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Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Review: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemp
Publication Date: May 31, 2012
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Format: eARC
Pages: 224
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
A romantic and empowering book about bullying

Noelle's life is all about survival. Even her best friend doesn't know how much she gets bullied, or the ways her mom neglects her. Noelle's kept so much about her life a secret for so long that when her longtime crush Julian Porter starts paying attention to her, she's terrified. Surely it's safer to stay hidden than to risk the pain of a broken heart. But when the antagonism of her classmates takes a dramatic turn, Noelle realizes it's time to stand up for herself--and for the love that keeps her holding on.

Keep Holding On is the first novel by Susane Colasanti I've ever read, and I have a feeling it won't be the last. It's not the best book I've read this year, by a long shot, but it contains something special that I can barely put name to. It was powerful, relatable on various different levels. And more than anything, this book has meaning.

Bullying is something I have absolutely zero experience with. I am a lucky teenager, because the majority can't say that. But even though I've never been bullied, I can relate to this book in ways I never even realized. Like, feeling like you're not good enough. There are always people out there waiting to belittle you, make you feel like you're not worth the air you breathe. That's something Noelle, the protagonist, battles a lot with. Another thing I can relate to is feeling gross. I know this is weird, but I think everyone understands. I'm pretty sure everyone has something about them where they think, "If anybody found out about this, they'd probably never talk to me again." Susane Colasanti really gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of people that most books overlook. The cringe-worthy stuff. The things that make people more than rainbows and unicorns. 

Noelle was a character I enjoyed reading about, but didn' necessarily love. She is constantly bullied. The kids at school call her rotten eggs, they make fun of her scarce lunch, and they push her around. And the primary reason they pick on her so relentlessly is because she is poor. How sad is that? Tormented for something she can't even control? Sure, she did her best to hide the worst parts of her life, but she could only manage to thinly veil them. So, ya know, I really did feel for her. I wanted so badly to tell everybody that messed with her to EFF OFF. And I admired that she gathered the courage to get dressed and go to school every morning, that she didn't give up. She was strong in that way, but she was also crippled by her fear. When others were getting bullied, she was too scared to be there for them. She thought that if she stood up for them, or even if she just provided a shoulder to cry on, the bullies would just target her more. I get it, I do. But I didn't like it. Then there is Julian. He wants to be an architect, the kind who designs crazy houses with trees coming out of them and stuff. He is a total sweetheart throughout the novel, even when he was hurt by Noelle's actions. He is always fighting for Noelle and defending her. He knows what she is going through, and he doesn't care. He just wants to be with her and be there for her. The dude even designs Noelle's dream house for her. He is amazing and nonjudgmental.
There's a balance of awful and fabulous secondary characters. Sherae and Simon are Noelle's good friends. And when I say good, I mean the best! They are there for her through everything, even when she doesn't realize it. They try to do things for her in ways she won't realize because they don't want to embarrass her. Like Simon always buys Noelle lunch because he knows there's no food in her fridge. Sherae puts these gift baskets together with things Noelle really needs like socks and whatnot. Simon was probably my favorite character, with his wacky fashion sense and passion for the school newspaper, but Sherae reminds me a lot of my friends. I can't even count the number of times my friends have been willing to buy stuff and pay for me when I had no money on me. Noelle is luck to have such great people in her life, but she also has to deal with people like her mother, who is a horrid creature. She blames Noelle for everything bad in her life. She hardly feeds her daughter, and does nothing but complain. She's utterly awful and it is difficult for me to fathom that there are actually parents out there like her.

The ending left me with a smile on my face and a satisfied hum in my belly. Things aren't perfect for Noelle, but they're looking up. The growth in this novel is tremendous. Noelle is beginning to realize that she deserves happiness. Her friends have learned more about her life and of course they're more willing than ever to be there for her. Even her horrible mother is making an effort. So there's no shiny ribbon tied in a perfect bow, but it's better that way. 

I'd recommend this book to anyone. Like I said, it's not the best book in the entire universe, but I can almost guarantee everybody can take something away from it. It is definitely worth the read. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Giveaway: ARC of Jersey Angel

Jersey Angel by Beth Ann Bauman
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: May 8, 2012

Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Format: ARC
Pages: 208
It's the summer before senior year and the alluring Angel is ready to have fun. She's not like her best friend, Inggy, who has a steady boyfriend, good grades, and college plans. Angel isn't sure what she wants to do yet, but she has confidence and experience beyond her years. Still, her summer doesn't start out as planned. Her good friend Joey doesn't want to fool around anymore, he wants to be her boyfriend, while Angel doesn't want to be tied down. As Joey pulls away, and Inggy tours colleges, Angel finds herself  spending more time with Inggy's boyfriend, Cork. With its cast of vivid and memorable characters, this tale from the Jersey shore is sure to make some waves.

I was chosen as an Ambuzzador for Random Buzzers and they provided me with 2 ARCs of Jersey Angel. One for me to read and review, and one for me to give to you! Also, check out this chapter sampler if you are hesitant to enter or whatever! 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On the Island Event: Review & Giveaway

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
Series: Standalone
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Plume
Format: eARC
Pages: 319
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He's almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn't bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family - and a stack of overdue assignments - instead of his friends. 

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

I'm not sure how to describe this book. On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves doesn't have any qualities that truly stunned me or made me want to swoon from the sheer amazingness. The whole "stranded on a deserted island" thing has certainly been done before, and the plot almost felt like a combination of all the survival books I've read (which, admittedly, isn't a whole lot), with a hot heaping of romance. Yet, I still gobbled it up like a chocolate-addict gobbles up a triple chocolate cheesecake, drowning in chocolate syrup, and topped with chocolate chips. In other words, I devoured it relentlessly.

Alright, confession time. I absolutely adore reading about scandalous relationships in books. Relationships between step-siblings, students and teachers, a large age difference. As long as it's not too gross or creepy I'm ALL FOR IT. That's probably why I was so eager to read On the Island. T.J. is sixteen when the plane crashes, and Anna is thirty. T.J. thinks Anna is beautiful, but Anna only sees T.J. as a sixteen year old boy. But their chemistry is definitely there throughout the entire novel, sizzling like butter in a pan. Even in the beginning, when you know it would be so grossly wrong for anything to happen between them. T.J. rescues Anna after the crash, bringing her to shore when she's unconscious, when it would have been so much easier to just save himself. Then, as the novel progresses, they both take care of each other. Treating wounds, working together for food and shelter, sharing drinking water. Sometimes it was easy to forget the 13.5 year gap between them, because together they compliment each other. The entire time I'm thinking, "OHEMGEE GET IT ON NOW!" And when something finally happens between them it's like, finally. FINALLY. Also, they're on the island for three and a half years, so it's not like anything is rushed.

The pacing in this book is fan-frackin-tabulous. The continuous rise and fall was what kept the story engaging. Things on the island would finally start looking up, then all of a sudden BAM. Any hope of survival is in the sand. I couldn't wait to see what challenges T.J. and Anna would overcome next.

This book is a good branch between adult and YA. It's a bit more explicit than most YA books, but not nearly as explicit as most adult books. I'd definitely recommend it to older teens, or really anybody who is comfortable with more mature content.

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Thank you for participating in the ON THE ISLAND Event! This week in addition to reviews and posts, select blogs are hosting a word from the author's favorite quotes in the book as a Scavenger Hunt! There is one quote from Anna and one from T.J. Visit each stop this week to find the hidden words (they will be numbered for order) and after July 22nd, submit your answer to the quotes here! Random winners for books and swag will be chosen and notified by July 29th.

Also, next week July 23-27, there will be even more events and chances to win the book and swag!

  • Monday, July 23 at 8:00 pm CST - Chat with the author Tracey Garvis Graves! We will be chatting with the author on Savor Chat: Come join us! (You can sign in with twitter or facebook)
  • Each day look at #ontheisland on twitter for random shout outs to win books and swag! @Tale_of_Reviews
  • ON THE ISLAND releases in bookstores Tuesday, July 17th! If you see the book in stores or 'in the wild' take a picture. Please tweet it and use hashtag #ontheisland. Or you can post it to facebook! Please submit twitter and facebook links of your post/tweet here!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blog Tour: Dante's Girl by Courtney Cole

Series: The Paradise Diaries #1
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: June 22, 2012
Publisher: Lakehouse Press
Pages: 356

I have spent every summer since I was ten years old with my father in London. Every summer, since I was ten years old, has been uneventful and boring.
Until this year.

And this year, after a freak volcanic eruption strands me far from home, I have learned these things:

1. I can make do with one outfit for three days before I buy new clothes.
2. If I hear the phrase, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,” even one more time, I might become a homicidal maniac.
3. I am horribly and embarrassingly allergic to jellyfish.
4. I am in love with Dante Giliberti, who just happens to be the beautiful, sophisticated son of the Prime Minister of a Mediterranean paradise.
5. See number four above. Because it brings with it a whole slew of problems and I’ve learned something from every one of them.

Let’s start with the fact that Dante’s world is five light-years away from mine. He goes to black-tie functions and knows the Prime Minister of England on a first name basis. I was born and raised on a farm in Kansas and wear cut-off jeans paired with cowboy boots. See the difference?

But hearts don’t care about differences. Hearts want what they want. And mine just wants to be Dante’s girl.

My heart just might be crazy.
Goodreads ~  Amazon ~ B&N

Here's a part from the first chapter that always makes me giggle!
I’m Reece,” I answer with a sigh, already anticipating his reaction. “Yes, I know it’s a boy’s name.”

“You’re not a boy,” Dante observes.  “Most definitely not a boy.”

Is that a note of appreciation in his voice?  Surely not. I look like a bedraggled Shih Tzu.

“No, I’m not,” I agree.  “I just don’t know that my dad ever got that memo.”

I look past Dante and find that he is alone.  He seems to be about my age so that’s a little unusual in these circumstances.  My parents had flown me as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ across the ocean for years, but other people’s parents are usually a little squeamish about that.

“I’m sure that fact hasn’t escaped him,” Dante tells me in amusement.  Why do his eyes have to sparkle so much?   I usually go for brown-eyed guys.  But this boy is most certainly making me re-think that stance.

Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could.

She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds.

Every Last Kiss is her debut novel and she followed it with the rest of The Bloodstone Saga (Every Last Kiss, Fated, With My Last Breath and My Tattered Bonds).

Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.

Learn more about Courtney and her books at

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Star Child

The Star Child by Stephanie Keyes
Genre: YA fantasy
Publication Date: September 21, 2012
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Pages: 204
The world is about to be cloaked in darkness.Only one can stop the night.

Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role.

Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?


Enter for a chance to win a Celtic knot designed bookmark.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Vote for Christian

*Uses booming, echo-y voice* 

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, vampires and alchemists! My name is Gabbilicious (but you can call me Gabbi), and I am the proud owner the blog BookBreather and an even prouder advocate of the one, the only Christian Ozera! Yes, yes. Please try to contain your applause. We have a lot of ground to cover today.

First off, I'd like to welcome some friends of Christian's to the stage. I've gathered Adrian Ivashkov, Queen Vasilisa Dragomir, Dimitri Belikov, and Rosemarie Hathaway here today to share how they feel about Christian. They clearly know Christian better than I ever could (unfortunately). So let's bring them to the stage!

Hello Adrian! Thanks for taking time out of your...uh...busy schedule to be here. Please tell me, what do you think of Christian?

Adrian: You're so very welcome. I am in high demand, but Rose literally dragged me here. Christian is an alright guy. The two of us almost got into a fight once because he thought I was hitting on his girlfriend, but aside from that I guess he's okay. I like how BA he is with his fire magic and how he trains others with their magic. I've been trying to master my own magic lately, so I think it's pretty cool. But if it ever comes down to the two of us--I am infinitely sexier, more charming, and a hell of a lot more fun.

Lissa: *snorts* Yeah. Okay.

Adrian: Your Highness, you're not allowed to say anything about that. You're biased because one day Christian is going to be the daddy of your baby Dragomirs.

Lissa: Whatever. And Christian will make an excellent father. A lot of people see him and think he's this tough, frightening guy who's ready to turn Strigoi at any moment. But in reality, he's the exact opposite. Christian is extremely sweet. So he may not pull out chairs and open car doors for me, but he's been there for me through everything. Even when we were broken up for a short time, Christian supported me and stayed faithful to me.

Adrian: Tune in next week, folks, for the next episode of "Grossest Speeches of All Time."

Lissa: Shut up, Adrian. Anyway, Christian also teaches younger teenagers how to control their magic for good purposes. He has risked his life for me on multiple occasions and killed countless Strigoi. But he hasn't developed a big head. He still has various insecurities. Once, he even tried breaking up with me because he thought it would make me happier. He's truly unaware of how amazing he is, or how attractive he is.

Allllrriiiiiiiiiiiight. Well, Dimitri, why don't you take it from here? 

Dimitri: I wouldn't have dedicated my life to protecting Christian if I didn't think he was a great guy. He has a lot of admirable qualities that many people overlook. Although she will kill me for saying this, I believe that Christian is a lot like Rose. They both possess unwavering loyalty to those they care about--especially Lissa--and fierce determination.

Rose: You're right, Dimitri. I will kill you for that later. I was asked to keep this PG, so the thoughts I'm allowed to share are really limited. Christian Ozera is an insufferable piece if work. I'm not sure how Lissa tolerates him all the time. He is stubborn. And always making snide remarks...Okay, so I see why Dimitri said we're a lot alike. Here's the thing. Christian may have the ability to grate on my nerves like no other has done before. Sometimes I may want to throttle him. But at the end of the day, the guy has really grown on me. Over the past couple of years I've realized that Christian and I make a wonderful team and he is the only one I want to see as the "daddy" of Lissa's "baby Dragomirs."

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, guys. It has been truly...enlightening. 

I'm pretty sure they covered almost everything, but personal entanglements may have altered their views. In that case, I will present you with the cold hard facts.
  • Christian is the type of bad boy that has been severely lacking in YA. The boy is seriously misunderstood, but he doesn't let it bring him down. He's all dark, glower-y, snarky, and extremely hot, but he has a heart of gold. He treats his lady right. 
  • He doesn't let what others say define him. 
  • He can light people on fire without actually burning them.
  • He can give Rose a run for her money. 
  • He's got these gorgeous bright blue eyes. 
  • He's a vampire.
  • He's sexy. 
  • He's hot.
  • He's fine. 
So vote for him! Use #TeamOzera on Twitter to help spread the word. And most importantly, have fun and bring Christian Ozera to victory.

This is my defense for The YA Crush Tournament. If Christian wins the first round, I will be hosting a giveaway that involves many Vampire Academy-related prizes. So vote away. You can vote TODAY at the YA Sisterhood blog.
And please, do your best to spread the word, because I'm out of town and don't have access to Twitter or anything. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Social Networking

I'm not always the best at putting myself out there online. Sometimes I'm afraid to start conversations because I feel like, "Hey, these people don't know me. They probably don't want to talk to me." But bloggers are the best, and the truth is that they probably would like it if I started a conversation with them, but there's still that blossom of doubt. Does anyone else ever feel that way?

Anyway, I recently made a Facebook for my blog so that I can have conversations longer that 140 characters without making it a blog post. I'd love it if you liked my page and followed me on my other stuff, too. 

It would be greatly appreciated. And while you're there, if you want to spark a conversation, that would be absolutely lovely! If you follow me or whatever, I'll most likely return the favor. But I make no promises. 

Thanks so much for being awesome!

Now I bid you farewell with a GIF.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: January 10, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Books
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 318
Source: Won in giveaway

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 13, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
The Fault in our Stars was my first John Green Experience. It was life altering. I'm not kidding. I will never be the same after reading this. John Green has written a novel so far beyond the ordinary. It's poignant and highly addictive, with a unique cast of characters, meaningful dialogue, and beautiful pacing. On the real, I was a mess while reading this; a snotty, bleary-eyes, tear-streaked, red-nosed, heartbroken, wailing mess while reading this. There are exactly three books I can recall getting this emotional with while reading and those would be Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han. If you check out previous posts on my blog, you'll no doubt discover how much I adored those books. The Fault in Our Stars has officially been added to my Crazy Emotional Adored Books list. Seriously, I had to get the roll of toilet paper and leave it next to me so I could blow my nose. And afterwards, I was so emotionally drained I could barely keep my eyes open. I now understand why everyone worships John Green. 

I now worship John Green.

Hazel and Augustus are unlike any characters you've ever read, I promise you. Somehow Green manages to make their dialogue a perfect combination of intelligence, sarcastic humor, and depth. I don't know how he did it. I was alternating between laughing and crying. Hazel is quite the scrapper. She was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, but she never gives up. Sometimes she wishes she could die, but I don't think she really means it deep down. She's not typically one to give up. She's strong. She's so beyond her years, too. She's smart and passionate. Determined. An all around marvelous character. And Augustus Waters. My oh my. Augustus AugustusAugustusAugustusAugustusAugustus. I LOVE YOU. Like, he's nothing you've ever seen in a YA boy. I'm not even sure I can put him into words. He's kind and strong and a beautiful person. I wish I could meet a guy like Augustus Waters. Together they go on adventures that are weird and heartbreaking and unique.

I keep saying it's different and unique, but I think what I mean is that everything in this book is astoundingly real. The characters are real, the relationships are real, the plot is real. It's all real, authentic, genuine. It's difficult to explain, but people experience different things in life. John Green really thought out of the box with this book, which makes you wonder if perhaps he is secretly a sixteen year old girl with cancer, obsessed with a certain author worried that she's a grenade. 

This book is stunning. If you don't read it pronto, I will be tempted to, ya know, shank you or something. I can't emphasize enough how much you need to read it. It's moving, fresh, different, and nerdalicious! I didn't even want to like this book. I am a rebel of sorts, and I don't like to flow with the hype. So I didn't want to like it, but I couldn't help it. This book is phenomenal in a way you'll only understand if you read it. There were some sentences, paragraphs, pages, chapters that literally took my breath away. 

Just. Read. It. 

Trust me. 
I'm not kidding. If you don't read this, I will hunt you down....

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Violet Fox by Clare C. Marshall

The Violet Fox by Clare C. Marshall
Series: The Violet Fox #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Faery Ink Press

Publication Date: October 13, 2012

That’s what instinct told me.
But in order to save the secrets of my people
and to protect my brother
I have to become the enemy.

What do you guys think of the cover? I like the artistic aspect and how it seems to have more meaning than just a pretty girl on a cover. 

Here are some fun facts about The Violet Fox:

-The cover was designed by Clare's boyfriend, Dave.
-The runes along the outside are made from scratch. There are 26 of them. One for each letter of the alphabet. They represent a secret code that the protagonist, Kiera, and her people can read.
-The working title for the book was FREETOR, a combination of “freedom” and “fighter”.
-This is the first book in a series, but it was originally intended to be a one-off book. The world and the characters kind of ran away with Clare. However, this book can be read as a stand alone.

Want to win an ebook copy of this book? Enter with the rafflecopter form below!

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

June Recap

If you haven't been obsessively keeping tabs on my blog, I must say I'm neither surprised nor upset. So here are some posts of note from June, just in case you missed them ;D


Join the Christian Ozera street team!

Book Reviews:

Descended by Blood by Angeline Kace
Zero by Tom Leveen
Touch by Jus Accardo

Blog Tours/Interviews:

Interview with Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits
Interview with Elana Johnson, author of Surrender

Top Ten Tuesdays:

Beach Reads
Summer TBR

Practically Peeing:

The Boy's POV Edition

Cover Compare:

(1) - The New Dessen Covers