Archives

Unearthed (Unearthed #1) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Unearthed (Unearthed #1) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: Unearthed (Unearthed #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: January 9, 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 9, 2018
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1)

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

bookreview1

First, let me say… I was NOT ready for that ending! I wasn’t paying attention to how much was left in the audiobook and I was so surprised and shocked and… well, you should have heard the string of curses I shouted in my car when I found out that was how this book ended! It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a reaction to a book so that was pretty awesome, actually. The ending definitely launched some more feelings that has me wanting to rate this a little bit higher, but there were also parts that I just didn’t click with as much. I DO think that’s because of my lack of focus, though, so I can’t fault the book for that.

I loved both Jules and Mia (Mia more) and I liked how the girl was the tough one and the guy was the academic. I didn’t quiiiite pick up on their chemistry but I didn’t not feel it either (if that makes any sense at all). I wasn’t super shipping them but I enjoyed their connection, and you know I like anything where there’s banter or a sort of hate-to-love concept, so that worked for me!

The world-building was awesome. I don’t always do aliens (which is also why I didn’t read THESE BROKEN STARS, which apparently now I have to) but certain authors are totally nailing that and making me enjoy things that I didn’t think I liked. The concept behind this book was super interesting and I loved how things are constantly discovered and how everything evolves throughout the book. I’m sure a lot of people saw what was coming but again, that’s kind of the glory of listening to audiobooks while I work — I’m listening to the story but I’m not thinking ahead because my brain is already multi-tasking, so I’m often super surprised by plot twists and crazy developments, and UNEARTHED? You totally got me. I had chills. I shouted! I was stunned. There were a lot of super awesome moments in this book that had me reacting which aside from rage at “bad” things in books, I haven’t done in a long time.

This is an awesome adventure book. It’s pitched as Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft in space. I don’t know Lara Croft but Indiana Jones is definitely a good comparison. It’s part treasure-hunting, a lot of history, and a whole lot of adventure, and I really enjoyed the pacing from start to finish. There were a couple of slow-ish spots right after the beginning when things are getting set up, but I connected to the characters and this world pretty quickly.

I really enjoyed this book and I’m SO happy to have found a book that evoked feelings from me that wasn’t a re-read, and feelings that weren’t just rage. For that alone, it deserves quite a bit of praise because I’ve had a hard time finding a book that does that to me, for really almost a year now (I had very few 4.5 – 5 star reads last year) and DUUUUDE do I really have to wait for the next book?!? UGHHH. I need it now. I need it yesterday. I need it before I had even finished this one.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Aliens. I’m not an alien book type person but this was done SO well. It almost had more a historical/world-building concept rather than just alien invasion.
Left Me Wanting More: Spark. I really did love almost everything but I wish I had FELT that spark more between Jules and Mia!

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was soooo enjoyable and I had so much fun reading it! I had a couple of slower spots but really, it was so solid all-around.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE UNEARTHED

          

Hello, Sunshine – Leila Howland

Hello, Sunshine – Leila HowlandTitle: Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland
Publishing Info: July 11, 2017 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 7, 2017
Related Posts: Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1), Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2)

Becca Harrington is a reject. After being rebuffed by every college on her list, she needs a fresh start, so she packs up everything and moves to LA, giving herself one year to land an acting gig or kill herself trying.

Unfortunately, not everything turns out as planned, and after a few grueling months, LA is looking like the worst idea ever. As hard as she tries, Becca can’t land an agent, she's running out of cash, and her mom is hounding her to apply to more schools. In an act of desperation, Becca and her friend Marisol start posting short videos online—with the help of their adorable filmmaker neighbor, Raj—and the videos catch the attention of a TV producer. Could this be it? Her big break? Or will she have to move back home with nothing but some bad head shots and a monstrous credit-card bill?

Becca may not get the Hollywood ending she was hoping for, but perhaps she’ll learn there’s more than one way to achieve her dream.

Readers will love every page of this funny, romantic, aspirational, and ultimately triumphant novel about a girl who just wants to make it on her own.

bookreview1

I cannot tell you how much this kills me… But I didn’t connect with this book in any way at all. Leila Howland’s Nantucket series still remains one of my all-time favorite series. Cricket is my soul-sister. I get her. I loved her. Both books had this realism and magic. HELLO, SUNSHINE didn’t have any of that for me.

HELLO, SUNSHINE is a much lighter book than the Nantucket books, which I really wasn’t expecting. It’s always hard picking up an author’s sophomore novel or next series adventure because you’re expecting the same kind of tone as what you first read and that’s not always the case… which is GOOD. I actually love authors who can write any genre, any tone, and create a wonderful story, but this book was a total miss for me. I was okay with it not feeling like the Nantucket duet but it just didn’t feel like there was any substance there and that was what I loved about Leila Howland’s first books.

HELLO, SUNSHINE in general is just not my cup of tea. The book is about high school graduate Becca who heads off to Hollywood after graduation instead of college. No college accepted her because she took the blame for an incident involving her and her friends so she gives up on going to college and instead decides to go become an actress… out of the blue. She has no experience, no plans, and no money. First off, this concept just drives me nuts. I’m a planner. I NEED to plan things and I could never head off to city with no plan, no job, no money, and not a care in the world. I understand people do this and some succeed, but characters who do everything on a whim are not my friends. I just don’t get along with care-free spirits because I need some structure, and care-free characters with no plan often makes me feel like a book has no plan. Becca randomly grabs an apartment for herself and wait, she actually DOES make a list so there’s that, but everything else is just randomly happening. Random friends happen, a random job happens, random encounters happen… and it just felt all over the place and I didn’t know where things were heading. Obviously the end goal is for Becca to get an agent and land an acting job but the road to get there was too willy-nilly.

I was doomed from the start because I couldn’t care less about Hollywood and the whole breaking-into-show-business concept. Music? Yes. Acting? No. I’m not big into celebrities, I don’t like the glitz and glam, and it all seems so forced and fake, so the concept of the book really wasn’t a draw for me, but the author was. Combined with Becca’s character, it just never came together for me where my personal reading preferences stood. The casting directors are weird or offensive or rude and I like reading about happy things, not people putting a main character down all the time.

I also hated the way Becca was treated in this book and she didn’t stand up for herself when she needed to. There was a weird, creepy semi-stalker guy in her apartment complex that kept hitting on her in the creepiest ways and she wouldn’t tell him just go buzz off! I get that you don’t want offend a neighbor, particularly one that may not be all there, but he was being gross and creepy and she should have stood up to him and said that she was uncomfortable. You can’t be uncomfortable around your neighbors and feel unsafe where you live. I just didn’t find it comical and it really turned me off. Becca gets pushed around by all of the professionals she encounters, and just when you think she’s getting a break in an indie movie, the guy asks everyone to play the scene nude for no reason. Um, ew? No. Thankfully Becca did stand up for herself there, but again, why? I guess these things probably happen in the business and you do encounter situations like those, but again, one of the reasons I don’t like reading about the movie business and the struggle to break into it because people DO end up doing things that they wouldn’t normally do because it’s so competitive and difficult. I don’t like the way actors can be objectified like because someone of authority knows that they can do it and I was just hoping this book would be more meaningful and less slap-stick and shock value.

I just didn’t like any of Becca’s relationships at all in this book at all. It got off to a bad start when her boyfriend drives her all the way out to LA (he’s in college in California so it’s on the way for him) and then dumps her when they get there. Then she tries to get back together with him and defends him to her new friends!! Nope. Not cool. The new romance didn’t feel like a romance at first (just awkward friendship) and then once it turned into a romance, I really wasn’t feeling it. I just didn’t like any of Becca’s relationships throughout the whole book, except for the mother-daughter relationship and how she talked with her mom.

To be honest, I made it halfway through and then started skimming. It’s been slow-going for a week and with very apathetic feelings about the book, I didn’t feel the need to read everything in depth, because it didn’t have the depth that I wanted from it. I was SO SURE this would be a hit given my past experiences with Leila Howland’s books and I’ve been waiting forever for a new YA novel from her but this was a strikeout for me. I won’t rate it one star because it wasn’t AWFUL but it really didn’t work for me at all. We all know what we like to read and what we don’t and I wouldn’t have picked this up if it wasn’t Leila Howland.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Leila Howland. I didn’t connect with this book but I simply adoooore the Nantucket series. I’m glad I tried her new book but I’m also so bummed I didn’t love it!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I just… didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the character depth or connection like I did with Cricket and I SO wanted it to be there.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I had some friends who really liked this! I know part of this was my own personal feelings on the content and I didn’t have that personal connection. I’d say check out some other reviews before you pick this one up or pass on it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE HELLO, SUNSHINE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BEHIND THE SCENES

Review in a Tweet | Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is PERFECT SCOUNDRELS by Ally Carter. I LOVE the Heist Society books and HEIST SOCIETY was one of the first-ever books I listened to on audio so it always holds a special place in my heart. I enjoyed the audiobooks so much that I didn’t even want to read them in print. I read the first two books via audio but… the third one was nowhere to be found! I actually found out that it wasn’t even available as an audiobook and then ONE DAY IT WAS. So I immediately grabbed the audio, started listening, and sort of binged it so therefore, I didn’t end up with a lot of notes as I was reading. Instead of a full or even a mini-review, here’s a review in a tweet!

 

Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) – Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) – Tamara Ireland StoneTitle: Time After Time (Time Between Us #2) by Tamara Ireland Stone
Publishing Info: October 8, 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 19, 2016
Related Posts: Time Between Us (Time Between Us #1)

Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.
It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?
Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.

bookreview1

I had waiting so long to read TIME AFTER TIME that I think I to a little too disconnected from the series and story line here… I just wasn’t AS interested in this book as I was with the first but it was truly at least three or four years (I think I borrowed someone’s ARC of TIME BETWEEN US) sine I had read the first book so while I really loved TIME BETWEEN US, I didn’t really feel that strong of a connection to TIME AFTER TIME.

That being said, the story was still a lot of fun! I really enjoy Bennett’s POV and I always enjoy a good male POV because I read so many female ones in YA. It’s an interesting change of pace and sometimes it’s nice hear things from the flip side. I couldn’t remember if Anna had a POV in TIME BETWEEN US while I was reading TIME AFTER TIME (she didn’t) but either way, Bennett’s POV was a great and refreshing voice from what I had been reading recently.

I always like the time travel aspect of a story and this was no different. I liked Bennett’s abilities, the rules, and consequences of his traveling. There were even more rules and details in this book and I really enjoyed that there were a few more rules to his ability… But I also didn’t really know who invented these rules. I felt like since it was science-fiction that I was looking for more reason as to why he had this ability but I guess I don’t really need that because I never question it in a fantasy setting!

I really did like the ending a lot! It was a nice way to close everything off because I was wondering what was going to happen there. I was going back and forth for a while thinking I knew what was going to happen and then ended up wondering again. I also think I just read this at a hard point in time because I wasn’t able to focus as much BUT that was also part of the reason why I wanted to read it. I knew it would be nice going back to a series I had already started and a solid romance was what I wanted!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Time Travel Romance. I loved how this romance spanned multiple years… through time! It was really neat to see these two characters connect over different time spans.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I needed to do my own time traveling here because I just left in between book one and book two!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This is such an enjoyable duology! I really enjoyed both books — I just wish I hadn’t left so much time in between each one!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE TIME AFTER TIME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD    LOOP

This is Our Story – Ashley Elston

This is Our Story – Ashley ElstonTitle: This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 15, 2016
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2)

Five went in. Four came out.
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the district attorney’s office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As investigates with Stone, the aging prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot, she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.

bookreview1

I was so excited for a new book by Ashley Elston because I loved her debut duology THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING and THE RULES FOR BREAKING! I’m always looking for more YA mysteries and thrillers because there weren’t a lot for a very long time and the insurgence of them now is so exciting! When I heard about THIS IS OUR STORY, it immediately went on my list of books I added to get my hands on!

One thing I really loved about this book is how well it was set from a teenager’s perspective. I think the hardest thing about YA mysteries is making a believable reason for why a teen is involved in the case and why they wouldn’t go to an adult or the police. In the case of THIS IS OUR STORY, main character Kate works for the district attorney’s office (as does her mother) and she assists her boss by dictating and spotting details for him, as he has failing eyesight and isn’t ready to step down from his job yet. Kate acts as an extra pair of eyes for him throughout his investigation of the River Point Boys, a group of kids involved in the murder of one of their best friends. I really loved how well this concept worked because it allowed Kate to have access to the case and obtain more details than a normal kid or outsider.

The book was interesting from start to finish but I didn’t get quite as into the story as I had hoped. I’ve gotten sucked in to quite a few mystery/thrillers and I did enjoy the whole book but it wasn’t as gripping as some other books I’ve read. The story was still very well put-together and carefully crafted. Ashley Elston did a great job with the character relationships, keeping identities secret, and weaving in doubt and suspicion.

I would say her first books/series were my favorite so far but THIS IS OUR STORY was also a very solid read! I wished I had been able to get into it a bit more, but I’ve had such limited reading time lately and a lot going on that it could always be situational and not the book. It was a very good mystery still and I really did enjoy it! It didn’t stand out as much as I had hoped but a wonderfully solid book and one I’d recommend!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: YA detectives. I always love mystery/thrillers but it’s hard to get teens on the scene in a realistic way. This was done really well and I loved how Kate got involved in the case!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrills. The book was great but I think I was missing just a few more thrills to really suck me in.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re looking for more YA mysteries, THIS IS OUR STORY is a great one to pick up! It was pretty realistic and incorporated the story line well for the age and setting.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THIS IS OUR STORY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW    DANGEROUS BOYS

Blog Tour: This is Our Story | Book Scents

Blog Tour: This is Our Story | Book Scents

Welcome to the blog tour for
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston!

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog your stop for THIS IS OUR STORY by Ashley Elston! I loved her debut duet and THIS IS OUR STORY was no exceptoin. I’ll post a review sometime later but for today’s blog tour stop, I’m talking about BOOK SCENTS! Thanks to Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours and Disney Hyperson for making this blog tour happen!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: This is Our Story | Book ScentsTitle: This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 7, 2016
Related Posts: The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1), The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2), This is Our Story

No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them.
Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.
Kate won’t let that happen. Digging up secrets without revealing her own is a dangerous line to walk; Kate has her own reasons for seeking justice for Grant. As she and Stone investigate—the ageing prosecutor relying on Kate to see and hear what he cannot—she realizes that nothing about the case—or the boys—is what it seems. Grant wasn’t who she thought he was, and neither is Stone’s prime suspect. As Kate gets dangerously close to the truth, it becomes clear that the early morning accident might not have been an accident at all—and if Kate doesn’t uncover the true killer, more than one life could be on the line…including her own.


LINKS: Amazon | B&N

ABOUT ASHLEY ELSTON

ae

Ashley Elston lives is North Louisiana with her husband and three sons. She worked as a wedding and portrait photographer for ten years until she decided to pursue writing full time. Ashley is also a certified landscape horticulturist and loves digging in the dirt. Her debut novel, THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING, was published by Disney Hyperion in 2013 and the sequel, THE RULES FOR BREAKING, in 2014. Her latest novel, THIS IS OUR STORY, will be published on November 15, 2016.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

BOOK SCENTS: THIS IS OUR STORY

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THIS IS OUR STORY! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

The door to Rhino Coffee chimes when I push it open, and several people turn toward the entrance. The delicious aroma of coffee floats through the air; and indie rock station plays in the background.

I’m in my happy place.

Inspiration: Coffee shop
Fragrances: Freshly brewed coffee, hazelnut

When I’m done, I wander off, checking out the scene. There are families spread out on blankets and kids running around everywhere. The air is rich with sweet and tangy aromas and the smoke pouring out of the grills hovers just below the tree canopies. 

Inspiration: Barbecue feast
Fragrances: Crackling firewood, spices, outdoors, brown sugar

It’s absolutely beautiful here. Giant trees dot the landscape, but with the limbs bare, sun filters in through the space. The ground is covered with leaves that crunch with every step we take. Most are dead, but some still cling to their bright orange and yellow colors.

Inspiration: Fall forest
Fragrances: Fallen leaves, fresh air, outdoors, cedar wood

… by the time we get to the party at Max Oliver’s house, I’m exhausted. 

Thankfully, there’s a fire pit in the backyard, so Reagan and I make a dash to get a seat up close.

Inspiration: Bonfire
Fragrances: Campfire, crackling firewood, outdoors, cedar, driftwood

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops for THIS IS OUR STORY!

GIVEAWAY

THREE lucky winners will receive a finished copy of THIS IS OUR STORY! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider | Book Scents

Blog Tour: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider | Book Scents

Welcome to the blog tour for
SUMMER OF SLOANE by Erin L. Schneider

I am positively thrilled to be on the blog tour for SUMMER OF SLOANE today!!! Erin Schneider is an awesome person to interact with and of course, I also loved her book! Thanks to Scholastic and Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours for having me be a part of this one!! I’m really excited to share a new post for me but one that really fits in with my interests and hobbies… Book Scents!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider | Book ScentsTitle: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 1, 2016
Related Posts: Summer of Sloane

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.
These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.
Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.
But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.


LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT ERIN L. SCHNEIDER

Erin L. Schneider is native to the Pacific Northwest, attended college in Honolulu, and – although Hawaiian – should never be allowed on a surfboard. Erin SchneiderWith more than twenty years in corporate merchandising, she’s now a full-time writer living in Seattle with her husband, Neal; their baby boy, Kellan; a rowdy German shepherd named Ronin; and two crazy cats, Ono and Poke. She’s a member of both the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SCBWI, and is also co-founder of the YA Buccaneers.
SUMMER OF SLOANE is her debut novel, out May 3, 2016 from Disney-Hyperion. Visit Erin online at Erin L Schneider or on Twitter: @ErinLSchneider1.
Erin is represented by literary agent Lisa Grubka of Fletcher & Company.
LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

BOOK SCENTS: SUMMER OF SLOANE

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from SUMMER OF SLOANE! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

I’m immediately hit with the welcoming scent of tropical flowers mixed with suntan lotion. A familiar smell that somehow makes everything better. And one that always reminds me of my mom.

Inspiration: Suntan lotion, tropical flowers
Fragrances: Rain forest, hibiscus, coconut

As soon as I walk though the double front doors, the first thing I see is the entire back wall — or lack thereof. It’s made of movable wood and glass panels that slide open, allowing every possible sense to tune in to the surroundings. The sound of waves crashing on the shore, the smell of sea salt that drifts along the warm current of air, and finally, the uninterrupted views of the beautiful ocean beyond.

Inspiration: Sea salt, wooden doors, warm air
Fragrances: Sea mist, ocean, rain, driftwood

Penn pulls the car into an open space, and I’m immediately hit with wafting curls of salty sea air infused with the rich scent of burning wood, and I inhale deeply.

Inspiration: Sea, burning wood
Fragrances: Sea mist, campfire, fresh outdoors

The expansive wall behind the check-in n counter is embedded with thousands of rocks. Water cascades over them, with a tranquil hum that’s mesmerizing. And the smell. It’s lavender with a hint of vanilla, and with one sniff, I feel like I’ve entered a spa.

Inspiration: Lavender with a hint of vanilla
Fragrances: Lavender, vanilla, rain

… And since I’m slight cold from being wet, an oversized gray hoodie that definitely belongs to Finn. It smells of sunshine and salt water.

Inspiration: Sunshine and salt water
Fragrances: Fresh outdoors, rain, sea mist, ocean

If you want to win the actual SUMMER OF SLOANE-inspired candle (designed by Erin L. Schneider!), don’t miss the giveaway below!


Don’t miss the rest of the SUMMER OF SLOANE  blog tour stops!

I’m closing out the tour but don’t miss the rest of the stops that came before me! Check out the rest of the tour info below:

TOUR GIVEAWAY

Three lucky winners will receive a finished copy of SUMMER OF SLOANE and the hardcover is just gorgeous! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CANDLE GIVEAWAY

I’m also personally hosting a giveaway in conjunction with the SUMMER OF SLOANE blog tour and one lucky winner will receive a SUMMER OF SLOANE-inspired candle from my Etsy shop, Novelly Yours! The candle smells like pineapple, coconut, and a hint of the ocean. US entries only, please! Enter the Rafflecopter form below to enter! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Cresswell Plot – Eliza Wass

The Cresswell Plot – Eliza WassTitle: The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 1, 2016

Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.

bookreview1

I was really excited to start THE CRESSWELL PLOT and actually dug into it as soon as I got the approval from Disney-Hyperion on Netgalley! The book sounded extremely interesting and quite thrilling so I was incredibly curious to see how things played out. Once I started, I realized either the synopsis changed since the book was first announced or I was just totally off-based with my expectations because THE CRESSWELL PLOT really wasn’t what I had expected. 

The book was definitely hard to walk away from. I was sucked into the Cresswell’s world and intrigued with Castley’s role in it. The Cresswells are an ultra-religious family but they basically have their own religion. They follow the rules of the Bible but their father also has written his own Bible of sorts so there’s this weird, blurry line of how much Father Cresswell believes his word is God and how much he believes he’s pulled from scripture. It was actually quite horrifying to read how terribly this family was controlled and made to fear the outside world.

Honestly, the controlling and abusive aspects made this book really hard to read and yet I also couldn’t pull myself away. I got incredibly concerned for Crestley and her siblings so I didn’t want to leave the story without knowing what happened to them, but I was constantly cringing at how her father treated them and the brainwashing that was involved to make the kids think that everything he was doing was God’s plan. I’m not sure how to classify the book —  realistic fiction, thriller, a mix, or neither — but I had set out with the mindset that it was going to be a bit more of a thriller so I had hoped for more there. Since it was so hard to read about the family life, I had been hoping to spend more time with Crestley or the other siblings outside of their property and exploring more of what “normal” life would be like.

The ending also happened a bit abruptly for my taste. There was a solid conclusion with a little bit of a lingering question but it all sort of happened so quickly that I was hoping for more of a transition.  I feel like the book could have benefited from a few more paragraphs or even a short chapter to tie everything up and explain what happened after the fast-paced sequence of events that led to the conclusion. I also would have really loved to know more about the father and exactly why and how he became the way he did. There wasn’t really much backstory or reasoning behind how he chose to raise his family so I would have really liked to see more explanation.

Overall, THE CRESSWELL PLOT was a book I couldn’t tear myself away from and yet I had a hard time reading it. The concept drew me in and I didn’t want to put the book down so it made for a super quick read and it was also something that made met think about lifestyles other than my own. Again, I think my expectations of what the book was somehow got thrown really off-base and I’m not sure if I would have picked the book up so soon if ever knowing that this was the actual plot. That being said, it was also interesting to read and I always like pushing the boundaries of what I might normally pick up so I’m glad I did read it.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

cresswell plot gr updates

character_breakdown1

Father // Character Obsessions: Rules, purity, Heaven, scriptures. 
The father in this book was horrifying. I think the scariest thing is when a character or person is doing something that they truly believe is beneficial and right. He has so much conviction in his beliefs and doesn’t see the harm it’s doing and I felt like he actually reached a villainous level.
Crestley // Character Obsessions: Questions, family, good, opinions. 
Crestley ends up being the sibling that has the best balance of doing what is right and questioning what is really best for the family. She’s the one who really starts to break out of these harmful patterns and beliefs. I actually would have liked to see a better transition

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Religious themes. I don’t usually pick up realistic novels with religious themes, no matter the topic, but I’m glad I read this!
Left Me Wanting More: Clues. I really am glad that I wasn’t able to guess anything as the book went on but I also like being just a teensy bit less in the dark. I would have loved to have pieced something more together by the end instead of a whole chapter to fill me in!

Addiction Rating
Consider it

If this sounds like a book that might hook you, it’s worth a shot! Honestly, the suspense really pulled me in more than anything else and I was glued to see what would happen. I think things could have been done a little better structurally but I did make quick work of reading it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CRESSWELL PLOT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DEVOTED    ELEANOR & PARK

Summer of Sloane – Erin L. Schneider

Summer of Sloane – Erin L. SchneiderTitle: Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider
Publishing Info: May 3, 2016 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Author
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 1, 2016

Warm Hawaiian sun. Lazy beach days. Flirty texts with her boyfriend back in Seattle.
These are the things seventeen-year-old Sloane McIntyre pictured when she imagined the summer she’d be spending at her mom’s home in Hawaii with her twin brother, Penn. Instead, after learning an unthinkable secret about her boyfriend, Tyler, and best friend, Mick, all she has is a fractured hand and a completely shattered heart.
Once she arrives in Honolulu, though, Sloane hopes that Hawaii might just be the escape she needs. With beach bonfires, old friends, exotic food, and the wonders of a waterproof cast, there’s no reason Sloane shouldn’t enjoy her summer. And when she meets Finn McAllister, the handsome son of a hotel magnate who doesn’t always play by the rules, she knows he’s the perfect distraction from everything that’s so wrong back home.
But it turns out a measly ocean isn’t nearly enough to stop all the emails, texts, and voicemails from her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, desperate to explain away their betrayal. And as her casual connection with Finn grows deeper, Sloane’s carefree summer might not be as easy to find as she’d hoped. Weighing years of history with Mick and Tyler against their deception, and the delicate possibility of new love, Sloane must decide when to forgive, and when to live for herself.

bookreview1

SUMMER OF SLOANE was a wonderful book! After a string of fantasies, I was totally in the mood for a contemporary/realistic story and Erin L. Schneider’s debut did not disappoint. A perfect mix of summer fun, friendship turning points, and great family moments not to mention a summer romance really captivated me and I didn’t want to put the book down!

I’ve never been to Hawaii but the setting was so wonderful that I could totally picture the characters (and myself) there! The combination of sensory descriptions really brought together a full picture of Hawaii and I could practically smell the tropical air myself! It was such a perfect set-up for a great summery book and it had me longing for some ocean, sun, and sand!

The book kicks off with a huge knowledge bomb being dropped on Sloane that effectively ends her relationship with her boyfriend and squashes years of best friendship all in one fell swoop. It’s a terrible start to her summer but the silver lining is a few months in Hawaii with her mom, her brother, and the friends she’s kept in touch with over the years. I actually really liked that the book didn’t wait to introduce this big conflict in Sloane’s life! It really set up the tone for the book and put the focus on Sloane and how much she really wanted to figure out her life outside of her best friend and (now ex) boyfriend. I sometimes get really turned off when books use a best friend fight as a source of the conflict because it usually sours me for one character or another and although Sloane is clearly on the outs with her best friend Mick, there’s that sense that somewhere in the book there’s the potential to either forgive and/or move on. The book allows Sloane to take her time to figure out what she wants to do with this situation. Really it just allows Sloane take back the summer for herself and not let this huge setback destroy her. Sloane ends up empowering herself instead of letting herself fall victim to some serious drama and I loved her attitude towards the whole thing!

The friendships that Sloane has with her Hawaii friends were so enjoyable to read! I love the sort of friendships that even when you’ve spent time apart, you just fall back into a rhythm when you see each other again. They were relaxed and yet extremely close and there was such an easy give and take. I always love seeing wonderful friendships in books and the relationship that Sloane has with her friends here was top notch! They really support each other and just seem like wonderful friends. The familial relationships were excellent as well. I love brother-sister bonds and really enjoyed the love and support between Sloane and her twin brother Penn. It was also great to see Sloane getting along with her mom even though they didn’t always have the best relationship (Sloane lives with her dad) and even though her mom tried a bit too hard to make up for it sometimes, it wasn’t really a source of conflict. I really appreciated that!

I also really enjoyed the romance between Sloane and Finn. There were a few hiccups due to what had already happened to Sloane and she became a bit closed off when conflict arose but for the most part, they had a great relationship and were both pretty chill with each other which was nice! I was hoping for a few more swoony moments but I really loved how easily they seemed to fall together and how much they both learned from each other over the summer.

SUMMER OF SLOANE had a nice romance and some great relationships, ultimately this book was about Sloane and coming to terms with what happened between her, her best friend Mick, and her boyfriend Tyler. Sloane ends up taking the summer back for herself and it was so wonderful to see her take charge of her own life and understand who she was as an individual. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a best friend or a boyfriend being such a big part of your life but I know I personally didn’t really get to know who I was on my own until I was in my twenties and I think the “young adult” age is really a time of self-discovery. SUMMER OF SLOANE was an excellent portrayal of that concept and it was great to see Sloane figure all of these things out while still maintaining that family and friendship support system. I really enjoyed the book and if I hadn’t been reading it on my lunch break, I totally could have read it in one sitting! I think readers will really, really enjoy this one! I even felt drawn to Sloane’s friend Mick and wanted a companion novel with her as the main character! I felt like her story wasn’t done yet and there’s a lot of room for a whole new book there.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

summer of sloane gr updates

character_breakdown1

Sloane // Character Obsessions: Swimming, friendships, self-discovery, Hawaii.
I LOVED Sloane. I loved her confidence and attitude throughout the book and that she didn’t really take crap from anyone. When this Awful Thing happens to her at the beginning of her summer, her decision is to take back the summer for herself instead of wallowing and missing her best friend and boyfriend. She was just so much fun to read about!
Mick // Character Obsessions: Tyler, fun, apologizing.
I know Mick was pretty unlikable throughout the book but… I’m not done with her story yet. I feel like there was that little opening at the end where she could end up telling her own story in a new book. I’d love to see her redemption and everything that went down after the events in SUMMER OF SLOANE. Let’s all campaign for “Autumn of Mick”!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Tropical locations. Man, I wish I was in Hawaii right now. I could practically feel the sun on my skin, smell the tropical flowers, and I just so wished I was there! It was the perfect summer location.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoony bits. The romance was cute but I didn’t QUITE swoon as much as I thought I would. That’s not a bad thing at all but I think I was just expecting a little more of the romantic moments. After finishing, I really do think the book is more about Sloane than it is about falling in love.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I wish I had had the time to inhale this book! I didn’t want to put it down. I think readers will really enjoy this summery contemporary!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE SUMMER OF SLOANE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

OPEN ROAD SUMMER    GOING VINTAGE

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Meri Kate from Hydrangeas and Sass)

FoF2014

Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Meri Kate from Hydrangeas and Sass is sharing a book review for WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE!


Hello! I am here today to tell you about a fun Halloween read, Welcome to the Dark House. I love all things to do with Halloween. I love the costumes, horror movies and books, and the candy. So I am really excited to be here today with a quick little review.

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Meri Kate from Hydrangeas and Sass)Title: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Publishing Info: July 22, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 14, 2014

What’s your worst nightmare?
For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.
And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.
Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.
Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

 

The book revolves around our heroine Ivy Jensen and six others who enter an essay contest to meet a famous horror director, Justin Blake, and go behind the scenes of his latest project. For the essay, they are asked to write about their worst nightmare. Ivy along with the other six contestants are all whisked away to stay in a spooky-looking house together where they’re promised the behind the scenes look. Their hostess resembles one of the serial killers from Blake’s movies and there is a night elf lurking about. By the time Ivy realizes she needs to really worry, it’s far too late.

This book takes you through different points-of-view as you progress through the story. We experience the house and events unwinding in it through the eyes of six different characters. While sometimes this got a little irritating, usually when they switched to a character I wasn’t all that fond of, it never got in the way of my experiencing the story like some books in this same style can. I did like our heroine. She really grew on me as I read the book. I enjoyed her potential love interest, Parker, as well. This book does read like a lot of horror movies do and we don’t really get to know or care for most of the characters. We get a little bit of back story, basically to explain their nightmares, but we don’t get much. Thanks to this, when some of the characters died/disappeared, I didn’t care too much. The introduction to the characters and the whole Justin Blake premise does take up half the book. The other half though is filled with horror movie-like kills. Overall I found the book to be enjoyable and gave it 3 out of 5 night elves.


Thanks, Meri Kate! I thought this book sounded SO interesting… but maybe a bit too scary for me haha!