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Archive for May 2013

Cover Reveal: Speak Easy by Melanie Harlow

Friday, May 31, 2013 § 0 Comments

Today, I'm happy to be a part of the cover reveal for Melanie Harlow's debut New Adult novel, Speak Easy. I find the roaring 20's super fascinating with the flapper dresses, sharp suits, mobsters, cocktails, and everything in between. If you're like me, then you'll definitely want to keep this title in mind. Check out the gorgeous cover below.

Title: Speak Easy
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: Historical
Expected Release: July 22, 2013
Cover Design: Tom Barnes Design

July, 1923. The ‘20s are roaring, and twenty-year-old Tiny O’Mara is desperate for a little anything-goes excitement. But when her father is kidnapped by a mobster in Detroit's exploding organized crime scene, she’s shocked to find herself caught up in the bootlegging wars of Prohibition—and torn between two gorgeous gangsters on opposite sides. To save her father’s life, she’ll have to choose between them. But deciding whom to trust isn’t easy in a world where everyone wants something—be it booze, money, power, or sex—and no one cares what it takes to get it.

Temptation is everywhere.

About the author:
Melanie Harlow likes her martinis dry, her lipstick red, and her history with the naughty bits left in. SPEAK EASY was inspired by her cocktail-culture obsession, her affection for good gin, and the view from the end of her street. She lifts her glass to NA readers and writers from her home near Detroit, MI.
Melanie Harlow | Facebook | Twitter

The author is also offering a chance to win a $25 Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift card.

Cover reveal organized by

The Sunday Post: 11th Edition

Sunday, May 26, 2013 § 3 Comments

Hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer:
It's a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.
Sad to say it's been a slow week for me reading-wise. Instead, I found myself knee-deep in PVR recordings and Netflix. I started watching Showtime's The Borgias about two weeks ago and managed to finish/catch up on seasons two and three in the past six days. I have a problem, guys. I'm absolutely addicted to this show. And now I'm learning they might not make a fourth season? No. You can't just dangle the show in front of my face and then snatch it away just like that. The show did awaken my love for history, which has died down a little since I graduated and decided to distance myself from it (Roman and Greek in particular) after 4+ years of studying it every day. But now it's back and I found myself scouring the shelves for even more historical literature, both fiction and non-fiction. If you guys have any recommendations -- I'm open to any era, really -- just leave a comment!

Last week on the blog:

Coming this week:
  • Come See About Me C.K. Kelly Martin
  • Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
  • One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
  • Cover reveal for Speak Easy by Melanie Harlow, hosted by AToMR Tours

New bookshelf additions:
Purchases / Downloads

The Program by Suzanne Young
Poison by Bridget Zinn
Snow White and Rose Red: The Curse of the Huntsman by Lilly Fang
Every Day by David Levithan
The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
Madonna of the Seven Hills by Jean Plaidy
Light on Lucrezia by Jean Plaidy

Review: Piece of My Heart by Lynn Maddalena Menna [ARC]

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 § 0 Comments

Title: Piece of My Heart
Author: Lynn Maddalena Menna
Genre: Young Adult, Music, Contemporary
Publisher: Merit Press
Release date: June 18, 2013
ISBN-10: 1440561052
ISBN-13: 9781440561054
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Still in high school, Marisol Reyes gets the chance of a lifetime to be a real singer, and she leaps at it. After all, this is the dream she held on to, all the days and nights she spent growing up on means streets of East Harlem. Marisol never gave in--no matter what her boyfriend or her best friend had to say. Who cares if only one in a hundred pretty, talented girls make it? She will be the one. In her rush to fame, Marisol tramples on the heart of her loyal best friend, and Julian, the boy she loves. But will it be worth it?

One night at a private gig in the Hamptons, the little Latino girl with the big voice from East Harlem gets a severe reality check. A famous rapper who claims to be interested in her talents turns out to be interested in something else, threatening not only Marisol's dreams but her body and soul. Will the realities of the gritty New York music scene put out the stars in Marisol's eyes forever?

My Review:
'Piece of My Heart' is your typical musician's fairytale; small town girl with big dreams suddenly gets thrust into the industry and finds out that it's not all it's cracked up to be. It's all very Sherrie Christian in Rock of Ages... minus the stripping. But instead of taking place in Hollywood, we're taken across the country to New York. Marisol is blessed with golden pipes and knows that she's made for more than small gigs at weddings and birthday parties. But is she ready?

Told from Marisol's perspective, Menna paints a pretty picture of both the gritty streets and glamorous side of the Empire State with its music, fashion, and nightlife, all of which are described very vividly. The music industry is all about connections, and boy does our starlet encounter a lot of those. Marisol, with all her teenage naïveté, is easily pulled into different situations that she gladly jumps into because, well who doesn't want to become a famous singer, right? She's travelling all over New York and playing gigs with people who, just months before, only played in her stereo as she danced and lip-synched to them in her room with her best friend. Speaking of best friends, while Marisol is living the high life, her relationships with her friends back home goes through the ultimate test and finds out that even those nearest and dearest to her might not be the people she thought them to be.

While I liked the premise (and the fact that the title is undoubtedly taken from one the greatest songs ever), I felt disconnected from all the characters throughout the whole story. But it had potential overall. Marisol's relationships with everyone went back and forth so much that it was hard to keep track of who she was actually friends with in the beginning. Maybe I would've liked it better if it wasn't written in first-person perspective, because Marisol's always moving around and there are a lot of other characters that it's hard to keep track of what's going on. I also wished that the issues Marisol faced were more fleshed out. Sometimes she went through big, big changes in her life and career, but it'd be over and onto the next issue just pages later. The narrative made me cringe at a few places, especially when she was performing. It just got really cheesy sometimes. Like Marisol was too good for her own good, if that makes sense. There's belief in your own talent, and then there's being cocky about it. There was also a lot of focus on describing the settings and fashion that it took away from the characters. Yes, it's interesting to know how great you think you look in that white dress with white-gold shoes, and how gorgeous your friend looked in her skin-tight mini dress that reached just above her knees, but for it to take up that much space? It all felt a little superficial.

'Piece of My Heart' is a light read, but if you're looking for some deep, thought-provoking fiction about someone truly struggling to make it in the music industry, this might not be for you. Behind it all is a rather relatable story about a teenage girl struggling to find her place in the real world as she finds out that sometimes the only person you can trust to make the best decisions for your life is, ultimately, yourself.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Merit Press for providing me with the ARC.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Facebook | Goodreads
Buy this book:
IndieBound.org | Amazon.com | BarnesAndNoble.com

Top Ten Tuesday (6): Favorite Book Covers Of Books I've Read

Monday, May 20, 2013 § 7 Comments

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish:
This week's topic is your Top Ten Favourite Book Covers Of Books I've Read, in no particular order.

  1. Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell
  2. The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter
  3. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  4. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
  5. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  6. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
  7. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
  8. The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
  9. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
  10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill


Title: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morrill
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Release date: November 13, 2012
ISBN-10: 0385741774
ISBN-13: 9780385741774
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts... from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

My Review:
Julia is the kind of girl who mostly keeps to herself and is quite the stickler for rules; a model student if there ever was one. When the chance to go to London for Spring Break comes along, she jumps at it and is ready to have the ultimate cultural experience. That's until she's buddied up with the class clown, Jason. Next thing she knows, she's breaking rules (against her will, of course) and getting in trouble. She thinks things will turn around thanks to an unexpected mystery person suddenly sending her romantic text messages after attending a party. She enlists Jason's help in figuring out who it could be, and that's where the story really begins.

The main girl -- Julia, right? -- wasn't that likeable (for some reason I kept forgetting her name was Julia. I kept thinking it was Judy). There's following the rules, then there's following the rules to the point where it gets annoying. If I was in one of the most historical cities in the world, I'd be jumping at the chance to go anywhere and everywhere. She was also very judgemental and whiny, which put a damper on my whole reading experience. And then there was Jason, who was a little too childish for my liking, even if he did get Julia to loosen up a little. They were such opposites and personally unrelatable for me, so I had a hard time connecting with either of them. I did like that the progression between them wasn't rushed, even if their romance fell flat for me.

Another thing that bugged me about the book was how it felt like it was trying too hard to be, dare I say, hipster; just pointing out that artwork came from Etsy, milking the Beatles, the word "meta", Julia's friend Phoebe's weirdly awesome and original wardrobe, etc. It just felt unnecessary to point those things out in such detail. The Anglophile in me did appreciate the cultural references and descriptions of London, so there's that.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate the book. I did like how things unfolded in the end. I kept expecting some weird but predictable plot twist involving Jason actually being Chris, but luckily the book at least kept that cliché out. The explanations tied everything together, and I found myself surprised at some of the reveals. Kind of a "why didn't I think of that?" thing. The last half was definitely better than the first, which is kind of a downer for me, as I want to be engaged throughout the entire story, not just a certain part of it. But that cover, my goodness. Absolutely gorgeous.

It was a good book for me to pick up on my vacation when I was lounging by the beach every few days, but am I jumping for joy over it? Not really. Not much to say except that it was a good book to pass the time.

My rating:

Visit the author:
Official website | Twitter | Goodreads
Buy this book:
IndieBound.org | Amazon.com | Indigo.ca

Giveaway: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo [book + film]

Saturday, May 18, 2013 § 1 Comment

If I remember correctly, I posted about seeing the Les Misérables movie back in December and falling absolutely in love with it. That still hasn't gone away. I've been a quiet admirer of Les Mis ever since I was in junior high; I'm particularly fond of the musical... ugh, gorgeous. It was one of the first stage musicals I became interested in when I started taking drama classes in the 8th grade (my desk in that class was also situated conveniently under a huge Les Mis poster), and I read the brick in high school (took me a very long time, too). I knew the story was loved around the world, but it wasn't until the movie came out that I found out just how much people loved it. And so, like every other movie/tv show I become obsessed with, I looked into the online fandom. And wow. There are some passionate Mizzies. It's fascinating and scary and probably the most intense fandom I've been a part of. And allow me to be shallow for a minute, an additional reason I've been heavily invested is -- let's not beat around the bush here -- two words: Aaron Tveit. My precious Broadway boy finally got that recognition he deserves. I mean look at him. I know, I know. Settle down, girls.

Anyway, if you're a fellow fan, you'll notice that the anniversary for the June Rebellion of 1832 is in our midst. I recently got gifted a copy of the movie tie-in edition of the book, but I already own a copy of the same translation (Norman Denny), so I've decided to hold a giveaway. I'm throwing in a copy of the film (Blu-ray + DVD combo)... I have 2 of those, too. The movie discs have only been watched once, and the code to retrieve an online digital copy hasn't been used at all, so everything's in very good condition. This giveaway will start today and end at 11:59pm on... yes, June 7. Same day the barricades fell 181 years ago. Good luck to those who enter!

LES MISÉRABLES by Victor Hugo (2012 edition; first published 1862). From Goodreads:

Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty. A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, Les Misérables is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830.

This striking edition features the widely celebrated and eminently readable translation by Norman Denny.

LES MISÉRABLES directed by Tom Hooper (2012). From Amazon:

Hugh Jackman, Academy Award winner Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway star in this critically-acclaimed adaptation of the epic musical phenomenon. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Mis‚rables tells the story of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean (Jackman), hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe), after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever. This enthralling story is a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit and "an unforgettable experience".

Since the film is a Region 2 DVD, this contest is open to
Canada and the United States residents only.
Good luck!

The Sunday Post: 10th Edition


Hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer:
It's a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.
I know, I know... "Audrey, where have you been?!" Well, life has been hectic with school and work, among many other things in this exciting life I lead (it's not all that exciting; I'm just bad at multi-tasking. Also, blame the sudden Les Misérables phenomenon for sucking me into their online fandom). I had to take a hiatus on such short notice, and for that, I'm very sorry. But thanks to everyone who has been e-mailing and still showing support for my little old blog! You are very much appreciated. This Sunday Post will be pretty short, as I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things and haven't had much time to read. Not as much as I've wanted to, anyway.

But as you can see, I have a shiny new layout! I'm still working out some kinks; I'm not completely happy with it, but I'll get there. I've also decided to change this blog around a little. I'm not going to be reviewing just Young Adult books anymore. While I do love me some YA, that's not all I read all the time. Lately I've found myself reading more adult fiction and even going back to some classic pre-1900s titles, so I figured I would have more to talk about if I didn't limit this blog to just YA. During my absence, I have been keeping up with my challenges as best I could, and reading some ARCs from NetGalley. While I haven't been on top of things in terms of reviewing, I definitely will try my best to crank out some reviews for what I've read since I've been away, so look out for those. :)

Coming this week in reviews:
  • Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
  • Come See About Me C.K. Kelly Martin
  • Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

This week on the blog:
  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: Book (movie tie-in edition) and film (Blu-ray + DVD combo) - click here

New bookshelf additions:
via NetGalley

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Piece of My Heart by Lynn Maddalena Menna
The Favor by Megan Hart

Purchases / Downloads

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Hardcopy)
The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel (Hardcopy)