Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blog tour: Interview & giveaway with Diane Alberts

Today I am happy to welcome Diane Alberts to the blog, as part of her blog tour for new book, Divinely Ruined.
Author bio: Diane Alberts has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author.  Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, and a Senegal parrot. In the rare moments when she’s not writing, she can usually be found hunched over one knitting project or another.
She is a multi-published, bestselling author with Entangled Publishing and Decadent Publishing. She is repped by her fabulous agent, Lauren Hammond of ADA Management. She has, as of this date, two books with Entangled Publishing, and five books with Decadent Publishing. Her February release with Entangled Publishing, ON ONE CONDITION, hit #18 on the Barnes and Noble Bestseller List. She has a lot of projects currently being shopped around by her fabulous agent, and her goal is to write so many fantastic books that even a non-romance book fan will know her name.

Let's find out a little more about the book!

She finally meets a decent man–after she’s oath-bound never to touch men again!
Rebecca’s life sucked before she became an angel. Crappy apartment, awful jobs, abusive boyfriends–it was no wonder she jumped at the chance to escape it all and become a real live angel. The problem is Rebecca’s not very angelic, and she’ll have to do more to earn her wings than end her love affair with the word f–er, frick.
Especially when she’s assigned to save single father Tony Weis, whose less-than-pure thoughts wreak hell on a telepathic angel’s nerves. It’s all Rebecca can do to keep her hands off him…but when she loses her memory injuring herself to save Tony’s daughter, now it’s Tony’s turn to be her angel and care for her. But will Tony’s devotion tempt her from her angelic path, even if it means being human again?

I had the chance to ask Diane a few questions for the blog.
Ailsa: First of all, 'Divinely Ruined' deals with the idea of guardian angels, but your angels were originally human. Rebecca is still very influenced by who she was in her human life - is she different in this, or do others have problems with adapting to 'angel behavior', too?

Diane: I think she, in particular, has a hard time adjusting to the new life she is in. She had such a dark, unhappy life as a human, so she thinks she is ready to give it all up for the glory of the life of an angel. She doesn’t want love and a family anymore…or, she thinks she doesn’t. But Tony helps her see past her fears, and helps her move on from them.
If not for her past life as a human, I think she wouldn’t have been so tempted by Tony, since he represents everything she wanted when she was human, but could never find.

Ailsa: Aww! So what's your favourite thing about Rebecca? How about Tony?

Diane: I love that Rebecca, despite her attempts at being a hard-hearted, perfect, non-swearing  angel, finds everything she didn’t know she wanted in Tony and Miranda. She is stubborn and tries to ignore the signs, like any red-headed angel would, but not too hard-headed to admit it.
And my favorite thing about Tony is the way he acts around those he loves. He tries to hide behind a hard shell and act like he doesn’t care about anything or anyone, but around Miranda and Rebecca, the real Tony shines through.

Ailsa:  Tony's daughter is adorable! Did you always plan for her to be an equally important main character? I love how much she is tied in to the plot, not just someone there to lighten things up and look cute.

Diane: Yes! To me, she is a central character because she drives Tony to be a better person. She makes him want to be an amazing father and a good human…despite his skepticism toward life. She needed to shine through as the adorable, amazing little girl she is. And, I’ll tell you a little secret. She’s based off my own daughter.

Ailsa: That's so nice to be able to base a character on your daughter! A lot of our readers are also aspiring writers - how would you describe your writing process for the story? Did it come to you fully formed, or did it take a while to come together? Is that typical for you?

Diane: Well, the first thing that came to me was the fact that I wanted to write an angel story that is different from all the other ones. In other angel books, they are ethereal beings that have great, sunny dispositions and never lose their temper. I thought it would be a fun change of pace to switch it up and have them be more human. And Rebecca? Well, she came with a foul temper and bright red hair.
Tony quickly followed, and with him came Miranda. A single father, down on his luck and miserable—in desperate need of saving. Saving that Rebecca could give, and only her. The rest of the story just flowed along after the characters formed, and after lots of re-writing and revising, I subbed it to Entangled!

Ailsa: Hurray! Finally, what would you say to people who still aren't convinced to try the book - what do you think makes Divinely Ruined different?

Diane: It is such a refreshing take on angels, and I tried to blend in the realistic world with the fantasy world. I tried to make you believe that angels like Rebecca really do exist—and maybe you know one. But more importantly, this is not like any angel book you’ve ever read. Trust me…I know! Pick up a copy today!

Thanks Diane! If you want to know more, you can read the first chapter online, Entangled Publishing or follow these links to buy: Books on Board Amazon,  or Barnes and Noble.

Find Diane on the web:

Finally, Entangled Publishing are offering a giveaway copy of 'Divinely Ruined'! Just leave a comment  to enter, open to midnight June 7th. Winner will be chosen at random and announced as close to June 8th as I can manage.

Review: Divinely Ruined, by Diane Alberts

Title: Divinely Ruined
Author: Diane Alberts
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release date: April 2012
Genre: Romance
Source: review copy from publisher

Description: She finally meets a decent man - after she's oath-bound never to touch men again!
Rebecca's life sucked before she became an angel. Crappy apartment, awful jobs, abusive boyfriends - it was no wonder she jumped at the chance to escape it all and become a real live angel. The problem is Rebecca's not very angelic, and she'll have to do more to earn her wings than end her love affair with the word f-er, frick.
Especially when she's assigned to save single father Tony Weis, whose less-than-pure thoughts wreak hell on a telepathic angel's nerves. It's all Rebecca can do to keep her hands off him... but when she loses her memory injuring herself to save Tony's daughter, now it's Tony's turn to be her angel and care for her. But will Tony's devotion tempt her from her angelic path, even if it means being human again?

My thoughts: Divinely Ruined is a sweet story about a woman who's been given the chance at a new life as an angel. Her first task is to save Tony, and that is immediately problematic. First, there's the challenge of making Tony let her in to help. Being an angel makes her telepathic which helps, but it also leaves her susceptible to the mental images Tony comes up with of them being very friendly together. Not on purpose (most of the time) - he just didn't expect an angel to be pretty and favour low cut tops. Each chapter starts with an Angel Rule, and Rule Number 2 is "never fall for your subject". Rebecca is so determined to do a good job and earn her wings, but Tony is very distracting, especially with his adorable daughter, Miranda.

I liked watching Tony and Rebecca start to trust and become familiar with each other, and then to properly care about each other. Rebecca connects with Miranda almost straight away and is an important part in bringing them together. The story is fairly short (less than 200 pages) but has a lot of character development packed in. There was one big thing Rebecca did that I got a bit annoyed with, near the end of the book - she reacts very badly to something Tony does, and I really don't think it was fair of her.

This is a sweet romance story with just a hint of angels involved, and was a pleasant read for an evening. It wasn't particularly 'deep' or needing lots of thought, but it was nice to have something light for a little while. I'll give this a 6 overall.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A little disruption

Hi guys!
On Friday evening I start a slow trip to New Jersey for my 3rd summer working as a camp counsellor there. I can't wait to be back, but it means posts might be a little slower. For the next couple of weeks, I should be able to keep up with lots of posts, but once camp kicks off near the end of June, I'm not sure how it's going to go. My plan is to get at least two reviews up a week, plus the Letterbox Love posts on Sundays. Maybe I'll be able to do more than that (I hope so) but we'll see how it goes. I'm going to try and set up some auto-posts for the days I can't get to the computer.

I read every single comment, and appreciate them all, so if I'm a little slow reply, it's because I'm trying to stop a group of children burning down the pinelands!

Check back on the blog tomorrow for a review of 'Divinely Ruined' by Diane Alberts, and an interview & giveaway with the author!

Do any of you have fun summer plans?


Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Title: Discount Armageddon
Author: Seanan McGuire
Publisher: Daw (US)
Release date: March 2012
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Bought at my local indie fantasy book store (Transreal Fiction, Edinburgh)

Description from back cover: Cryptid, noun: Any creature whose existence has not yet been proven by science. See also "monster".
Cryptozoologist, noun: Any person who thinks hunting for cryptids is a good idea. See also "idiot".

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... and that's just the beginning. The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity - and to protect humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance.
Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St George. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumours about a dragon sleeping underneath the city... 
A lifetime of training isn't enough to prepare Verity for what's ahead - especially not for Dominic De Luca, the Covenant's newest operative. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. 

My thoughts: I was introduced to Seanan McGuire's writing shortly after her first book, Rosemary and Rue, was published, and I've looked forward to each new book ever since. I've yet to be let down by one of her books, so I was really excited for her new series, which starts with Discount Armageddon.

Verity's family has a long history working as cryptozoologists, mainly trying to protect supernatural creatures from humans, and from the Covenant of St George, who think the only good cryptid is a dead one. Verity is taking a gap year of sorts, to live in a city (*gasps from her family*) and pursue a career ballroom dancing. Previously, she entered a So-You-Think-You-Can-Dance type show and did very well, but because her family are hiding from the Covenant, she had to do so under a false name, which she now uses for dance auditions in New York. To make ends meet, she works in a bar owned by a cryptid, Dave, and lives in a tiny apartment with creatures called 'Aeslin Mice'. The mice are rather adorable - just like normal mice, but they talk, and have festivals and religious celebrations for everything. Verity first meets Dominic De Luca as she's free-running home from work over the rooftops of New York and ends up hanging upside down from a trap he'd set. From there, it starts getting harder for Verity to keep her two lives of dancing and cryptozoology separate, getting pulled into problems about dragons that she would rather stay away from. While she and Dominic try to keep from killing each other, they must hunt around and under the city to find the truth of the rumours and find out what's happening to the disappearing locals.

Discount Armageddon is a really fun read. I was very quickly pulled into Verity's world, and I loved each new cryptid she met. I can't wait to see more of the world in the following books.  I like how Dominic and Verity both have a lot of prejudices about each other which they gradually manage to overcome, and I hope later books will show a little more of their fledgling friendship.

The second book, Midnight Blue Light, is scheduled for March 2013, and if you can't wait that long, there are some short stories about Verity's predecessors available on Seanan McGuire's website, here, as well as field guide to some of the cryptids.

I'm giving this 9 out of 10, and I'm really looking forward to book two in the InCryptid series.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Letterbox Love #2

Letterbox Love is a new feature hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking, intended as a way of sharing the books we've received with a slightly more British feel to it.

I've been away for a couple of weeks, trying (hopefully) to pass my exams, and sort out things for the summer and the coming year - I'm off to study abroad, so it's taken a bit of stress & organising with visas and pesky things things like that.

I've got a couple of books in the last week or so. First, I finally got the 4th Parasol Protectorate book, by Gail Carriger:

I'm about half way through this one, and I love it, it's so much fun to be back in this world again. (Click here for description on Goodreads.)

I also got a couple of ebooks from NetGalley for review:

Brook Street: Rogues, by Ava March - I've finished this one, and will be doing a mini-review of it soon. It's quite short, but it was fun. (Goodreads description.) 

And one that I read the description for somewhere online, and thought it sounded great, so I checked online and lo and behold, there it was! It's called 'The 500' by Matthew Quirk. I'm saving this one for when I have time to just sit & read with no distractions - I think it's going to be the sort of book that needs it. It's published by Hatchette Books & comes out on 5th June. (Goodreads description.)

So that's me for now - what did you all get through the post this week?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review: Nightfire by Lisa Marie Rice

Title: Nightfire
Author: Lisa Marie Rice
Publisher: Avon Red
Release Date: Feb 7 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Notes: Book 3 in a series, but stands alone pretty well
Source: review copy from publisher via edelweiss

Description from publisher: Chloe Mason can't remember much about her childhood, except for being in and out of hospitals. Now healthy and all grown up, she's determined to fill the gaping hole that was her past.. When she finds her long lost brother, Harry, she discovers family and something else that was missing from her life. Love.

As a child, Mike Keillor helplessly watched as his parents were massacred. Vowing to never again be vulnerable, he joined the Marines and became a Recon sniper, SWAT officer, and an expert in martial arts, before establishing his own successful security company. When his friend and partner Harry reconnects with his long lost sister, Chloe, the hard-as-nails Mike is felled by the one thing he can't fight. Love.

But their future is jeopardized when Chloe accidently steps into the path of the Russian mob. Though his adversary is way bigger than he is, nothing can stop Mike from saving the woman who has captured his heart. He lost his family, and he will not lose Chloe. Failure is not an option.

My thoughts: It's taken me a while to start writing this review because there were bits that really bothered me in the book. There were other bits that I quite liked. At first, we meet Chloe as she's in the waiting room of a mysterious company, waiting very nervously to speak to someone. She's had a hard childhood, and been a victim of abuse, which is clear early on. She reveals through a tearful conversation that Harry is her brother. Aaannd here it started losing me with the lack of realism. The family that are there at the office immediately welcome her as a sister, and they go home (where the three families involved in the series have apartments almost nextdoor to each other) and have a big family lunch. They've literally just met each other, and they go to have this cosy meal. Mike helps Chloe collect her stuff from the hotel she was staying in, because of course the family want her to stay with them, and while in the hotel room, the insta-lust between them bubbles over. Abused, virginal Chloe makes out with him against a wall, and lets him touch her intimately. It just seemed so unbelievable to me that a woman who's been through what Chloe has, and is still a virgin, would suddenly be so happy with physical contact when she's shied away from it with anyone so far in the book, and then would suddenly let herself be intimate with a man she's just met.

Moving on from that, there were bits that were very well written and I hoped it would turn out ok. There were a couple of other things along the lines of Chloe's intimacy issues that bothered me, but mostly it was the torture and the treatment of the prostitutes that also are tied in to the story. Perhaps stronger-stomached readers would have faired better, but I just didn't feel comfortable reading it. Readers here how secure Mike has made his apartment, and then someone finds a way to get in anyway - I really found it hard to accept that he would have thought of all these other ways to stop things and miss this one rather obvious one.

There is good writing in there, but I just didn't feel like it was very believable in a lot of places, and I was very uncomfortable with some scenes. I think this book has to get 4 out of 10 from me. I might read something else by this author if it had good recommendations, but it's something I'll be quite wary of.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Royal Street, by Suzanne Johnson

Title: Royal Street
Author: Suzanne Johnson
Publisher: Tor/Forge
Released: April 10th, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: review copy via NetGalley

Description: As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters.

While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now, the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering the soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerry has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and for the serial killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter gumbo.

My Thoughts: I really like this book. Now that we've got that out the way, let me tell you a bit more about it. We meet the heroine, DJ, as she's meeting the ghost of a lascivious pirate, who she soon banishes. She then catches up with her mentor Gerry, and they dismiss the coming storm, Katrina, as something that probably won't do any more harm than any other storm, and think that people should stop scaremongering. Of course, every reader knows how it's really going to turn out, and I was biting my nails waiting to see if these people would get themselves somewhere safe, and then what would happen in the aftermath. At first it seems like they're going to be ok, but then a few days after the storm has passed, Gerry goes missing, and it's up to DJ to sort out the supernatural beasties that are sneaking in to the city, while she tries to clear his name. Enter Alex, the "grenade-toting assassin". Both Alex & his cousin Jake sound very hot, and I found it very interesting to read about the interaction DJ had with each of them. For a little while, I really couldn't guess which way things were going to go.

I like the way the relationships develop between all the characters, and the way that DJ changes over the book as she finds out some things about her childhood. In her quest to clear Gerry's name, she does come across some things that point the finger strongly against him, and I thought the way she reacted and changed because of that was very believable. Each character has a strong, realistic personality of their own, and the interactions between them were often very funny - I really like DJ's inner voice.

I visited New Orleans last September, and I think it's beautifully brought to life in the book - it made me very nostalgic for my trip. The way that the supernatural element is brought into the world is very interesting, I think - they seem to exist in a parallel, slightly in the past, world, and try to break through to our world/time - it's DJ's job to stop this sort of thing. I can't wait to read more about her adventures, and see what happens with her changing powers as she learns more about what she can do. I'm also very interested to see the after affects of the events at the end of this book.

I'll give this one 9 out of 10 - check it out if you like books by Kalayna Price, Ilona Andrews, or Jocelynn Drake.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Interview with Courtney Vail

For the first time ever on this blog, I'm pleased to welcome author Courtney Vail to my blog! Her book Kings & Queens just released this year and the sequel, Sapphire Reign, is in the works. Courtney graciously stopped by long enough to answer some questions about her book, her writing style, and advice all would-be authors need to hear.

Thank you, Courtney!

Seventeen-year-old Majesty Alistair wants police to look further into her father's fatal car wreck, hopes the baseball team she manages can reclaim the state crown, aches for Derek...or, no...maybe Alec...maybe. And she mostly wishes to retract the hateful words she said to her dad right before slamming the door in his face, only to never see him again.

All her desires get sidelined, though, when she overhears two fellow students planning a church massacre. She doubts cops will follow up on her tip since they're sick of her coming around with notions of possible crimes-in-the-works. And it's not like she cries wolf. Not really. They'd be freaked too, but they're not the ones suffering from bloody dreams that hint at disaster like some crazy, street guy forecasting the Apocalypse.

So, she does what any habitual winner with zero cred would do...try to I.D. the nutjobs before they act. But, when their agenda turns out to be far bigger than she ever assumed, and even friends start looking suspect, the truth and her actions threaten to haunt her forever, especially since she's left with blood on her hands, the blood of someone she loves.

To read the interview, click here. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Last Day to Enter Sera's Giveaway!

Photo found here.
This is the last day to enter my birthday-inspired giveaway! Until midnight eastern standard time tonight, you can enter a contest to win one of two prizes. First prize will be a custom designed necklace made by me. Second place will be a custom designed bracelet.  Also, because this is a special month and a special contest, the contest will be open internationally!

One of the entries asks for a blog comment (click here to comment), a comment specifically answering the question, if money were no object, what would you want for your birthday this year?

My answer? Four back-to-back cruises on the Holland America line that would take me around the entire world in about a year.

A girl can dream, right? :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A sampling of pieces I've made recently.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

'Rules of Attraction' flash giveaway results

Morning everyone! It's a lovely sunny day here on the west of Scotland, a nice cheery time to announce the winners of the 'Rules of Attraction' giveaway :-)

I assigned everyone a number based on the order their comments were published & put the numbers into, and the winner is:


Congrats, Emily! Check your emails - you've got 2 weeks to get back to me :)

We'll have another giveaway in a couple of weeks time, so stay tuned if you didn't win this time!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Letterbox Love #1

'Letterbox Love' is a new meme created by a group of UK book bloggers and hosted by Lynsey at Narratively Speaking. It's a way to share the books you've got through the post each week, aimed more at British bloggers.

I got one book this week, which is actually quite a good thing because I've put all my partially-read and to-be-read books on one shelf, and there are quite a lot of them! I'm trying to get through some of them before the next adventure, which is approaching fast.

The book I got this week was a review copy of 'Divinely Ruined' by Diane Alberts. Diane will be stopping by on the 24th May as part of her blog tour, and doing an interview and giveaway.

Published April 26th by Entangled Publishing, you can learn more about it at Goodreads.
Thanks Entangled!

What books did you get this week? Leave your links in the comments and I'll check them out :-)


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mini Review: The Luxe, by Anna Godbersen

Title: The Luxe
Author: Anna Godbersen
Publisher: Penguin (UK)/Harper Collins (US)
Release date: 2008
Genre: YA historical
Source: BookMooch

Description (from back cover): Imagine, if you will, New York City, 1899... 
Society's elite: the glamour, the grandeur, the glittering parties, the most handsome beaux, the most beautiful debutantes... the rich girl, the humble boy, the forbidden love, the stolen glances, the whispers, the scandal, the mystery, the revenge
You are cordially invited to step into The Luxe, where the secrets are dark and the sins are delicious... 

My thoughts: A sort of turn of the century Gossip Girl, 'The Luxe' introduces us to a cast of young men and women coming of age in 1899 Manhattan. Beginning with a newspaper obituary and then the start of a funeral for one miss Diana, readers get a quick who's who of the young elite. It was a bit of an info-dump, but it made it very easy to flick back and forth later and find out more about characters from their names. The story then jumps back a few weeks, to where Diana is alive. I enjoyed reading about the pretty dresses and fancy parties - I'm still a girly-girl at heart ;-) Of course behind the parties there are other problems and a lot of rivalries. The story gets to that part quickly, and I was keen to find out what happened to cause the funeral just a few weeks later.
There were a few pages where I skipped forward because it was clear what was happening and I wanted to get to the good bits. I thought it was a good story overall, and I would like to read the sequel when I can get hold of it.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

Also posted on my blog. 

We need her. 

When you've been out in an ocean, stung by jellyfish, battered by waves, and circled by sharks in frosty pink lipstick, you grab the first life preserver tossed your way.

We need her. 

I faced every member of KDRS radio staff. I wasn't naked. I wasn't alone. And according to Duncan, I was needed.

Before school let out for winter break, Chloe was on top of the world. She and her two best friends were inseparable--and ultra popular--and she'd been crowned Mistletoe Ball Queen. Her Junior Independent Study Project (JISP) had been approved on the lives of soap opera villenesses and she could always make her friends laugh. But then, for no apparent reason, everything completely falls apart. Her best friends hate her and start spreading vicious lies through the school, the old guidance counselor retires and the new one un-approves Chloe's JISP, and her beloved Grams starts to succumb to her Parkinsons disease. Desperate for a new JISP--because it's the only problem she seems able to fix--Chloe ends up at the school-run radio station, KDRS. The only problem? No one wants her there. These kids, all outsiders of the school's social order, have formed their own little family and newcomers aren't exactly welcomed with open arms. But Chloe doesn't have any other options and the KDRS kids can't say no. The only one who doesn't seem to hate her is the radio's fix-it guy Duncan who is incredibly cute, but about as taciturn as Chloe is talkative. Can Chloe work her magic and put all the pieces of her life back together or do some things that break stay broken forever?

Before I start, I'm just going to say I love this cover. Is it the best cover ever designed? No, but it fits the book perfectly. The designers paid attention to things like the color of the main character's hair and her love of vintage fashion and added those details into this layout. It's colorful, glittery, and totally Chloe. Kudos to the team behind this. When I get published, I hope I have a team who really gets my book and can pull together a cover just as representative of the story. Now, for the actual contents...

Well, I loved those too! The characters were all unique with easy to differentiate voices and I found myself smiling a lot as I read. Shelley did a great job working in a lot of common high-school-age issues without treating them in the same way. Chloe is lambasted by her ex-best friends, but never seeks vengeance. She also doesn't go out looking to get her popularity back. Because of who she is, though, it comes anyway. The love interest between Chloe and Duncan is adorable and develops naturally. Throughout the book you see Chloe not only coming out of her comfort zone, but helping pull others out of theirs. She's funny, outgoing, intelligent, and kind. She may end up being a trifle self-absorbed at times, but, honestly, who isn't? Overall, I found her and the rest of the cast delightful and the book was a quick, fun read.

In the end, I was only left with a couple of questions: 1) What is Clem's story? The girl who runs the radio station is prickly as hell, but we never really get any background on her. 2) The shoes Chloe is always talking about sound expensive! Where in the world is she getting the money for those? How much does her side job as a promo girl at a Mexican restaurant pay exactly? Still, if those were the only biting, unanswered questions left at the end of the book, I have to say the author did a bang-up job of tying the loose ends together. I can't tell for sure, but I feel as though there might be a sequel buried in these characters. Maybe with Chloe taking the lead again, maybe not. All I know is I wouldn't mind taking a trip back into Chloe's universe one day.

Sera's Rating: 10/10

Friday, May 4, 2012

Almost by Anne Elliot

Cross posted from my blog.
Almost. Almost.

How I hate that word and the way it defines me.

Almost raped. Almost over it. Almost normal.

I can almost forget. Way worse, I can almost remember.

I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me. Even though everyone says it wasn't my fault, I feel responsible. How can this messed up life not be partly my deal? I did wrong. I broke all the rules that night. And I'm paying the consequences for my 'bad choices' in this endless time-out. Nightmare. Punishment. Endless time-out.
It's been three years and Jess Jordan still isn't over something that technically didn't happen. She barely even remembers that night, but what she does remember is just enough to give her nightmares every time she falls asleep in the dark. Her solution? Don't sleep at night. Instead, she uses her Jeep to catch catnaps whenever she has some spare time. The silence in the house at night helps convince her parents everything is getting back to "normal," but they're not ready to let her move out at the end of her senior year unless she can prove it. Her sister's solution? Get a job, get some friends, get a boyfriend. So that's what Jess is trying to do--land an internship at the headquarters of The only problem? She's not the only one they're considering.

Three years ago, Gray Porter promised Jess Jordan's parents he'd stay away from her even though that's the last thing he wants to do. Come senior year, though, he is getting a little desperate for money since his chances at a hockey scholarship are out the window. When he hears is going to pay their intern $8,000 for a few weeks work, he's determined that intern is going to be him... until he realizes Jess Jordan is the only other candidate left. He's been keeping a secret that's been slowly eating away at him for a long time and Jess is at the heart of it.

It's the last thing she expected when she arrived for the second interview, but when Jess goes home that day she has everything her sister thought she needed to qualify as a "normal" teen: a job, friends, and a boyfriend. So what if she had to offer to work for free just to get the job? So what if her new friends just happened to come with her boyfriend? And so what if her boyfriend--her very cute boyfriend--only agreed because she's paying him $8,000 to play the part for a few weeks? It still counts, right? But Jess doesn't know she's spending time with the one person outside her family who knows what keeps her up at night. What will she do if hearing his voice every day starts to bring back the memory of that night so long ago? Do they even stand a chance or will their relationship me one more almost to add to her list?

That summary was a lot longer than I usually do, but the story is complicated. This is partially because it's told from both perspectives: Jess and Gray. I loved that. I always want to know what the characters are thinking and this format allows us to see exactly that. There were a lot of adorable moments between Jess and Gray, but I think the strongest part of this book is that it revolves around an "almost." A lot of people forget that even something that almost happened can destroy a life; almost getting raped definitely falls into that category.

Honestly, I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to pretty much anyone who like contemporary YA. Despite the subject matter, there's actually little to no cursing, sex, violence, or any other graphic material, so even giving it to younger readers as a conversation starter would probably be okay. My only complaints? 1) At times Gray came off a tiny (tiny) bit girlish, especially in the wording when he started gushing over Jess, and 2) through the beginning of the book I sometimes felt Jess' reactions and her level of trauma were a tad overblown... until she finally remembered what happened. Then, I realized, not so much. I'm not sure if this reaction is because I haven't suffered through something like this and can't relate or because that actual horror of the circumstances don't come through until the night finally comes back to her... Overall I thought Anne's story and her characters were strong. She's got a new book coming out soon and I'll definitely be buying it when it hits Amazon!

Sera's Rating: 9/10

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flash giveaway: Rules of Attraction, by Simone Elkeles

I'm clearing through my bookshelves again, trying to make space for all the shiny new ones I just brought home from uni. So, it's giveaway time!

Rules of Attraction, by Simone Elkeles (review here). 

To win, just leave me a comment on this post. Giveaway is open from now until midnight Tuesday (8th May). UK only, must be a follower, either on GFC or by email.