Monday, March 20, 2017

It's Very Hungry Caterpillar Day #VHCday!!!!



Today is The Very Hungry Caterpillar Day!  Ahh so exciting!!!

Who doesn't love The Very Hungry Caterpillar?!  I even had a little outfit for my daughter last summer (sadness is that she has grown) that featured this little guy.  So, needless to say, I love love love the caterpillar!

I also love Eric Carle's other books.  They are fun, bright, and just great to read with the littles.

What is even better about it being The Very Hungry Caterpillar day?  There is a GIVEAWAY!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (ARV: $21.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 20, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.



And there are a bunch more of us joining in on this to celebrate!  Happy first day of Spring!


 



Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: The Union by S. Usher Evans


Title: The Union
Series: The Madion War Trilogy #3
Author: S. Usher Evans
Publisher: Sun's Golden Ray Publishing
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Author

The Madion War Trilogy has come to an end.  The third book, The Union, is out in the world...and I have read it.

It is a little hard to discuss a third book in a series without giving any sort of spoiler for the books that proceed it, so consider yourselves warned.

In The Union, we are still dealing with the world as we knew it from the last two books.  Two major countries are at war and our love birds are from opposing sides.  In this book they are currently working together to try to bring down the King of one country and to reunite the warring factions.

And just like before...it isn't working out very well.

And the love birds are finding themselves stuck in the middle of it.  Either they can't find any time to be with each other or someone is trying to exploit their relationship.

But before I get to the relationship and my feelings towards that with this book, I should probably discuss Theo.  See, Theo had been my favorite character for the majority of the series.  I thought she was strong willed and knew how to get what she wanted.  Then the Theo in The Union happened.  And she is not the Theo we knew.  She is weak.  She is whiny.  And she is kind of annoying.

I understand that some of this is because she has some what lost who she is due to things that have happened in the story line, but some of it was because of a boy.  Her insecurity in her relationship was really just...ugh.  We had a strong willed female crumbling at the idea that her relationship is doomed from them never getting to see one another.  It wasn't always because of that, but when it was...I really didn't feel like it felt like the Theo I had known.

Then our Princeling.  He did show some growth, and in a more positive way.  He wasn't as arrogant (he was still a little arrogant) as he had originally been and he had started to grow a pair of balls.  So that was nice.

Too bad Princeling and Theo together in The Union more or less just annoyed me (mostly Theo).   But really, there were points when they were together where I just had enough of them wanting each other.  There is more in this thought, but I can't really get into it without giving some major spoilers away.

Other things happened in the story.  One of the characters really made me think of another character from the Hunger Games and that connection I made, made it very difficult for me to imagine the character as who she should be and not who she isn't.  I wonder if I am the only one who kind of saw this?  Can you guess who I am talking about and who I thought they were?

All in all though, I enjoyed the series.  I mean, I devoured the first two books, and really liked them.  There was just something about this final book.  It just didn't reach that same level as the other books did (especially the The Island).

My Rating
3 Stars


This review is based on an ARC provided to me by the author.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blog Tour: Lifeblood by Gena Showalter - Guest Post and Giveaway


Title: Lifeblood
Series: Everlife #2
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source: Irish Banana Book Blog Tours

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Hi Everyone!  I am back with another lovely post about Lifeblood!  However, this time it is for a blog tour and not for a blitz!

This time I have for you guest post from Gena Showalter.  She was awesome enough to take some time out to answer a question for us!  Check it out!

What was the inspiration behind the Everlife series? 
I love scripture, and there are numerous scriptures about kingdoms not of this earth, kingdom vs. kingdom, a war between spiritual forces, and the power of choice.  Top those off with scriptures about life and death, blessing and cursing, light and dark, good and evil, and color me inspired!  In fact, once the idea for the Everlife series hit me – life as we know it is just a dress rehearsal and real life actually begins after death, in the afterlife, where only two realms are in power -- I was basically foaming-at-the-mouth eager to sit down and write book one (Firstlife).  Good and evil at war?  Yes!   But who is good and who is evil?  Everything is not always as black and white as it seems. 
I know many readers have said they consider Troika a type of heaven and Myriad a type of hell, but that isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I crafted them.  To me, the “hell” realm is Many Ends (where the Undecided go…and maybe others, though I can’t say who without giving spoilers, and the “heaven” realm is the Rest.  Troika and Myriad are merely paths that can lead to light or darkness, and for everyone – those in the light and those in the dark -- there will be bumps along the way.    
While the concept seems to totally contradicts the widely held believe that this life is the only one we will ever live, it gave me the opportunity to explore the idea that what we do now will matter for eternity. And of course, it enabled me to add a forbidden romance to the mix.  My favorite!  Ten, the heroine, is falling in love with one realm, but falling in love with the boy from the other realm.  Who will she choose?  The realm/home or the boy?

Giveaway



Follow the Tour!

Tour Schedule:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Book Blitz: Lifeblood by Gena Showalter




Title: Lifeblood
Series: Everlife #2
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Source: Irish Banana Book Blog Tours

OMG guys!  It is finally here!  The second book in the Everlife series by Gena Showalter!

Lifeblood is the sequel to Firstlife both written by the lovely and ever so talented Gena Showalter.  You may or may not recall that when I read Firstlife I was stuck on it for a long time after finishing.  It still sends my mind reeling when I think about the plot and the story in general.  So it is safe to say that I am super excited for the release of this gorgeous sequel.

If you need a reminder on any of my thoughts you can find my review for Firstlife right HERE.  I also made a fun pocket letter based off of the book too and you can find the post about that right HERE.

So what is Lifeblood about?  Well here is the synopsis for you!

ABOUT LIFEBLOOD:
My Firstlife is over, but my Everlife is only now beginning.

With her last living breath, Tenley "Ten" Lockwood made her choice and picked her realm in the Everlife. Now, as the war between Troika and Myriad rages, she must face the consequences.

Because Ten possesses a rare supernatural ability to absorb and share light, the Powers That Be have the highest expectations for her future—and the enemy wants her neutralized. Fighting to save her Secondlife, she must learn about her realm from the ground up while launching her first mission: convincing a select group of humans to join her side before they die. No pressure, right?

But Ten's competition is Killian, the boy she can't forget—the one who gave up everything for her happiness. He has only one shot at redemption: beating Ten at a game she's never even played. As their throw-downs heat up, so do their undeniable feelings, and soon, Ten will have to make another choice. Love…or victory.
 



LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom


Title: The Cruelty
Author: Scott Bergstrom
Series: The Cruelty #1
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Publisher

The Cruelty...

Oh what can I say about this book...

To be totally honest with you, I read this book months ago...  And I have kept putting this review off.

Kind of one purpose.

Why?  Because I have mixed feelings about this book.

On one hand, I did like it.  On the other hand, I didn't.

The Cruelty is about a girl named Gwendolyn.  Gwendolyn's father is a diplomat.  He has worked for the U.S. Government for years.  And he gets kidnapped.  So, naturally, Gwendolyn sets off to go rescue her father.

And the road to rescuing him is not pretty at all.  She finds herself in a dark world.  Human trafficking, drugs, murder, arms smuggling, etc.  It is a dark world that she has found herself in, in Europe, that she must navigate to find and rescue her father.

To be honest, the premise of this book is what really pulled me in.  I thought it sounded exciting and that it was going to be a really great story.

I also thought, that since it was marketed as a YA read, that it was going to not be too dark.

And that was my bad.

It was dark and at times pretty horrible.  I was a lot darker than I thought it would be for a YA read.  Scott Bergstrom didn't really spare his readers from the harsh reality of the world Gwendolyn has to navigate in The Cruelty.

And there were many times I wanted to give up on the book, but I kept picking it back up determined to finish it.  I have nothing against a dark book.  I will willingly read them all the time.  But for the longest time I had a hard time accepting that The Cruelty was meant for the YA reading crowd.

I did eventually flip to the back cover and see it was recommended for ages 17+ and that helped me get past some of my prejudices.  So there is that.  But I would really not recommend this book for the younger/more immature crowd.  As mentioned before - it traverses the dark underbelly of Europe.  Sex trafficking and arms dealing are probably the most prominent topics.  And there are definitely triggers for that and for other things.

It is these issues that have stuck with me the most since I have finished reading The Cruelty.

And yet, all that said, I still found myself occasionally able to enjoy the story and I did finish it.  Will I continue with this series?  That is a maybe leaning towards a no.  I might though.  I wouldn't mind seeing where this series is going and I wouldn't mind (hopefully) seeing Scott Bergstrom growing as a writer.

My Rating
3 Stars


This review is based on a copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blog Tour: Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson - Excerpt and Giveaway




Title: Piecing Me Together
Author: Renee Watson
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: February 14, 2017
Source: Publisher



Do you all see this cover?  It is absolutely gorgeous isn't it?

I couldn't pass up the chance to be on a blog tour for a book with such an amazing cover.  It just screams READ ME!

So today I happily bring you an excerpt from this gorgeous book!  Check it out!

Excerpt:

tener éxito
to succeed
When I learned the Spanish word for succeed, I thought it was kind of ironic that the word exit is embedded in it. Like the universe was telling me that in order for me to make something of this life, I’d have to leave home, my neighborhood, my friends.
And maybe I’ve already started. For the past two years I’ve attended St. Francis High School on the other side of town, away from everything and everyone I love. Tomorrow is the first day of junior year, and you’d think it was my first day as a freshman, the way my stomach is turning. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to being at St. Francis while the rest of my friends are at Northside. I begged Mom to let me got to my neighborhood high school, but she just kept telling me, “Jade, honey, this is a good opportunity.” One I couldn’t’ pass up. It’s the best private school in Portland, which means it’s mostly white, which means it’s expensive. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. What was the point of applying if, once I got accepted, Mom wouldn’t be able to afford for me to go?
But Mom had done her research. She knew St. Francis offered financial aid. So I applied, and once I got accepted, I received a full scholarship, so I kind of had to go.
So here I am, trying to pick out something to wear that doesn’t look like I’m trying too hard to impress or that I don’t care about how I look. St. Francis doesn’t have uniforms, and even though everyone says it doesn’t matter how you look on the outside, it does. Especially at St. Francis. I bought clothes with the money I made from working as a tutor at the rec center over the summer. I offered Mom some of the money I earned, to help with the bills or at least the groceries, but she wasn’t having any of that. She told me to spend it on my school clothes and supplies. I saved some of it, though. Just in case.
Mom comes into my room without knocking, like always. “I won’t be here tomorrow morning when you leave for school,” she says. She seems sad about this, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. “You won’t see much of me this week. I’m working extra hours.”
Mom used to work as a housekeeper at Emanuel Hospital, but she got fired because she was caught stealing supplies. She sometimes brought home blankets and the small lotions that are given to patients. Snacks, too, like saltine crackers, juice boxes. Then one of her coworkers reported her. Now Mom works for her friend’s mother, Ms. Louise, a rich old lady who can’t do much for herself. Mom makes Ms. Louis breakfast, lunch, and dinner, givers her baths, and takes her to doctors’ appointments. She cleans up the accidents Ms. Louis sometimes has when she can’t make it to the bathroom. Ms. Louise’s daughter comes at night, but sometimes she has a business trip to go on, so Mom stays.
I know Mom isn’t here just to tell me her schedule for the week, because it’s posted on the fridge. That’s how we communicate. We write our schedules on the dry-erase board and use it to let each other know what we’re up to. I close my closet, turn around, look at her, and wait. I know what’s coming. Every year since I started at St. Francis, Mom comes to my room the night before school and starts to give me the Talk. Tonight she’s taking a while to get to it, but I know it’s coming. She asks questions she already knows the answers to—have I registered to take the SATs yet, and am I still going to tutor at the rec, now that school had started?—and then she says, “Jade, are you going to make some friends this year?”
Here it is. The Talk.
“Really, Mom?”
“Yes, really. You need some friends.”
“I have Lee Lee.”
“You need friends who go to St. Francis. You’ve been there for two years. How is it that you haven’t made any new friends?”
“Well, at least I haven’t made enemies,” I say.
Mom sighs.
“I have friends there, Mom. They’re just not my best friends. It’s not like I got to school and sit all by myself in the cafeteria. I’m fine,” I tell her.
“Are you sure?” mom asks. “Because I swear, it’s like if you are Lee Lee aren’t joined together at the hip, you act like you can’t survive.”
Mom doesn’t understand that I want to have Lee Lee to look at when something funny happens—something that’s only funny to us. Our eyes have a way of finding each other no matter where we are in a room so we can give each other a look. A look that says, Did you see that? But at St. Francis, I don’t’ have anyone to share that look with. Most things that seem ridiculous to me are normal there. Like when my humanities teacher asked, “Who are the invisible people in our community? Who are the people we, as a society, take for granted?”
Some girl in my class said her housekeeper.
It wasn’t that I didn’t think she took her housekeeper for granted; it was that I couldn’t believe she had one. And then so many of my classmates nodded, like they could all relate. I actually looked across the room at the only other black girl in the class, and she was raising her hand, saying, “She took my answer,” and so I knew we’d probably never make eye contact about anything. And I realized how different I am from everyone else at St. Francis. Not only because I’m black and almost everyone else is white, but because their mothers are the kind of people who hire housekeepers, and my mother is the kind of person who works as one.
Lee Lee would get that. She’d look at me, and we’d have a whole conversation with only our eyes. But now I have to wait till I get home from school to fill her in on the crazy things these rich people say and do.
Mom keeps on with her talk. “I really wish you’d make at least one friend—a close friend—this year at your school,” she says. Then she says good night to me and walks into the hallway, where she turns and says, “Almost forgot to remind you—did you see my note on the fridge? You have a meeting with Mrs. Parker during lunch tomorrow.”
“On the first day of school? About what?”
Mom shrugs. “She didn’t give me details. Must be about the study abroad program,” she says with smile.
“You think so?” For the first time in—well, for the first time every—I am excited to talk to Mrs. Parker. This is the year that teachers select students to volunteer in a foreign country and do service learning projects. That was the thing that made me want to attend St. Francis. Well, that and the scholarship. When we met with Mrs. Parker, my guidance counselor, I think she could tell I was not feeling going to school away from my friends. But she knew from my application essay that I wanted to take Spanish and that I wanted to travel, so she said, “Jade, St. Francis provides opportunities for our students to travel the world.” She had me at that. Of course, she didn’t tell me I’d have to wait until I was a junior.
Mrs. Parker always had some kind of opportunity to tell me about. Freshman year it was an essay writing class that happened after school. Sophomore year it was the free SAT prep class that met on Saturday mornings. Saturday mornings. She likes to take me downtown to the Arlene Schnitzer Hall whenever there’s a speaker or poet in town, telling me I should hear so-and-so because kids in other cities in Oregon don’t get these kind of opportunities. I know Mrs. Parker is looking out for me—that she promised Mom she’d make sure I’d have a successful four years at St. Francis—but sometimes I wish I could say, Oh, no, thank you, Mrs. Parker. I have enough opportunities. My life is full of opportunities. Give an opportunity to someone else.
But girls like me, with coal skin and hula-hoop hips, whose mommas barely make enough money to keep food in the house, have to take opportunities every chance we get.

This excerpt was provided by the publisher for my use on the blog tour.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Tour:

2/14: Story Sanctuary
2/15: Reading is Better than Cupcakes
2/16: YA Indulgences
2/17: Awkwordly Emma
2/21: Dazzled by Books
2/22: Here’s to Happy Endings
2/23: A Little Book World
2/24: Random Musings of a Bibliophile

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Blog Tour: City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson



Title: City of Saints & Thieves
Author: Natalie C. Anderson
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Source: Publisher

City of Saints & Thieves is definitely not one of those books that I tend to gravitate to normally, but that is a good thing!  This year I told myself that I would do my best at reading more diversely and this book is definitely assisting me with that goal!

This story takes place in Kenya.  Our main character is Tina aka Little Girl.  Tina is a member of the local gang called the Goonda's.  She steals things for them.  And I don't mean she just pick pockets people on the street, she breaks into highly fortified locations that should be next to impossible to get into.

Of course, she doesn't do the jobs alone.  She has a team behind her being her eyes and ears.  BoyBoy who is not a Goonda handles all the technology stuff and hacks into things when Tina needs him to.  Bug Eye is the guy in charge.  And there is Ketchup.  He is...well he is Ketchup.  Tina doesn't really trust him, but he comes in handy as extra back up on jobs.

However, Tina's life was not always this way.  Tina and her mother were refugees from Congo.  Her mother found a place to work with a well to do family in a rich neighborhood.  Her mother eventually had another daughter, whose father just happened to be the man that Tina's mother worked for.  But over all, everything seemed to be going well for them and life was more or less just fine and dandy.

Until Tina's mother was murdered.

Tina, being pretty sure she knew who murdered her mother, took her sister and ran.  She got her sister set up with the Nuns and in school with them and then took off.  She never strayed far from her sister though, she felt she owed it to her mother to stick around and make sure that her sister was always safe and taken care of.  It is during her time on the streets that she found her way into the Goonda's and her calling as a thief.

There is no better motivation to become one of the best thieves out there if it means you can have revenge on your mothers murderer after all.

And it is when she breaks into the house that her mother used to work at, where she used to live, that this story starts.

It really does start off with quite a bang.  Pulling you directly into the story.  Action right from the get go.

I really appreciated the characters too.  Especially Tina.  Often times we don't truly get a strong female lead, but here in City of Saints & Thieves we do.  She is not one for apologizing and stepping aside.  She is the kind of girl that is going to fight for what she needs/wants/believes in.  And it is quite refreshing to have a character like this.

Also, while some of the locations of the story are made up, I believe we are still getting a glimpse as to what life is really like for those in Kenya, especially refugees.  I know not all end up in gangs etc...but I do think this book is allowing those of us who have never had the chance to go to places that these locations are influenced by to see what life can be like there.  Does it tell me everything I should know about Kenya and the hardships they face?  Does it tell me everything I need to know about the refugees from Congo?  No, it does not.  But it does give us readers a glimpse though, and what we choose to do with the glimpse is up to us. 

City of Saints & Thieves has strong characters and lots of intrigue and mystery.  Definitely not one to miss.

My Rating
4 Stars


This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Giveaway!


Enter for a chance to win one of five (5) finished copies of City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson (ARV: $18.99).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on January 16, 2017 and 11:59 PM on February 3, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about February 8, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.


Follow the Rest of the Tour!

Week One:
1/16 – Margie’s Must Reads – Review
1/17 – Children’s Book Review – Guest Post
1/18 – YA Wednesdays – Favorite Quotes
1/19 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Interview
1/20 – The Moral of our Stories – Review
 
Week Two:
1/23 – Oh the Book Feels – Review
1/24 – Bibliophile Gathering –Guest Post
1/25 – A Page with a View – Interview
1/26 – Icey Books – Quote Candy
1/27 – Reading Nook Reviews – Review
 
Week Three:
1/30 – Twinning for Books – Review and Pinterest Board
1/31 – Dark Faerie Tales – Interview
2/1 – Reading is Better with Cupcakes – Review
2/2 – ButterMyBooks – Guest Post
2/3 – Folded Pages Distillery – Review