Mini Review: Looking For Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

October 25, 2013

Title: Looking for Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication date: October 5, 1992
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Australia
Genre: YA, Coming of Age
Rating:
Amazon | Goodreads
For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.

Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.

Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.
How do you write a review about a book that's about nothing in particular but rather, about everything? And of a book that you've connected with on such a deep level that you really, literally have no words?

Which is why this review is going to be a mini review! (because, seriously, this book is so freaking aborkinfrgdgn AH-MA-ZING that I know that if I attempt to write a full review, I will just be setting myself up for failure)

Review: The Redeemers by Suresh Taneja

October 22, 2013

Title: The Redeemers
Author: Suresh Taneja
Publication date: April 17, 2013
Publisher: Leadstart / Frog Books
Genre: General Fiction, Indian
Rating:
Source: Author

Amazon | Goodreads
One bizarre vacation marked a turning point in the lives of four teenage friends. It dawned upon them that corruption and malpractices had become rampant and deeply ingrained in our culture. They felt anguished and shocked at the shameful state of affairs. 
They pledged to redeem and change the destiny of the country. They had only two weeks of vacation left to take some big initiatives. The pressure on them was immense. Status quo or failure was not an option for them. 
Read the inspirational story of a unique movement masterminded by youngsters through innovative ideas and creative thinking. Not a single family could escape from its unrelenting onslaught. It was a rewarding outcome for their persistence and hard work, as they nostalgically recall in 2030.
I had a tough time rating this book, mainly because of how it pulled me in two different directions. On one hand, the premise of The Redeemers is one that is inspiring and patriotic, but on the other, there were aspects of it that got on my nerves.

In 2009, four friends come witness firsthand the depravity and corruption that has soaked into the veins of almost every sector of Indian government. It's not like they weren't aware of it, but coming face-to-face with it for the first time in their lives, it leaves a huge impact. In the aftermath, Vikram, Yuvika, Manisha and Akshay (who like to call themselves G4) decide that something has to be done about it; something that will bring a change.

Top Ten Unusual Character Names and Ones I Love

Names are such important things, aren't they? Sometimes, I think a name can make or break a character. For instance, how uncool would it be if a character had name that was totally in contradiction with his/her personality. Like, the name John for the villian? Blah. But then there are those names that are so in sync with the characters that they just take the entire reading experience to a whole new level.

In no particular order... (the images link to the Goodreads page)

Top Ten Books I Was 'Forced' To Read

October 15, 2013


It's so nice to get back to the routine of writing Top Ten posts after so long! Things have been kind of tight recently, what with the festivals, and exams, and everyone in the family falling sick, etc. and I've haven't had as much time as I'd like to blog. And this is also a short reprieve before my exams start all over again, next week. Blah. 

On a lighter note, I had so much of fun picking books for this week's topic! I love reading, but every once in a while, I feel like I HAVE to read a book, like I'm forced to. Sometimes that's not so great, but sometimes, it just about makes my day!

Review: Indelible by Dawn Metcalf

October 13, 2013

Title: Indelible
Author: Dawn Metcalf
Publication date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating:
Source: Publisher (via NetGalley)
Amazon | Goodreads
Some things are permanent.

Indelible.

And they cannot be changed back.


Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future...and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…

The Twixt.

Cover Reveal + #Giveaway: Born of Deception by Teri Brown

October 11, 2013

Title: Born of Deception (#2, Born of Illusion)
Author: Teri Brown
Publication date: 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray (HarperTeen)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Budding illusionist Anna Van Housen is on top of the world: after scoring a spot on a prestigious European vaudeville tour, she has moved to London to chase her dream and to join an underground society for people like her with psychic abilities. Along with her handsome beau, Cole Archer, Anna is prepared to take the city by storm.

But when Anna arrives in London, she finds the group in turmoil. Sensitives are disappearing and, without a suspect, the group’s members are turning on one another. Could the kidnapper be someone within the society itself—or has the nefarious Dr. Boyle followed them to London?

As Cole and Anna begin to unravel the case and secrets about the society are revealed, they find themselves at odds, their plans for romance in London having vanished. Her life in danger and her relationship fizzling, can Anna find a way to track down the killer before he makes her his next victim—or will she have to pay the ultimate price for her powers?

Set in Jazz-Age London, this alluring sequel to Born of Illusion comes alive with sparkling romance, deadly intrigue, and daring magic.

Giveaway
Open to US only. Must be 13+ to enter.

About The Author
I’m not sure who to tell you about here because I’m actually two people rolled into one. As a responsible mother of teens, I show one persona to the world. That person is driven, conservative and level headed. But the other part of me just never grew up. She is rebellious, impulsive and curious.
It’s hard being both these people. They’re often at odds.
The mother part of me knows I should put a cap on how many animals we take in. The teen part of me wants to save them all. We have five cats and two dogs. Who do you think is winning?
Even now. The mother part wants to make a meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and a tossed salad. The teen part wants to order a pizza, work on my website and check my Facebook.
Luckily, though my two halves don’t always agree, both of us live happily in Portland, Oregon, with a husband and too many animals. And we both love to write and write and write..

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Major League Encounters by Larry LaRue

October 6, 2013



Title: Major League Encounters
Author: Larry LaRue
Publication date: June, 2012
Publisher: Reader Publishing Group
Genre: Sports
It’s an exclusive club. Thirty teams, 25 players each, 750 players in all. For every new player that wins a place on the roster, another player is removed. A few talented players have careers that cover more than two decades. Most last less than three years. But for those who can retain a place on the roster, the money is good – minimum wage is almost $450,000 a year. And if they’re really superstars, they can end up with an annual eight-figure salary. But there is more to it than money.

The men of baseball love the game and they love the clubhouse. The game sometimes costs them their wives and time with their kids. The clubhouse is where they bond as a team and as a family. As with all families, it is a place of laughter and anger, tragedy and loss, happiness and dysfunction. And what unites that family is love. The love of a game called baseball.

This collection of encounters with some of these men by sportswriter Larry LaRue takes the readers inside the clubhouse and behind the scenes to share with the reader what these men have accomplished and the price they have paid.
Interview with Larry LaRue
Q: What was the inspiration behind Major League Encounters?

It began as a notebook of stories for my daughter, Jessica, who had lost so much time with me over the years because I covered Major League baseball and traveled every few weeks. After more than 30 years covering the sport, I wanted to hand her stories of men who’d had an impact on me - and just happened to play baseball.

Q: What has been your favorite response to your work?

My favorite was from a reader who said she didn’t like baseball but loved the book.

Q: What made you choose the unique perspective you did in Major League Encounters?

I got to know the men I wrote about well, and sometimes I was part of their story for a short time. In the end, my daughter told me she learned almost as much about me as about the players I wrote about. Almost.

Q: You've been a sportswriter for a long time. Did you have to make to your writing method when you took up this project?

My writing has always been about personalities - people - rather than the statistics and salaries that so often define professional athletes. I tried to maintain that approach in the book. The numbers are available online to anyone who looks. The stories I’ve written are unique insights into people I found intriguing.

Q: Which do you like better: writing for a magazine/newspaper/journal or writing a book?

A book, for the freedom it allowed. Some of the 100 stories are a page long, others 10. I didn’t write to fill a page, I wrote to tell the story.

Okay, now some fun questions!

Q: What's your favourite sport?

Baseball to watch, basketball to play.

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Always. My grandmother worked on a type machine at a newspaper in San Dimas, California. I’d sit in her lap while she’d type, and lead letters would appear like magic and be arranged into words. I wanted to tell stories and she was showing me one way it could be done.

Q: The first book that changed your life…

‘The Mothers’ by Vardis Fisher, about the Donner Party. It was the first book I read that combined fictional approaches to non-fiction events. I hadn’t known that was allowed. It changed the way I thought about writing.

Q: What do you prefer - watching a game, or playing it yourself?

Given the choice, I’d always rather play.

Q: Dark or milk chocolate?

Dark!

Giveaway
5 Winners will receive a Signed Copy of Major League Encounters by Larry LaRue.
Must be 13+ to Enter. 
International Giveaway

About The Author

Newspapers were part of his life long before Larry LaRue started working for them at age 18. His grandmother was a typesetter for a weekly in San Dimas, California, and he sat in her lap while she’d run an old lead-type machine. He was first published at 10, when a San Clemente newspaper ran his story on Pookie, his dog.

He’s been writing ever since. Five newspapers, a business journal and an entertainment magazine wrapped around brief careers as a window washer, bouncer, and private investigator. Always, he wrote.

There was a book on an American Capuchin priest who performed exorcisms in New York and Iowa, another on political cartoonists, a novel based on a news story he followed, and a book of major league baseball anecdotes. All wound up in a drawer or a closet. Since 1976, there’s been another constant in his life – George Cunningham. As co-workers, backpackers, entrepreneurs, political opposites, writers, photographers and friends they have pursued projects and dreams together.

Reader Publishing Group may be the best yet for George and Carmela Cunningham, and LaRue was one of the first to leap on their backs.

Currently a writer with the Tacoma News Tribune covering the Seattle Mariners, LaRue’s sports writing can be found at http://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/mariners/ and you can follow him and see his photography on Facebook at facebook.com/kwlarue, Twitter at (@LarryLaRue and the News Tribune Mariners’ blog at http://blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/.

His most recent ambition hasn’t changed in 35 years – LaRue is writing projects he hopes Cunningham can use to get him out of the newspaper business.


Book Nerd Tours

Book Blitz: Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair

October 5, 2013


Title: Leap of Faith
Author: Jamie Blair
Publication date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BfYR
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Can true love be built on lies? A teen on the run seeks relief and redemption in this gripping, romantic read.
Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who’s ever made her feel safe. And now that she’s found him, there’s no way she can tell the truth:
Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She’s seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn’t hers—Faith kidnapped her.
Faith’s history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris’s aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it’s time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she’ll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?

GUEST POST
The Teen Pregnancy Book That’s Not
A handful of times over the past couple weeks, I’ve spotted Leap Of Faith being called a teen pregnancy book. The funny part of this to me is that the teen, Faith, in my book is never really
pregnant. But, she does pretend that the baby, who is actually her newborn sister, is her own baby and the situation she gets herself into does make her a teen mom.

Faith, having grown up with an addict for a mom, more often than not with no food in the house, knows that her baby sister is in for an even worst childhood than she had. What starts in Faith’s mind as getting back at her mom turns into an enormous sacrifice as she takes the baby and goes on the run.

Taking care of a newborn isn’t glorified in Leap of Faith and that’s not because as the author I wanted to make the book a preachy, issue book. I wrote it for entertainment, not as a warning to readers. Having a newborn is portrayed as touch because it really is. Having a newborn is insanely hard. Anyone taking on the task of raising a baby needs a support system, and this is where Leap Of Faith gets tricky.

Faith not only finds her support system, but she finds the family she’s never had and always wanted. But, in the back of her mind, she knows her time there is limited. She’s told so many lies, it has to come to an end somehow.

When it all does come crashing down, Faith has a second sacrifice to make. She’s grown to love the family—and the boy—who have taken her and her baby in. But, in order to keep them from being implemented in any legal action Faith might face for kidnapping the baby, she knows she has to leave the perfect life she’s found behind.

Leap Of Faith isn’t a teen pregnancy book. It’s a book about sacrifice, love, family and hope.

About The Author
Jamie Blair spent most of her teen years choreographing moves for her dance team routines, kissing boys on the couch after her mom went to bed, and pondering the mood enhancement qualities of Lemon Heads when consumed with Diet Coke. Writing under Kelli Maine, she’s the USA Today bestselling author of Taken. Leap of Faith is her debut New Adult novel.

Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (SPOILER FREE!)

October 2, 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publication date: May 4, 2012
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Genre: Mystery, Thriller 
Source: Publisher (Thanks Hachette India!)
Rating:
Amazon | Goodreads
Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media--as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents--the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter--but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.
Given how into books I am, it would have been astounding had I not heard of Gone Girl in the many months since it's release. Well, since, as I am wont to say, I do not live under a rock, I have heard of Gone Girl. Incessantly. Ever since I made up with Goodreads again. So yeah, that's a long time to be hearing praises sung about a book.

Why hadn't I picked it up despite all the hype? Well, I dont like scary stuff. And realistic scary stuff can be a lot more scary that made-up scary stuff. And they both give me nightmares and increase my everyday level of paranoia from slightly above average (I'm guessing) to smack right in the middle of crazy territory (that's true though). So yeah, I avoid stuff like this usually, though I do love mysteries and detective stories.

Cover Reveal: Defector (#2, Variants) by Susanne Winnacker

October 1, 2013

Title: Defector
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publication date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Thriller, Young Adult
Synopsis not currently available.

Synopsis for book 1 – Impostor:
Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late?

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again.

Tessa hates everything about being an impostor—the stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep. Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

About The Author
Susanne Winnacker studied law before she became a full-time writer. She lives with her husband, a dog and three bunnies in Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals. When she isn't writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen, experimenting with new vegan dishes.

Her YA thriller IMPOSTOR will be published on May 28, 2013. It has been optioned for TV by Warner Brothers!