remembered some of the qualities I love about McVoy's writing. Her characters are so relatable. Plus, she has a way of perfectly indicating a characters feelings not only with laser sharp dialogue, but also with facial expressions. She has a way of making a scene multi-layered in a way that I really admire.

Also, I want to point out something that I'm not sure other people notice. Most of the main characters names matched their personalities perfectly. I'm not sure I can explain this other than to say that I like the character development right down to the accurate naming of each person. I realize that names can have different connotations for different people. But for me - every single one of these names fit right. I don't necessarily always notice that. But I did here. In addition to the naming, each character feels rich and wonderful.

I enjoyed spending time with Charlotte and all of her boys. The relationship issues between Charlotte, the different boys, and the girls rang true. I related to many of the challenges that came up. I also fell into the same pitfalls as a teen. It was nice to see Charlotte become confident enough to stop worrying about what the popular girls thought of her and to thrive at being herself. I cheered for her as she found and developed the musician within her, and you will too!

Enjoy this wonderful summer read. You will be inspired. You may even wish you could be friends with a few of these characters yourself. I know I do!

And now for a few words from the author Terra Elan McVoy about being friends with boys. She is sharing the top 10 reasons why being friends with boys is different from being friends with girls. I get the pleasure of sharing reason #9 with you right here: 


Differences Between Being Friends With Boys, and Being Friends with Girls 
Terra Elan McVoy Blog Tour 2012

Ever since my novel, Being Friends With Boys was released, I’ve been asked a lot about friendships between guys and girls. Is it possible, for one thing (duh, yes), and how is being friends with boys different than being friends with girls. I happen to be very lucky to have had friendships with both guys and girls all through middle- and high school, and continue to have fantastic friendships with men (and women) to this day. Though I think the value and intensity of guy/girl friendships and girl/girl friendships are definitely equal, there certainly are some differences. Follow my blog tour to read a few of my thoughts on how being friends with boys isn’t quite the same as being friends with girls!

9. It’s easy to confuse liking someone as a friend for liking them another way. For me, this is the biggest problem with being friends with boys. The things we look for in friendship are so, so similar to what we want in a romantic relationship: he makes you laugh, she’s a good listener, you enjoy doing things together, he inspires and challenges you, she remembers things about you, etc. Pretty much the only difference between good friends and good romances is the whole physical fireworks part. So sometimes, especially at the beginning of a friendship, it’s easy to confuse the “Holy cow I really dig this person,” for “Holy cow I want to make out with this person.” Hopefully, if you are truly good friends, there’s room for this confusion in your relationship, and if one or the other of you goes through the mix-up (or even if you both do for awhile), you can work together and get beyond it.

So dear readers, do you agree with Terra? Have you had trouble distinguishing between liking someone and LIKING someone? Can girls and guys really be friends? Of course, this is a centuries old debate. But many women and men make it work quite well. I think it's much harder as a teen, though, having encountered some of these "confusions" myself as a teen. What do you think?

**And now for the chance at a FREE copy of BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS to enjoy for yourself! * * * * Just simply share with us in the comments your opinion of #9 (confusing liking for LIKING). Tell us whatever you'd like. Perhaps you have a funny story about this type of confusion. Or maybe you absolutely KNOW that Girls and Guys CANNOT be friends and that those crazies who claim to be friends are merely lying to themselves. Or maybe you think that OF COURSE they can be friends and why are the rest of us even wasting time asking??

Comment by midnight July 1st. I will then randomly select one of you to receive the prize of a hardback copy of BEING FRIENDS WITH BOYS!!  Go forth and comment!



Connect with the book in the following places:
Goodreads   Terra's Website    Terra's Twitter    

Blog Tour Stops   Lit Logistics


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Suzanne Weyn. INVISIBLE WORLD

I adored Suzanne Weyn's DISTANT WAVES, so when I saw this new historical fiction by her, I snatched it up right away.

She chose the Salem Witch Trial era for her setting in INVISIBLE WORLD. Weyn delivers again with rich characters leading adventurous lives.

Elsabeth James has some powers that she isn't altogether sure about. Is she a witch or is she merely a psychic? She isn't certain. But surely having powers can't make you inherently evil, can it? Her father has been experimenting with her powers since she was a young girl. He believes her abilities are explained by science, and he intends to prove it with research and statistics. Her governess, Bronwyn, told her stories about how her grandmother and great grandmother were persecuted for being witches. Bronwyn warns her to be careful, so she doesn't end up in a similar situation.

When a famous scientist offers a research opportunity for Elsabeth and her father, the family sets off on a months long journey from their home in England to America. Elsabeth's journey has several tragic detours until she reaches America. Her life is threatened many times, and she must continually dig deep to find the courage to survive.

I really enjoyed this one! One of the traits I like about Weyn's writing is how she accomplishes so much with few words. It's a "tight" story. She uses just the right amount of words - not too many and not too few. But don't let that fool you; The story still has depth.

The characters come to life brilliantly, as does the setting. As with DISTANT WAVES, this is a story of a particular time in history, but the story becomes so much more. I loved Elsabeth and her relationship with Bronwyn. Plus, you get an idea about people's differing points of view during this time period. We have Elsabeth's scientist father, the Puritans in Salem, as well as the island people and slave owners. Everyone has a different opinion what characteristics prove one is a witch and whether or not a witch is evil. Fascinating!

My review copy is an advance copy from TLA. The book is due out in August. Check it out! This one's great for readers who like historical fiction.

Check out the other books by Suzanne Weyn at her website here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Neal Shusterman. UNWIND.

I've been hearing about UNWIND for several years. But after hearing Neal Shusterman talk about it on a dystopian panel at TLA this year, I told myself that I would finally read it. I now understand what all the hype was about.

UNWIND is set some years in the future after a second civil war, called the Heartland War, has taken place. The war was fought on one single issue. Abortion.

Peace was only negotiated after a compromise called the "Bill of Life" was created. It was designed to satisfy both the pro-choice and pro-life sides of the war.

No one would be allowed to have an abortion at all. But, when a child reaches the age of thirteen, parents have an option to retroactively "abort" their child. This is called unwinding. When a parent decides to have their child unwound, the decision is final. No appeals. No arguments. It's done.

According to the law, when the decision is made, the child goes to a harvest camp where all of their parts must be saved - 100%. These parts are then used to help others when needed for accidents, disease or any other reason. So, the argument is that this is different from abortion because the child isn't really dying. When a person is unwound, they are still living, but in many different forms and helping other people in the process.

Our main characters Connor, Risa and Lev have all been sentenced to be unwound for various reasons. Connor is a smart kid, but has gotten into a lot of trouble. So his parents decided they'd had enough of him. Risa was an orphan living in the state home and due to budget cuts, they decided they couldn't afford her anymore. Lev was his parent's tenth child and is being unwound as a tithe.

They escape on the way to the harvest camp and discover an underground railroad for other Unwinds. If a teen makes it to eighteen, then they can no longer be unwound. So the goal is to stay hidden until that time.

Yes, the premise seems far-fetched at first, simply because the mere suggestion that a parent could ever want to "be rid of" their child is foreign to most of us. (not to mention heartbreaking) But you see how the society in the book got to this point. It's ridiculous, of course, but that's part of why the book is so relevant today. It's a cautionary tale, for sure.

Shusterman is a brilliant author. These characters are fully formed and alive. The story is fleshed out beautifully. I even appreciated how unique the airplane setting is for a major section of the book. I love the smart conversations among the teens. There was a creepy, devastatingly sad part near the end that I don't want to spoil here, but wow! You definitely will feel a huge range of emotions reading this. You certainly won't ever forget it.

This would make a phenomenal movie! Of course, every time I say that, I find out that a movie is in development, already. And...it's true this time too.
However, the trailer below is not from the forthcoming movie. It's a fan-made book trailer. There are  many, but I picked this one because of the creepy feeling it gives you. Enjoy!

***UPDATE*** Yay, this was good timing! I see there's a sequel due out August 28th! I had no idea it's actually going to be a trilogy. Supercool! Book cover below:



Monday, June 11, 2012

Lisa McMann. CRYER'S CROSS

Cryer's Cross has a unique setting and an interesting main character. The town has a population of 212, which means that our main character Kendall attends a one room high school with only 24 students in all four grades. When one teen girl disappears, it makes a huge impact on such a small community. Foul play is such a rare occurrence. The whole town searches for Tiffany, but after five days there are still no clues and no suspects.

Kendall returns to school and tries to get back into her normal routine, which is a little different from your typical teen. She's OCD, so she likes things just right and in order. Fortunately, this trait may help her solve the mystery of Tiffany's disappearance, because she picks up clues that others miss. When someone close to her disappears, she becomes even more intent on solving they mystery.

I really enjoyed this mystery. It has a touch of romance and a rich sense of setting. I felt at home in this small town. Kendall and her friends and family are interesting and likeable characters. In fact, they really make the book, since there wasn't as much action as you might expect for a mystery. It's also a little creepy (in a good way!) and a lot suspenseful! You'll most likely want to read it in one sitting.

One little note about character names. One character's name is Jacian. Even though the character tells us how to pronounce it, it doesn't feel right to me. I went several pages having trouble pronouncing it in my head. So, I made my own pronunciation and then I was able to go smoothly throughout the rest of the book. Character names that are hard to pronounce annoy me. But, I got over it here. At least we got the character telling us how to pronounce it, which is helpful for sure.

Lisa Mcmann's WAKE trilogy has been popular in my library, so I plan to read those too.

Check out Lisa McMann's websites and her other books here.
You'll get an idea of the creepy-factor when you watch the trailer:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chrissie Wellington. A LIFE WITHOUT LIMITS: A World Champion's Journey

"One of the biggest fears of a male pro triathlete is getting 'chicked' by a lady. For the first time in history that fear applies to nearly all male professionals. Chrissie is that good."
-Lance Armstrong

I don't review a lot of nonfiction here, because my main focus is young adult literature. However, from time to time, I feel compelled to share some of the nonfiction I read. This is one of those times.

Everyone loves a great biography, young adults included. And with triathlons becoming more and more popular, this autobiography by Chrissie Wellington is perfect timing.

What I found so astonishing is that Chrissie didn't start at a really young age knowing that wanted to be a professional athlete. In fact, she was 30 when she raced her first triathlon! This is just unheard of for athletes. She had another successful career already. But one thing led to another and she decided to run the London marathon for charity, inspired by a friend. Well, she shocked herself by finishing with a time of 3:08! Uh, yeah. Her first marathon.

Then she went on to do pretty well in triathlons, but then her coach signed her up for her first Ironman to be raced only 10 months after becoming a triathlete. She went on to win that Ironman.  She proceeded to race 12 Ironmans after that. And she has won every single one. (4 of those being the Kona World Championship). It's pretty accurate to say that she's a talented athlete. But what's really inspiring is how many obstacles she's had in her races. She's crashed in a race and still come back to win. She's had flat tires in races and still come back to win. She's had broken bones and cracked ribs too close to race day, but still went on to win. It's flat out inspiring whether you're an athlete or not.

Since I'm a newbie to triathlons myself (1 year), I knew I would enjoy this book. But I really had no idea what I was in for. I was happy that I didn't know beforehand much about Chrissie, because I really enjoyed the suspense while reading. Another inspiring aspect of Chrissie is her heart. Her former career involved social development in poverty stricken areas of the world. Now that she has a voice, she's involved in several charities. She has said many times that champions come and go, but whether she does something positive with her success is what really matters.

Here's a snippet from her website:
"Sport has a tremendous power – and can be a force for considerable change. I feel very strongly that as a professional triathlete my impact and message should be wider than my performance on the race course, and last longer than my athletic career.

Triathlon is unique in that the professional athletes get to compete simultaneously with the amateur athletes. And as much as many athletes are inspired by the accomplishments of the professionals, we too are encouraged and inspired by the amateurs that we get to share the stage with."
She's an incredibly inspiring person, as well as an inspiring athlete. The book is well-written. I enjoyed the flow of the storytelling. Chrissie's honesty about her early challenges with eating disorders will be helpful to many readers. I also feel how funny she is and know for sure that she would be a lot of fun to hang out with!

This is a champion's story you won't soon forget.
For more about Chrissie go here to her website.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rae Carson. THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS: 300th BOOK REVIEWED!!

What a wonderful book to mark this milestone! THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is the 300th book I've reviewed for this blog. And it happens to be a spectacular debut by Rae Carson!

Elisa is the bearer of the Godstone, the chosen one. One person is chosen every hundred years to bear the stone and perform an act of service for her people. Elisa still wonders why she was chosen when her graceful, beautiful sister, Alodia, seems like the more obvious choice. Even though they are both daughters of the king, Alodia seems more the natural princess.

Elisa is even more confused when her father marries her off to become queen in the neighboring kingdom. Surely her sister is the more appropriate daughter to help rule an entire country. But when she realizes that her new husband wants her to be the savior for his people, she begins to understand her role. In fact, she's just getting used to the idea of being a wife and queen when her life takes a huge detour. During the detour, she begins to realize just how many groups are hunting for the "chosen one" and that some do not care whether they find their prey dead or alive. 

The continual challenges thrown Elisa's way help to build her confidence. She slowly begins to realize that she is more than a frumpy little sister. She begins to realize that only she can help her people with the coming war. Even so, Elisa still worries whether she will succeed in her act of service or if she will she fail herself and everyone counting on her.

Elisa is one of my favorite characters in recent years. She is smart, spunky, and never complains when she is challenged beyond what she thinks she can handle. I also love the new friends that she makes. There are many layers to uncover with a few of the characters. The story is so engaging that it kept me up late flipping pages anxious to find out what would happen next. 

Read it! Trust me on this - you will adore Elisa, her friends, and her story. 

Read more about the author at her gorgeous website here. I'm thrilled to discover that this is the first novel in a trilogy. The sequel is due out in September. Plus, we get a digital novelette in July! It's a prequel told from the point of view of Elisa's sister, Alodia. I can't wait!

Check out the video of the author's teaser video below: