Saturday, February 28, 2015

Soundtrack Saturday (20)

Happy Saturday, everyone! If you've been following The Hardcover Lover for a while, you know just what happens on Saturdays on the blog. Yup! That's right - Soundtrack Saturday!

If you've never noticed the meme or are just new to the blog, I'll explain things for you:

Soundtrack Saturday is a book meme created and hosted by me so I can share my love of music with my readers. But this is a book blog, so of course, books are involved! The soundtracks are actually book soundtracks! As I'm reading, or as soon as I finish, I compile a list of songs that go well with the book.

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  

  1. "Fancy" by Iggy Azalea
  2. "Happy" by Pharrell
  3. "Don't Trust Me" by 3OH!3
  4. "The Boys of Fall" by Kenny Chesney
  5. "Nightingale" by Demi Lovato
  6. "Human" by Christina Perri
  7. "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry
  8. "Famous in a Small Town" by Miranda Lambert
  9. "Cry on Command" by Gloriana
  10. "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett
  11. "White Blank Page" by Mumford & Sons
  12. "Shattered" by O.A.R.
  13. "Damn You Seventeen" by Lady Antebellum
  14.  "Night Changes" by One Direction
  15. "Warrior" by Demi Lovato

For this soundtrack, I started by thinking of songs that would be played at a high school party because that's where all the rumors about Alice started. From there, I followed the plot of the book to come up with a soundtrack that I think tells the stories of all of the teens. I also threw some country music in this one as it's set in a small town in Texas.

Last week, I participated in the Love-a-Thon, so Soundtrack Saturday took a little break. If you posted a Soundtrack Saturday last week, feel free to add it to this week's link-up.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Friday 56 (13)

The Friday 56 is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Freda 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 to participate in The Friday 56?
  • Go to page 56 (or 56% for e-readers) of the book you're currently reading
  • Grab a few sentences to share 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 week, I'm reading My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp. The book releases on Tuesday, so look for a review between now and then.

It's about a bright teenager who is getting ready to leave her small town life for good. Unfortunately, her dad loses all of her tuition money, so it looks like she'll be stuck in Dale, Virgina for a little longer. Then she cooks up a plan to make and sell moonshine so she has her tuition money.

As of right now, I'm about 30% through the book, and I can tell you that I'm really liking it so far. 
Currently Reading

"We hadn't done much beyond kissing. Heated hours of kissing, but for someone measuring progress, there hadn't been any quantifiable change. All clothes stayed on. Curious hands had roamed the landscapes of each other, but there'd only been quick, furtive slips beneath to reach hot skin. The way I ached inside whenever you held me close felt like something so different than hard science."

DNF Review: Seeker

Title: Seeker (Seeker #1)
Series: Seeker
Author: Arwen Elys Dayton
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating: ☆ - DNF
Quin Kincaid has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker’.

Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new-found knowledge and training to become an assassin. Quin's new role will take her around the globe, from a remote estate in Scotland to a bustling, futuristic Hong Kong where the past she thought she had escaped will finally catch up with her.

My Review

When opening my emails one day, I noticed that NetGalley was offering a digital galley of Seeker as a read it now feature for the first 500 members. I read the synopsis, thought about it, and finally decided that I wanted to read it. I logged in to NetGalley hours after initially receiving the email to see if it was still available as a read it now feature. I was still in the first 500 people who clicked, so I was able to download and read the book. I was happy about it. I thought that this would be the book that would get me back in to fantasy, but I was very, very wrong.

I struggled with what I read of Seeker. I found that I wasn't able to connect with the characters in the book, especially the main character Quin. It's so hard to like a book when the characters are flat, and I felt that the three main characters in this book were as flat as a board. I also had trouble with the plot as there is no world building. The reader is just immediately thrown into the action, and that's not how I like my fantasy. There needs to be some sort of a build so readers are able to understand and navigate the new world.

The other thing that really bothered me about Seeker is the incestuous love triangle. I'm not one to knock a book for having a love triangle, but this one was just wrong on so many levels. It made me very uncomfortable, and I had only gotten to Quin's initial attraction to her second love interest. I just couldn't get over the fact that she was starting to consider romantic feelings for her cousin. As I was reading, I understood that the two were not first cousins, but it is stated that they are cousins and were raised alongside one another and ultimately, I made my decision to stop reading.

I do want to point out one more thing for readers in this review. I noticed that a few readers were mentioning in reviews that the story was told from three different POVs. I want to clear this up and tell you that this is not the case. The book is told from the point of view of an omniscient narrator. That means that one being is narrating the whole thing, but tells the stories of different people during different chapters. Each chapter is labeled so the reader knows who it is about, but those characters are not narrating the story.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Versatile Blogger Award

Hey, everyone. I've been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award! I'd like to thank Maureen from Diaries of a Book Lover for the nomination.

As with many blog awards and tags, there are a few rules that you should follow:
  1. Nominate fifteen other bloggers who are relatively new to blogging.
  2. Let those bloggers know that you've nominated them.
  3. Share ten random facts about yourself.
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  5. Add the award badge to your post.

Ten Random Facts About Me

  1. I was born with jet black hair. It all fell out, and I was bald for two years before my hair started to grow back. When it grew in, it was blonde.
  2.  I fell off stage during ballet once.
  3. I got the chicken pox on Easter Sunday. I ended up having a terrible case, and they were even in my throat. An ER trip happened.
  4. Two weeks after the chicken pox incident, I ended up breaking my thumb. That day was the day I made my First Holy Communion. I even knocked the bone out of place. Of course another ER trip was involved.
  5. I played the clarinet for ten years, but I still pick it up to practice from time to time.
  6. I sometimes sew in my spare time.
  7. In elementary school, all of my celebrity crushes were on gay men.
  8. I have two kittens. Their names are Lizzie and Luna.
  9. I have a huge nail polish collection, but I hardly paint my nails anymore.
  10. I collect beach glass.

My Nominees:

Honestly, I'm not going to nominate anyone for this one just because I've nominated so many people for tags and awards. If you'd like to do it, consider yourself nominated because you're all wonderful bloggers!


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ARC Review: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills


Title: Positively Beautiful
Author: Wendy Mills
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Rating: ☆☆☆☆
In this heart-wrenching story of love and loss, a teen grapples with a medical question that could change everything.
Erin Bailey's life changes forever the day her mom is diagnosed with breast cancer. It's always been just Erin and Mom, so living without her is not an option. Life takes another turn when the cancer is linked to a rare genetic mutation, and Erin must choose whether or not to have her own DNA tested. Her only escape outlets are a new friend she met in an online support group and flying lessons, where looking to the horizon calms her deepest fears. But when a flash decision has Erin flying away to find her friend, she embarks on a journey to new love and a better understanding of the true meaning of beauty.
This thought-provoking story brings readers to the emotional brink and back again as they experience Erin's fear, her frustration, and ultimately . . . her freedom.

My Review

A few simple words can't explain what reading Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills will do to readers. It's an emotional roller coaster of a read that will have readers laughing, smiling, swooning, and crying. You will be in tears by the end of the book. I promise you that. The book will literally transform the way readers think about life and death.

The novel starts out by introducing readers to sixteen (almost seventeen) year old Erin Bailey. She is your average American teenage girl. She does well in school and has a best friend. She's not the most popular girl in school, but I wouldn't say she's on the lowest rung of the social ladder. She's also got a nemesis like quite a few girls do in high school. Her best friend meets a boy, and soon they all begin to hang out with Michael, a boy who used to be quite popular until he decided to drop it all. Pretty status quo, right? Well... that's just the beginning of the book.

Mills introduces the main problem of the book - Erin's mom's cancer diagnosis - rather quickly, but after reading the whole novel, I like that she did that. With the inclusion of a very quick diagnosis, Mills creates a very realistic case of what it's like to battle cancer because cancer really can strike anywhere and at any time. 

If you read the synopsis, you know that Erin's mom discovers that the cancer is linked to a genetic mutation. Some of you may already be aware of this gene - the BRCA gene - because Angelina Jolie recently decided to have a mastectomy because of it. After Erin finds out that she could be at risk, she orders a kit to have her own DNA tested. I thought that Erin was brave for wanting to find out the truth, even though everyone, including her mom, is insisting that she wait until she's older to be tested. I admire Mills for bringing this into the story. It really shows that some people want to know just how they could die.

I also enjoyed that there were a few things going on in this book. It's not just about cancer (although the aforementioned cancer is the reason that Erin does a lot of what she does). There are some heartbreaking moments between Erin and her best friend. There are some times when you'll feel so bad for Erin that you want to jump into the book and give her the biggest of hugs. You'll see Erin go online to find support groups to help her cope with the genetic mutation that is destroying her family. Erin also tries to distract herself with flying lessons so she can feel closer to her late father. Erin is a mufti-faceted character that I think will connect with many of today's teens.

If you're only looking to read a few new books in 2015, this should be one of them. It's emotional and it's raw, but it will teach you about life and love when it seems like all hope is lost in the world.

ARC Review: The Tragic Age

Title: The Tragic Age: A Novel
Author: Stephen Matcalfe
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Source: ARC from publisher via Goodreads First Reads giveaway program
Rating: ☆☆
This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.
Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul. 

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It's the age he's at.  The tragic age. 

Stephen Metcalfe's brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blog Tour: Kalahari + GIVEAWAY


Welcome to my stop on the Kalahari Safari! If you’re new to the Safari, check in at Base Camp to learn what it’s about and how you can win!

From the Author:

Sarah Carmichael

Sarah Carmichael is the main character and narrator of Kalahari. She’s grown up all over the world, in one remote camp after another, with her zoologist parents. As a result, she’s fluent in several languages, knows a ton about animals, and is more at home in the jungle or desert than in a city. So when her father agrees to host five city kids for an educational safari, Sarah is not a fan of the idea. She’s always been more comfortable around creatures with four legs than ones with two—especially ones her own age. Still reeling from the recent death of her mother, the last thing Sarah feels up for is trying to fit in with new faces from a completely different world than her own.

But that becomes the least of her troubles after her dad goes missing and Sarah must not only work with Sam, Kase, Miranda, Joey, and Avani—but keep them alive.

Sarah’s character was inspired by two well-known “nature girls”: Tippi Degre and Bindi Irwin. Tippi Degre was the daughter of wildlife photographers who spent her childhood in the Kalahari, where she learned from the San Bushmen, ran wild through the desert, and befriended a host of animals. Photos of her unusual upbringing depict a carefree child who seems happiest when perched on an elephant or cuddling a meerkat. In her own words in My Book of Africa, Tippi describes her connection to animals and her love for the Kalahari. Bindi Irwin is the daughter of the late Steve Irwin, the renowned TV personality “The Crocodile Hunter.” After her father’s tragic death, Bindi has carried on his legacy and passion for educating the world about animals and nature.

Tippi Degre
Bindi and Steve Irwin

Sam's Number:

Complete the challenges below (the more you complete the higher your chances of winning a big prize!) and then head back to Base Camp and on to the next challenge!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much for visiting my stop on the blog tour. If you haven't, you can check out my review for Kalahari, and be sure to pick up a copy tomorrow. Thanks again for dropping by.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: High Five

The 2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon is hosted by Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, and it's all about spreading positivity in the book blogging world. There are also a few challenges involved in the challenge. This challenge, the "High Five" challenge is all about my current high fives - five things that are making me happy.


Even though I'm not reading it now, I'm very much looking forward to reading Fairest by Marissa Meyer. I still have a few early March ARCs to read before I get to it, but knowing that it's there and waiting for me is pretty awesome.


I'm pretty sure you all know this by now, but I'm very content with reading contemporary right now. The cute reads warm my heart during this frozen winter.


Sarah Ockler is an author that makes me happy right now. I have an ARC of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids that I'll be starting soon, and I also just bought #scandal. I can't wait to read both of them because it's been a while since I read one of her books, and let's be honest... I adore Sarah.


Oh man! I have so many favorite bloggers. Just know that if I reach out to you through comments, Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook, you're among them!

Bookish Merchandise:

I have a few trinkets that relate to some of my favorite books that make me happy. My charm bracelet has a Deathly Hallows symbol, and I also have an old wizard on it who reminds me of Dumbledore. I also have a mockingjay pin that I keep with my Hunger Games books.

ARC Review: The Other Side of the Wall

Title: The Other Side of the Wall
Author: Simon Schwartz
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: March 1, 2015
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Rating: ☆☆
Simon Schwartz was born in 1982 in East Germany, at a time when the repressive Socialist Unity Party of Germany controlled the area. Shortly before Simon's birth, his parents decided to leave their home in search of greater freedoms on the other side of the Berlin Wall. But East German authorities did not allow the Schwartzes to leave for almost three years. In the meantime, Simon's parents struggled with the costs of their decision: the loss of work, the attention of the East German secret police, and the fragmentation of their family.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Valentine's Cards

Even though Valentine's Day was last weekend, Book Blogger Love-A-Thon participants are celebrating today by making and sharing book themed Valentines. I hope you like the bookish one that I created for you. I know I love staring at it!

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Book Spine Poetry

The first mini-challenge in this year's Book Blogger Love-A-Thon is all about creating book spine poetry. I would have loved to arrange some of my books into poetry and showed you the pictures, but I'm much better with words. Oh, and I literally have no idea where my camera is right now, so that's kind of a problem. I did decide to take a few titles from my library and create a poem for all of you to read.

I haven't written a poem in a few years, but I used to write them all the time. It was just something I did in my spare time, whether it was a poem or lyrics to a song. I'm not as creative these days, but I kind of liked how this one turned out, and maybe I'll start writing more original poetry in the future.

My Life Next Door started with
My Last Kiss.
All at once, I thought
this was it.
In Just One Year, I learned
that The Kiss of Deception is something learned.
I don't regret
the time that was well spent
but I cry a lot, pretty much all the time.
But if what they say turns out to be true,
I'd rather be a Wallflower than be with you.
And now I stand here
ready to go
because Staying Strongjust helps me know.

So there you have it - my first ever poem created with titles of books. I'm definitely not the greatest poet on the planet, but hey... that's what practice is for. Who knows... maybe one day, after I keep writing, I'll have a book of poetry published. (Well... maybe after I get a novel published.)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you're enjoying all the Love-A-Thon posts!

2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon: Introduction Post


Hey, everyone! So since this is my first year book blogging, this is the first time I'll be participating in the annual Book Blogger Love-A-Thon. In case you don't know, the Love-A-Thon is hosted by Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, and it's all about spreading positivity in the book blogging world.

That's me!
1.    Q: What’s your name?
A: Erin
2.    Q: Where in the world are you blogging from?
A: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It's usually a pretty cool place, but Elsa has set off an eternal winter here, complete with bone-chilling temperatures, three frozen rivers, and more and more snow by the day.
3.    Q: How did you get into blogging in the first place?
A: I used to have an education blog, and I missed being able to express my thoughts. I thought about the amount of reviews that I was posting on Goodreads, so The Hardcover Lover was born.
4.    Q: How did you come up with your blog name?
A: Pretty much every book in my personal library is a hardcover. It started when my grandma suggested that I start buying all my favorite books in hardcover instead of paperback, and then I kind of bought every book that way.
5.    Q: What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?
A: I review a lot of contemporary.
6.    Q: What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?
A: I participate in some blog tours, especially if I get to write a review for them. I also participate in a few memes, including my own, Soundtrack Saturday.
7.    Q: Best blogging experience so far?
A: I've met a lot of awesome new people, and I love being able to discuss books with them without feeling like people think I'm weird or something. Another great experience was getting an email that let me know that I was getting a physical ARC of a book that I was really, really wanting.
8.    Q: Favorite thing about the blogging community?
A: Some of the people are literally the nicest people ever.
9.    Q: Name the 5 books you’re most excited for this 2015!
A: The Heir, P.S. I Still Love You, The Start of Me and You, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids, and the sequel to Zodiac.
10. Q: What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?
A: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Seriously... go read it before it becomes a huge thing. (The movie was shot in Pittsburgh not too long ago, and it will be out soon.)
11. Q: Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?
A: Oh man... I feel like Hermione Granger would be my BFF. We're pretty similar, but have enough differences to be pretty good friends.
12. Q: Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?
A: I can sew, but my sewing machine is put away until I move. I'm also a teacher, and I'm looking into possibly becoming a librarian. I can also play the clarinet, but it's been a pretty long time since I last took it out to play something other than scales.
13. Q: Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?
A: Teacher clothes - I have a thing for dresses with bell skirts. Ballet flats are another thing that I can't resist. I just love them. I also love shopping for cute storage containers even though I have nowhere to store them.
14. Q: At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?
A: There are just so many to choose from! It would definitely be a Taylor Swift song though. I freaking love Taylor Swift.
15. Q: Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.
A: I really think it would be awesome to see The Selection series by Kiera Cass as a TV show. Can you imagine all of those gowns? So pretty!

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Friday 56 (12)

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 to participate in The Friday 56?
  • Go to page 56 (or 56% for e-readers like Kindle and Nook) of the book you're currently reading
  • Grab a few sentences to share with your blog's readers, but be sure not to spoil anything too major
  • Add your name to the link-up on Freda's blog
Currently ReadingThis week, I've been reading an advance copy of The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe that I won through the Goodreads First Read program. I'll be reviewing it as soon as I'm finished reading, which will probably be soon because I only have about one hundred pages left to finish. Keep your eyes peeled within the next week if you're curious to find out more about the book and what I thought of it.

The following is dialogue from one of the book's characters, Twom Twomey. He's pretty strange, but I like him so far.
"'Okay, dude, it's like this. My folks are messed up, okay? They're fucking derelicts. The only reason they stay together is because nobody else would have them. Living with relatives is pretty much all I do. Okay?'"

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (16)


Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme created and hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers and readers are anticipating. It's very easy to participate in the meme. All you need to do is make a post about an upcoming release that you're waiting on, make sure you've linked back to Breaking the Spine, and then add your name to the link-up tool.

This week, I'm waiting on a contemporary book that I've been wanting to read for a while now, and I'm happy because it comes out very, very soon. Like the end of next month soon. Can you guess? I bet you can...

Waiting On...

Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Why I'm Waiting...

To be honest, I've been wanting to read this Emery Lord book even more than I did her debut. After finally reading and loving Open Road Summer, I knew that this book was one that I would need on my shelves immediately because I am a sucker for emotional stories. The Start of Me and You promises just that, and I can't wait to finally sit down and read this one.

What are you waiting on this week? As always, feel free to let me know in the comments and leave a link to your Waiting on Wednesday post! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ARC Review: Kalahari

Title: Kalahari
Series: Corpus
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Source: ARC from Penguin Teen
Rating:  ☆☆☆☆

Deep in the Kalahari Desert, a Corpus lab protects a dangerous secret…
But what happens when that secret takes on a life of its own?

When an educational safari goes wrong, five teens find themselves stranded in the Kalahari Desert without a guide. It’s up to Sarah, the daughter of zoologists, to keep them alive and lead them to safety, calling on survival know-how from years of growing up in remote and exotic locales. Battling dehydration, starvation and the pangs of first love, she does her best to hold it together, even as their circumstances grow increasingly desperate.

But soon a terrifying encounter makes Sarah question everything she’s ever known about the natural world. A silver lion, as though made of mercury, makes a vicious, unprovoked attack on the group. After a narrow escape, they uncover the chilling truth behind the lion’s silver sheen: a highly contagious and deadly virus that threatens to ravage the entire area—and eliminate life as they know it.

In this breathtaking new novel by the acclaimed author of Origin and Vitro, Sarah and the others must not only outrun the virus, but its creators, who will stop at nothing to wipe every trace of it.

My Review

Sometimes you find a book that's so wonderful that you don't want to put it down because you're anxious to see how everything happens. Sometimes that same book can also make you really want to slow down and savor it just because of how good it is. Kalahari by Jessica Khoury is one of those books.
Kalahari, a companion book to the books in the Corpus series, can either be read as part of the series or as a standalone novel. Trust me on this because I haven't read any of the other books in the series, and I didn't have any problems understanding the plot because it is a very independent but still related book. Although I will say that after reading Kalahari, I will be picking up the other books in the series to get a little more insight into the world that Khoury has created.

Now that I've mentioned the plot, I must say that it is absolutely amazing. The story of Sarah Carmichael and five other teens in the Kalahari is emotional, thrilling, and down-right adventurous. When Sarah's dad goes missing, she and five other teens, Miranda, Kase, Sam, Joey, and Avani, find themselves alone in the semi-desert with a huge problem waiting for them, and it's not just the silver lion. There's the natural elements, poachers, and a crazy group of people that the kids will try to outrun and outsmart. Khoury surprises readers with one intense event after another in this electrifying story.

The characters in Kalahari are a diverse group of teens and adults who represent different cultures and different walks of life. There's Sarah Carmichael who was born to a Kiwi dad and an American mom. Together, the three of them have lived in numerous remote locations to research and study wildlife. There's also Sarah's dad's assistant, Theo, who is a bushman who has spent his entire life in the Kalahari. Sarah is also introduced to five teens so that her dad's program can be funded. One day, she meets Sam, Miranda, Kase, Joey, and Avani. The five teens are all very different, but they all bring something unique to this survival tale.

I love Khoury's use of imagery in this book. The way she describes the places and the animals in Kalahari is almost magical, and I could imagine myself walking alongside the characters.

Even if you're not a fan of science fiction, give this book a try. It's not very heavy on the science fiction, but acknowledges and warns us that crazy things can happen when humans try to create something new. When you sit back and reflect on what you've read, you'll find a compelling tale about saving the world, family, friendship, and love. 

About Jessica Khoury

Jessica Khoury wrote her first book at age 4, a fan fic sequel to Syd Hoff's Danny and the Dinosaur, which she scribbled on notebook paper, stapled together, and placed on the bookshelf of her preschool classroom. Since that day, she's dreamed of being an author.

When not writing, Jess enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, and traveling the world in search of stories and inspiration.

Jess currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of Origin, Vitro, and forthcoming Kalahari.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hardcover Lover Confessions (4)

Hello, everyone! I hope that you've become a little more acquainted with my new every-once-in-a-while feature, Hardcover Lover Confessions.

If you're new to The Hardcover Lover or just missed the first few posts, I'll fill you in. HCL Confessions are my discussion posts. Every few weeks, I'll post my thoughts on something going on in the book blogging world or just general bookish thoughts.

I'm encouraging all of my followers to join in and discuss your thoughts on each topic with me and with the other bloggers/people who leave comments. It's all about kindly expressing ourselves and making connections with other bloggers and readers while forming blogging friendships.  Don't be afraid to reply to a comment made by someone you've never spoken to! I can promise you that all of my followers are kind and outgoing.

HCL Confession on DNFing Books:

Before I joined the book blogging world, I didn't really think about not finishing a book. If I wasn't enjoying a book, I would leave a bookmark in it, and make a promise to myself that I would one day finish it. After a few weeks, that book, with the bookmark still intact, would just end up on my shelf, never to be touched again.

A few years ago, things started to change. If I knew I would never finish the book, I would stop reading and pretend like I had never started the book. Eventually those books would make their way to Half Price Books or thrift stores. Obviously, I was sad, but I didn't want to waste my time.

You see... before I was a book blogger, I was embarrassed if I didn't finish a book. Now I'm a little more neutral. I still don't like putting a book down permanently, but I understand that it's okay. Plus, I know that there are others out there with the same tastes as me. If I can help them, awesome. If not, that's okay too. Still, I don't want to waste my time reading something I don't like, but there are still some times when I force myself to finish a really bad book. I guess old habits die hard.

These days, I'm more actively reading other book blogs. I've noticed a lot of DNF reviews or blurbs than I did in the past when I would browse a few blogs once a week. If I've DNFed the same book or a book by that author, I actually take the time to read them and fully understand them, especially if I know that another blogger and I have similar taste in books. If I haven't read the books yet, I take a mental note of the DNF reviews I see, especially if the review/blurb is posted by someone who likes the same kinds of books. Those reviews help me decide what books I won't be buying.

Sometimes I feel extremely awkward when I write a DNF review. I feel like people will judge me for not finishing a book. But I understand that there are going to be people out there who love that book, and then there will be people like me who didn't enjoy it. It's okay to share your thoughts with the world on a book you didn't finish as long as it's done respectfully. Other times, I simply just go to Goodreads and leave a DNF review instead of writing one for my blog.

Going along with my last HCL Confession... I would never bash a book simply because I didn't like it or didn't finish it. I take the time to consider the reasons why I didn't finish the book. I then write a professional review. I even include some things from the book that I did enjoy to let my readers know that there were some good parts, but just not enough to keep me interested.

So... What are your thoughts on not finishing a book? Have you ever done it? Have you written DNF reviews or blurbs? Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments with me and with other bloggers.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Soundtrack Saturday (19)

Happy Saturday, Hardcover Lover readers! Here's wishing everyone a happy and relaxed Saturday. If you've been following The Hardcover Lover for a while, you know just what happens on Saturdays on the blog. Yup! That's right - Soundtrack Saturday! But 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 (about ten to fifteen songs) for that book based on characters, plot details, and events
    • 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 Soundtrack Saturday post
  • Add your name to the link-up tool so other people can see your Soundtrack Saturday
I am a huge fan of music - listening to it and playing it - pretty much anything that involves music will keep me entertained. As a fan of music, I love when I find a book that is full references to musical artists and bands. Imagine my surprise when I started turning the pages of middle grade novel, Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! I wasn't expecting the author to refer to Joan Jett, the Rolling Stones, or The Beatles, but it's awesome!

Now I've never done a Soundtrack Saturday for a middle grade novel before, but I had a lot of fun with this one. I explored some music from my past that I think Katie and her friends would like, but I also added a few songs by some of the artists mentioned in the book. I even went to Radio Disney to see what the tween crowd listens to! This soundtrack is full of some fictional songs that Greenwald penned for the novel, but I've added some songs that I think go well with the rest of the book.

  1. "Time of Our Lives" by Miley Cyrus 
  2. "Life is for the Living" by Plain Jane* 
  3. "Best Song Ever" by One Direction
  4. "Somebody to You" by The Vamps feat. Demi Lovato
  5. "Before the Storm" by the Jonas Brothers feat. Miley Cyrus
  6. "Houses" by Plain Jane
  7. "Complicated" by Avril Lavigne
  8. "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones
  9. "Who Says" by Selena Gomez & The Scene
  10. "Show Me Your Moves" by Plain Jane
  11. "Get Back" by Demi Lovato
  12. "I Love Rock and Roll" by Joan Jett
  13. "California Gurls" by Katy Perry
  14. "With a Little Help from My Friends" by The Beatles
  15. "How" by Katie Friedman feat Jane Plantero*

Welp! There it is - my very first middle grade book soundtrack! I hope you enjoyed some of my picks, and they brought out the little kid in you.

As always, feel free to create your own Soundtrack Saturday, and add your name to the link-up tool. I'd love to see the songs you think of when you're reading a book!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Friday 56 (11)

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 to participate in The Friday 56?
  • Go to page 56 (or 56% for e-readers) of the book you're currently reading
  • Grab a few sentences to share 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 week, I'm reading the upcoming book, Biggie, by Derek E. Sullivan. I'm reading it as part of a blog tour, so keep an eye out for a review early next month! I'm not too far into this book (and definitely nowhere near the 56% mark for this quote), but so far, it's pretty good. I'm looking forward to learning more about Biggie and the other characters in the book.
"You need to throw up," Killer says. "Do you know how to do that?"

I really don't, so I shake my head as a cop pulls into the driveway.
So what are you reading this week? As always, feel free to leave a comment to let me know, and don't be afraid to leave a link to your own Friday 56 quotes so I can check them out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ARC Review: Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! (And Lives to Tell About It)

Title: Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting! (And Lives to Tell About It.)
Author: Tommy Greenwald
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Source: ARC from Macmillan
Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
When a text goes wrong, Katie Friedman learns the hard way that sometimes you need to disconnect to connect.

Here are a few things you need to know about Katie Friedman:
  1.  Katie is swearing off phones for life! (No, seriously. She just sent the wrong text to the wrong person!)
  2.  She wants to break up with her boyfriend. (Until, that is, he surprises her with front row tickets to her favorite band, Plain Jane. Now what!?) 
  3.  She wants to be a rock star (It’s true. She has a band and everything.)
  4. Her best friend is Charlie Joe Jackson. (Yeah, you know the guy.)
  5. And most importantly, Katie’s been offered the deal of a lifetime—get ten of her friends to give up their phones for one week and everyone can have backstage passes to Plain Jane. (A whole week!? Is that even possible?)

My Review

Before I really begin my review, I should state that this book is technically a part of the Charlie Joe Jackson series, but it is technically a spin-off novel. There is even a little introduction at the beginning of the book for readers (like me) who have never read the other books in this series, but it also serves as a refresher for readers who have read other books in the series. 

I'm probably one of the very last people on Earth who still hasn't upgraded to a smartphone. Because of this, I had a hard time imagining how hard it would be to give up my phone for a week because I really don't use it. Then I started thinking about my other devices - laptop, iPod, and Kindle Fire - I use to do many of the things that people use smartphones for. Yeah... it would probably be hard.

Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting is a well-thought-out and delightfully wonderful middle grade novel that explores the problems kids (and probably adults) face when our eyes are constantly glued to a screen. I admired Tommy Greenwald's decision to write this book because it needed to be written. It's no lie that kids spend way too much time connected with each other through phones instead of in real life. Sometimes people just need to unplug to connect, and Greenwald's story of Katie and her friends (both new and old) is a great example for preteens and younger teenagers.

Greenwald's writing style is simple and perfect for middle grade readers. The chapters in the book vary in length, but most of them are short in length. It is a pretty quick read (at least for me), so I could see kids in the tween crowd reading this in a few days. In the beginning of the book, Greenwald seamlessly includes text messages as part of the dialogue, and I'm sure that would draw in the phone savvy generation of readers that we now have. I also liked the illustrations included in the book. They were cute, but they didn't really take away from the reading experience. 

Some events and details in this book are completely unbelievable, but they are cute and quirky enough to entertain the tween crowd. Some events are just inspirational, and kids reading this book would be impressed. I found myself smiling, laughing, and even frowning at times because of how marvelously Greenwald shows Katie's emotions.

I did have a few problems with this book. Aside from a few completely unrealistic things going on, I found myself confused at times. The goal in the book is for Katie and ten friends to give up their phones for a week. It just seems like too many characters all at once. I had a hard time remembering who was who, and I found myself frustrated because of this. It's cute, but I wish that Greenwald would have taken more time to introduce readers to these characters.

Altogether, Katie Friedman Gives Up Texting is an entertaining middle grade book that also serves as a way to inconspicuously educate young kids about really connecting with their friends and peers. It's enjoyable enough to read in one sitting, and I'm sure that kids will be talking about it and their cell phones after reading it. I'd recommend this book for kids between eleven and fourteen because most kids get their first cell phone in those years but it also teaches the preteen crowd that it's still okay to leave your phone and just be a kid.

About Tommy Greenwald

Tommy Greenwald has enjoyed reading all his life, which is why he's appalled that his kids Charlie, Joe and Jack, would prefer getting a dental check-up to checking out a book. After years of pleading, threatening, and bribing, Tommy finally decided the only way to get his kids to read was to write a book about how to get out of reading. This is the result. And they read it! (So they say.) The Executive Creative Director at SPOTCO, an entertainment advertising agency in New York City, Tommy lives in Connecticut with his wife, Cathy; his non-reading sons, Charlie, Joe and Jack; and his dogs, Moose and Coco.

Monday, February 9, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (14)

"It's Monday! What Are You Reading?" is a weekly meme brought to you by BookJourney. Each Monday, you get to share book or books you're currently reading and what you plan on reading this week with the rest of the book blogosphere. When you've finished your post, go to BookJourney, and add your post's link to the link up tool.

A while ago, I discovered another great outlet to share your It's Monday posts. Readers of YA and educators can also share their links on the link up tool on Teach Mentor Texts. I highly recommend this if you are a teacher or a librarian because I've discovered so many great books through the bloggers on that list.

It's been a while since my last It's Monday post, but that doesn't mean that I wasn't reading. I've actually been doing a lot of it! I've already got a few reviews scheduled to post later this month, so make sure you're watching for them because a few of them are for upcoming titles that you won't want to miss.

What I'm Reading and Planning to Read This Week

  •  Staying Strong by Demi Lovato - Yup! Still reading it. I'll be reading a page a day this year.
  • The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu- I'm reading this for a guest review on Of Spectacles & Books. So far, I'm only a few pages in, but it's really intriguing so far, and I can't wait to see how the story unfolds. 
  • Twisted Fate by Norah Olson - A blogging friend of mine sent me this book, and so far, it's strange but interesting. I put it on the back burner the other day to get some February ARCs read, but I'm hoping to finish it soon.
  • Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan - I'll be reading this upcoming title for a blog tour. I'm hoping to start it this week or this weekend.
So those are the books that I'm reading and planning to read this week. I'd love to know if you've read or are planning to read any of them, so don't be shy. Feel free to leave a comment, and you can definitely leave any links to your It's Monday posts.