Saturday, January 31, 2015

Soundtrack Saturday (17)

Happy Saturday, everyone! You know what that means... another edition of Soundtrack Saturday! In case you're a new follower or just noticing this meme, here's what it's all about:

Soundtrack Saturday is a book meme created and hosted by me so I can share my love of music with my readers. There is a catch, though... The soundtracks are book soundtracks! As with all bookish memes, there are a few steps to follow to help you create your own Soundtrack Saturday post:
  • Choose a book that you've read
  • Create a mini (four songs) or full soundtrack (ten-fifteen songs) for that book based on characters and plot details
    • For more detailed instructions, visit the meme's homepage.
  • Please credit me somewhere in your post
    • It can be as simple as "Soundtrack Saturday was created by Erin at The Hardcover Lover.
  • Please comment on my post, so I can be sure to check out your post
  • Add your name to the link-up tool 
This week's book for Soundtrack Saturday, Open Road Summer, is theme-heavy on music, and the author, Emery Lord, even penned a few songs herself for the book. I'm including those song in my track listing, and they will be denoted with an asterisk. In addition to those, which I'm sure we be lovely, I'm including some other songs that came to mind when I was reading.

  1. "Open Road Summer"  by Lilah Montgomery* 
  2. "Starts with Goodbye" by Carrie Underwood
  3. "Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee" by Lilah Montgomery*
  4. "Wasting All These Tears" by Cassadee Pope
  5. "Tomorrow" by Chris Young
  6. "The Outside" by Taylor Swift
  7. "Guinevere" by the Eli Young Band
  8. "Human" by Matt Finch*
  9. "Young in America" by Danielle Bradbery
  10. "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks
  11. "So Easy" by Elizabeth Huett
  12. "Yet" by Matt Finch*
  13. "If I'm Not in Love with You" by Faith Hill
  14. "I'm Only Me When I'm With You" by Taylor Swift
  15. "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line
  16. "This Kiss" by Faith Hill

So I know I've been slacking on my Soundtrack Saturday posts, but I've been kind of busy. And a lot of the books I've been reading make it really hard to pick songs. I know some of my readers have kept up with the meme, so feel free to share any links from the past in this week's link up!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: The Kiss of Deception


Title: The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles #1)
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover, 489 pages

Source: Purchased from Amazon
Rating: ☆☆☆
A princess must find her place in a reborn world.

She flees on her wedding day.

She steals ancient documents from the Chancellor's secret collection.

She is pursued by bounty hunters sent by her own father.

She is Princess Lia, seventeen, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan.

The Kingdom of Morrighan is steeped in tradition and the stories of a bygone world, but some traditions Lia can't abide. Like having to marry someone she's never met to secure a political alliance.

Fed up and ready for a new life, Lia flees to a distant village on the morning of her wedding. She settles in among the common folk, intrigued when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deceptions swirl and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—secrets that may unravel her world—even as she feels herself falling in love.

My Review

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is a charming and beautifully written YA fantasy novel about a young princess named Lia who decides to run away from the only home she's ever known to avoid marrying a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Seems interesting, right? Of course.

Those of you who have been reading my reviews and getting to know me have probably realized by now that I don't exactly read a lot of fantasy. It's not that I don't like the genre - I have read and loved so many fantasy novels - I sometimes get frustrated with the lack of world-building that some authors forget to include. That is not the case with The Kiss of Deception. Pearson's imagery paints the picture of a troubled world that still has a lot of growing up to do. I love the way that Pearson does this. She gives away little details of the throughout the novel, and the reader is still interested in learning what she has purposefully omitted by the end of the book.

There is a vast array of strong and curious characters in this book. First of all, there's the runaway princess, Lia. She's an independent young lady who desperately wants to make her own decisions in life. She's also got a smart mouth on her and it certainly makes for a fair share of people who dislike her. To be honest, I really liked Lia. When I first picked up the book, I thought she might not be as fierce as she is, but I'm certainly a fan of how Pearson characterizes her. Other main characters in the book are Pauline, Lia's handmaid, and two young men named Rafe and Kaden. Pauline certainly finds herself in a lot of trouble, but she's a good and loyal friend to Lia. Rafe and Kaden are mysterious, but each in their own ways. I kept flip-flopping with these two characters, and by the end of the book, I had no clue what to feel about either, even after figuring out their secrets. Pearson also includes a plethora of minor characters who also add a great deal to the story.

I was hoping for more action in this book than there actually was, and I'll admit that I was a little bored for about half of it. I just wanted something to happen, but there were just a lot of normal scenes - Lia and Pauline traveling and working, Lia and Pauline meeting new people, and the introduction of new characters.

However, the writing makes up for the lack of action and plot movement. I absolutely love Pearson's writing style. She drives things forward so eloquently, even if she's just writing about Lia moving from the kitchen of the bar to the dining room. At the end of the novel, I was ready for more, and I'll definitely be reading the sequel, The Heart of Betrayal.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hardcover Lover Confessions (2)

Hardcover Lover Confessions is a new, every-once-in-a-while feature that I'll be posting on my blog. It's a way for me to express and discuss my thoughts on things I come across in the book blogging world, but also a way for me to get to know my followers better. Everyone is more than welcome to join the conversations and get talking.

I won't be posting a HCL Confession every week, but I will be posting them when I find that I have something to share with the book blogosphere. They might be about blogging news, or even about a book that I might have disliked even though it's popular. Bottom line - anything and everything can be discussed. I encourage you to join in the conversations, and leave comments. You can even suggest topics for a HCL Confession. All I ask is that you be respectful if you disagree with my opinions.

HCL Confession on Disliking Popular Books:

I'm sure we've all been there because I've seen this topic discussed before. Everyone is talking about the same book, and it seems like just about everyone loves it. The problem? You don't. It's hard not to feel like the black sheep in the book world when you're in this situation.  It seems like it's you against the world. What's a reader to do?

I've been in this situation more than a few times, and let me tell you... it's tough. For the longest time, I was even afraid to talk about my feelings on one particular book because I saw how brutal things got for people who disliked popular books on Goodreads. I still see bloggers saying that people have sent hateful comments because they have a different opinion. Why would I subject myself to that situation over one book? I quietly gave the book a one star rating, and quickly changed my Goodreads profile settings so people who weren't friends with me couldn't comment on the review. 

But why live in fear? We're all entitled to our own opinions, right? Why should I fear that someone might call me out? Eventually, I posted the review for said book on my blog, and I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. And the best part... not one person said anything terrible about me disliking the book!

Have you ever felt like an oddball because you hated a book that everyone else loved? Were you ever afraid of posting a review on your blog or on Goodreads because of it? Feel free to discuss with me or with other bloggers in the comments.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (14)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme created and hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Each week, meme participants create a post about a book that they are eagerly waiting on... Get it? It could be a book that is being released soon or it could be a book that is still months away from publication - as long as it's not published and you're waiting on it, you're good to go!

Waiting On... 

Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
From the acclaimed author of How to Love comes another stunning contemporary novel, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen.

Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer--99 days--with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother.

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that's how I know everyone still remembers everything. She has every right to hate me, of course: I broke Patrick Donnelly's heart the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. Now I'm serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn't finished. I'm expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it's just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. "For what it's worth, Molly Barlow," he says, "I'm really glad you're back."

Day 12: Gabe wouldn't quit till he got me to come to this party, and I'm surprised to find I'm actually having fun. I think he's about to kiss me--and that's when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who's supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who's never going to forgive me.

Why I'm Waiting...

I adored Katie's debut novel, How to Love, and I immediately declared her as one of my favorite authors. This book seems like it will be a cute and quirky contemporary. I really like the synopsis, and I can't wait to see how Molly deals with these two brothers.

As always, feel free to let me know what books you're waiting on in the comments.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (17)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish. They created the meme because they love making and sharing lists. Well that's just one thing that I have in common with them because list making is essential to my life.

Every week, there is a new topic for Top Ten Tuesday, and all you have to do is create your top ten list (or somewhere around ten) based on it. Oh, and be sure to link back to The Broke and the Bookish! Then you can add your name to the link up tool that they include in their post!

Ten Books I'd Love to Read With My Book Club If I Had A Book Club:

It's no secret that fantasy and adventure novels are some of my least read books. I sometimes get distracted when I'm reading them, and that reading them with a group would help encourage me to want to read more in this genre. I've read and loved some of these books, but others scare me. Still I want to get to a place where I feel completely comfortable opening a title like one of these on my own.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: Open Road Summer


Title: Open Road Summer
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (Bloomsbury)
Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Source: Amazon
Regan O'Neill and Dee Montgomery are more like sisters than best friends. It's a bond that can't be broken, even by Dee's fame and fortune as a country music superstar.
When Regan break up with her bad-news boyfriend and Dee gets dumped by her high school sweetheart, even the sweetest country ballad can't heal their broken hearts, and that's where friends come in. Dee's twenty-four-city tour is the perfect opportunity for a girl's only summer that will kick off the dust of any relationship gone bad.
But when Matt Flinch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm completely throws off Reagan's plan for a drama-free existence. With miles to go before Regan and Dee are ready to risk their hearts again, this summer will be one to remember...


My Review

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord is one of those adorable Young Adult books that will literally take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. This book will make you laugh. It will make you cry. You'll probably swoon a little bit, and then you'll get your heart broken into a million little jigsaw puzzle pieces only to have all the pieces put back together. It's literally that stunningly beautiful.

The book is about two childhood best friends, Reagan and Dee, who have recently suffered heartaches. Both are trying to heal and move on, and the best way for them is to head to the highways. But this isn't your average road trip because Dee is really country superstar Lilah Montgomery. This part of the plot kind of gives off the Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift vibes, but I adored it! Why? Well I'll tell you why. I freaking love Taylor Swift, and her debut album is still my favorite. Oh and Hannah Montana is kind of one of my guilty pleasures. I'm also a pretty big country music fan, and music fan in general, so this part of the plot really appealed to me and is pretty much the main reason why I bought the book.

Yes... there is some romance going on during this road trip, and yes, I'm going to go ahead and say that it's as endearing and charming as an idyllic country lifestyle. Prepare to swoon when you meet the country heartthrob in this book! Two words - Matt Finch. I have now found my contemporary book boyfriend, and no... I'm not sharing. I love Matt's story. He really helps round out the book.

I technically gave this book a five-star-rating, but I do want to state that I did find some flaws in the book. The ones that bothered me were easy enough to overlook and did not interfere with my enjoyment of the novel. I just was hoping that Emery Lord would make it seem more like a road trip novel by describing places, like landmarks or physical locations, in the different cities on Lilah's tour. That would have made it feel a little more real to me.

All in all, Open Road Summer is a wonderful read that explores friendship, heartache, loss, violence, love, and fresh starts. The characters are quirky and loveable, and the plot strikes a major chord if you're a fan of cute contemporary novels. (Sorry... I couldn't resist the pun!) I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a book to take to the beach or just a back porch read in the middle of the summer. And okay... a book to warm you up in the middle of winter.

About Emery Lord

Emery Lord is a 20-something Midwestern girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you're not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name "Emily," and that will get you really close.  

She lives in Cincinnati in a 100 year-old pink row house with her BFF/husband, a closet full of dresses, and lots of books. If karaoke-ing in grocery store aisles or guzzling coffee while impulse shopping were illegal, Emery would be writing her overemotional YA books from jail. Also, she makes up words sometimes. Like combustibly.
Open Road Summer, her first YA novel, is out now with Bloomsbury. Her second, The Start of Me & You, will be released March 31, 2015.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Top 21 YA Blogs of 2015

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Recently, I was approached by another blogger, Mary, who was interested in finding YA blogs to share with other YA readers. Mary loves finding blogs that she enjoyes and sticking with them. She's what you call a very loyal follower. She asked me a little bit of information about myself, and for my blog's URL, and told me that she'd be back to me soon if my blog made the list.

This morning, I woke up to a message on Goodreads, stating that my blog had made her list for this calendar year! I'm so excited to share this news with you all, and I'm excited to share the other twenty bloggers who mad the list! I've only been blogging for a few short months, and already, I feel like I'm being accepted into this wonderful community of bookish people. So now... without further ado, I'm going to share the entirety of Mary's post so everyone who follows me can discover some new and amazing YA blogs!

The Top 21 YA Blogs of 2015

1. The Hardcover Lover

Okay... so obviously you guys know this one is me. If you don't... well... I'm Erin. I'm the only blogger here at The Hardcover Lover, and I made my blog a few years after discovering YA in a college class. I'm also a certified English teacher, so I love reading YA to see what books the kids are reading. I've found that the kids respect me a little more if they know that I've read a book that they have read. On The Hardcover Lover, you'll find book reviews, bookish memes, including my own - Soundtrack Saturday. Many of the reviews I post on my blog are YA, but I sometimes post some middle grade reviews and some adult fiction reviews.

2.     Sassy & Dangerous

Sassy & Dangerous all got started in the month of July and has been filled with anything bookish! All about the genre young adult, it ranges from book reviews, giveaways, book tours, and so much more. You will also find my very own book meme called Books, Coffee & Hotties..Oh My! which talks about the title itself; a coffee you can't live without, a book you can't stop reading, and that one hottie you can't stop staring at! So, please feel free to stop by and maybe even leave a comment. I always love making new blogging buddies to talk about books and book boyfriends!

3.     Perusing Bookshelves 

Perusing Bookshelves Is a book blog sharing the love of books and everything bookish. The book blog offers a variety of bookish posts -from book reviews to discussions about our silly bookish insecurities. Perusing Bookshelves is a place to unleash your inner book nerd and flail over books and fictional characters along with Kat, the girl behind all the shenanigans on Perusing Bookshelves. She's an all round book lover and is constantly on the search for more books that piques her fantasy, as if she doesn't already have piles of TBR books clogging her bookshelf at home. 

4.     Word to Dreams

 I am a forty something mother of 4, 2 of whom are serving in the US military and 2 whom are in high school and a veteran myself. I work full time for county government by day and by night I am a reader, blogger, reviewer, Goodreads co-mod, coordinator of a Read 4 Review program and Facebook addict. My favorite category of books is Young Adult. Before Twilight came on to the scene, I discovered the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and became hooked on YA dystopian, science fiction and paranormal. I'm not a big reader of contemporary romance, but I do promote these authors too, because it's only fair. I read published and self-published novels alike and do not prefer one over the other.

5. Diary of a Book Lover

Hi there! I'm Alma, a book blogger who loves to read YA, mostly fantasy and contemporary. I own a blog called "Diary of a Booklover" where I talk do review, tags, etc. I'm honored to be included in the Top 21 YA blog. Some random things about me: I love music as much as reading and I'm obsessed with quotes. Some of my favorite books are Clockwork Princess, Cress and Crown of Midnight. Thanks for reading!

 6. Heartland Reading 

My blog is about reading and enjoying books in general. I use to read Historical Romance books but I have branched out to just Romance, YA and NA. I'm sure as my pallet grows I'll be reading more genres. I try to do a weekly meme to show what books I have received or bought for the week.

7. Twenty three Owls

Camillia is a book and lifestyle blogger. She blogs on Twenty Three Owls and she posts book reviews, exclusive interviews and advanced excerpts from books. When she has the time, Camillia also blogs about her life and about daily struggles. From hair routines to how to master the art of being lazy, Camillia has you covered. She keeps it real on her blog and you can expect to find funny, sad and relatable posts there.

8. The Book Ponderer

This is the place where YA and occasionally adult books are reviewed. Ranging from science fiction, paranormal, fantasy and other genres of books. No books are left unturned as I believe in giving every book their deserved chance.

9. Karinys Teen Boox Frenzy

I blog about YA books, mostly fantasy and romance. I rarely reads sci-fi, chick lit and contemporaries but I still love then nonetheless. I like to focus more on YA fantasy with romance; I rarely read books without romance. I review books that authors send me for free in exchange for HONEST reviews and I’m a netgallery member. I do my best to review all the books I read good or bad because I want to share my honest feelings with other readers like me. I love reviewing books directly from new or debut authors because I also want to be an author and so I want to help them out and get as maximum exposure for their talent as I can. Here’s a link and I hope you like it!

10.     Boats Against the Currents

I’m Laura: a bookworm and aspiring writer from the North West of England. I review a wide range of books on my blog Boats Against The Current, including sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and of course, YA fiction, as well as posting discussion posts, list posts and writing tips. '

11.     Forever Obsession

Hello everyone, my name is Rivalie and I blog over at Forever Obsession. The blog was born in 2012 after I stumbled across my first book blog and fell in love. Since then, I've been on a crazy adventure reading as many books as I can and sharing my thoughts on them. I post a variety of things from book reviews to book tags and weekly bookish memes. Reading has been one of my passions since I was little and being able to talk about my feelings with other people on the Internet has been such an amazing experience. My blog is a place for everyone to come, talk about their bookish thoughts, and spend time with other book lovers. 

12.   My Fantabulous Bookshelf 

My Fabulous Bookshelf features reviews and opinions of different YA books. It also gives readers a glimpse of certain ARCs and helps promote and market different authors. 

13.     Battered Hope

My blog is a lifestyle blog as well as a platform to share my memoir Battered Hope. "Sharing laughter, inspiration and encouraging stories to anyone who has been put through the wringer of life, because if I can overcome can you."

14.  YA Mythology Retold Books

I'm a writer living in a magical world where mythological beings and magic exists. I have an extraordinary imagination, which has taken me to places no ordinary mortal has been. I love to read and blog about articles targeted at the YA market. 

15. Mostly YA Book Obsessed 

I’m a 28 year old mother of two girls (7 and 4 years old) who loves books, fashion and good music.  I started my book blog in December 2011 after months of silently stalking other book blogs.  I have an Associate’s Degree in Fashion Design and worked in the Product Development field for a women’s apparel catalog for over 5 years.  I love to find new ways of combining my love of books and fashion and even started my own fashion blog last year.

I love to read pretty much anything, although I struggle with Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Dystopias. My favorite genre is contemporary and although I mostly read YA, I also enjoy Adult Romances and New Adult books.

16. Mallory Books 

My name is Mallory, I started blogging (rather badly) at the beginning of summer. I read mostly Young Adult novels, so that's what I usually review. I also do bookish tags and other things on my blog. With the help of a few friends, my blog has progressed into something I love and am very proud of. I hope everyone else feels the same way!

17. The YA Book Worm 

My name is Caitlin and I'm a teenage high school student, bookish blogger, YouTuber and dedicated bookworm. 
Books to me have become my second life- a special place  I can go to whenever and wherever I want. They  give me the chance to become someone entirely different where I can deal with someone else's problems. 

18. Anna Reads 

Anna Reads - I’m a grownup, married lady who still firmly believes that high schools + boys make for the best books. Don’t you agree?
No? Well, then this ain’t the place for you.

Yes? Nice! You’re either an actual young adult or are just like me: a young-at-heart adult who has a soft spot for coming-of-age fiction and chick lit. I’m always on the lookout for something good to read, and maybe you are too, so I thought I’d share what I’m reading and pick up some suggestions from you along the way. A to-read list can never be long enough, right?

19. YA Book Mark 

Hi! I'm Audris! I'm a 21 year old college student currently working to be a psychologist, however, in the meantime I read and review books! As you could probably guess, I read everything categorized as Young Adult, and sometimes I even delve into the adult world.

20. Book for YA 

Blogger - Erleen Alvarez is an IT graduate who immerse herself in the world of fiction to hang out with fictional character, flirt with her book boyfriends and save the world one book at a time.

21. Always YA at Heart 

Hi, I'm Ellen and I am a not so young adult who loves young adult books. I am a nurse, and I love to read books and share about them with others.  I love to read and review Young Adult, New Adult, and even some Grown-Up (Adult) books.  I also occasionally review Middle Grade novels also.  I believe you can always be young at heart, no matter what your age.

Again, I'd like to thank Mary for creating this list of wonderful YA bloggers. Every single one of them is worth a follow, so you should totally do that. Also, feel free to share this post with everyone you know! Tweet about it. Share it on Facebook. Pin it. Make a blog post about it! Just remember to link back to Mary's blog so everyone can find her, too!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bookmail Day Gone Wrong

This post is more of a personal rant, but also a warning to other bloggers and readers who order books online.

If you ordered a signed copy of All Fall Down from Target, please read this because I do offer some advice at the end of the post.

Today, I received my copy of All Fall Down by Ally Carter in the mail. If you read my blog regularly, you will probably already know from my review that I received an ARC from the publisher (Scholastic), and really enjoyed the book.

When I saw Ally Carter take to Twitter and her website to tell readers about signed copies being available from certain retailers, I jumped on the opportunity because A. I loved signed copies of books and B. I enjoyed the book, so it would be a nice addition to my personal library.

My first attempt at getting a signed copy was from Barnes & Noble. For some reason, my account wasn't working (it wouldn't let me enter my credit card information), so I made another B&N online account to order it. The exact same thing happened again, and then they ran out of signed copies.

So I went to Target's website and ordered one. Apparently I did this really late at night and a few days after the attempt from ordering from Barnes & Noble. When I got my shipping notification, I was excited! I couldn't wait to get the signed copy in my hands. The book showed up at my door today. It was not signed, and I was extremely disappointed.

Ally Carter reached out to me on Twitter and said that it was happening to a lot of people who ordered the book and that Scholastic was working on a solution. I decided to call Target. I thought it was my right to express my disappointment as a paying customer. The operator on the phone told me that the stores were carrying signed copies and that I would be able to exchange it.

So what did I do? I hopped in my car and drove to the closest (within a five mile radius) of my three local Targets. The woman who helped me was extremely kind, and got on her walkie talkie with someone in electronics. He told her that they did not have signed copies, so I returned the book. Before I left, I decided to go back to the books and electronics to see for myself, and guess what! Two signed copies were sitting there. I left the store out of spite. I wasn't waiting in line again to pay for something when I was lied to.

If You Didn't Get Your Signed Copy of All Fall Down from Target:

You can take your book in for an exchange to any Target location, but I urge you to ask to go back with an employee to see for yourself. I didn't because I didn't think I could, and now I regret it.

You can return it for a full refund. That's what I ended up doing.

Check with your local indie. Call your local independent bookstore to see if they have it. If they do, you can return it and buy from your indie. This is what I'm going to end up doing.

Cover Reveal: Never Never


Title: Never Never
Author: Brianna R. Shrum
Publication Date: September 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.

When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.

But grow up he does.       


And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.

This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.

Except one.

About Brianna R. Shrum

Brianna Shrum lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband, two boys, and two big, floppy hound dogs. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She'd love to connect with you. You can find her saying ridiculous things on Twitter. @briannashrum

The Friday 56 (9)

The Friday 56 is a weekly bookish meme hosted over at Freda's Voice. The rules are easy  to follow, and this is a great way to share books with other bloggers.

So what do you need to do?
  • Go to page 56 (or 56%) of the book you're currently reading
  • Copy down and share a few sentences with your blog's readers, but be sure not to spoil anything major
  • Add your name to the link-up on Freda's blog
This Friday, I'm reading Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. I've had it on my shelves for a while, and I was in the mood for a good contemporary, so I went with this one.

I was pleasantly surprised to find song lyrics on page 56 of this book because I pretty much am obsessed with music and lyrics. I'm including the lyrics along with a short passage from the book.
Oh, you know I'm only human;
I bend and fall and break.
You cut me and I bleed;
I'm a mess for you to make.
So forget the words and give me deeds;

My heart was yours to take.

"'What are you listening to?' she asks when I remove my headphones. She narrows her eyes at me, and I feel as if I've been caught in a personal moment."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Blitz: The Queen's Gift + GIVEAWAY

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Title: The Queen's Gift
Author: T.R. Allardice
Publication Date: December 15, 2014
Fifteen-year-old, late-bloomer Jean Elliott dreams of becoming a Genie like her mom. When her family relocates to Tokyo, Jean is forced to use sleight-of-hand tricks to fool everyone at school into believing that she’s a normal Preternatural or risk expulsion. When her power finally appears, it comes in the form of the Queen’s Gift–an unspeakable magic that strips power from all Preternaturals and heralds the arrival of the new queen.

After an absence of two hundred years, not everyone wants the monarchy to return and they’re willing to go to great lengths to keep the status quo. When buried secrets rip Jean’s family apart, she has a choice to make: Walk away and hope for the best or embrace the power that’s known to lead to madness in order to save her family.

Jean’s greatest dream has turned into her biggest nightmare and no matter how hard she tries, there’ll be no wishing the Queen’s Gift away.


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Excerpt from The Queen's Gift:

Everything I know about Tokyo can be found on page two hundred and fifty-seven of the Preternatural’s Travel Guide to Japan. It consists of three paragraphs—a whopping one hundred and fifty words—and in no way prepares anyone for the crushing size of the city or the cultural whiplash.
Despite the upheaval that a move from Chicago to the other side of the world created, my first day at Tokyo International Preternatural School wasn’t much different from any other school day.
I was late.
To add to my humiliation, Mom personally dropped me off outside the administration office.
“Jean, I know you don’t want to be here.” My mom, Queen of the Understatement, Ruler of the Obvious.
There was no good way to respond, so I kept my mouth shut. When I’d begged my parents to let me attend a Preternatural school, Tokyo wasn’t what I had in mind. I thought we’d stay in Chicago. Near my friends. Near my old school. In case things didn’t work out.
She brushed my long hair back to get it out of my face. “Do you have everything you need?”
Mom didn’t mean lunch money or school supplies. She was referring to my magical contraband. The items I use to trick Preters into believing that I am just like them. I’m not. Not yet anyway. It’s my hope that being around other Preters will jumpstart my powers. Until then, I’d have to fake it.
When pressed, Mom says I’m a late-bloomer. I had my doubts...but I was ready. I’m always ready. It was one of the stipulations for attending this school. To prove it, I patted the hidden compartments sewn into my shirtsleeves. “Good to go.”
“That’s my girl.” She gave me a peck on the cheek, then rushed off to her classroom.
Did I forget to mention that my mom’s a teacher here?
I know. Lucky me.
Mom glanced back, when she reached the elevators, and said, “Make a wish,” then snapped her fingers and disappeared. A plume of glitter-like substance appeared in the air where she’d stood, then quickly dissolved.
Make a wish. Same principle as ‘break a leg’. Three simple words that when combined seemed harmless enough. Most people associated them with birthdays or falling stars. Happy moments. Special moments. Magical moments.
Not me.
I hate those three little words. All they do is remind me of just how common I am. No offense to humans. They’re born as Commons. They don’t know any differently. I do. And I’m reminded every night when I sit down for dinner with my Preternatural family just how much being common sucks.
My backpack slipped. I shifted it higher onto my shoulder and glared at the heavy wooden doors that stood between the admin office and me, wishing I could snap my fingers and disappear, too.
The red dragon handles on the doors were warm to the touch, as if the dragons recently breathed fire. Maybe they had. Or maybe the school cast a truth charm on the doors. Wouldn’t be the first school office that used one. Wouldn’t be the last. Not that it mattered. The spell wouldn’t work on me. One of the few perks of being powerless.
The doors were intimidating, but not half as much as the administrative office itself. Located on the fiftieth floor of a high-rise, the office had floor-to-ceiling windows that framed Tokyo and made it look as if the city floated amongst the clouds.
“Elliott-san, we’ve been expecting you,” a woman said as I stepped into the room. Small, with delicate features, her dainty bones seemed at odds with the inch-thick glasses perched on her tiny nose. The lenses magnified her eyes until they looked three times their normal size.
“Not Elliott-chan?” Chan was often used to address young girls, or so I’d read.
Her lips curved into a smile. “Are you a child?”
“No,” I said.
“My name is Ieto-san.” She gave me a bow.
Mom told me on the flight that bowing was another way to say hello and show respect, but I didn’t understand how deep or shallow I was supposed to bow. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. I gave Ieto a quick nod.
Her nose crinkled and she sneezed.
With a flourish of my hand, I produced a tissue and handed it to her. It looked like it appeared out of thin air, but actually it had come from my shirtsleeve.
Doumo arigatou,” she said.
“You’re welcome.”
“Sorry, but your transcripts have been delayed.” I expected this. “Should be finished with temporary schedule in moment.” Ieto’s imperfect English trumped my knowledge of the Japanese language.
Transcript mix-ups came anytime you magically doctored school records. Mom hadn’t finished working on them yet. Of course this school didn’t know that, and I wasn’t about to volunteer the information. The last thing my family wanted was for anyone to know I’d transferred in from a Common school. Preters didn’t go to Common schools—ever.
It was too dangerous…for the Commons. Preters didn’t have total control of their powers until they reached adulthood. I hadn’t attended a Preter school since the fifth grade, not since the…incident.
That was also the year that Mom and Dad finally acknowledged that the powers—my powers—they’d been insisting were simply slow to develop were in fact totally nonexistent. Coincidence? I think not.
Ieto stared at me, her nose twitching, as she waited to see if I had any questions. I didn't. As the perpetual new kid, I never had any questions. Her nose twitched again and she blinked several times. I wondered if she was a mole Shifter, but that question was impolite to ask in any country.
After an uncomfortable silence, she pointed to an empty chair. “Your Gakusei escort should be here soon.”
Obviously nobody trusted me to get to class on my own today. I parked myself in the chair.
The language may have changed, but despite the fact that this was my first Preter school in five years, it would be like all the others. I'd do my homework. Keep my head down. Kill time until we moved. It wouldn’t be long. Never was. I’d learned a long time ago not to get too comfortable. It only made moving harder.
This was what you wanted, so suck it up.
I opened my backpack and pulled out a notebook. The orange binder had the names of my two best friends from Chicago carved into its battered face. Three other sets of names had already been crossed out, marking the other cities that we’d lived in over the past couple of years. I ran my thumb over the newest names and swallowed the bitter taste of homesickness that welled in my mouth.
Ieto went back to typing, my presence already a footnote in her memory. The rhythmic clack, clack, clack poked holes in the silence.
My phone flashed the time. Least it was good for something here in Japan. I’d missed most of first period, but it hardly mattered. Today was orientation. I wouldn’t be attending any real classes until tomorrow, so I put in my ear-buds and cranked the music.
A girl walked into the office and stopped in front of me. Before I could put my notebook down, she plucked an ear-bud out of my left ear and said, “Cell phones aren’t allowed in school. Neither are mp3 players or headphones of any kind. You must be Jean Elliott.”
Yay, my student escort had arrived.
My gaze locked onto a pair of greenish-purple knees the size of giant doorknobs that poked out from beneath a pleated black uniform skirt. The boney joints undulated beneath her skin as she shifted her weight.
I’d worn my favorite pair of low-rider blue jeans and an over-sized gray Chicago sweatshirt. No one had said anything about having to wear a uniform. Mom conveniently forgot to mention it. This school just kept getting better and better.
The girl cleared her throat. “You are Jean Elliott, the spell-casting, wish-granting Sensei’s daughter, right?”
Sensei was Japanese for teacher. Why couldn’t she just say that?
“That’s me.” My gaze rose and rose until it latched onto a Ghoul’s beaming face.
I shrieked and pushed off with my feet. My shoulders slammed against the back of the chair, knocking it into the wall. It clanged so loud that Ieto jumped. The move didn’t put me out of reach of the Ghoul, but at least I had a chance of escaping if she attacked. I tried not to stare, but I’d never been this close to a Ghoul. Like ever!
You would’ve stared, too.
All Ghouls are big. This girl was no exception. At six feet and counting, her shoulders were wide enough to shame an American football player in full uniform. Her earth brown hair hung in two fat braids next to her ears. Dark blue-framed glasses bisected her flared nose. Her smile revealed a mouth full of razor sharp teeth encased in shiny silver braces.
“You look like her.” She sniffed. “You smell a little like her, too. But I guess all Genies carry that flowery jasmine scent.”
Did I forget to mention that my mom is a Genie? And not just any Genie, she’s one of the best wish-granters and spell-casters in the world.
As I watched, the Ghoul pushed her eyeglass frames up with a thick finger and smiled wider. Visions of being swallowed whole flashed through my mind. I’m not very big. I had no doubt she could unhinge her jaw and polish me off in three or four bites without breaking a sweat.
“My name is Karen Kim. Most people call me Kim-gakusei or Kim-san, but you can call me Karen.” The Ghoul stuck out her hand.
I stared at the meaty catcher’s mitt with fingers and thought about the story of a poor shark that had, had the misfortune of attacking a Ghoul off the coast of Australia. By the time the thrashing finished and the blood cleared, all that was left of the Great White was a lone fin bobbing on the surface of the water.
Was it safe to shake her hand? Ghouls weren’t known to eat other Preters, but they would if they were hungry enough and I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a normal Preternatural.
As if on cue, Karen’s stomach growled...and growled...and growled.
“Please don’t eat me.” Had I just said that aloud? My eyes closed and I groaned.
Karen laughed.
Not the reaction I expected.
“Relax,” she said. “I’m not going to eat you.” She tapped the fashion magazine under her arm. “I can’t go around eating random Preters. Not if I want to be a supermodel.”
It took me a moment to tear my gaze away from her stomach. Did she say model? I blinked. Was that supposed to be some kind of joke? I gave her a small smile and continued to stare. No way would I comment on Karen’s declaration. Let somebody else break it to her that there weren’t any size eighteen Korean Ghoul supermodels. And if there were, they’d never graced the cover of Magical Vague or any other fashion magazine. Ghouls only came in two sizes, big and gigantic.
Before anyone thinks I’m being harsh, they should know that at five foot two I won’t be a model any time soon either.
Karen's brow furrowed. “Am I your first Ghoul?”
I grunted noncommittally. It was either that or lie. Did Ghouls attack if you insulted them? Didn't know. Didn't want to find out. I looked to Ieto for help, but she steadfastly ignored my silent pleas. What kind of sadistic school was this?
Karen snorted. “You look like you're going to be sick.”
"Sorry." Nice Ghoul. Easy Ghoul. Stay calm. I pulled the other ear-bud out slowly and shoved the phone into my book bag. I’d heard that sudden movements might accidentally trigger an attack response.
She shrugged. “I’m used to it." Karen’s gaze dropped away and her cheeks turned Granny Smith apple green, a Ghoul’s version of a blush. "Most people aren’t so honest about their feelings. I think we’re going to get along just fine.” She glanced over at Ieto, probably to see if she’d noticed, but the woman was immersed in her work. Karen cleared her throat and got back to business. “The school has assigned me to be your student guide for at least a week. I’ll show you where everything is, help you find your classes, and introduce you to some people. If you—”
A bewitched radio roared to life on Ieto’s desk, interrupting Karen’s spiel. The broadcast started out in Japanese, then automatically switched to whatever language the listener spoke.
“The Common news reported another sighting of the white monster. This brings the total number of sightings to seven. It was spotted last night near the electronics’ district of Akihabara. This is the latest in a rash of strange creature sightings from around the world. An emergency meeting of the Assembly has been called. Steps are being taken to detain the creature. A reward has been offered for any information on its current whereabouts. No further details are available at this time.” The broadcast ended abruptly.
I rolled my eyes. “Some Common probably caught sight of a were-lion, were-dragon or were-something in mid-change.” Surprising, sure. Shocking, maybe, but hardly what you’d call news in the Preter world. “Must be a slow news week.”
“No.” Karen shook her head, making her braids flop. “It’s not a Preter. That’s already been confirmed. And it’s not the same creature showing up all over the world. The descriptions vary from location to location.”
Contrary to what she thought, I still believed the creature was a Preter having a good laugh at everyone’s expense. “If it’s not a Preter, then what is it?”
“Nobody knows.” Karen’s dark brown eyes glowed with excitement. “That’s why a bunch of us are going monster hunting tonight. Want to come with?” All that was missing from the question was I dare you.
I’ve been the new kid more times than I could count. I have had several self-appointed “friends”. Some even became real friends. Most resented the job and took pleasure in hazing me every chance they got. The question was, what type was Karen?
“Sure, I’ll go.” I didn’t have a clue what I’d agreed to, since technically we were the monsters. No doubt tonight would turn out to be a pointless snipe hunt and I’d be the one left holding the butterfly net.
“Great!” Karen flashed a frightening smile. “We could really use someone with your powers.”
“Yeah.” I laughed nervously. “My powers are fierce.” They were so fierce they hadn’t bothered to show up yet. Was it too late to bow out? If Karen’s grin was any indication, then I already had my answer. I sighed. Some girls dream of having big boobs. I dream of being a Genie. Until that day happens...
Sucks to be me.

About T.R. Allardice:

T.R. Allardice writes young adult, new adult, and humorous horror stories. Most of what she writes incorporates several genres. The content won't always be 'safe'. What's the fun in that? She is a member of the Horror Writer's Association, Novelist Inc. and the Author's Guild. She has thirty-one books published under another pen name.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Review: Tuck Everlasting


Title: Tuck Everlasting
Author: Natalie Babbitt
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: August 21, 2007 (Originally published in 1975)
Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Doomed to—or blessed with—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

My Review

Do you think immortality is a curse or a blessing? What if you were given the choice to age normally or halt your life at this moment and stay that way forever just by drinking a bit of water? That's what young Winnie Foster has to decide in this beloved novel by Natalie Babbitt.

Even though I'm pretty sure that I've read this book before (don't think less of me for not remembering; it was over twelve years ago), I had a very pleasant time reading this classic children's novel. I love the story that Babbitt creates and the questions that she gives her young readers. It's cute, happy, and sad all at the same time, so it makes for an interesting and emotionally pulling read.

I loved Winnie's story, and seeing how just stepping outside of her fence made her world seem so much bigger until finally it's gigantic when she reaches the Tuck's cabin. Even when I was ten years old, my boundaries made the world seem so small until they were expanded, so I thought that was very representative of a young child's life. Coming across Jesse Tuck in the woods and subsequently meeting the rest of the Tuck family showed Winnie a lot about life and really living, and it made me wish that I could really have the chance to choose to age gracefully or be immortal.

The characters in this charming book do not disappoint. Obviously I liked Winnie because she knows that she's not extraordinarily special.  She's just Winnie Foster - the girl with an overprotective family, the girl who's not allowed to leave her yard and the girl who talks to toads. Jesse and his brother, Miles, are fun characters, but quite honestly I feel like I didn't really get to know them very well in the book, especially Miles. I wouldn't have minded a few more pages for Babbitt to explore them a little more. The man in the yellow suit is a mysterious, yet intriguing character. I liked how Babbitt characterizes him, and I'm sure many kids will be able to figure him out before the conclusion of the novel. My favorite characters in the book were Tuck and Mae. They seemed like they genuinely cared about Winnie and her decision, although at one point I was concerned that they wanted to keep her as a pet.

Tuck Everlasting is a book that I think all children should read in the later years of elementary school (or earlier if they are on the advanced track). It's short enough for kids to read in a few days, maybe even one day, but it contains some important life questions that might make children rethink their opinions about immortality.

Waiting on Wednesday (13)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme created and hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each week, meme participants create a post about a book that they cannot wait to get their hands on. It could be a book that is being released soon or it could be a book that is still months away from publication - as long as it's not published and you're waiting on it, you're good!

For the third week in a row, I'm featuring a book by an author I've never read. But that's okay with me because it means that I'm really starting to explore the many different books and authors in YA.

Waiting On...


Title: Things We Know by Heart
Author: Jessi Kirby
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
When Quinn Sullivan meets the recipient of her boyfriend’s donated heart, the two form an unexpected connection.

After Quinn loses her boyfriend, Trent, in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the pieces of her now-unrecognizable life. She hears back from some of them, but the person who received Trent’s heart has remained silent. The essence of a person, she has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent’s, then maybe she can have peace once and for all.

Risking everything in order to finally lay her memories to rest, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she’s falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she’s lost…and all that remains at stake.

Why I'm Waiting...

I'm kind of a sucker for emotional reads, especially if they are done well. This book's synopsis kind of reminds me of a movie I remember watching as a child - Searching for David's Heart but with more of a romantic feel. I also read another book about a heart transplant a while ago, and liked it, so I'd like to see how Kirby tackles it.

Feel free to let me know what you're waiting on this week in the comments.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Audiobook Tour: Crossing the Ice by Jennifer Comeaux


Title: Crossing the Ice (Ice #1)
Author: Jennifer Comeaux
Publication Date: August 3, 2014
Narrator: Emily Stokes
Source: Author
Length: 9 hours, 5 minutes

Falling hard never felt so good. Pair skaters Courtney and Mark have one shot left at their Olympic dream. They vow not to let anything get in their way, especially not Josh and Stephanie, the wealthy and talented brother and sister team. The heart doesn’t always listen to reason, though… The more time Courtney spends with sweet, shy Josh, the harder she falls for him. But they are on opposite sides of the competition, and their futures are headed in opposite directions. Will their friendship blossom into more or are their paths too different to cross?

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Character Profiles

Courtney Carlton is a twenty-one year old pair skater from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Besides her love of figure skating, here are some of her other favorite things:
  • Color: Green
  • Song: "Over the Rainbow"
  • TV Show: Friday Night Lights
  • Actor: Joshua Jackson
  • Movie: The Wizard of Oz
  • City: Boston
  • Ice Cream: Chocolate Hazelnut gelato
  • Chocolate Bar: Mint Chocolate Aero Bar
  • Fruit: Strawberries and Bananas
  • Drink: Chocolate Milk
  • Pizza: Veggie
  • Magazine: People
  • Flower: Hydrangea
  • Store: TJ Maxx
  • Number: 8
  • Non-Skating Sport: Football
  • Animals: Cats
  • School Subject: Psychology
  • Food: Dessert
  • Music: Anything from rap to Disney tunes
Josh Tucker is a twenty-two year old pair skater from Los Angeles, California. Besides his love of skating, here are some of his favorite things:
  • Color: Blue
  • Song: "Exogenesis Symphony Part 3" by Muse
  • TV Show: The Big Bang Theory
  • Actor: Matt Damon
  • Movie: Ocean's Eleven
  • City: Malibu
  • Ice Cream: Peanut Butter and Chocolate
  • Fruit: Bananas
  • Drink: Coke
  • Pizza: Pepperoni Supreme
  • Magazine: Entertainment Weekly
  • Flower: Red Rose
  • Store: GAP
  • Number: 7
  • Non-Skating Sport: Hockey
  • Animal: Horses
  • School Subject: Music
  • Food: Burgers
  • Music: A little bit of everything from alternative rock to classical


Jennifer Comeaux is a tax accountant by day, writer by night. There aren’t any ice rinks near her home in south Louisiana, but she’s a diehard figure skating fan and loves to write stories of romance set in the world of competitive skating. One of her favorite pastimes is travelling to competitions, where she can experience all the glitz and drama that inspire her writing. Jennifer loves to hear from readers! Visit for contact information and to learn more about her books.
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